Apr 18, 2013

Soaring Society of America - Regional Competition, SC

The glider competition has been in town again this week.
I dug out a post I wrote a few years ago about it.  If you missed it then, take a peek now - it's fun stuff!

Travel to Perry, SC?? Who knew it could be so much fun!
When to go? The last week of April.
-Blue skies, sunshine, plenty of fresh air. This is what Perry offers year-round, but during the last week of April each year, Perry appeals to glider pilots from all over the United States and Canada for the Soaring Society of America's regional competition.

Each day, the pilots are assigned a task to accomplish in a 4-6 hour flight. They sit in one position in the tiny bubble for the flight's duration. One pilot I spoke with said he has flown up to 9 or 10 hours in a single flight.

It's fascinating to watch them on the tow rope when they take off, but the landings are so much more fun. Before landing, the pilots discharge water -- for some scientific reason, I'm sure, but let's just say: It looks cool.

I sat up on the car hood with my friends, watching the planes land.  I could have watched for hours.

Surprising, to me, is that the pilots all wear this type of funky hat that gives them a playful look. Grown men in a tiny bubble wearing floppy hats seems kind of frolicsome. It gave me a light-hearted feeling, cleansing my brain from all my stress and troubles as if I was living in a June Cleaver kind of world.

Upon landing, each pilot would climb out the bubble, requiring assistance to haul his glider off the landing strip. A wife or a friend would bring out two wheeled structures on which to prop the plane and push it gently toward it's trailer.

This pilot was amazing.  Unfortunately I didn't get his name. He landed right in front of us and waved to my granddaughter, from his glass bubble, while still moving. Her little head popped up, her shoulders straightened, as if she was Little Miss Thing. As he climbed out the top, he again waved to her and called her over. He explained all the gadgets used to fly the plane and showed her the parachute they are required to wear. Eva was shy and I thought perhaps uninterested, but the minute we left she called her mama and recited everything in precise detail.  Now, looking at the picture, I see her intensity and interest.

Poor Allison Tyler, it's back to work this week for him and the rest of the pilots. Tyler and his wife are owner/operator of the airport and host the competition.
For an excellent article about a previous year at this event, as well as an excellent picture of Allison in the air, click here.

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