We wake up to a wonderful sunny day…..a day which we are both looking forward to.
We are booked in for a private trail ride at Villas of Grand Cypress this morning at 10am. Can you believe that I have never ever ridden a horse before? It takes about 20 minutes to get there from the villa and they are waiting for us. We sign the papers and put our hats on. Then, we are given the basic commands …… not that we needed them, these horses are very well behaved.
I have Sylvester who is 6 years old and DH gets a slightly bigger horse called Boon who is 15 years old. Boon is beautiful. The guide asks if I need help in mounting the horse and I hastily say “yes please” I have visions of me getting on the saddle and then slipping straight around underneath the horse and hanging there while trying to look beautiful. As it happens….it was easy. :thumbs_up:
Off we set. We are told that at any time if we want to increase or decrease the speed, just to speak up. We head out over a grassy area and soon come across a wood full of winding pathways. It was nice and relaxing but I was loving it.
Now, all Sylvester seemed to want to do was eat at any given opportunity. All Boon wanted to do was be at the head of the group. I felt a little guilty at first having to keep pulling his head up when he was obviously enjoying the mornings picnic but, hey, this is my time….he can eat later. Besides, we were getting left behind and had to go that bit quicker to catch up…..remember this is my first time in the saddle.
We didn’t come across any snakes but what’s more important….I didn’t see a single spider. Our ride came to an end after about 50 minutes. We could hang around afterwards taking photos and making a fuss of the horses….which we did.
Next, DH is going to fly his plane and he is giddy with excitement. We hop in the car and head for Kissimmee airport which only takes about 15 minutes.
When we arrive at the airport, DH is introduced to his co pilot. He is called Craig and is from South Africa. They go through the controls etc while I just stand by and watch DH’s face…..I am so pleased for him. DH is booked in for an hours flight so my plan is to sit in the sun with a cold drink and write some postcards.
I’ll let DH take over for this part of the day as he has asked to write a report of his experience. I will be back to tell you about this evening. So, everyone, this is my gorgeous DH…….
Ok so Isafari had arranged a flight for me in an old World War Two plane, and not told me about it until yesterday- I'd normally say she can't keep a secret, but after the "20th anniversary secret" I can't say that anymore!
From the options of a 15, 30 or 60 minute flight, Isafari had booked me for the 60 minute flight which includes aerobatics in the price! I was a little apprehensive about this because although I like rollercoasters, I did not know if my stomach would handle a rollercoaster that lasted a whole hour! However I'd spent months really looking forward to the experience and was hoping it was going to live up to my expectations!
We found the airport very easily (or TomTom satnav did.... ) and arrived a little too early , so we went back to a Walgreens we'd seen a mile or so away and got some snack foods to eat in the car. (I did not fancy flying on an empty stomach) After eating our impromptu picnic we drove back to the parking lot for Warbird Adventures and parked the rental car.
From the car park we could see a couple of the old planes parked on the lot behind the entrance gate. At first I was not overly impressed by the "museum", but later found out that many of the planes they used to have on display had been damaged in the hurricane season of last year, and only a few were remaining on display while the rest were in storage being repaired.
After entering the gate into Warbird Adventure section of the airport we made our way to the office which was in a trailer/hut near the planes and introduced ourselves. Once our booking was confirmed, I was introduced to Craig who was to be my pilot/instructor. Craig and I chatted for a little while and because we'd also purchased the video and 35mm picture options, he explained how that worked for me. Basically they have 3 video camera's in the plane - one on the right wing looking at the cockpit, one in the tail looking forward and one in the cockpit looking at yours truly. On the left wing they also fitted the 35mm camera to take still shots of my ugly mug whilst in flight!
Craig then took me over to the plane we'd be flying and we took the opportunity to snap a few photo's of our own - or rather Isafari took the photo's and I drooled all over the plane! She was beautiful...... I mean the plane not Isafari...... Although she's beautiful too!
