Saturday, November 03, 2007

Surreal, Gliding

I'd finally managed to go gliding yesterday. I have signed up for gliding sessions so many times and missed just as many. Sometimes, I missed the gliding sessions due to bad weather and once, because I missed the bus out. So, I was quite happy to be able to go out in the wonderful morning weather, yesterday.

The airfield is located about 15 miles outside of Cambridge. It is the home of the Cambridge Gliding Club. It used to serve as an airfield during WWII and has been left in it's original configuration since then. I sometimes find it interesting that there are so many physical remnants of the war in and around Cambridge. I have yet to visit the American cemetery here and I should do it before I leave, and compare it with the one in Manila.

It took us about 30 minutes to drive out to the airfield. Once there, we were asked to sign legal disclaimers and shown a short introductory video. The video had it's fair share of comedy value and at the end, it literally told us that we didn't have to watch it at all to enjoy our flight. But I enjoyed the video. It told us how to put on our parachute, but at the height that we were going to fly yesterday, I doubted that it would've done any good if we had to bail out. It also explained some basic flight mechanics, which was interesting.

Then, it was time for our flight. We were launched by winch yesterday. It is cheaper than being towed up into the air by a plane. The glider was attached to a winch by a cable of about a mile long. Then, the winch pulls us and we're launched much like a kite, straight up. The acceleration isn't very high though. All I did was lie back and let the instructor handle the take-off. We tried to find a pocket of thermals in order to rise further, but we were unable to. I was allowed to take control of the glider mid-way. It surprised me how sensitive the glider actually was, to the slightest variation on the stick. After a little piloting and taking a few photos, we landed back on the ground. My flight lasted for about 7 minutes or so.

Personally, I enjoyed gliding a lot. So, I asked them how much it would cost to buy a glider. I was shocked to find out that a brand new one costs about £60,000. This is most certainly not a sport for the poor. It is exhilarating and fun, but even the short flight yesterday cost me £18. It was all worth it though. If I had discovered this last year, I would likely join the club and fly regularly. But, I doubt that I'll have the time and inclination to do so now.

Anyway, the surreal photograph was something I took while up in the air. It is a photo of a typical British countryside. I touched it up with some HDR software. So, it looks a little surreal. I really need to learn how to do proper HDR photography.

1 comment:

Chet Wei said...

Gliding? That looks absolutely exciting! I would love to try that out sometime as well. 18 pounds is way below my budget for a sport like this. Any plans for a second flight? =)