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soaring eagle soaring again
Soaring is a sport like no other. So what is soaring and what brought me to this amazing sport to begin with?
Soaring is the act of using rising air to extend the duration, and distance of unpowered flight. An unpowered plane also known as a glider, or sailplane, is powered strictly by gravity. in other words, its forward momentum is created by the downward pull of gravity. Efficiency of a glider is expressed in l/d or lift over drag at a certain speed, which translates into glide angle. This is a ratio like 38 to 1 (the ship I fly) up to 68 to 1 or slightly better for the most cutting edge "racing gliders" these numbers translate to the number of miles flyable for every mile of altitude.
So, in other words a sailplane or glider is always going down, losing altitude, and from 1 mile up will have to land within 30-68 ish miles. So how can a glider, that would land in 20-40 minutes travel 1550 miles and stay aloft 15 hours (world record)?
As seen in this video, gliders use updrafts called thermals to climb in rising columns of air exactly as eagles do. Circling slowly in a thermal increases altitude (the beeping you hear is the electronic variometer, the faster and higher the pitch the stronger the lift source, and faster you climb. You then can turn altitude into distance, and speed.
Other lift sources exist like ridge lift and wave lift, both caused by wind flowing over the mountains. Ridge lift is used in racing to fly very fast, very long distances, very close to the mountains.
In this case, the closer you fly to the ridge the stronger the lift and faster you can fly.
Wave lift is downwind of a mountain these standing waves can carry a glider higher then any powered plane can ever fly. the perlan 2 project is a "space glider" that will soon take mountain waves to a new altitude record..to the edge of space, without power!
Gliders also offer extreme, unpowered aerobatics like this:
But for me, the greatest challenge is cross country racing:
This is my eventual dream, to compete in glider racing.
How did I get involved in soaring? I grew up just below where the gliders released from tow. All my childhood the sound of tow planes throttling back and diving after release, was the soundtrack to my childhood. At a young age, maybe 8 I took my 1st ride. At 14 about I left home and lived right next door to the airport I now fly out of.
But, it wasn't until I was in my early 20s, and broke my back, ending up in a wheelchair for life, that I discovered that very gliderport that was such a part of my life already, was also home to www.freedomswings.org a non profit that teaches people with disabilities to fly gliders
With both disabled students, and instructors, this was something that really opened my mind to the possibilities that lied ahead of me. After listening to long lists from doctors of things I would never do again, here was a group saying you can do more then you ever dreamed of doing.
It was just 2 weeks after getting out of the hospital that I took my 1st flight, and began lessons the very next day.
Due to lack of transportation, after my 1st 2 solo flights I was no longer able to fly, for nearly 20 years.
2 weeks ago I resumed my lessons! And finally I'm back in the sky where I belong.
This video is very informative into all aspects of soaring.