Glider Ride Guests - Welcome!
For those of you who purchased one of our 4000FT ride packages, I put this page together specially for you. However, anyone who has not been soaring with us before will find this page useful also. Welcome!
Soaring is amazing. Ask anyone who has done it. The quiet whoosh that accompanies our carving path through the sky will leave your soul murmuring "ahhhhhhh...." If we get a chance to catch a thermal (a broad column of rising warm air usually found in the afternoon), the magic is magnified as the sailplane accelerates upward like a powerful elevator (only quieter). It is not unusual to soar 50 feet from hawks, eagles, vultures or even pelicans. It's also fun to chase ducks, but that's another story. We are quiet, unlike other aircraft, and our size gives birds the advantage of maneuverability..and they know it. So they are pretty comfortable letting us get close. Our flight take place over the Southern Minnesota Lakes Region, so it's a very cool view.
#1 ~ Which ride is this?
This is the 4000FT, 30 minute ride. It normally sells for $210. Also included is a DVD of your flight (the camera is mounted in the cockpit over your left shoulder), some basic flight instruction before and during the flight and a cool soaring hat to spark conversation later. The ride lasts 30 minutes on average, give or take a couple of minutes either way. Lighter passengers tend to get a couple of minutes longer in the air (it's a weight-and-balance thing) but whether we hang out in more rising air than sinking air is the real factor. A dead-calm day with a 180lb passenger comes out at 30 minutes. If you are interested in some "wiffer-dills" (mild aerobatics), or would like more time to do some of the flying yourself, consider upgrading to the Mile High flight. You can make that decision on ride-day at the airport.
#2 ~ What restrictions are there? Age? Weight? Height?
Kids are welcome. Five or six years old is as young as we usually go. They have to "not touch that" if we ask them to "not touch that". If the rider weighs less than 110lbs. then they have to sit in the back seat (the Instructor's seat) for weight-and-balance reasons. Otherwise, riders sit up front. The weight limit is 242lbs. The height limit is around 6'6", depending on torso-to-leg ratio. Getting in and out of a glider is a little like getting in and out of a bathtub. We are used to helping seniors, and those with various physical limitations, get in and out.
#3 ~ How do I set up my flight?
Go to the "Calendar & Links" page of this site. There is a video tutorial on "How to Schedule" there AND you will find a link to my on-line schedule. You can book your flight(s) several days or even several months in advance. Just click open the schedule and see if there's an opening on the day you want to fly. The schedule will show you what hours are already taken and which ones are available. If we get rain or strong winds on your ride day, we will call you at least an hour before your ride time (usually much sooner). We then cancel the day, putting a notice on the calendar and you can reschedule another day. For two rides, book two hours. Three rides? Book three hours. You can enjoy some couch-time (read on down). PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not wait until MID-SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER (the last month of our seven-month season) to book your ride. The schedule can really fill up fast with people who have procrastinated all year and are just logging in to see what this glider thing is all about. If you want to fly in the Fall colors of October, please book it before mid-September!
#4 ~ Where the heck do I go to take my flight?
Hey, there's no need for that kind of language. We are at the Faribault Municipal Airport. Just take I35 south from Minneapolis, and 45 minutes later, take "Exit 59 Faribault/Le Center." Our little airport is about 100 yards from the off-ramp on the west side. You could hit it with a rock. See the Directions page for an aerial view.
#5 ~ I'm a titch worried about claustrophobia, heights and motion sickness....
I'm glad you came forward with this concern. That took courage. We can seat you in the sailplane (front seat) while it is sitting on the ground and adjust the cushions and close the canopy, all at a slow, easy pace. The visibility through the full-surround plexiglass canopy is amazing and very few people have ever felt too closed-in to be comfortable with the cockpit size.
As far as fear of heights, I've never had a single person say "Don, this is nerve-racking - let's go back." Screaming - yes. Frantic pounding on the canopy while begging to get out - yes. Just never an articulate request. Joking! You'll feel quite secure in the aircraft and we can talk all the while. Just try and stop me from directing your attention from this to that. If you do change your mind, however, I can return quickly and easily to Mother Earth.
If you have issues with motion sickness, avoid days that are windy/gusty or particularly hot (above 85 degrees). Nobody wants a sick passenger. Nobody. We usually have crystalized ginger on hand (an ancient Chinese recipe for the stomach queezies) or you could take a Dramamine an hour or so ahead of time. Schedule an early morning flight (10AM), or a 6PM flight, when the air is smooth and glassy and wonderful.
#6 ~ What should I bring?
Dress for the day. Pants are better than dresses/skirts. Even though it drops about four degrees per thousand feet (that means 16 degrees cooler 4000ft up where we are going), we are in a flying greenhouse and this usually cancels out the temperature difference. Evening flights are a bit cooler, so bring a light jacket or a sweater just in case. Also bring some sunglasses, a camera and a friend. The friend is so we can maybe sell them a ride someday and recoup some of the money lost on this ridiculously cheap package you are buying. It's the least you can do.
#7 ~ What's actually at the airport, other than runways?
We operate out of the airport's original main hangar. It's a yellow, Quonset style hangar (hump hangar) that faces the runway. You'll see our sign on the back of the hangar when you first pull into the airport. We have a couple of couches on wheels that we roll out into the sun. You and your friend (remember, your friend?) can settle in there before and after the flight if you like. There is also an office with large windows and bar stools facing the runway in case it is more comfortable indoors. We have spring water in the fridge and there is machine-cuisine (salty snacks/pop) next door in the main office.
#8 ~ Is there anything else to do while we're down there?
Wow. You are insatiable for new experiences and adventure.
* You can have lunch in Millersburg at "Boonies", where, legend has it, The James Gang spent their last night before their fateful Northfield raid. The steak sandwiches and Rubens' are my favs. And the burgers. And you can play horseshoes in the covered patio in the back while you "dine". They have a great atmosphere and tasty food AND it's on your way back to the Twin Cities (about 8 miles north of the airport).
* You could go shopping at Cabela's (13 miles south) or The Medford Outlet Mall (10 miles south).
* Visit Northfield (a 14 mile drive), a neat little town with two colleges (St. Olaf and Carlton) to keep it young. Visit the museum, stroll past the small shops of main street, have a cappuccino, watch the river flow.
* Visit Faribault's [and America's first] Blue Cheese Caves in Faribault or the River Bend Nature Center
#9 ~ I am a swaggering pilot myself. Is this for me?
We will try to draw you away from the Dark Side (powered flight) and introduce you to the ways of The Force (thermals). Seriously, it is generally agreed (by anonymous, yet well known and respected Top Guns) that soaring will make you a better pilot. Many of the Air Force jet-jocks solo a glider as part of their training before they proceed to the really noisy aircraft. In fact, for astronaut and first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong, it's the purest form of flight (click this). You will definitely be intrigued by how we read the sky to find lift and avoid fuel bills altogether. You can fly as much as you want once we're off tow. In fact, we can make it a lesson if you like. Adding a glider rating also satisfies a Flight Review...just saying.
#10 - What if I change my mind after I buy the ride?
What, chickening out already? I'm joking! Google up "Don Ingraham glider" or something like that. I (Don) will be in the back seat. I live there. We'll be fine. Plus, your certificate is fully transferable to someone else if you can't fit the flight into your busy lifestyle. But since this is awesome, why would you ever change your mind? Exactly.