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First Flight, part 1

Posted 04-15-2008 at 02:36 AM by Crumb
Updated 04-15-2008 at 08:29 PM by Crumb

My first flight was this Saturday. A beautiful calm day that topped out around 80 degrees. I arrived around 11, but my instructor was still busy with another student. They took to the air soon after I arrived. There was a consistent line of gliders in the staging area and the tow plane was kept busy all day.

The staging area is the end of the runway where three gliders can line up to wait for the tow plane. You use a golf cart to pull your glider over and then when a glider takes off, pull it forward by hand to make room for the next glider.

I got into the cockpit while we were waiting in the staging area so that we could go over the controls. There's the stick which controls the ailerons to bank the glider and the elevator to control the pitch. There are two pedals which control the rudder. Not used for much in a normal airplane, for a glider the rudder is very important. These are the primary flight controls.

We went over quite a bit more, but I have already written a lot. :D

So the tow plane shows up. The tow plane is a bright yellow two seat Pawnee. Which was previously a crop dusting plane. It lands, taxis over and takes a u-turn in front of us the yellow tow rope trailing behind. The rope is attached by the wing runner who gives it a tug so we know that it is secure. The canopy has to be closed before the cable was attached so we are warming up quite quickly in the cockpit.

The wingrunner raises the left wing. Up to this point we have been tilted sideways, so now we are upright and ready to go. The wingrunner gives the tow pilot the "take up slack" signal and he pulls gently forward until the rope is tight. Then my instructor, behind me in the cockpit, gives the wingrunner the thumbs up and the tow plane waggles its rudder.

The wingrunner waves his arm in a circle. The two pilot radios in it's intent to takeoff and beings to accelerate. The take off is fast and bumpy.
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