By Bethany Gleave
A daring dad-of-two has revealed the astounding moment he flew over a RAF Hercules Bomber aircraft ‘like Superman’ – whilst hang-gliding at 3,500 feet in the air.
Steve Wood, 44, was floating over Sutton Meadows in Cambridgeshire when he noticed the impressive military aircraft in the distance.
After deciding to see how close he could get to it, before Steve knew it he was flying directly above the giant bomber with its 130-foot wingspan.
Steve, from Hertfordshire, said: “I could see the bomber from a good couple of miles away.
“I just thought I’d see how close I could get to the plane but I actually ended up closer than I thought I would. I couldn’t believe I flew over the top of it, it was impressive – though I was still safely 1,000 feet above it.
“To get near to a plane like a Bomber while in the air is very rare. It’s a huge plane, a giant and very imposing in the air – it makes you feel tiny in comparison.
“Hang gliding honestly feels the closest you can get to dreams of flying.
“My wings are lighter than my whole body, so I genuinely feel like Superman while I’m up there, especially when I managed to fly over a plane like that.
“It’s not something you ever expect to experience. I felt as free as a bird.
“I do often spot other aircrafts when I’m out flying but I can often never get that close.”
The IT worker explained that summer gives the best chance of getting a hang glider high enough to fly over a plane as it gives the best conditions for thermic flying, using heat spots to keep in the air.
Steve, who lives with his wife Alison, and their two children, Dan, eight, and Joe, seven, said: “Thermic flying is like a chess game, you’re constantly trying to keep yourself in the air.
“I always look for things like dark fields and tractors below me as they can often highlight spots of warm air that will help me stay up.
“I try to fly as much as I can, though it’s not easy when you have a seven and an eight-year-old, I tend to fly most weekends in the summer, but of course family comes first.”
A microlight plane tows the gliders to around 2,000 feet before they are released.
Steve said: “Of course there are initial nerves, but you need to concentrate really hard when gliding, it isn’t like a parachute jump where the aim is to get to the ground, gliders want to stay up in the air.”
Steve normally flies at his local club, Cambridgeshire Aerotow Club but has also visited the US to fly.
Steve said: “I’ve flown with birds of prey before, such as bald eagles in the US. They often come close and turn their head as if to say ‘what is this in the air’ then fly away.
“The birds are a great source of thermal pockets though, they use them too to stay in the air so if you follow them you can find the pockets.
“You really do fly like a bird.”
Described as ‘the workhorse of the RAF’s Air Transport fleet’, the Hercules Bomber is used primarily to carry troops, passengers or freight, and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 355mph.