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Sailplane Rides

If you are considering a ride in a sailplane, then congratulations! It will be quite possibly one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life! But be forewarned, at the completion of your first flight, you will have a grin on your face that may be hard to remove. It is just plane fun.

Video produced by: Eddie Coutras

Eagleville Soaring is open year-round 10 a.m. until dark weather permitting. Rides cost $125. Gift certificates are available for purchase. To buy a ride for yourself or or buy a gift certificate for someone special, click here.

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Photo By: Eddie Coutras

Here is what to expect when you arrive…

When you arrive, you will be introduced to your FAA-licensed pilot. In most cases, you will be flying with a CFIG or Certified Flight Instructor Glider. Occasionally, the club may use a commercial pilot for these flights. Commercial pilots are also licensed by the FAA and have a lot of experience in the air. In any case, you can be sure you are flying with a well-qualified pilot.

Your pilot will introduce you to the aircraft you will be flying. This will be the ASK-21, a German-built two-seat sailplane. He will explain to you the functions of the aircraft and provide you with a safety briefing. Please feel free to ask questions of any type during this briefing.

After your briefing, you will board the aircraft. You will sit in the front seat, which has a panoramic view of the sky and ground. Your instructor will sit behind you. You will have a full set of flight controls, but don’t worry. Everything you have, the instructor also has in his seat.

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Photo By: Eddie Coutras

When everything is ready, the tow plane will slide into place in front of you. A ground helper will connect the 200-foot tow rope to both the sailplane and the tow plane. At the signal from the ground person, the tow plane will slowly move ahead to remove all slack from the rope. The ground helper will then watch your pilot for a sign that he is ready to go. When the signal is received, the ground helper will swing his arm in a big circle to tell the tow pilot to go. This go signal is also duplicated by the pilot operating the controls in a certain way so the tow pilot has two ways to know that you are ready to go.

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Photo By: Eddie Coutras

At this point, the tow pilot will rapidly accelerate down the runway. Your pilot will operate the controls so that you follow the tow plane exactly. You will leave the ground a little before the tow plane. Your pilot will hold you near the ground until the tow plane is ready to climb, and then you will climb into the sky as one. It will take just a few short minutes to climb to 3,000 feet above the ground. During this climb, you will enjoy a splendid view of the ground and sky. You may take pictures if you wish.

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Photo By: Eddie Coutras

When you reach 3,000 feet, your pilot will pull a yellow knob in the sailplane. This knob will release the tow rope from the sailplane, and you will be flying free of the tow plane. The tow plane will turn left and descend rapidly. If you don’t make a special effort to follow, you will quickly lose sight of the tow plane. Your pilot will turn to the right and climb a little bit. This way, you put a lot of distance between you and the tow plane quickly. This is a safety consideration and we always do it that way.

Sometimes when conditions are right, the instructor will be able to make the sailplane climb. He will do this by entering a column of rising air called a thermal. He will make a series of turns in this thermal so that you stay inside this column of rising air. It is an amazing experience to realize that you are climbing away from the ground without an engine.

After about 30-35 minutes in the air, your instructor will turn back towards the airport for landing. After a few quick turns, you will be aligned with the runway and soon will gently touch down on the grass field.

Click here if you are ready to buy a ride.