Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wishing to soar

Regular readers may have noticed that I did not post anything in August. That's because I was traveling, mostly on a family "road trip" vacation to the midwest. Using the SSA's list of soaring sites, I looked for commercial ops along our route so I could get in some soaring at a remote site. I mostly found clubs, and as you may know it's not very practical for a visiting private pilot to fly with a club, for reasons of logistics and insurance.

The only viable option I could find was Durango Soaring Club in Colorado. It's a club, not a commercial op, and their web site indicated that their focus is on selling rides and some instruction. It did not look like they rent gliders, and I've heard that the checkout at Durango is pretty extensive because of the challenging terrain. The only option looked to be to pay for a tourist ride and maybe get to do some of the flying, but that seemed expensive and unsatisfying. My schedule was uncertain enough (and the purpose of the trip was to do things with my family), so I didn't really look into it seriously.

Click the pic for a larger image.
While in Durango, our main purpose (well, mine anyway) was to ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railway. This is a spectacular ride in 1880's rail cars, with 1930's coal-burning steam engines, though the beautiful and rugged Animas Gorge through the Rocky Mountains.

Well, guess what: the tracks go right by  Durango Soaring Club. And just as we steamed by, a Blanik came in to land on their beautiful grass strip, and we happened to be on the right side of the train. So here are a couple of my best shots.

Click the pic for a larger image.

Wish the fields I fly from had grass like this!

And that's as close as I came to soaring in August.

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