“If flying were the language of man, then soaring would be its poetry.” - anonymous
Mankind has sailed the oceans for over 10,000 years, but has only sailed the skies for just over 100. Today's blend of design, materials, and technology create the opportunities to participate in this most marvelous of activities, whether you want to just soar among the birds and clouds locally, or press the limits of distance and speed. Make soaring flight your sport for the 21st Century.
If you live in Colorado, you have access to one of the great aerial adventure lands. With our plains and mountains, the meandering jet stream, and regular weather fronts, there is a year-round dance with the sky happening. You're invited to the dance.
Soaring entered the world scene when Wilbur Wright soared one of the Wright Gliders at Kill Devil Hills for 9 minutes and 45 seconds on October 24th, 1911. That record stood for ten years, until eclipsed in Germany with a flight over twice as long. From that point, greater durations, distances, and heights were being achieved regularly as design and materials improved. They continue to improve even today, with a rapid evolution from wood and fabric, to metal then composites, which now dominate glider construction and are now emerging in the air transport and military aircraft industries. October 24th, 2011, will see recognition of that flight at Kittyhawk, NC. One way of celebrating the soaring centenary is being accomplished by a number of glider pilots. It's known as Alby's Voyage.
As they learn quickly, youth are an excellent fit with flying gliders. The FAA allows youth to solo as young as their 14th birthday, and to achieve a full license at age 16. That's a year before they can get their power pilot license. Of course, all depends on careful evaluation of their skills and maturity. Many pilots remain active in soaring into their 70's, 80's, and even 90's. Like pilots flying other types of aircraft, glider pilots are subject to periodic reviews of both knowledge and skills. Most soaring flights combine a wonderful experience with the continual honing of skills and maintenance of proficiency. Every flight is as different as the sky is, day after day. There is rarely a deja vu, so dynamic are the combinations of sun, wind, and clouds, thus making the experience self renewing. This results in the desire for another challenge, to match the conditions with the pilot's skills to yield the best flight for the day. Some call it magic, others say it's just a matter of developing your bird brain!
What about actually soaring?
The following links are to pages that have a number of videos illustrating what's unique about soaring flight. Soaring is older than hang gliding and parasailing, though all have a similar heritage. Sailplanes are generally significantly stronger, faster, and higher performing. Modern racing gliders are at the extreme edge of development. There are many measures of accomplishment in soaring. Ultimately, it's a matter of racing the sun and improving on your personal performances.
The Soaring Society of America web site has a series of web pages that also give an overview of the many facets of soaring flight.
About Colorado Soaring
Colorado Soaring Calendar
Colorado Soaring Operations (Where to Fly)
Colorado based Products and Services for Glider Pilots
Colorado State Soaring Records
Colorado State Soaring Awards
Colorado Fourteeners Challenge
InsideSoaring.com - Colorado Soaring Podcast Site
Soaring and Youth
More about Soaring