OT -- 2 turns that almost killed me

Good video from a Utah sailplane pilot who spends a lot of his time skimming the mountain tops.



Terrifcally understated, but even non-pilots and non-flyers will see hear and learn.

Sure made me “pucker”.

I spent two years gliding in the Southern Sierra area, and was addicted to the HUGE powerful rotor lift that often forms just east of the Sierra Nevada crest. Lucky for me that my attraction was also always significantly balanced by wide awake almost terror. When you enter it “cleanly” and “well located” you instantly feel the upward acceleration and up up up you go Go GO. One friend called it “God’s Mighty Elevator” and meant that as a warning…

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In the mid 90s, I went 1x to a glider port near Lampasas (Killeen) TX.
The glider was a boxy, square thing with a front seat for the “instructor” and a rear seat for the passenger.
It was not the sleek, gull-like serene gliders shown in the PBS documentaries.

I just wanted to go up. An instructor was there, and needed “air time with a passenger”, so he took me up.

A tow plane, hauled us up to 2000ft, released us, and we circled, looking for the up draft. No dice. We landed at the glider port, caught the tow plane again, and went up again.
This time we caught an up draft.
We “circled” … It felt like the inner wingtip was spinning around a $0.25 (quarter) - the centripetal force was fierce!

We rose to 6-7000 ft, and glided out over the Balcones Escarpment from I-35 on the east, to Georgetown and Liberty Hill TX, West to Burnett and Lampasas TX. We would glide a ways, drift down, catch another thermal, rise and glide more.

Truly a bucket list experience.

It was NOT quiet or serene, though. The boxy structure, and an open “port” for cooling air was rather loud. The cabin smelled of urine. I’m guessing some passengers were disquieted? LOLOL.

We flew with Turkey and Black vultures and perhaps some other raptors… 1.5 hours.
The pilot let me fly the stick, he kept the peddles. He kept asking if I was ready to go to the glider port. I kept saying no.

I only did it the one time.


ralph. Good on you.

I am amazed more people do not go and do as you did in a two seater with an instructor. Fixed wing gliding is not quiet and serene, but it is utterly magnificent. When I started doing stick and rudder in a glider I was instantly totally hooked, as gliders provide a profoundly visceral connection way beyond anything I later felt piloting either a Cessna prop plane or hang gliding.

Fixed wing gliders bring you stunningly close to “being a bird”, or at least a flying squirrel.

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Wow! Those things have an amazing L/D. I could get use to that.

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