The thought of strapping yourself to the top of a vintage biplane and soaring through the sky at 135mph would be daunting to most. For Sharon Brett, it was the realisation of something she had dreamed about for almost thirty years.
Sharon has wanted to wing walk since Exeter Airport offered the challenge in the 1980s but as a young mum, the timing just wasn’t right. When the opportunity arose to wing walk for Hospiscare last year, Sharon jumped at the chance.
For anyone who has come into contact with Hospiscare, Sharon is certainly a familiar face. She has worked as Front- of-House Coordinator since June 2014 and has welcomed countless patients, families and visitors to Searle House.
Through her role, Sharon sees the direct impact of our charity’s work every day and supporting Hospiscare by taking on the wing walk challenge she had dreamed of as a young mum just seemed right.
After a wait of almost thirty years, Sharon prepared for her flight of a lifetime on 21 September 2020. She comments, “The morning of the wing walk, I felt remarkably calm. I had booked the day off work and as the challenge wasn’t until 2pm, I had a lovely lie-in and then ate a full fry up!
“I felt fine in the car on the way to the airfield but then my legs started turning to jelly and then shook like crazy when I saw the plane!”
On arrival, Sharon underwent a full briefing and explains, “We were given a chance throughout to opt out but at no point was I tempted to do this. I kept thinking about all of the people who had generously donated to my challenge.
“Before I knew it, I was on my way to be strapped in, which in itself was a challenge. I had to climb carefully on top of the plane and put my feet exactly where the member of staff indicated. I then needed my full bodyweight to pull myself onto the wing using a bar to hold on to. My hands were sweating profusely and my arms were quivering with pure adrenaline so it was no mean feat!
“Even though I was scared, I put my trust in those around me. My pilot, Martin, asked if I was up for some aerobatic stunts in the sky and I said definitely!
“When the propeller started up, that felt a bit scary! Funnily enough, my nerves soon went and I was excited and ready for take-off.
“Taking off was the bumpiest part and when we were in the air, Martin decided to do every possible stunt that he had ever been trained to do and I loved every moment. It was like being on an extremely fast and furious rollercoaster but with no one else around! The views were simply incredible.
“Back on the ground, I felt so exhilarated, as if I could conquer anything! My friends and family were astonished at how many stunts Martin did! I had a pint of Guinness and a packet of crisps and sat in the sunshine with my friends and family, re-living what I had just done.
“It was the most incredible thing I have ever done; I’ve jumped out of a plane and zip-wired through a Sri Lankan forest and those experiences don’t even come close! I felt so free up in the air and so relaxed; it was the most amazing feeling and I didn’t hold on the entire time!”
Sharon’s incredible feat has raised over £2,000 for Hospiscare and she is already thinking about the next challenge that she can take on to support our charity. She hasn’t booked anything yet, but would really like to “whizz down a very long and terrifying zip wire somewhere!”
For anyone considering a wing walk for Hospiscare, Sharon only has two words: “Do it!”
To find out more about taking to the skies to support Hospiscare, click here.