Flying in a glider is one of the smoothest, most peaceful experiences you can have. It is just you, the glider, and the wind. Oh, and the pilot/instructor if you haven’t fully learned how to fly it. Getting your license is also quite the accomplishment. Unlike normal airplane flying, you can’t go around if you don’t like the landing you are going to make.
Gliders don’t have engines, but they are towed up into the air by a tow plane (a normal airplane). Once in the air, they are slowly gliding towards earth slowly losing altitude. For short rides, this is fine.
But if you want to go further, like cross-country, you have to find a way to gain altitude. Skilled glider pilots can circle up pockets of warm air, called thermals, to climb in altitude. Just like a bird.
However, we humans get competitive about everything don’t we? You can take your glider to a tournament and try to hit specific vectors in the sky. I believe there are also tournaments that are based on shear length of flight.
Today’s Friday Five! are from a tournament I went to in Albert Lea, Minnesota several years ago to watch gliders compete. Take a look!
I’d like to point out, if you are just learning or taking an explorer flight your instructor is never going to get far enough away from the airport that you’d have to make a field landing. This was a cross country soaring tournament, where experienced pilots were pushing the envelope.
I highly recommend flying in a glider at least once in your life. Be aware you might get hooked!
Cross Country Soaring, Inc – A gliding outfit just south of Minneapolis in Faribault, Minnesota. I know from experience that they are top-notch and a fantastic place to get you hooked on flying a glider.