"Bora da, rwyn gobethio bod mae
I gyd mewn iechyd da"

Sunday, December 8, 2002


"We could do with some publicity for our gliding club Glyn, would you write an article about it please?!"

It was Ken Payne, chairman of the Lloc Gliding Club (Lloc being a small village near our farm). Their gliders are stored in and operated from a large field owned by a friend of mine, Dick Moore.

I had frequently seen these gliders soaring overhead and had wondered what a glider flight would be like. This request was an excellent opportunity for me to have a flight in one, so I immediately said that I would be delighted to help, providing I could have a flight in one! Ken agreed, and I had a most pleasant and interesting flight.

There is an old saying: 'If God had meant for us humans to fly, he would have provided us with wings'. But just as some people go down to the sea in all sorts of crafts, then so must other folk go up in the sky in all sorts of flying contraptions, from the majestic Concorde and space rockets to what appear to be quite flimsy hang gliders.

But some of these hang gliders are fitted with 400cc engines and are successfully used for many land uses, such as surveying and crop spraying. Then there are the conventional gliders, used in the most graceful and increasingly popular sport.

The day of my flight came and I drove to the airfield. There were 2 gliders available, a single seater Grundia, and a double seater Bocian. Both crafts were made from wood and Irish linen (99% of gliders made now are glass fibre). I had previously been up in a plane for a charity tandum parachute jump, but I admit that I was rather apprehensive seeing the 2 gliders flopped down on the field like wounded seagulls.

The glider we climbed into was given a winch start. This is where a powerful, stationary engine pulls the glider very quickly. Ken called out "take up the slack!!", and a car parked nearby gave 2 slow flashes with its headlights followed by 2 quick flashes that gave the signal to the winch operator to go. And then we were climbing, almost vertically, making even a Concorde take off seem like a lame duck in comparison.

When we reached 1,000 feet the tow rope was released. We came to an abrupt stop, and I wondered if were were about to go plummeting down! But we remained horizontal. I got my breath back, and began to enjoy a very thrilling flight. The rural countryside below us looked so beautiful, coupled with the deafening silence, or just a slight wind whispering.

It got a bit cold, and Ken told me, apologetically, that as he couldn't find any more thermals, we would have to land. This meant landing away from the airfield, which was a bit annoying.

We came in to land at about 35 miles per hour. We had only been aloft for about 10 minutes, but when the weather conditions are right one can stay airborne for 20 minutes or more. I've had another glider flight since, towed up to about 10,000 feet by a single engine aeroplane.

What a thrill!

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"Nos da rwyn gobeithio bod newch
chi gyd gall nosweth difyr"