right around the time i began dreading i also began soaring.
what is soaring? the simple answer is turning gliding into more then just a sled ride to the ground
in the early days of gliding there was just the primary glider
a primary glider has a very poor performance.
it would be launched off a mountain top
descend at a steep glide slope
and land in the valley below
flight times were measured in seconds
gliding flight is peaceful flight
with no engine to bail you out you were dependent on your ability to think fast
react just right and nail every landing on the 1st and only try.
but the joy of gliding flight led to far more advanced designs
gliders became sailplanes (still often called gliders)
while a primary glider might have a best glide rate of 4-1 (4 feet forward for every 1 foot down)
modern sailplanes average about 48-1 with the big open class gliders reaching 62-1
besides having a far flatter glide slope, the sink rate was reduced, this alows a heavy glider to actually climb when the airs rising faster then the glider is sinking.
soaring is the art of mastering the atmosphere. using invisible sources of lift, rising air, to climb high or fly far or fast.
thermals, marked by cumulus clouds typically, are created by solar heating, these narrow columns of rising air can be circled in just like hawks and eagles, in fact, often WITH hawks and eagles.
however other lift sources exist, the wind over a mountain ridge has nowhere to go but up. ridge lift provides some of the most exhilarating soaring experiences, racing often at high speeds very close to mountain ridges, flights of several hundred miles are now the norm.
downwind of these ridges on days when the atmospheric conditions are just right, standing mountain waves may form. with wave soaring the goal is to not move over the ground, but instead fly straight up in strong winds the perlan 2 space glider plans to reach 90,000 feet soon! waves theoretically reach clear into the upper stratosphere.
so you are beginning to see the pure epicness of engineless flight the oneness with nature
but what about competition? pushing the limits?
well how about the most graceful yet pulse pounding aerobatics posible?
glider aerobatics competitions have 2 parts, 1 a freestyle flight where you design and execute your own program and another where you must perform a series of aerobatics with exact precision.
then theres racing
racing a glider takes strategy, bravery a little luck and a whole lot of knowledge.
you start off with as many as 50 gliders circling in the same thermal in close proximity, then they are off through the start gate. some follow the same path others might bear off course where they feel they will get the most lift. the idea is to fly the long distance at highest course speed, but sometimes a longer distance means a higher speed.
a glider pilot must be able to judge angles to a 1 degree accuracy, and read the clouds and ground features in search of lift sources. they must also always be aware of the weather and how far they can glide, and where they will land at any moment if things don't go just right.
glider pilots are therefore the safest pilots out there. (case in point scully from the miracle on the Hudson only saved those people cause he was a glider pilot too)
sometimes in a glider race the winner is the only 1 who managed to complete the task and not land in a feild somewhere.
i fly with http://www.freedomswings.org a glider club for disabled pilots
many airline and fighter pilots alike prefer soaring over any other type of flight
ready for take off
dreads all tucked in secure clear of the controls.. (added to the preflight checklist)
27 years growing dreadlocks the natural way
My dreads are over 10 feet long
also on the board of, and a student glider pilot with freedoms wings international - soaring for people with disabilities
updated by @soaring-eagle: 11/17/18 07:18:19PM