Deer Stalkers Day Off
- Monday, 21 October 2013
Professional stalker Peter Jones takes a day off Deer Stalking and and tries something a little bit different.
With a blur of propellers not six feet in front of my face and the horizon rapidly disappearing beneath me, the nose of G-DMON was piloted upward into cloudless blue skies. Moments later and I was upside down with my heart pumping blood to my head and face. I hung for what seemed like long moments in the harness with the late summer countryside above me, or was it below me. Seconds later and forces in excess of 4G soon had me pinned firmly back in my seat as with straining neck and bile now rising steadily in my stomach we righted ourselves.
(Above: No going back now, G-DMON is cleared for take off!)
When your hobby and lifelong passion becomes your day to day work what do you do with your day off? Could this possibly be the answer?
Silently I cursed my friend, regular stalking client, James Schneider and more aptly myself for naively accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity from him.
I had just completed a loop, and the first of three proposed manoeuvres in one of the world’s top Aerobatic planes known as G-DMON. The stunts were to take place in clear blue skies above Henley Upon Thames, and the pilot one of the UK’s top Aerobatic pilots Paul Brice.
I suppose I must fall into a lucky few who have done this but also part of a few who can claim that their interest has become their job. I remember vividly climbing out of bed one morning several years ago thrilled in the knowledge that I was to be taking my first paying client deer stalking. Since that time I have been fortunate enough to meet countless interesting individuals and have attended many shooting events. It was during one such shoot event with one such individual at JJ Fox in St James, that with wallet clearly prized wide open, a well lubricated James Schnieder made the winning bid for an Aerobatics flight.
(Above:....."errr and I am wearing a parachute because?" Paul Brice offers some last minute advice)
Why he would bid for this lot? He can't explain. The only sure thing was that with a heady mix of whisky and beer and the raucous banter from fellow shooting enthusiasts in his ears he was sure to make a bid for something.
God bless both his generous nature and his weak stomach because just days later when properly sobered up and confronted with the prospect of the ultimate in vomiting inducing rides I would become the lucky recipient of a morning’s Aerobatic flight, auctioned off by the Guns on Pegs team in aid of ‘Fishing for Heroes'.
......Back inside the plane Paul’s voice came calmly to me over the radio. “How are you doing?” Anxious not to be a wimp, yet swallowing down bile as I spoke; “Fine” I lied. “We’ll move on to the next stunt” he replied. This was to be a roll. The wing dipped (don’t ask me which one) and once again the world was beneath me. The feeling of disorientation was astonishing, how Paul is able to keep his bearings in such situations is testament to the hundreds of hours spent practising such manoeuvres.
Not so bad that one, I can cope with this I thought, as we again drew level with the horizon.
The feeling of nausea from this last manoeuvre was to be nothing in comparison with the next stunt and Aerobatic finale that Paul had in'stall' for me...... ‘Stall’ here is the operative word. We were to carry out a vertical one of these.....a vertical stall!
Oh God here we go!......once again the horizon descended away and the nose rose. For what seemed like an age I felt like an astronaut launched vertically skyward toward the heavens. Thousands of feet above the ground and climbing, then with a horrendous feeling of weightlessness in the stomach and an alarming, sudden reduction in power the nose tipped and fell away to my left. The ground was now racing toward me as we plummeted head long toward the earth.
The sheer feeling of vulnerability and disorientation experienced in this tiny plane was to be enough. As we rose steadily and levelled off, a splutter!!.......No, not from the engine I am relieved to say, but from me. A splutter and a cough as bile rose into my mouth. Charming, but surely you will agree not unjustified?
Calm words again from the uber-professional Paul reassured me that we would be only minutes from landing back at the old war time airfield, and good job. Rapidly turning varying shades of pale green, I was at the limits of my constitution.
A bumpy landing and taxi across the grass airfield and we were back at the club house.
All things considered I would describe this as an amazing, dizzying, disorientating, but above all exhilarating experience! Despite the nausea a huge thank you to James Schneider.....yea, thanks mate, thanks very much! And to Paul Bryce who’s calm professional manner saved his little planes interior from being covered in my regurgitated breakfast.
No thanks however to you guys from my girlfriend Natalie, who had to wait over two hours before my stomach had recovered sufficiently to be able to make good on the promised and much anticipated lunch at Blomenthal’s ‘Hinds Head’ just down the road.
Next time James make a bid for the bottle of Scotch you mad man!