News Columns & Blogs

Unpowered glider flight a thrill

glider-one4Strapped into a two-seat glider on Saturday, flight instructor Dave McConeghey showed me the instruments, how the glider’s rudders and stick move, how to put on brakes and how to adjust the trim. I have been taking flying lessons, but have never been in a glider. Dave thought it would be a good supplement to my training — and be fun at the same time.

He climbed in and lowered and secured the canopy. We were going to be towed off the ground by a tow plane to 3,000 feet above ground level, unlease the rope and ride the thermals.

The plane tugged us across the grass strip at the Wichita Gliderport in northeast Wichita, and we were airborne. It was a thrill, although I was glad that Dave did the flying. Once released from the tow plane, Dave maneuvered the glider to try to find thermals that would keep us airborne. But on Saturday, the winds were slight and we kept losing altitude… Finally, one gust let us rise, but only by 20 feet.

glider-threeFrom our seats, however, we could see the checkerboard fields below and a deer run into nearby trees.

After 20 minutes of little wind, we glided back to the Gliderport and landed back on the grassy strip.

The place had gotten busy. One man had even driven from Kansas City to finish his private gliding rating. That’s him being towed in the photo on the left.

Although we didn’t stay in the air for long, it was a fantastic experience — one I hope to do again soon.