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Are you always looking for the next high? Get the ultimate adrenalin rush by trying aerobatics, wing walking or tank driving, says Matt Risley

 Much to the dismay of both my insurance premiums and my mum’s whiskey habit, I’ve embarked on some ludicrously silly and dangerous things in my time. I’ve bungee jumped off hanging cable cars, flung myself out of planes and played ‘catch the tomato with your face’ at La Tomatina.
But the most terrifying thing an adrenalin-junkie traveller could face? Topping the last heart-thundering high. And while the UK’s big-budget theme parks and rickety pier-side carnival rides provide an illicit, momentary thrill, they don’t really match up to the rest of the world’s most esoteric extreme sports.

As I hang upside down at 3000ft in a world-class aerobatic super-plane, and suddenly start plummeting towards the ground, I feel the carrot cake I’ve had for lunch reacquaint itself with my oesophagus. It’s at this moment I realise that the UK harbours crazy, high-octane activities that guarantee the ever-illusive ‘once in a lifetime’ experience – you just need to know where to find them.

While I’m no excitable egotist, I approach a day’s worth of ‘extreme aerobatics’ with mild ambivalence. I’ve seen Top Gun. I’ve flown easyJet … and survived a landing while hungover. Surely there’s not that much more to flying?
After slinging on a jumpsuit and picking my callsign (Red Baron), I’m briefed about the capabilities of the plane by my co-pilot, ex-RAF squaddy ‘Hadders’. Before I know it I’m in the cockpit of the two-seater Extra300 with the canopy locked down and the propellers whirring.

The take-off is deceptively relaxing as the ground vanishes beneath us and miles of summery green Cotswolds countryside blankets the near 360° view from the cockpit. Soon, the plane gently banks skyward. We’re soaring towards the heavens, and just as I feel I could touch the clouds with my fingertips, we’re upside down and back to where we started.

And that’s just the entree. The plane has its own learner driver-style set-up, meaning I can learn the ropes and ?– with no experience whatsoever – start looping the loop ?and barrel rolling.

Hadders then takes/wrestles back control and embarks on an utter master class in adrenalin-pumping ridiculousness. I’m thrown around like a ragdoll, giggling all the way as he flies aileron rolls, stall turns, Cuban Eights and my (but not my stomach’s) favourite – the Lomcevak (roughly translated from the Czech, ‘mule kick’) which has the plane spinning vertically before flipping back around to rotate every gyroscopic way imaginable on its way back to Earth.

As deliriously grin-plastering experiences for the adrenalin-happy go, you’ll be hard pressed to find ?anything crazier or more enjoyable.

For some, though, merely sitting inside the cockpit isn’t enough. There’s also the option of stepping outside the plane and standing astride the nose for a refreshing spot of wing walking, which guarantees stomach-lurching drops and dives with nothing but some goggles and a harness to stop an impromptu skydive.


Then there’s the less-disorientating, but just as amusing, tank-driving to master.

While you’re unlikely to get anything stronger than paintballs to pelt your surroundings with, it offers a day out that can be as historically enlightening as it is stupidly amusing, as you swing the cannon around and hum across ?a muddy, battle-scarred course in a war-worn tank. Just watch out for sheep.

The UK may be more known for its quaint afternoon tea breaks and lazy afternoons down the pub, but there’s a whole world of adrenalised excitement ready and waiting to ?be explored – by the brave and the faint-hearted alike

Just make sure you pack an extra pair of undercrackers.

Extreme aerobatics from £325
Wing walking from £499
Tank driving from £95

Where to eat, drink, sleep


The nearest tourist-friendly town to Cotswolds Airport is the delightful Cirencester, which has a host of country pubs, classy restaurants and hotels. Somewhere Else offers a more modernised (and importantly, delicious) take on country grub feed, with specials from £4.95 (

Indian Rasoi guarantees a hearty curry feed for affordable prices. Mains from ?£7.95 (


The Royal Oak is a solid boozer with an array of ales (

The Waggon & Horses  is a sleek and charming pub with a great bar menu (


The 17th-century Stratton House Hotel offers a far cry from your usual Best Western with a flag-stone floor and beautifully rural surroundings, from less than £60 a night for a single room (

Only three minutes’ walk from Cirencester’s town centre, four-star B&B The Old Brewhouse is friendly and full of character. There’s also a pretty courtyard in which to chill-out in. Doubles from £75 per night, including breakfast (


Extreme sports UK: aerobatics, wing walking and tank driving
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