In the 80's and 90's, team building exercises were all the rage. It's only taken us about 10 years, but we had a "team building exercise" this week. Ian (the MD) was quite proud of this one and feels he may have scored 11 out of 10.
One of the really nice things about developing our software in house in the UK is that we have such a nice bunch of guys in the office.
This is just the part of the team who were up for for their first experience of real flying: being able to actually touch the controls. It says a lot for team spirit that they opted to do this in an aeroplane without an engine. One of them asked "Do gliders ever do an emergency landing?". Well, since in aviation an emergency landing is described as one without power, the reassuring answer was "Every glider landing is an emergency".
Armed with this comforting knowledge they grouped themselves in front of a glider for a team photo.
The boys were keen to show how macho they were, so first up was Nayyab.
Her instructor was Dr Tony Gee of whom more later.
Dr Gee is re-adjusting his eyeballs (or something) and clearly putting Nayyab at her ease judging by the confused or worried expression on her face.
Time to lower the canopy, the process from strapping in to attaching the cable for launch can about a minute. Naayab later said with Tony it seemed much, much longer.
The cable is attached.
Two of the guys are confer, "It would have been gentlemanly to have gone first", "Yeh, but let's see it she gets back in one piece first. Then we can be gentlemanly".
And with one mighty bound Tony and Nayyab were airborne.
Within 10 seconds they were over a thousand feet in the air: you can just see the wings in the exact center of the photo.
Tony released the cable and the glider turned away.
Twenty minutes later, Tony and Nayyab landed safely further down the airfield. Did Nayyab enjoy it?
That will be a yes then. Reassured, the guys form a line. Next up Matt.
Tony explains the instruments.
Tony explains the instruments some more...
Tony has finally finished explaining the instruments.
Tony goes through the pre take off checks.
Apparently Tony has a senior moment. Pushing his glasses back he tries to think.... "what am I doing next?"
They are off and fly around in the rising columns of air known as updrafts or thermals.
Tony lands safely and a crow looks on in amazement....
Next up Max. Max has a new instructor who is called Brian.
Checks complete, Brian calls for the cable.
Cable attached, the all clear is given and they are promptly being launched.
At the top of the launch, Brian releases the cable.
And they are off into the wide (no so) blue yonder.
Some time later, they approach back over the Hangers at RAF Halton.
Finally its Oly's turn. Brian explains to Oly one of the finer points of control.
Oly asks another question and Brian explains. Brian is a very avuncular chap, which is, coincidentally, the Ava word for the day. The word is...avuncular.
Oly is finally happy with Brian's explanation, so Brian can proceed.
Looking at this picture reminds me that the minimum age for flying a glider solo in the UK is sixteen. I have to remind myself that Oly is a second year university student, who is either very brilliant or takes a very young looking photograph.
Waiting for clearance to hook up and then launch.
The rest of the team look on.
Checks done, hooked up, all clear, launch signal given.
Climbing higher on the wire.
They fly around out of camera range. Then return, approaching after the flight.
Touching down as gentle as can be.
Brian says it was a very good flight. Brian is clearly impressed by Oly. Brian says Oly is a natural... We are not quite sure what Oly is a natural at, but we will no doubt find out in due course. Whatever it is, we hope it is pleasant.
Max's first flight was a little shorter than the others, so Max has a second flight with Brian.
Brian goes through the instruments in more detail this time.
Brian calls for the cable to launch the glider.
Very soon they are going up the wire again.
The cable is released, the glider turns away, the parachute on the end of the cable helps being the cable back in a controlled manner.
Max gets a much longer flight this time, the sky is bluer because the thermals are more spread out. Brian's expertise enables him to contact a late afternoon thermal and with a safe height margin, Max is able to fly the glider and under his control it climbs hundreds of feet. Eventually to return.
Ian curses the lag between pressing the camera shutter and the picture being taken - it's a good but somewhat old digital camera.
And curses again!
If you are interested in Gliding, then there is the British Gliding Association web site here.