Gone Gliding – Part Two

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Written by: Howard Slutsken
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This article originally appeared on AirlineReporter.com.

I’ve been waiting for you!

I’m glad that you decided to come along with me for a flight in Soaring NV’s LS4 glider. I promised you a ride in Gone Gliding, Part One, didn’t I? Yes, the LS4 is just a single-seater, so we’ll use a “mind-meld” for you to enjoy the flight. Let’s hop into a golf cart with Spencer, who’ll be our ground crew, and head over to the glider staging area near the threshold of Runway 30, here at Minden-Tahoe Airport (MEV).

While Spencer drives us over, he’ll be making radio calls on his handheld to update air and ground traffic with our progress along the taxiways and across the runways. MEV doesn’t have a control tower, and it’s important that we communicate as we go. So I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to, before you arrived.

I’ve checked the weather, and had a good look at the soaring forecast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes a daily forecast for the Reno area that gives glider pilots an idea of the lift, temperatures, and winds aloft for the day. It’s a beautiful afternoon in the Carson Valley, warm, with just a few puffy cumulus clouds out there around 14,000 feet above sea level (ASL). I’ve also talked with a couple of pilots who’ve just landed, and they told me that there’s some booming thermals just a couple of miles east of the airport. Great!

The LS4 waits for us in the staging area near the threshold of Runway 30. I only left the canopy up long enough to quickly take this photo on a no-wind day – a strong breeze could smack it down and damage it.

The LS4 waits for us in the staging area near the threshold of Runway 30. I only left the canopy up long enough to quickly take this photo on a no-wind day – a strong breeze could smack it down and damage it.

Spencer towed the glider over from the ramp earlier today, and I’ve done the pre-flight. That included a walk-around inspection and a full test of the flight controls and connections. I’ve also made sure that the oxygen cylinder in the glider is full, the battery is properly connected, and adjusted the seatback, because it can only be moved before you get in the cockpit. The seat bottom doesn’t move, but the rudder pedals are adjustable, and I’ve moved them into position. The last pilot must have been a lot taller than me. Spencer hooked up the GPS logger, which will keep track of our position, speeds, and altitudes of our flight. Once we’re back on the ground, we’ll transfer the data to a computer, and review the flight.

There’s a couple of other gliders in the staging area, including a Schweizer 2-32. It’s got a back seat big enough for two people to squeeze into. It helps if they’re close friends. Soaring NV uses the 2-32 to fly sightseeing rides over Lake Tahoe. Silvio, the tow plane pilot, is waiting in the cockpit of the Piper Pawnee. I talked to him earlier, and told him that we’d like to head east. He’ll tow us to the area where the last flights had released, and we’ll see if we can find a juicy thermal.

OK, time to climb in. The LS4’s cockpit is cozy. Once I’m settled in, Spencer helps me fasten the four-point harness, one belt over each shoulder, attached to a quick-release on the lap belts. I put my wide, elastic strap around my thigh, and slide my little notebook and pen under it. I tuck a bottle of water by my side, because I know it’s really easy to quickly become dehydrated at altitude. I’ve got my local map, with landmarks noted. Hat on, and I pull the canopy down, carefully, to make sure that I have enough headroom while I’m in this comfortable, semi-reclined position in the LS4’s teardrop fuselage. OK, looks good. Open up again.

Click here to read the rest of this article at AirlineReporter.com.

About the Author

Howard Slutsken



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