Flying High: Blind Dates and Bucket Lists

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Flying High: Blind Dates and Bucket Lists

When an old colleague of mine proceeded to set me up on a blind date with a friend of his, all the usual thoughts crossed my mind. I’ve never been one to dislike dating, but nonetheless, an awkwardly silent dinner with an awkward, silent, unattractive man was not something I was keen on.

Interestingly, I was told to meet him at midday (a day date! I like them) in a rather dubious location. At an old airfield close by to the airport, to be precise. Being myself, I was purely perplexed. Did he live out of town in this direction, was this the only convenient location for him? Were we going to do something bizarre like..bungee jump? Horse riding? Strawberry picking? All of those options were vague and rather odd possibilities at the location.

However, no bungee jumping for me (I’ll have to save that one to tick off the bucket list another time). I pulled up on the stretch of gravel by the field, not really sure where I should be. There didn’t appear to be anybody around. It was broad daylight though, I wasn’t nervous. Or I was, but only nervous that I was in the wrong place. I took out my phone and called the number I’d been given. A friendly and jovial male voice picked up, and told me to wait right there, he’d come along.

That was my first experience of the guy I was about to spend the next few hours with. I detected some kind of North African or Middle Eastern accent, perhaps. So not a native. No clue to the strange location, though. He seemed very happy, anyway.

In the distance I saw an average height male in jeans and a thin coat approaching. As he got closer, I decided he wasn’t exactly HOT, but whatever. Looks aren’t everything. And I was there now, I may as well make the best of it.

I got out of the car and gave my date a bemused look. Where on earth have you brought me?!  He laughed and told me to walk with him. We walked through the field towards some kind of storage building – full of tiny private planes in various states of disrepair! Of course, I thought, we’re at an airfield! And it was quite interesting to wander through this barn of airplanes that were being repaired, and quite frankly, wish I had one (although not a damaged one). He pointed out modern models, ancient models, filled me in with lots on info, telling me what was wrong with which – some were basically ready to go, just waiting to be picked back up by their owners.

I assumed he was some kind of aviation engineer or something. He wasn’t giving much away. It still seemed like a bizarre date to me, but it was quite nice to do something different.

And then he took me outside. Around the back of the building was a 4 seater plane which belonged to him. He was taking me flying!

I didn’t really know what to say. He laughed at my excitement, opened the door and told me to get in. I have wanted to do this for FOREVER! I couldn’t believe it. Isn’t this every girl’s dream date – to be whisked off somewhere on a private plane?! I panicked slightly because I had work later that day, but he assured me it wasn’t a problem, and handed me some ear phones.

As we took off (much shakier in such a small plane), I marvelled at how fast he had to talk to air traffic control on the radio, how quick he was with the phonetic alphabet, and kind of at (other than those parts) how simple flying seemed to be!

Once we had ascended the required amount of feet, he relaxed and told me the hard part was done. We flew around the city; I showed him my house, where I went to school, etc, and he suggest we fly to a nearby island off the coast of the UK. Sounded good to me. So he took us higher, above the clouds.

It was so incredibly private being above the clouds with absolutely nothing else around. It really would have been perfect had I been attracted to him, and it was pretty perfect despite the fact I wasn’t! He told me I could try and fly the plane.

I recoiled in horror – no! I would kill us! He said it was simple, there was nothing major to do now, and showed me how to steer us left and right, how to go ascend/descend, and how to keep us level. Keeping us level was the trickiest part! As I got more confident flying us around in circles, he taught me how to tilt the plane entirely on it’s side and turn around one wing. THAT was awesome! I had a lot of fun doing that for a while! And he seemed to really enjoy how much I loved it. It was on my bucket list to fly a helicopter, but I think that flying a plane is better. So I’m ticking that off – I’ve surpassed it! Eventually my date took over the flying again for a bit of plane acrobatics – it was incredible!

Time was getting on, so we headed to the island and descended to fly along the coast line. The UK is pretty beautiful in parts, really it is. And we do have some quite awesome coasts! We didn’t have time to stop, so eventually we headed back and he showed me how the lights change colour when approaching the runway to aid the pilot in knowing when to start landing. Really fascinating stuff.

I really had had a great time, and was still quite excited as I said goodbye and drove away. I wasn’t attracted to him – but that was fun! And I’d just agreed to fly to Manchester for lunch with him the following weekend (flying back South after lunch – amazing?!). I thought there was no harm in seeing him again, maybe we could become friends? He had been a perfect gentleman, hadn’t tried anything and hadn’t even flirted. Maybe he wasn’t looking for anything, his friend had just insisted on the blind date?

So I spent a few weeks flying here and there. I was in London one weekend, so I got the train to Oxford instead of home, met him there and he flew me home. It was quite a life for a while!

Occasionally, he suggested meeting for things that didn’t involve a flight – a coffee after work for instance. I went twice, and eventually I started to feel like what I was doing wasn’t quite ok.

Don’t get me wrong, I only went on three plane dates with him in total, and never once kissed him or hinted that I ever would. But..I could tell he was interested and the clock was ticking; it wouldn’t be long before he expected me to.

When he suggested flying to Paris for New Year and staying there for a few days, as much as I REALLY wanted to, I knew I couldn’t and had to stop leading him on. The horror of him expecting me to share a hotel room with him (I don’t even know that he would have, but just in case), or just doing something even more romantic than being alone above the clouds with somebody I didn’t want romance with made me bring it to an end.

Luckily, I was moving away anyway (aren’t I always?) so had a ready made excuse and no need to lie or hurt him. He really was a lovely guy, who allowed me to tick something else off my bucket list and give me some great experiences. How many people can say that their blind date flew them across the country just for lunch?! Or even that they have flown a plane?

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