My wife Kay is what I call a “white knuckle flyer”. I have owned several airplanes over the years and she has flown thousands of miles with me in small airplanes, but she never was downright comfortable in the cockpit. She has always been a trooper and went a lot of places, including back country grass strips in the Idaho wilderness, but when things get a little bumpy I could always see her knuckles turning white as she gripped the armrest.
So I was pleasantly surprised last week when Kay agreed to go up in a sailplane. You know, one of those flimsy spindly wing things that weighs about 500 lbs and doesn’t have a motor? Yep, Kay jumped in the front seat while our friend Alex took her on a hop around the pattern.
Usually sailplanes are launched with a tow plane, but at Sooner Soaring in Hinton they are ground launched using a hopped up Chevy motor at far end of the runway reeling in 5,000 feet of tow rope. The glider rockets what seems like straight up – actually about a 45 degree climb, much faster than most normal piston powered airplanes. Kay watched a couple of launches and then she was ready to go!
Unfortunately there wasn’t much thermal lifting action that day so she only got to spend about 15 minutes in the pattern before gliding back to a landing. Upon her smooth touchdown she was grinning ear to ear and ready to go again. Next time hopefully there will be more thermal lift so she can stay up longer.