Sunday, July 01, 2018

Up Up and Away!

You may be wondering about the recent videos of glider flying on this blog.  That was actually unintentional, triggered by my content distribution systems, but I will take the advantage to explain.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking a couple of flights in a twin seat glider with the Bendigo Gliding Club.  A friend of mine has been a glider pilot for many decades, and he had been offering to take me up for a while, but as always, life gets in the way, between sporting and community commitments.  The school holidays provided a small window of opportunity to go for a flight.

Anyway, conditions were perfect for an introduction to the sport.  With a high pressure system right on top of us, conditions were clear and almost calm, with a wind of only a couple of knots, barely enough to move the windsock at the airfield.

I arrived around 2PM, as arranged, and the first thing was a bit of a safety briefing, from runway safety (not unlike safety around the track on training nights!), to various procedures, and an introduction to how the flight controls worked.  As I have had an interest in aviation for most of my life, this was fairly easy to follow.  There was also a bit of paperwork, as you’d expect.

Next, it was time to get prepared.  First, the parachute was fitted (this is standard practice in many clubs here), then I was strapped into the back seat.  The pilot then did his routine pre-flight checks before boarding and getting ready for take off.

The take off was bumpy and noisy, because of the grass runway, but once we left the ground, it was smooth, with the engine noise of the tow plane audible.  We remained on tow until about 3000 feet, where we separated from the tow plane and started gliding properly.  Conditions were very calm, and I took the opportunity to get the phone out and take a number of pictures, which quickly became dozens. :)  From this vantage point, one could see the local area in detail, and the mountains of the Great Dividing Range in the distance.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere was calm, and the sound of the air rushing past the outside of the glider was surprisingly similar to the background noise in a jet airliner, and it was easy to forget that we were running without an engine.

All too soon, it was time to land, and we made an approach and lined up for the runway, like any other aircraft.  Landing was smooth, except for the bumpiness of the runway, where we simply rolled to a stop.  Now it was time to unclip the harness and parachute and exit the aircraft, before the glider was towed back the the take off area.

Afterwards, we chatted, and I took the opportunity to take a video of another take off in the same glider from alongside the runway (posted here before).  After that flight landed, there was time for one more flight, so I got to go up again.  This time, I took video of the take off and landing, as well as more photos.  It was another smooth and uneventful flight, but the lower angle of the sun allowed different features to be seen from the air.

After the landing,everything was packed up, then we proceeded to the clubhouse for a quick coffee. 

The gliding was not just a great experience, but also a bucket list item that my first (and late) partner had put on the list, when he described his experience in a glider to me around 25 years ago, which he had before we met in 1991.  I remember him saying “If you ever get the opportunity to go up in a glider, do it”.  Well now, I’m pleased to say I have done it, and it was every bit as amazing as he described.

Gliding is definitely a sport that has a lot to offer, especially for those with an interest in becoming commercial pilots.  It’s also one of those experiences everyone should try at least once.

- Tony via Tumblr

No comments: