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En vol avec les grues

Flying with Cranes / En vol avec les Grues

By: Sara Echeverry Jaramillo

Some people like to tell stories of what they do. I am one of them. And this is the story of the most amazing flight ever.

In December 2016 I had the luck to meet professor Franssen in a meeting with my colleagues at University of Liege. I heard that he was speaking about gliding and parachutes and flying things. It happens that I am aeronautical engineer and that’s something I am very passionate about, although my current studies are focused more on ships than planes. It happens too, that professor Franssen is a glider instructor at the Royal Verviers Aviation club, and he invited me to enroll the school. So here I am, after a few flights, telling you about this astonishing experience.

In the past few weeks I started flying with Yves as my instructor. He is so nice and patient (especially because sometimes my French is not as good as I wanted). The first three flights were just introductory and with a duration of maximum 12 minutes. I was happy to fly but certainly was hoping for a lot more.

And there I was. March 12th 2017, in a beautiful summerly day in Belgium (which is already rare at this time of the year). This is my day – I thought, so decided to take the train and the bus to arrive at the school. And there he was: Yves flying with another student, going upper on a nice thermal just after the airfield. It was a beautiful dance, I could just imagine myself dancing in the sky. After some minutes, Yves (and the student) landed. It was my turn to get the wings. It was my time to fly.

The take-off was already very hard, with crosswind and my first time with such conditions. We managed to get off. I managed to follow the towing plane (with a lot of help from Yves, because it is very hard for me at the moment). And we reached our 500m altitude to unhook the cable.

With his years of experience, Yves has got the sense of wind. He just feels it. He flies! And at a point, we found the thermal (he did) and started to ascend. 600m. 700 m. 800 m. I saw them. A flock of migrating cranes flying close to our thermal.

Our speed of 90/100 Km/h was enough to see them below us: they were also turning in the thermal! After 2 laps, we were just behind them and then happily with them. Admiring their coordinate flight, enjoying how the nature gave us the most graceful view. 2-3 minutes passed, they left us. But my smile will last forever.

41 minutes flight, the longest I’ve done so far. Without doubts: the most marvelous experience of flying like a bird.