For the last few years I’ve been running into a fellow on the airshow circuit named Manfred Radius. He just happens to pilot an aerobatic glider. He also happens to be a heck of a nice guy and we’ve hit it off together.
I sent him a few pictures that I’ve taken this year of him in flight, he liked them and asked what I wanted as payment. How about a ride? Which explains why yours truly is standing in front of an ASK21 glider at the York Soaring Association in Arthur Ontario.
Soaring is so different than flying a piston aircraft. The lack of engine noise is an obvious difference but the view without that powerplant in front of you is amazing. Manfred flew from the rear seat leaving me a panoramic view of countryside.
Circling over the field, Manfred felt out the thermals like an eagle hunting. He coaxed lift out of a day that didn’t look promising and we climbed and wheeled along with other aircraft that were all trying to get those last rides in before the weather changes and the ground cools down.
At one point three of us were circling in the same thermal rising and falling in a ballet of awesome. The only down side is that looking through a viewfinder tends to bring on that queasy feeling reminding you that you had pizza for lunch.
Too soon it was time to land. From a starting altitude of 2000′ AGL we stayed aloft for 47 minutes and Manfred could have extended it farther than that with no problem at all. The tall fat guy was starting to feel a little uncomfortable so it was in for a bumpy landing to put the exclamation point on a perfect day.
Thanks Manfred Radius. Check out his website. If you see his name in an airshow lineup, do yourself a big favor and go see him. If you get a chance to go gliding (or soaring or whatever they want to call it) jump at it! You won’t be disappointed.
More pictures available at Flickr click for slideshow.