We’re reopening May 16, 2020

We’re reopening May 16th, for instruction, rentals and private tows

In response to the government’s COVID-19 guidelines, Soaring Academy is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the well being of our employees and clients.

Here are some of the steps we’re taking:

  • We shall be following CDC recommendations of 6 feet physical distancing from one another.
  • Limiting the number of people inside the office and pilot lounge. Please abide by posted instructions.
  • Face coverings should be worn when indoors on the property.
  • Instructors and Students will communicate directly re best practices during their lesson.
  • Gliders will be wiped down between students.
  • We will be wiping down door knobs and community surfaces frequently.
  • Please bring antibacterial spray or wipes and use them periodically while visiting us.
  • If you or someone in your household is showing signs of illness, including fever or flu-like symptoms, please reschedule your reservation. We will not be enforcing our cancellation policy during this time.

Please bring with you:

  • Mask
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes
  • Water and food
  • Please stay safe and healthy and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Please read our latest post on Scheduling Requirements

We’re still here to answer your questions, so feel free to e-mail us at office@soaringacademy.org

OVER ONE’S HEAD

Ever been tempted by an opportunity you knew you weren’t prepared for, and wondered what was the right thing to do? Me too. I had logged less than fifty hours of total flight time when it was suggested I start giving commercial rides in exchange for free use of a newly minted single seater, the Lark IS-29. I thought hard for about a minute and then turned the proposal down, not ‘cause it would be illegal, but because I knew I wasn’t ready, for commercial rides or the sexy new bird. I would regret that decision, half-heartedly, until I finally flew an IS-29 years later, and realized I’d actually passed a kind of intelligence test back when. Turns out the cute little Lark has an treacherous way of stalling and immediately spinning, with no warning of any kind. Knowing what I know now (and who I was then) if I’d wandered away from the airport in that ship with my ‘skills’ at the time, I almost certainly would have gotten low somewhere and spun her in. I can never prove this of course, nor can you prove otherwise.

But that’s not the whole story, either. At a very different time and place (only a hundred hours later in my logbook) I took the same intelligence test again, and failed. The temptation this time was giving dual flight instruction with a private rating, to be endorsed by someone 200 miles away — who happened to be the designated examiner if you can believe it! Still cross with myself for wimping out earlier, I foolishly accepted.

I was admonished to teach only what I knew, but with 150 hours total time I knew close to nothing. Not the best place to start, I thought, but one does have to start somewhere…

So naturally, my first raw primary student began drifting off from alignment with the runway on late final. That happens all the time of course, and I’ve dealt with it, now, about a thousand times. I’ve learned to expect it and have multiple ways to correct, but that day all I could do was improvise. Cringing to stay off the controls as much as possible, I waited a couple seconds too long before finally intervening, and suddenly there were trees between us and the threshold.

At certainly the last possible moment, I jammed both a right and a left turn to get around a dead Tamarack. We almost sneaked by — severing its top six feet with a wingtip. If it had been alive, or if we’d had a wing lower than the 2-33’s, we may have never reached the runway.

Turns out that tree had been impinging on required airspace clearance and would be cut down by DOT weeks later, weeks too late for our poor wingtip.

Et cetera, et cetera. The price of OJT without good information and guidance.

Ah, but the next year I formally bagged my CFI, and that made everything okay… Right?

HI ALL

We are planning to reopen Saturday May 16th, for instruction, glider rental and private tows. In preparation for this we’ll soon be conducting flight ops amongst our instructors and tow pilots, for the purpose of getting our flight and line crew current and implementing new safety procedures.

If you’d like to schedule an upcoming lesson or book a glider rental and you have a Schedule Pointe account, for the present time and until further notice, you must e-mail us at the office to arrange your reservation. If you’re already scheduled and you’ve received an e-mail confirmation from us personally (not just schedule pointe), your upcoming reservation is good to go. If you’ve scheduled online recently and you haven’t e-mailed us to request this reservation, you must send us an e-mail giving us the date/time. Please include the day/date and requested time and include your cell number. When we confirm with you we’ll be providing you with our new safety procedures. Be prepared to bring a mask, and your own food and water. We look forward to seeing you at the field!

Stay safe, healthy and in good spirits,
The Soaring Academy Crew

Click here to e-mail us      office@soaringacademy.org

HEEDING THE SILENT VOICE INSIDE

Where I flew in Vermont the mountains are smaller than these in our desert west, but plenty big enough for starters.  A perfect little ridge lay three miles away, linked to another one only ten miles long reaching beyond sight from the airport.  In New England’s cool cloudy weather many summer days offer no thermals at all, but ample slope lift might be available if one hugs those trees close enough.

Having no one to learn from, I explored that new environment with obsessive passion, timid at first, yet eager to find my way.  While subject to the same fears and missteps everyone should have when new to mountain soaring, I was determined to learn the game without killing myself – or anyone else.  On the ground after flights my hands often shook from surging adrenaline, but each increment of progress felt more natural, and despite all kinds of personal flaws I knew I’d found my calling.

Tip-toeing near any hillside amplifies all of flying’s pleasures.  Visual, physical and mental sensations are fused in vivid detail as your shadow leaps across trees and boulders, shrinking into hollows and JUMPing out between them.  You scatter swallows and startle sunning squirrels, maybe even a hiker or two.  But proximity to the surface amplifies all the hazards of flying.  You must maintain a minimum of speed for safety, and when the earth is too close adding more becomes impossible.

A further peril occurs when you’re already on a ridge that has been working, but it weakens.  Slacking of wind, a change in its direction, or in the slope itself, any of these can ambush the unwary – from below!

 

Have you ever tried to swim in water too shallow for stroking arms and kicking legs?  Instead, you have to pull yourself along the bottom hand over hand.  Well, one summer a period of calm, flat weather had gone on for weeks, and in trying to stay aloft when that wasn’t really possible I fell into a habit of crawling ever slower and closer…  Then one night I dreamt I was pulling myself by hand from tree to tree, and sat up in bed with clarion realization that the safety margin had been rubbed too thin.  It was time to back off.

Every few years a similar wakeup call would come, another instinctive warning to recalibrate.  Each was timely in its own way, and I believe that heeding them is why I’m still around.  On my very first flight here at Crystal, after one close look at these mountains I vowed to quadruple my minimum safe distance from the surface until I grew more familiar.  No way to prove it, but that might have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

And twenty-five years later?  Such alerts have become only more frequent, the way power poles squeeze together like fence posts as you accelerate up a highway.  Now entering my final chapter, they’ve blurred into what I suppose they should have been in the beginning – a continuous dialogue with the silent voice inside.  Yes it’s taken this long, but I may have finally reached something equivalent to what should have been in the first place:  uninterrupted vigilance.

Really, you ask?  Time may tell.