Engines are for Wimps

I arrived at Snitterfield Gliding Club at about 1800 on Thursday evening and chatted with some other Spice members for a while as we watched the last of the afternoon session come in to land. Before long we were given an introduction to the gliders. The three we used were two-seaters with a closed canopy (they have one open-canopy that lets people on the ground hear the screams):

My Glider

We all had to wear a parachute because of club regulations, although weren’t shown how to use it as apparently opening it below 2000ft, the maximum height we attained, wouldn’t do much good. Go figure 🙂

The ‘control tower’, incidentally, was an old double-decker bus. I thought that was great! I hung around taking photos while waiting for my turn. Whenever the gliders landed a man on a very cool buggy would head out and tow them back into position:

Glider and Tractorbuggy

Finally, at around 1920, it was my turn, and I walked out into the field to be met by the pilot. I got into the front seat, and we waited for the winch to become free. One of the ground staff took this for me:

Me in the Glider - 1

Not the most flattering photo, but it’s better than the other one 🙂

The glider is attached to the winch and after the slack is taken in there’s a short delay. Then, without much warning, the glider is pulled forwards very quickly indeed. It’s only a second or two before you’re up in the air, and at one hell of an angle.

Glider in Clouds

For some reason I wasn’t nervous at all, either before or during the flight. I just enjoyed it! After the jarring cable release we were floating freely, and I looked around to see Stratford. We were up at about 2000ft and you could easily see the entire town. I tried to figure out which road was which, but then it was my turn to play pilot. It was extremely responsive and I took it through a few turns as well as playing with the pitch.

View over the wing

Another view from the nose

We did a long circle to come about above the gliding club:

Snitterfield Gliding Club

and set down in a surprisingly smooth landing. It wasn’t as quiet as I’d been expecting – the wind was pretty loud – but it was easy to have a conversation with the pilot so can’t have been too noisy.

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