My husband and I took our first ride in a Sailplane over 15 years ago at Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix, Arizona. We enjoyed it so much that instead of crossing it off, we’ve kept this on our bucket list.
On a recent trip through Arizona, we returned to the Turf Soaring School at Lake Pleasant for what is now my fourth sailplane ride.
It was like stepping back in time, when we were greeted again with hello’s from Bebop, their white parrot mascot. The owner claimed that this (blankety, blank) parrot can live for 100 years. Well, Bebop must be almost as old as I am.
Part of the pre-flight check list is making sure the release handle will detach the 200 foot rope from the tow plane. As you can see, I got to practice this important task of tugging the yellow, ball shaped release handle. The training includes all aspects of gliding, but I wanted to relax(?) and enjoy the flight.
Carl Baxter, the aerobatic instructor, asked what kind of G-force ride I wanted. Since he would be seated behind me, I would have to verbally let him know if and/or when I needed to stop the aerobatic ride.
I’m a confirmed adrenalin junkie and like to get my money’s worth. Well, I certainly did!
He performed some loops, rolls, wing overs, a cloverleaf (90 degree turn), and my favorite, a hammerhead stall.
I have to admit that a few times while my mouth was saying “oh wow, this is fantastic”, my brain was thinking “oh crap, this is scary.” Then he flipped the plane to an inverted flight and watched the ground zoom by, as we hung upside down.
Since there weren’t too many thermals to keep us airborne, we did a low (dive bombing type) pass. This then took us up and over the airport buildings, so Lee could get our photo.
We then turned back towards the runway and came in for a smooth landing in front of the airport.
I found this video on-line of a flight that was taken last year at the Turf Soaring School. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WtEpVE5_aE This will give you an idea of what we saw and some of the aerobatics we enjoyed. Note: the creaking sounds are the plane’s wings, not my body.