My early accident on Colin’s Wall Of Death last weekend could have been much worse! The first attempt ended with me sliding down the rickety wooden wall which is filled with rusty nails and dodgy screws, and yet a bit of a graze on my arm was the only injury sustained.
Colin reckoned I was relatively unscathed only because I was wearing the safety tie that he had insisted on, and suggested that for any further dangerous activities, wearing the tie might be a wise choice.
So before climbing up onto the top wing Boeing Stearman PT17 Kaydet biplane, I made sure I was appropriately attired. Pilot Mike told me I would be his first-ever tie-wearing customer!
WingWalking UK is based at a small airfield on the east side of London, and it had taken me about an hour and a half to get there around the M25. It was a busy place, as there was a big gathering of kiteboarders there, flying kites and boarding around on the grass on wheeled boards.
I met Mike and after a very quick briefing I was up onto the top wing, and was strapped in. As we trundled over to the runway I nervously checked the straps again – they felt good and tight, but there didn’t seem to enough of them for my liking.
As soon as we got a clear runway Mike gave me a shout, and we were off. Almost as soon as the plane took off, Mike banked it over to the right, and we swooped in low over the airfield.
We went through a routine of turns and swoops, and I was amazed at how low to the ground we passed over the field. Mike later told me that he is licenced to fly as low as 30 feet during a display. It felt very quick being so close to the ground.
Towards the end of the sequences, we went up to about 500 feet, and Mike dived the plane towards the runway, gathering speed, and then pulled up into a climb and another dive – it was like being on a huge rollercoaster.
The whole display lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, and I could have happily stayed up there for much longer, it really was quite an incredibly free feeling. And what an incredible position to to be too.
It was quite similar to the thrill of a skydive, but for a more extended period. By the end I was feeling pretty relaxed and confident.
Afterwards Mike presented me with a certificate, and I hung around to watch the next person’s flight. It was fantastic to be right under the plane as it flew over at speed just 30 feet above.
Take a look at the video of my flight here:
Many thanks to pilot Mike from WingWalking UK, what a fantastic experience!