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“Maybe I can leave the door open a little bit as it’s so warm?” asks the pilot.
“When we’re flying?!” comes my automatic response of consternation.
There’s laughter in the tiny cockpit. They think I’m kidding. I’m not. I have absolutely no idea what is, and is not, possible or advisable in an aircraft so small that the pilot was able to wheel it out of its hangar on his own without raising so much as a facial flush.
The laughter dies down and the pilot begins to pump a lever on the floor where a gear stick would be if this were a car. I remember my dad doing the same with our old petrol lawnmower, pumping hard and then pulling on the chord until the mower leapt into life in a cloud of blue smoke before promptly dying again, having been flooded with petrol. The wretched thing invariably took so long to start that dad would be really hacked off by the time he actually began to mow, leaving erratically wobbly patterns on the lawn to attest to his mood for the next two weeks.
Clearly, the pilot is a better mechanic than my dad and when he turns the ignition key, the propeller blades in front of the windscreen start to rotate and we begin to taxi onto the grass runway.
We wait, as if at traffic lights, for another aircraft to take off across our path, its belly filled with seasoned and amateur skydivers. Jack’s amongst them. I try not to think about the possibility that our last snatched kiss may be just that – our last.
“We will take off towards the sea and then turn around” says our pilot, his words swallowed by the noise level within the cockpit as we taxi along the runway at a speed at which I would hesitate to shift to fourth gear were I in the car. Incredibly, we lift off the ground and begin to soar above the private villas and canals of Empuriabrava in Costa Brava.
We’ve chosen the perfect day for our flight. The wind is light, the sky a cloudless expanse of blue, borrowed and intensified by the surface of the Balearic Sea which spills its colour onto the shore of Roses beach as we fly overhead. The noise in the cockpit means we all have to shout as the pilot points out landmarks below – Cadaques with its white houses stacked on the hill and tumbling down to the shoreline; Portlligat with Dalí’s house clearly visible as it climbs the cliff side above the gentle bay, green islands anchored in a sea of blue like emeralds on a sapphire cloth.
I have never taken a pleasure flight over a destination before but I wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. It was thrilling and a brilliant way to get my bearings, to see Costa Brava from above and to recognise the beauty that lay before me. It may not be as adrenalin charged as surviving skydiving (even though the pilot had the door open right up until we began to taxi) but I know which I’d opt for every time…chocks away!
Buzz Trips flew with Skydive Empuriabrava as guests of Costa Brava Tourist Board. If there are three of you, flights start from as little as €21 per person for 7 minutes to €51 per person for the 20 minute flight I took.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+
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