Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

Judy in the sky

Email News Alerts
Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

This can't be legal," said Don Ingraham, after his first ride as a passenger in a glider.

Ingraham was touched by the excitement of flying through the air in a plane without a motor and became a glider pilot and instructor. After living in St. Paul for a time, he and his wife, Kathy, took a chance. They moved to Faribault, Minn., and opened their own business, Cross County Soaring.

Advertisement
Advertisement

"Minnesota is not flat," Ingraham said. "It looks like a rumpled bed sheet."

Jim Hard, Grey Cloud Island Township resident, is a glider pilot and former instructor. He frequently flies out of the Faribault Airport and has set numerous glider world distance records.

"You're part of the aircraft," Hard said. "When I hear fixed-wing pilots tell me they have flown 50,000 hours, I am not impressed. How many of those hours were on automatic pilot? You fly a glider every second."

After the rope from the tow plane is released and veers off to return to the airport, a glider can stay in the air for 30 minutes or longer, depending on atmospheric conditions. Then the pilot needs to find a "thermal," a column of heat rising from the earth. Riding the thermal in a series of wide sweeping loops, the glider climbs into the sky. The pilot abandons the thermal, glides for a time and looks for another thermal.

"When I can't find a thermal, I fly over the Wal-Mart parking lot," Ingraham said.

"Done that," Hard said, adding that the black surface nearly always has a rising column of heat. "Newly plowed fields also work," he said.

"There are thermals to be had any time of the year," Hard said. "If the high temperature for a day is lower than it usually is for that time of year, it's a good day for soaring. If it's hot, glider pilots stay home because you need unstable air."

Hard said there is another indication it might not be a good day to fly a glider. "If cattle are lying down, it's not a good soaring day," he said. "It's something about the barometer."

For information about glider rides, contact Ingraham at www.crosscountrysoaring.com. For more general information, www.glidingmagazine.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness