It's all about events
across the Weald and South East
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It's all about events
across the Weald and South East

Do you ever look up to the sky and fantasise what it must feel like to be a bird? Can you imagine the blissful feeling of weightlessness, the freedom to go whenever and wherever you want, gliding high amongst the treetops with tantalising views of the landscape below?

Do you envy the bird’s sense of peace and tranquillity- a far cry from the hustle and bustle of your chaotic life? Do you ever gaze up at an aeroplane and wonder who’s on-board and its intended destination and yearn for the anticipation of the adventure that awaits?

I can fully understand why people are fascinated with the concept of being high up in the clouds- dreamlike, away from the norm.  I recall my mother doing a parachute jump over 35 years ago, as well as realising her dream, she also raised money for St Christopher’s Hospice. I can still picture her now, wearing a voluminous orange jumpsuit adorned with parachute harness, huge goggles and the sheer look of relief and exhilaration on her face when she finally gravitated (thankfully in one piece), back down to earth.  I don’t think it’s something I’d be in a rush to do and to be totally frank, I haven’t got the bottle, but I can see the attraction.

For all you adrenaline junkies out there skydiving is an extremely popular choice, you can learn to skydive in Headcorn Airfield located in the idyllic village of Headcorn. As you make your ascent to 12,000 ft, you’ll get the opportunity to take in the stunning views of the Kent countryside and to top it, even the staggering aerial views of Leeds castle.  There’s a choice of three training courses where novices can learn to skydive (tandem), Static Line Parachute or Accelerated freefall (AFF) and guided by accredited instructors.   And if you’re feeling charitable, why not participate in a charity skydive? Better still, if you raise enough money in sponsorship you can even jump for free!   Or why not consider a once in a lifetime microlight flight? There’s absolutely no excuse, anyone between the age of 14-90 years old can have a go and it’s highly recommended for those who don’t suffer from vertigo! You’ll have the option to fly either a fixed wing or flexwing microlight.  For reassurance, you’ll sit in tandem with the pilot, learn how to manoeuvre the triangular control bar yourself and have the chance to reach the dizzy heights of 2,000 ft and speeds of up to 60mph.

My Grandfather (second from left) – Leonard Francis Maddison-Roberts, Arizona 1944

My late grandfather was an aviation enthusiast- in 1944 he did his RAF training on a Harvard, at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. For his 70th birthday present, we watched him have a flying lesson, which must have been a hugely emotional experience for him looking back.   He was so passionate about flying he even had a flight simulator in his front room!   If you’re fanatical about aeroplanes but prefer to remain on terra- firma, there’s an abundance of air shows going on throughout the Summer.  In August I’m taking my boys to Eastbourne’s Airbourne airshow, with free admission (donations accepted) it’s running over 4 days with timetabled events running throughout each day. If it’s a glorious summer’s day it might be worthwhile avoiding the crowds and booking exclusive seating at Eastbourne’s bandstand where you can sit in comfort and take in the spectacular displays and have the freedom to come and go as you please. On the ground, there are military exhibitions, simulators, trade stands and an evening event with a finale of magnificent fireworks.

For a gentle, relaxed approach, hot air ballooning is an event worth giving a go, what a delightful idea for a Mother’s Day treat or special anniversary.  Hot air balloon rides generally last about an hour; however, the actual experience can last between 3-4 hours; pre-flight you’ll get a talk about how the balloon operates and at the end you’ll get a complimentary glass of champers and even the opportunity to pack up the balloon itself at the end.  There are various launch sites from locations such as Canterbury, Maidstone, Folkestone and Ashford and launch site is dependent on the weather forecast and the pilot will make that decision usually the night before- the last thing you will want to be doing is drifting over the English Channel and landing somewhere near Calais!  You can purchase vouchers to suit everyone- from early risers who want to encounter the sunrise, to sunset lovers…costs start from £120 pp for a group, which I think is really reasonable, and if you’re thinking of proposing to the love of your life you could do so with a VIP trip for 2, how utterly romantic- trust me, they’ll be literally blown away!

For something rather whacky, I implore you to try Flyboarding, which is ever increasing in popularity- I have to say it does look brilliant fun, a real giggle factor, and something that I would definitely consider trying out with friends.  Basically, you stand on a flyboard which is connected by a long hose attached to jet ski/speed boat, the power from the engine propels the water up through the hose, applying pressure which lifts the jet pack and the rider out of the water and up into the air- Buzz Lightyear most definitely springs to mind!  The only snag is you have to be over 16 years old, understandably I suppose, for £90 off peak, you’ll  get 1:1 tuition, safety equipment and the entire experience takes about 2 hours- what better way to enjoy and take full advantage of the great British summer (no sarcasm intended), to infinity and beyond!

So, whatever you choose to do this summer why not try at least one of the above experiences- remember, the sky really is the limit!


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