Warbird Adventures have two of these old planes and they're both bright yellow, the only way I could tell them apart (other than the serial numbers) is one has a blue band around the midsection of the fuselage and the other has a red band! The one I was going to fly was the blue one.... USAF Texan 4!
After a quick session of Isafari trying to out do David Bailey with the camera Craig asked me to climb up into the cockpit. Giving me easy to understand instructions on how to get in correctly I soon found myself being strapped into the front seat while Craig gave me the "safety speech" which included the locations of the "souvenir bags" just in case my body is not up to the rigors we're about to put it through!
PART TWO FOLLOWS IMMEDIATELY BELOW...
It was right about now I started to ponder my sanity and wondered what kind of a mess Diane had got me in for! Although the safety talk included directions about "what to do in an emergency" I knew from Craig's calm clear directions, he knew exactly what he was talking about and had no thoughts of me actually having to do any of the "jumping off the right wing" stuff he was telling me about!
Once I am all strapped into the seat and parachute (that I hope never to use) Craig climbs into the rear pilots seat and we start to talk on the headset and microphone system. Craig explains we're actually going to be taking off with the other Texan plane they have as someone else has booked a 15 minute flight. He explains this will give us an opportunity to do some formation flying for a short while and give some great photo opportunities.
When the other plane signals to Craig they're ready we let them lead off down the taxi way to the runway and we have to hold for a short while to await another plane landing. Craig uses this time to tell me something of the history of the Texan airplane and some information about the planes engine etc. Once the landing plane has cleared the runway both the Warbird Adventure planes head out onto the runway and start the take off manoeuvres.
Craig is obviously flying the plane at this point and both the Texan planes take off side by side. Once we're in the air Craig tells me to look out to the left wing, and clicks a quick photo on the 35mm camera with the other Texan off to the right...... what a great photo he's just taken (although I don't know it yet!) I think I've died and gone to heaven because what seems like only feet away is the other yellow Texan plane - so close I think I could reach out the cock pit and touch it.
We fly around each other in an aerial ballet and get to see angles of each other's planes that you wouldn't normally see. The weather has turned out to be perfect for flying with the occasional fluffy cloud and visibility is clear for miles!
Craig and I continue a chatty banter and by now Craig has me totally at ease and relaxed, although I think my neck might snap because I can't decide which of the awesome views I'm seeing to look at!
After about 7 minutes into the flight the other plane lets us know they're off to complete their 15 minute flight and Craig tells me I have control of the plane and explains how to steer and asks me to follow the other plane for a short while. I think he did this to see how I handled the plane and gauge my confidence!
So off we go following the other plane and Craig explains they're going to do some high speed turns. I follow the other plane at a safe distance and when I see the other plane almost tip up on it's side in a speed turn, I ask incredulously if Craig wanted me to do that! Fortunately he didn't and explained he just wanted me to follow and observe.
Now the other plane signals that it's going back to the airport and we continue on our flight. Craig asks me to climb to about 7000 feet and head south, so with me grinning from ear to ear we head off toward a big lake in the distance which Craig explains is going to be our "acrobatic area" Apparently the lake is near Winter Haven but sorry I can't remember the name of the lake!
As we climb Craig decides we're actually going to go a little higher that 7000 feet because there is a layer of cloud at about 10000 and he wants to show me an interesting effect, so he asks me to climb to 11000 feet. Once we get to 11000 Craig takes over flying of the plane and goes into a series of steep turns to show me the shadow of the plane on the layer of cloud beneath us. He explains that around the shadow I should see a "halo" which is actually a total circle of a rainbow caused by the same effect of a rainbow on land, but without the Earth in the way you get to see the whole circle and not just half of it! I didn't expect to get a Physics lesson while flying a plane but the sight was pretty impressive none the less!
Craig tells me I have control again, and talks me through with (incredible expert skill) how to do some of those steep turns I saw the other plane doing earlier and before I know it I am turning the plane on a sixpence and have been shown all the controls from the stick to the pedals on the floor! My mind is so busy I do not have time to think about being airsick (thank goodness again!)
