If you’re after a day trip with a difference, you’re definitely in the right place.
Let us introduce you to Wingly: the flight sharing platform that allows you to hop on board a private plane with a private pilot. In other words, an infinitely cooler version of Uber or any carpooling app.
Wingly is the brainchild of three French lads — Emeric de Waziers, Bertrand Joab-Cornu and Lars Klein. Their mission stemmed from the realisation that there are roughly 10 million seats that go empty on private flights each year. So they’ve thought of an ingenious way to fill them, and they’re hoping it will take off.
Private aviation is often considered a luxury used only by VIPs… but what if you could be a VIP for the day and not have to sell everything you own in order to do so?
We were curious about the whole concept, so we thought we’d hop on a plane to the north of France to see what it’s all about.
We made our way from London Waterloo to Aldershot station, where we met our brilliant pilot, Stu. He picked us up and drove us to Blackbushe Airport, and we were acquainted with our trusty steed, G-BOOF.
Stu gave us our safety briefing and before we knew it, we were up, up and away! No passport control, no security checks, no Wetherspoon’s breakfast with a cheeky 4am beer. Just a quick wee and a sparkling water from The Bushe Cafe. Oh how the other half live, eh?
We flew down towards the coast of Eastbourne and out to sea, before landing in lovely Le Touquet about an hour later. Très bien.
We walked from the runway (via a 30 second passport check) directly to the beach, and commenced an urgent and immediate hunt for wine. With a Chardonnay in hand we contemplated the ridiculousness of our situation: we had woken up in London just a few hours earlier, hopped on a PRIVATE PLANE, and now we were guzzling white wine sur la plage. Madness.
After a quick vin blanc break, we strolled along the beach — admiring the healthy number of dogs and horses that were also getting a kick out of the sea breeze and the sand beneath their feet. We explored sand dunes and praised the colourful beach huts, before making haste in the direction of moules-frites.
We timed our lunch poorly so ended up in the only place that was open, but Le Saint Jean promised us “service constant” so we pitched up in the sunshine and enjoyed the entire restaurant to ourselves.
A wander around the town quickly revealed its charming, mirthful character. So many cute corners to discover, and wonderful shops and restaurants—albeit mostly shut ones—to explore. My personal favourite was ‘Croque’s & Pies’; fittingly found on Rue de Londres. A perfect representation of the mélange of French and English that manifests in this coastal resort.
The town is known for its elegance; boasting prestigious architecture and stunning Anglo-Norman and Art Deco buildings. In its heyday, Le Touquet attracted rich Parisians as well as a large number of British celebs and politicians. Winston Churchill and Noël Coward were regular visitors, and HG Wells eloped here!
Our time in Le Touquet drew to a close after an ice cream on the promenade and a petit ogle at an Eiffel Tower made of sand; the town’s pride and joy.
After what seemed like a wild goose chase for a taxi (seriously, leave enough time to walk — this is NOT worth it), we were back at the airport and back in the air.
The flight home was even better than the journey out. We knew what to expect by now, so we spent less time thinking “this is weird, what am I doing?” and more time gawping at massive estates and gardens with swimming pools. Plus, the evening light was really bloody gorgeous.
Once we landed we tucked G-BOOF into bed and made our not-so-merry way back to London. Believe me, there’s nothing quite like a day trip out of the city to make you realise how serene it is out there in the big wide world.
Wingly provides flights to dozens of different locations — from Jersey and Guernsey, to France and the Isle of Wight. They also offer sightseeing flights, including shorter journeys over central London. All flights are very reasonably priced, starting from as little as £50. Check out the trips they have on offer here.
Also published on Medium.