Sailplane Recurrency: Expand Your Horizons

  • Jun 25, 2014 9:35pm GMT

Every aircraft has something different. But to me, soaring is something special. It's a unique kind of flying that can be simple, complex, relaxing, and challenging--all at the same time. It is the most enjoyable kind of flying. And I feel that it's the best platform for learning the basic aviator skills which can carry over to all other forms of aviation.

Not too far west of me is a quiet grass airport near Hinkley, IL. Hinkley Airport (0C2) is home to the Windy City Soaring Association, one of Chicagoland's many active glider clubs. There I met up with my friend Dave who is a CFI-G. He took me up for a couple flights in the club's Schleicher ASK-21 sailplane.

I haven't done much sailplane flying over the past few years so this was a special treat. Dave refreshed me on the some of the glider basics; flying on tow, boxing the wake, slackline recovery, etc. The afternoon weather was also perfect for practicing some thermalling. Not too long after the release we reached cloudbase which is a beautiful place to be in a glider. On one of the landings Dave showed me exactly how effective the ASK-21's spoilers really are by talking me through a very high and steep approach.

One of the videos below is a short highlight reel of one of our flights from takoff to landing. The other video shows my attempt at "boxing the wake," which is one of the many skills you have to demonstrate as a glider pilot.

I highly recommend to anyone interested in aviation to at least go for a ride in a sailplane. You'll never really know what its like until you try it. And it will open your eyes up to how simple flying can be and what an aircraft is capable of doing without an engine. Who knows, you might be inspired to get a glider license for yourself. And if you are already a licensed airplane pilot you can get a glider add-on rating fairly quickly and for very little cost.

For more information on soaring or to find a gliderport near you please visit the Soaring Society of America at