We now head back to 7000 feet and, after asking me about how I am feeling, Craig asks me if I am up for trying some acrobatic stuff! You bet I am! So Craig takes control and shows me how to do a "loop the loop".... a slight dive to gain some speed then up and over we go! WooooooooooooHooooooooooooooooooo!
I can't believe it but a few seconds later Craig is asking me if I want to try that......... You bet I do!
So her I am, in control of this beautiful plane and we dive just like Craig did a moment earlier...... I pull back on the stick and Craig is talking me through the loop the loop in the headset. As we climb up and over and my only response to Craig is YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaW! I'm lovin' it!
So we practice that one again and then Craig asks me if I want to try a barrel roll! After replying with a positive yes Craig takes control and with me following on the stick we spin over like a corkscrew and now it's my turn woooohooooooo!
A few barrel rolls later and me beginning to feel a little dizzy Craig explains another manoeuvre called a "Cuban 8" which sounded complicated when he first explained it , but it turns out to be simply half a loop the loop and half a barrel roll combined and while it was fun doing it (yes I got to do one myself) I was beginning to feel a little queasy so after letting Craig know that one of the souvenir bags might get used we decide to take it easy for awhile and as my time is nearly up (where did it all go?) we decide to head back the scenic route (it's all scenic up here anyway !)
We head back north with Craig giving me directions to steer using landmarks on the ground...... "head toward that lake over on the left etc" (wonder if my TomTom would work up here - ) and pretty soon we're approaching the airport. During this time I am concentrating on flying and my tummy settles back down!
Craig takes over for the approach and I can relax a little after giving back control, but as Craig puts the flaps up for the landing the plane slows and my stomach (which has been slowly recovering on the flight back) decides that the change in speed is too much and I reach (excuse the pun) for one of the "souvenir bags", thinking I was about to loose that picnic we had earlier!
I mention to Craig I was not feeling well and he explains that this often occurs on the approach due to the change in speeds and tells me to put my hand out the cockpit and scoop some cool air. As soon as the cool air hits me I feel instantly better and I can put the "souvenir bag" away un-used! (phew)
We taxi into the area by the office, where I'd left Diane an hour earlier, and she's got the video camera out capturing our approach and me getting out of the cockpit beaming from ear to ear!
I thank Craig for a fantastic flight with a tip, and he knows from my face that I've had a never to be forgotten experience that I will treasure forever. Job done Craig!
Within minutes of landing Diane and I are watching the DVD being made of the flight video and Diane buys me one of the T-Shirts with "Flight crew" embroidered on the front - well I am now!
Would I do it again despite feeling a little queasy? - You bet I would!
Back to me! We get back in the car and head for the villa…..DH talking non stop about his ability to fly a plane and do loop dee loops.
We have an hour or so spare so we jump in the pool before having a shower and getting changed for our night out. Actually, I just lied. DH jumped in the pool and I sat on the side with my feet in the water.
We have an ADR for 1900 Park Fair at 6pm. We’ve never been to the Grand Floridian before so I am eager to see what it’s like close up. Past experience has been as we pass on the ferry to MK. Wow….how the other half live. Stunning. The lobby is beautiful and has a live orchestra playing on the first floor balcony.
We have a good appetite tonight so we head off for our meal a little early and get seated no problem. Now, I don’t know what I was expecting here but, this wasn’t it. I imagined it to be a lot quieter and dim lights. What we got was bright lights and lots of noise. The meal was a buffet and we had enough to eat but, I’d only give it 5/10.
Cinderella and Prince Charming both made a visit to our table.
Next, we head over to DTD. We have tickets for Cirque du Soleil at 8.30pm. We get parked….eventually! Having time to spare, we go into DQ for an hour. We play Qbert and Donkey Kong….brings back memories.
At about 8pm, we are at CdS. I have the exact same seats as last time. DH absolutely loves this show. We have a weird and whacky 90 minutes of weird and whacky people doing weird and whacky things. It’s hard to believe some of the sights you see here and there is no way you can see it all as there is just so much going on. I also can’t believe the lady next to me who is fast asleep!