Today I was finally able to cash in my February birthday gift and got 30 minutes of flight time in a glider.
Parachute training took about two minutes and was a little weird. I mean, the last thing I wanted to hear from a guy I’ve just met and am about to set off to the sky with was “in case we have to step out in the air”. I was also a little doubtful two minutes of training was enough to prepare me to “step out” in case of an emergency.
Then it was time to get into a kayak with wings they call a glider. I’m actually convinced my kayak has more space, and it doesn’t have a glass bubble closing on top of you. Gliders are not for people with claustrophobia, period, but the aircraft grows on you after a while and once we got up in the air it actually felt very comfortable knowing everything around was tight.
The pilot turned out to be a pretty kick ass person, a guy who’s been flying as long as I’m alive and did 1,000 flights just this year alone; some with tourists but most as instructional flights with soon to be pilots.
Once we were in the air the pilot gave me a play-by-play description of everything happening around us. “Now the plane pulling us will give a sign to detach and you’ll feel a sharp pull from the line snapping off.” I was so into listening to the guy I almost forgot to take pictures.
At one point the pilot told me of a little maneuver they call a “dip”; they nose dive a glider about a 100 meters only to pull back up again. I’ve been on plenty of Six Flags roller coasters before but there was nothing that ever prepared me for this. The glider just started to drop and had I not been strapped down to my seat I would have bounced right off of the glass dome above me. The feeling of weightlessness was far more than anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life and my stomach was quick to point that out. Then it was back up and the g-forces pushing me back into my seat were pretty incredible, no holding up the camera for me, I couldn’t move at all. Right when I thought it was over it was time to level off from the climb and bam, weightlessness again and more stomach pain. The maneuver lasted about 20 seconds but felt like an eternity. It was fun and exciting but strange and uncomfortable at the same time. And since I’m a grown man and I couldn’t cry about it to the pilot. So down and up we went again…
The landing was pretty easy except for the pilot messing it up with his talk. “As you’ve already noticed we don’t have an engine, so if we drop too much ahead of the airport, we’ll crash.” Prick. But we landed fine and it was actually a pretty soft landing for an aircraft with just one wheel. It was a very fun experience.
If you’re in the Wrocław area and are looking for a little bit of excitement I highly recommend a glider flight. The pilot himself will tell you that glider flying is boring, but he’ll throw in a dip or two to get things more entertaining.
The entire flight experience took place at the Szymanów aeroclub located just a few kilometers north of Wrocław. Check out their site at: http://www.aeroklub.wroc.pl/ After the flight we took a few photos of the planes sitting on the lot, some of them probably shouldn’t be flying.
To my Polish speaking readers I recommend a short film over at TVN24 filmed just a few weeks ago at the said airport and with my actual pilot in the hot seat: http://www.tvn24.pl/