Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Soaring... another flying sport that uses solar energy

I've been flying airplanes since I was six and a half years old (my dad's buddy took us for a ride in his Taylorcraft back in 1949). My dad got his pilot's license when I was eight. I could fly a Cessna by the time I was eleven, although I wasn't old enough to log the hours, and I soloed in our own Cessna 140. It wasn't until 1973 that I went for my first glider ride out at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu's North Shore; it was a Schweitzer 232 aluminum skin sailplane. The pilot let me put the stick in the back seat, so I could fly too; he even let me do a couple of loops in it. I was hooked! I got my glider rating in 1999 after I moved to Northern California, taking instruction at Crazy Creek Glider Port, just outside of Middletown, CA.

Pre-solo chat with my instructor

Ready for solo!

My 1st solo landing

Ready to fly the single-place PW-5 for the 1st time

Thanksgiving Day 1999

One of my instructors took these in-air photos

My 1st passenger & brave soul, Alan Germain

Soaring to me, especially up there alone, is a sort of Zen... it's peaceful and quiet - there's only the sound of air over the airplane (unless you start giggling like I sometimes do). You can almost meditate while flying 'cuz you're 'in-the-zone'. Here's a sample:

Now you can watch competitive soaring!

My real reason for bringing up soaring (besides showing off my soaring photos) is what's happening with the addition of high technology communications to the sport. Competition, in the form of cross-country racing, is a very personal sport; there's not much in the way of spectator inclusion, unless you want to watch the take-offs and then wait an interminable amount of time for the finish. Now, with communications equipment and computer programs like that used for The America's Cup sailboat races, spectators can watch these sailplane races on TV or a computer in their own home. Here's a couple of videos to give you an idea of what it's like.

like the dude said in the video, you don't need fossil fuel to get the adrenaline pumping.