The Excitement of Gliding!

It was a Saturday with no plans again. The weather was too good to be wasted, so we had to come up with something. Luckily Waffle had been checking out some flying clubs beforehand so we called to one of them, the best of them probably, and made an appointment for flying.

We drove to the east, to Limburg, through dune lands and found ourselves from a closed military area. After driving past a few “Do not enter” signs and gates and cannons we finally saw the airstrip. And half a dozen of gliders on the ground. The flying club was hiding in the middle of a pine forest. On such a hot day the smell of the pines is incredibly strong!

But enough of the forests. We arrived at the head quarters of the club, it seemed to be really a relaxed environment for the hobby of a family of flyers. Then we saw the first plane slang up into the air. There was a knot tightening in the bottom of my stomach. “Really? You are gonna shoot me up like that??” After a bit of wandering around, small talking and almost buying a plane, yes, they really were going to sling me up.

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So I walked across the runway towards the parachute that was there, waiting for me to step into it. I was hoping I would not have to use it. A moment later I found myself climbing into this small jar with wings, in front of all kinds of meters and switches and gadgets. At this point I was scared. Right in front of my nose, there was another plane just dragged up. The climbing phase looked scary, the plane is in so steep position that  you can almost see the toes of the passengers through the roof.

Then I heard someone snapping the rope onto the bottom of the plane I was sitting in.

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Suddenly the roof was shut and the rope started to tighten, the plane crawled forward, until it shot up. They told me it reached the speed of 80 kmh in about 3 seconds.

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And then we were flying. First steeply up, the G-force pushing me to the seat, until it suddenly ended, slowing down rapidly and I heard the rope being dropped off, then followed a nice sensation of floating. The pilot, a very very nice chap, started the search of thermals, they  let the plane soar higher. So we turned, and turned, switched to another spot and turned again. There were 5 planes doing exactly the same thing, just like dancing together. It is a beautiful experience! Only the sound of the wind is following you and you are surrounded by the blue sky! Occasionally, a hawk visited the same thermal, rotating with the planes. Just beautiful!

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Came the time to land, the pilot brought us down smoothly and we dragged the plane up to the starting point, so that Waffle could step in and be thrown up.

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He did look really happy to see all the meters and widgets, he is truly fond of flying and was soon bonding with the pilot. The wind was picking up so Waffle had to be brought down quite quickly, but at least he got to feel the takeoff.

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That was a Saturday well spent I think, it was time to return home and get to bed. You guys, don’t go to sleep, but see more pics over here: Flickr!

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