When the going gets tough, the tough go traveling!
An excerpt from Adventures By Sailplane
B.S. (By Sailplane) B.C. (Before Cancer)
Flying a sailplane demands all my concentration. It is like anything I have done before. Vague and invisible forces of risking and sinking air form this world and I must find the rising air if I am to stay aloft. Where is it? Which way should I go?
Where before things had been real and tangible, here things are vague and invisible. Currents and suggestions abound, but there is little physical evidence to follow. How do I know that there will be lift under that cloud? How do I know where to look under it? Why do I rise in the air for no apparent reason? Why do I encounter sinking air? I do not yet understand any of this.
If I choose properly, I will have a good flight. If I do not, I will spend the day scrapping for lift and I’ll never go anywhere.
I have dropped into another world and I do not yet understand its ways. They are foreign. I fly though areas of blue sky, blue holes, where there should be no lift, only to find myself in an avenue of rising air that seems to extend as far as I fly.
Yet not two steps to my left, the air is sinking, fast, down towards the earth. If I make the mistake of drifting off into that air, I will lose a great deal of altitude. It could terminate my flight. In a field or s0me other place I don’t want to be. Just two steps over.
When I first started flying, there were rules. You enter the pattern at this altitude. Never lower. You have to have a field picked out at this altitude. You do not stray. Things have a definite progression.
At some point, judgement starts coming into the equation. Former guidelines are reconsidered, challenged. Now I enter my pattern a bit lower. At one thousand feet, I still look for lift, not yet committing to a landout. I readjust the rules, but sometimes I get bitten by this. Some rules are good rules. I need to mind them. I am not greater than the forces around me. Whenever I dare to think that I am, my arrogance comes back to haunt me.
Conscious and unconscious rules. In my heart I know when I have strayed too far. When I feel those first tugs of uncertainty, it is time for me to temper my will and look at the sky around me. I must fly with it, not in spite of it.
I have that sense that things are amiss. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I need to concentrate on perceiving lift.
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