Floating On Air

This weekend I had an opportunity to literally float on air. I went on a glider ride!

A glider is a motorless aircraft that is towed into the sky then released to glide on air currents. Elmira, NY which is located in the Southern tip of the Finger Lakes region is known as the “Soaring Capital of America”. So the opportunity to take a glider ride is too tempting to pass up.

I arrived at the flight center at 10:00am Sunday morning. My flight was scheduled for 10:30am. The view from the top of Harris Hill was sunny and beautiful but the valley below us was full of fog. I was told we had to wait for the fog to lift because if there is an issue with the tow plane they have to be able to see the airport runway for an emergency landing. Hummmm…. I guess I don’t mind waiting, just in case…

While waiting my glider pilot, Bryan, went over all the controls and explained what was going to happen. One thing I found out is there is a weight limit for a glider plane; both a minimum and a maximum. I was a little under the minimum so Bryan put in a weighted pad to balance the glider. Guess I should of had an extra piece of cake with dinner.

Once the fog lifted I got buckled in and we were ready for lift off! The tow plane is hooked to the glider and then the plane and glider give the signal they are both ready. The tow plane wiggles its back flap and the glider wiggles back, then the tow plane is off. The rope pulls tight and we are moving.

As we go down the runway I see the edge of Harris Hill coming up quick. I have to admit it is a nerve wracking feeling to watch the land fall away beneth you as you go full steam ahead over the edge!

And then we are in the air, going higher and higher. Bryan said our goal was 2000 feet high. Once we reached it he said get ready, the tow line will release in 3, 2, 1. The rope fell, the plane went left and the glider went right. Now we are on our own floating on air currents.

The feelings of exhiliration, nervousness and being totally free are all wrapped up in one. One of the first things that struck me was the quietness. It is so peaceful. And the views are amazing. From high above Harris Hill Bryan pointed out Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen and Cowanesque River in PA.

We continued to circle around looking at differnet landmarks below us. I even saw the corn maze I was lost in the day before at Smithome Farms.

The ride was smooth and totally relaxing. Bryan did tell me morning rides tend to be smoother while afternoon rides can be a little rockier. It all has to do with the sun heating the ground which in turn changes up the air currents. I’m very happy I went in the morning and had a smooth, relaxing ride. As we continued to circle we slowly made our way back to the ground. In all it took about 20 minutes. But it was one of the best 20 minutes I have ever experienced.

If you are visiting the Finger Lakes region you should definately take a trip to Harris Hill and go for a glider ride. Due to constantly changing weather conditions they don’t take reservations. It is first come, first served so get there early. It fills up fast. And if you live here; what are you waiting for? This is one you need to go do!

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

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