Gliding Like a Bird!
My first gliding lesson was booked, so I looked out of the window and was relieved to see the sun shining!
There was a cold wind blowing, but that didn’t bother me as I was sure that it would help the gliders to fly, but what did I know about it yet? Nothing.
I’d already had a Winch flight for around 10 minutes, but today I was having an Aerotow lesson, being towed behind a plane for a few minutes, which takes the glider up a lot higher.
Then the cable was disconnected and we were airborne.
Peter my instructor told me to look over the side and under us. There was a flock of seagulls, soaring happily around on the thermals. A good sign.
A buzzard soared by. It looked up and thumbed its nose – or rather, winged its beak – at me, sending me a telepathic message, saying, Ha! I’ve been able to naturally soar around on thermals since I was a few weeks old without being told how to do it. But it’s going to take you several months of instruction, you stupid Human!
I’ll show you, Smarty-Feathers! I thought, banking to the left, using my stick and left rudder, and turning in a perfect circle.
This might sound easy to you, Dear Reader, but let me explain.
If you spin in a circle on an ice rink, for example, you naturally end up where you started. But in a plane or glider, you might start turning with the wind coming towards you, then it’s hitting the right side of the plane and blowing you to the left, then it’s behind you, and finally it’s blowing you to the right. So you have to be aware of this and control the glider.
Before turning, you look carefully around you, looking out for other flying objects, like planes, gliders, balloons, parachutists, pink elephants, UFOs…and only when you can see that it’s clear do you start turning.
Instructions are given clearly in a plane or glider. The pilot says, You have control. And the co-pilot replies, I have control. Then the pilot takes over again, saying, I have control, then you reply, You have control.
My main weakness when I flew planes wasn’t the actual flying, it was my sense of direction. I found it hard to work out where I was!
Yes, there’s a compass in front of me, but I still always worried about my visual flying.
In my defence, things look totally different from above. I once flew over Disneyworld and it looked like a building site!
So I made the most of flying over places that I knew well on the ground.
I could see Eastbourne’s seafront, Ringmer and Uckfield all at once. They seemed to be much closer to each other from above.
The thermals were so good that we weren’t losing height at all, so I had to do several of my perfect turns, both to the right and to the left, to get us lower down, while searching for the Gliding Club below us.
I raised the canopy, and discovered that my body weight had multiplied by about four. I was stuck, and couldn’t move, due to the parachute on my back, which I’d forgotten about!
When the blokes had stopped cruelly laughing, they finally offered me a hand to get out. They’re obviously not used to holding hands with the other pilots!
East Sussex Gliding Club