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The Tow

For those of you new to soaring, here's how we get airborne. The sailplane is connected to a 200 foot rope and towed aloft by a powered tow plane. The sailplane used for rides and instruction is a two-place sailplane. The student, or ride customer, usually sits in the front, and the FAA certificated pilot sits in the rear. Both positions have nearly identical controls, and the sailplane can be flown from either position. You may take the stick and fly the sailplane for a while if you like! The two ships climb in formation to about 3,000ft in about five minutes. The glider pilot releases the sailplane from the rope by pulling a lever in the cockpit and gently banks away to the right...and it gets wonderfully quiet.


Scholarship Fund

The Flight

After release, a sailplane can stay airborne until sundown if it's a nice soaring day. An ideal soaring day is one in which the air is cool and dry, the wind is light, and the sun is hot. Cumulus clouds gather at the top of warm, moist thermals and mark the lift for us. We can circle under these clouds, gaining altitude and watching the world get smaller as we sip on ice-water or snack on crackers. On a good day we can climb a mile (5,280 feet) in about ten minutes, then it's time to head off and do some sight-seeing over local towns and the beautiful countryside, keeping an eye out for red-tail hawks or turkey-vultures to soar with. Most gliders perform best in the 60-70MPH range, to give you an idea of cruising speed, but if you're in a rush to get home, most of the newer ships are rated for at least 160MPH. When we decide to land, we can bring the sailplane into the pattern in just a few minutes. Sailplanes take off and touch down at about 50MPH.

Crossing lake-1_0.jpg

The Magic

Easing back on the stick raises the nose of the sailplane, and at 50MPH there is very little sensation of forward speed or verticle descent. The pilot and passenger can speak to each other at normal speaking volume. From a mile up (see The Mile High ride) we could do a straight glide all the way into downtown Minneapolis in this 36:1 sailplane. Due to airspace regulations and landing options, this would not be a good idea. Nonetheless, it gives you an idea of the technology and performance of these wonderful flying sculptures. They provide an exteremely comfortable perch high above the Fall colors and farm patchwork of Minnesota. Sailplanes can be quiet and stable, delivering a solid, smooth ride...or...with their high red-line and G-load tolerances, they can be roller-coaster design machines. Your call. Most folks try a little of each. :-)


The Kid in You

He's in there somewhere...

Click HERE to buy a Glider Ride Gift Certificate Package (fully refundable - no risk - arrives in 2 days)

Click HERE to schedule a flight (maybe there's an opening tomorrow :-)