Apparently I looked a little green. Surprisingly, I felt fine as the cockpit of the glider was clicked shut and Richie McCaw - the All Blacks' captain, who is also a gun glider pilot - and I bounced off down the grass runway in North Otago's beautiful McKenzie Country.

When the offer of going gliding with McCaw came up, as part of a story about his Discovery Channel show Sportstar Insider (tonight, 8.30pm), I was keen. Kind of. I'm a rugby fan and especially a fan of blokes like McCaw, and Josh Kronfeld before him, so was keen on the chance to meet him, have a yarn, and get his autograph for my godson Lewis who is - oddly enough, considering he lives up here - a Crusaders fan.

The gliding part I was not so enthused by. You see, I'm not that keen on flying and would rather be booted round at the bottom of a ruck than fly around in a plane with no engine. And I'm not just scared of heights, I'm pathologically petrified of them.

In the past I have happily stood on the ground and looked at the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building rather than climb up them, and I've only been up the Sky Tower once. The latter experience was under duress as part of my stag party and the lads were nice enough to give me a couple of shots of scotch in the lift on the way up. Not that it helped.

Vertigo affects people differently I'm sure, but my fear manifests in the form of sweaty hands, weak legs and worst of all, a state of queasiness.

Thankfully I don't panic, which means I have some sense of control over it, I guess; losing the plot on top of a tall building or in a plane - or a glider, as the case may be - is not ideal.

As harebrained as it may sound, before going up with McCaw I tried justifying to myself that a glider was even safer than a motorised plane because at least they are designed to fly without engines.

If I am brutally honest about the flight, I have to admit my legs were a little tense, tummy a little tight, and hands clasped between my knees as we climbed higher and higher with rumbles of turbulence hitting the lithe flying machine. It looked like one of those balsa-wood planes I used to make as a kid.

But I was conquering my fear of heights, and the "silent flight" was a blissful experience, so I was feeling chuffed rather than terrified.

And I didn't close my eyes once. Although it may have been a different story if McCaw had convinced me to do a 360-degree loop. No heroics, Richie. Let's just play it straight, do the basics right and get this bird home triumphantly. Much like you and the team should be doing come World Cup time, actually.

The experience has helped relieve my phobia a little. For example, during Labour Weekend I boarded Motat's Voyager 1 4-D simulator, which takes you on a rollercoaster ride across the Southern Alps and into Fiordland. I coped well because you can be scared of simulated heights and flying, too, you know. But instead of feeling uneasy and queasy, gripping the safety handles grimly, and closing my eyes, I found myself going with the flow of the Voyager as it swooped and dived over waterfalls, mountain peaks and into crevasses.

I was a regular little daredevil, whereas before I probably wouldn't have gone on it. Still, as much as I admire McCaw's hobby, I won't be taking up gliding on my weekends. I can think of far better things to do for fun, with my feet firmly on the ground.