Getting Ready for Hawaii – Soaring

One of the things I have planned to do out in Hawaii is to take a one hour lesson in a glider (warning, autoplay video). Hawaii is one of the best places to do this. I’ve spent precious little time with X-Plane flying gliders until I decided to do this, and I have to say, flying gliders is not easy. If you misjudge something, you don’t exactly have an engine to go around and have another go at it. I crashed a few times before I got it right, and crashed once by stalling the glider at an unwise altitude. I will be glad to have someone to do all the hard stuff when I go up.

But it’s quite a lot of fun, even in the simulator, and I’ve largely got the hang of it. I wanted to see if I could successfully get a plane from where the glider people operate out of in Hawaii, Dillingham Field, all the way across to the other side, down the eastern mountain ridge, and out over the ocean to land on Molokai. Creating pretty ideal conditions, the answer seems to be yes.

Lost trivia: Dillingham Field is where they filmed the scenes with Mr. Eko and Yemi, where Remey was shot and dragged into the plane. The “Others” houses were actually a YMCA camp a few miles from the field.

5 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Hawaii – Soaring”

  1. Flying a glider isn’t all that hard. You are right that you can’t add power and go around, but you never have to. You enter the pattern at a set height and fly the proper approach speed, and you don’t have to worry. Pattern height is almost double the altitude you need to make the runway. You’ll be more concerned with getting rid of excess altitude without going too fast. Spoilers are your friend. I used to take lessons in a Krosnos glider out in Morgantown, PA.

  2. You’ll love it. I soared a fair bit as a teenager. The vertical speed indicator is your life next to airspeed. As long as the needle is pointing up, life is good. A gentle, smooth touch is the key. Gliders don’t need the muscling around that Cessnas do. No engine to overcome.

    What I think you’ll enjoy most is feeling everything the airplane is doing. You’ll know immediately if you’ve hit a patch of lift or dropped out of one. You’ll feel it and even hear it. You’ll know when you’re turning and how sharply as you hear airspeed bleed off.

    I did most of my soaring in Schweizer SGS 2-33s. Very forgiving and slow. Poor glide ratios though. Stall speed around 36 knots. The longer the wings get. the more you need to keep the airspeed up since the inboard wing in a turn is going slower. Incipient spins are not fun when not intended.

    It is widely accepted that pilots who come up from gliders and transition to power are better than those who do power only. They have a much better inherent understanding of flight and have better spatial flight and forward planning skills. They have to, as you say, since they lack a go-around ability.

    PS: Gliders can go around but it requires high-performance ships to do it. During a week of soaring at the local field, I saw a German designed two seater (DG1000) come in for landing, spoilers out and nose wheel down. As they got into ground effect maybe 20-30 feet off the deck, the spoilers and gear retracted. The pilot held it level down the runway as it accelerated due to (now) lack of drag up to close to 100 knots, pulled up as he passed the threshold to probably 200-300 feet, came around and landed at our feet. The glider sounded like a jet going by from the rush of air alone. Still one of the neatest things I’ve seen and it’s been over 20 years since it happened. Requires a good pilot who knows their airplane but modern gliders are so efficient that they can do it. Try it in the sim sometime.

  3. I’ve always wanted to do this, but due to budget, it was either soaring or shooting. Shooting won.

  4. I live about an hour from one of the great soaring spots. Harris Hill, near Elmira, NY, and have never taken a ride. I always knew I was missing something.

  5. Sounds like a blast! I helped a friend set up and launch his hang-glider once – thermals are your friend and there should be a big one over Kilauea! :-)

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