I am in heaven. And crying. Yes, a man actually made me cry. Not to make me sad, but to give me an incredible joy …
I am on my way to the Bosnian town of Visoko. One evening before, I had met the Bosnian-Herzegovinian actor Fedja Stuka. We had talked about his book BLANK, a bestseller not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina but also outside its borders. As a farewell, he invited me to the sports airport the next day to take him for a spin in his gyrocopter. The actor, who is also known in Hollywood, is also a passionate pilot. He actually had a pilot’s licence first, before he even thought about getting a driving licence. He did so eleven years ago, when his beloved daughter was born.
First a pilot’s licence, then a driving licence
“I always wanted to be a pilot,” he tells me. He knew that as a small child, after seeing a pilot at the airport for the first time. Now he is one of 30,000 people worldwide who can fly a gyrocopter.
But what is a gyrocopter? When researching, I see pictures of a flying object, usually bright yellow, that resembles a helicopter, but without a roof – a convertible among helicopters, so to speak. We arrange to meet late in the afternoon the next day. “I would like to show you the sunset from above.”
My cousin Faruk and I have been on production all day with the new Audi Q4 e-tron. I’m excited and Faruk notices. He laughs as usual: “Are you sure you want to fly?” “Well certainly not and I confess that I’m a bit scared too. But I am also very curious! And a sunset from above …” My fear is also alleviated by the fact that a gyrocopter is the safest means of flight in the world, because it cannot crash. I had a look on the net the night before and did some research. And also the videos on YouTube show only happy faces.
Gyrocopter – the safest means of flight in the world
We arrive at the “Kenan Jusufbagić” sports airport in Visoko. The sky is clear and the sun is already quite low. Fedja is also already there. Of course, he travelled with his BMW machine. As a pilot, he is also a passionate motorcyclist.
The gyrocopter is already ready for take-off on the lawn. Next to it is a small Cessna. I get out. But now a queasy feeling is spreading. I parked my Audi next to the gyrocopter and you can already see the dimensions. The gyrocopter is quite small … And it is indeed completely open and hardly protected at the sides. Fedja greets me warmly. First he explains the whole technique. Then he disappears for a moment, and comes back with a jacket, goggles and a helmet. “You have to wear the jacket because it’s colder up there than down here.” I put on the jacket and the goggles. It is still quite warm outside.
“You will be a different person”
I sit down in it and the strange feeling towards the unknown grows stronger. I wonder if it is really so wise to travel up in it? A gyrocopter can fly up to 8000 metres! Fedja puts the helmet on me: “If you feel uncomfortable or have anything to tell me, then speak into the microphone. We are connected all the time. So there’s no need to worry. And I promise you – you will enjoy this flight. You will never forget this feeling on the first flight and when we land, you will be a different person! I even envy you for that, because exactly this feeling you will feel now will never come like this again.” Alongside the adrenaline rush caused by fear, curiosity is now mixed in.
Fear versus curiosity
Faruk laughs as he takes me in, as the expression on my face speaks volumes. “This is going to be very interesting, taking a before and after photo”. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster that I never got back on after the first experience. Fedja starts the engine. And then we’re off. We drive over the grass track. It rumbles and jolts like in an Indiana Jones movie. And then we take off!
The moment we leave the ground the fear leaves me too! Why? I have no idea. The oppressive feeling of having to wear this tight helmet is also gone. The wind blows around my nose. The only thing I feel from this moment on is freedom! And at the top the air is getting cleaner and cleaner! It also smells completely different! I am overwhelmed! Fedja flies towards the city: “First I’ll show you Sarajevo from above and then I have a little surprise!” During the flight he is in contact with the towers the whole time. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina and pearl of South-Eastern Europe, looks completely different from above! I recognise some buildings and some I don’t. We fly to Baščarsija, the historic Ottoman Bazaar. It is so wonderful to see the old core of the city, built by the Ottomans over 500 years ago! It looks like a geometric work of art from this perspective. And then there is Vječnica, the old town hall.
Tears, happiness and gratitude
Tears are rolling down my face. I just cry out of pure gratitude. This feeling of happiness in the pit of my stomach … I want it to last forever! Fedja is sitting with his back to me, but he notices how I feel. “I felt the same way on my first flight. A unique moment. To this day, it happens that I cry when I’m up here.” And yes, he enjoys this flight as much as I do, as if it were his first, spreading his arms like an eagle spreads its wings to let the wind take hold.
A sea of dense forest spreads out below me. It looks like a noble hand-knotted carpet of different shades of green. It is indescribable how this world down there opens up to you. Sublime, powerful – and above all, boundless and complete in its beauty. I feel the scent of the forest and let the colourful fireworks of the setting sun take effect on me. A work of art in orange, red, ochre and yellow appears before our eyes and changes every minute. I am out of space and time and I enjoy this moment that brings me so much love because it reveals Mother Earth and the universe to me. It shows me where I come from and where I will go back to. And in between is the life that we are meant to live with such moments!
A dance at the airport
And then the surprise. Fedja flies towards Sarajevo airport. Arriving there, he glides to the runway and and dedicates a dance to us! He flies so low that I could almost touch the runway with my hand, and glides over it in serpentine lines.
A dance is also taking place inside me. It tingles everywhere and a warmth of infinite joy spreads through my veins like wildfire throughout my entire body! The end of the runway is approaching and we are off again to new heights. We fly back to Visoko. The sun has almost set and the world below us seems to become calmer, more soulful and relaxed. When we land, there is still a bit of daylight. I find it difficult to get off the plane. I am afraid of losing this infinitely blissful feeling. It is as if the stressful everyday life would catch me again as soon as I set foot on the earth. Fedja gives me time to get ready. As I get off, a sadness spreads through me. Up there, worries, problems, prejudices and hatred are very far away. Up there, borders are unknown! Nature is the same everywhere. The boundaries we set for ourselves are only in our minds. They are not real. I can understand Fedja, why flying is his passion. It’s not that you run away from something. Up there, you find your way back to the balance we are born with. A flight with the gyrocopter is like a return to childhood, when we often laughed because we discovered something great in small things by consciously perceiving nature. We were in the air for about an hour and for me it felt like a short moment. However, a moment that will shape me for the rest of my life – in a positive sense. These moments that let us feel true life – life as it is given to us … What we create from it is left to ourselves.
Everyone now has the opportunity to book a flight with the extraordinary actor. You can find all the information and contact details at Funfly. My conclusion: The flight is worth every cent!