Only once


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Only once

It is too easy to misremember things, so I will not identify the individual, but in the early 1990s, my hang gliding colleagues and I encountered the editor of a monthly aviation magazine when flying out to Lanzarote, one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of Africa. (We flew out by airliner with our hang gliders in the hold.) As well as hang gliding (and in recent years paragliding) Lanzarote is a major winter sunshine destination for European windsurfers.

Hang glider preparing to Launch at Mala, Lanzarote, 1989

Preparing to Launch at Mala, Lanzarote, 1989

As we watched hang gliders launching from the slope below the grass-covered twin extinct volcanoes atop the hill known as Macher, with the main town, its airport, and the sea in the hazy distance, he asked whether you could use a windsurfer sail to fly from the hill down to the landing field next to the school, which the hill overlooks. Obviously, being the editor of a top British general flying magazine, this guy knows about aviation (and his magazine has featured hang gliding on several occasions, at least during its early years) but he was saying what popped into his head at that moment. (I have done the same thing on many occasions and felt stupid in consequence.)

While I struggled to come up with a reply while imagining the unfortunate pilot clinging on to the boom for his life (literally) while somehow attempting to steer the tiny sail as it hurtled earthwards, Gordon D, whose fund of catch phrases is uncannily reliable, replied matter-of-factly, “Only once.”

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Hang gliding 1990 to 1993

La muerte negra, my Kinetic 1/48th scale Sea Harrier