September 29th, 2016

Soaring enthusiasts taking their passion to new heights


By Lethbridge Herald on July 2, 2015.

Melissa Villeneuve
Lethbridge Herald
mvilleneuve@lethbridgeherald.com
Thrill-seekers looking to gain a perspective from above can sign up for a high-flying adventure in a glider next week.
The Lethbridge Soaring Club is holding a flying week at the Cowley Gliding strip from July 4-12.
It’s a chance for those who always wanted to learn how to pilot or just enjoy the thrill of flying in a glider, with the assistance of a trained instructor.
The club owns one two-seat glider, a Schweizer 2-22EK, which is popular for training. Participants up to a maximum weight of 225 pounds can ride in the front with the instructor in the back seat.
“We train people to fly gliders. If you like flying, this is a really good, inexpensive way to fly,” said Geoff Minors, president Lethbridge Soaring Club. “We use a winch to launch ourselves, which is a little unusual in North America. We get taken up like a kite.”
Minors said they have people from the pre-teens up to the 90s go for a flight.
Cowley is well known in the gliding community as one of the best places to fly in North America. Later in the year, they get the mountain wave air which propels them to heights up to 30,000 feet.
Minors said when conditions are right, with lots of fluffy clouds in the sky, they can do cross-country runs of up to 500 kilometres. With no engine to power it, the glider catches warm pockets of air to propel it further.
“We can stay up for hours at a time. We can float along quietly. It’s so very, very peaceful, especially when we’re near the mountains. It’s fantastic scenery.”
While there are hazards in any sport, Minors said gliding is very safe, and the instructors are well-trained.
“People say to me ‘I’m scared of heights.’ And I say ‘so am I,’ but I fly. There’s no sensation of height when you strap into a glider.”
Now in its second year, the club is looking to expand its reach to gain new members. There are currently 11 members, consisting of both pilots and enthusiasts.
They meet on the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Treasure Chest Comics, 1506 2 Ave. S. Anyone interested in learning more about gliding can attend, with the next one being tonight.
The club tries to meet at the strip every Saturday to fly. The gliding strip is located just north of Cowley off Highway 3. There are basic camping facilities available.
Interested participants can sign up for the flying week using the scheduler link on the website at http://www.lethbridgesoaring.ca, or call Minors at 403-593-2697. If it’s raining or too windy, flights may be cancelled.
Memberships are $500 per year. If you want to take a fan flight, the cost is $30 for an approximately six-minute trip. A six-pack flight package is $150.
The club will also have a display at the Lethbridge International Air Show on July 24 and 25, where people can see the glider up close on the ground.
“(Gliding) intrigues a lot of people and once you get into this, you’re hooked,” said Minors.

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