EVERYONE does something when they turn 40 and I wanted to do something really different.

I’ve done an awful lot of things, so I thought to myself, I want to go to Russia and I want to learn to fly a Mig-29 fighter jet.

It was a two-week course in the military school in Russia, then they take you up into the edge of space.

That bubble was burst very quickly when my wife said: ‘There is no way you are doing that.’ So then I thought, what’s the hardest thing to fly legally? And it transpired it was a helicopter.

My mother got me a voucher for my 40th birthday to do a lesson out of Cumbernauld. I was absolutely terrified. A helicopter is an engineering marvel. There is a million moving parts and there is no way that anything like this should be able to fly.

If you get a metal tray and put a marble on it and try to to keep that marble in the middle, that is the way a helicopter works. There is a centre of gravity and any wee inflection disrupts that. You have two hand levers and two very delicate foot pedals where if you touch one one way, you have to adjust it.

For the first 10 hours I just went round in circles – but after that first lesson I was hooked.

I got my licence after 63 hours. It’s not something you ever want to rush and every year you have to have a medical and complete a competency test.

It was the descents that worried me, they still do. Landing is the hardest thing because every day is different. Generally I fly about 2500-3000ft because anything above that the air gets thinner.

I used to take my wife on trips – but that quicky stopped.

I don’t own a helicopter, you’re starting at £300,000 for a helicopter.

I’ve had a few hairy moments – in fact, pretty much every time I go in it!

There was one early on when I was flying out to Oban, going over the Rest and Be Thankful, when I hit some wind down the mountains. I was with my instructor at the time and my head was bouncing off the cockpit and I was thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be here’. Then when we got to Oban it was a beautiful sunny day.

Flying over Glencoe is absolutely amazing, you can’t beat it or bmbing down Loch Katrine with the Maid of the Loch.

It’s a great feeling of freedom, it’s exhilarating and it’s got that added edge of danger.