SI Vault
Judy Muller
October 02, 1989
Why am I here? Here being in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, where I am about to be dragged into the sky in an engineless airplane. Actually, I know why. It was that newspaper ad I read: "The ultimate gift. Our pilot takes your friends for a breathtaking motorless soaring flight no words can express. Towplane ready. Rope attached. Towed high above the earth, rope released."
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October 02, 1989

From Chicken To Eagle

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Then, nothing—no more wind, no more rattles. The glider has tipped over on one wing, spent. I empathize.

"Wow!" is all I can manage.

"Well," says Getter, "we promised 15 minutes and you got 15 minutes."

Fifteen minutes? This information gives new meaning to the concept of time. If you can fit that many sensations into 15 minutes, what must it be like to soar and dip for an hour or more? To fly the ridge all the way to Pennsylvania? To migrate south for the winter?

As I walk away from the sailplane, I pass other would-be raptors waiting their turn. They look uncertain. I feel cock-of-the-walk, certain of myself. I also feel certain that I will try gliding again—maybe on a day when I can hopscotch those thermals, a day when I can follow the eagles.

I buy a book called The Joy of Soaring before I leave the airport. A thumb-through tells me it was wise to save this for postflight reading. The headings alone would have kept me grounded. "The Unintentional High Speed Spiral," reads one. "Fouling the Glider in the Towline," reads another. Worst of all, "Action to Be Taken If There Should Be an Unplanned Tow Release, Assuming Inhospitable Terrain."

But the lingering elation of my very full 15 minutes of flight, true flight, is an effective antidote to such dire, down-to-earth warnings. I am floating on air because, in fact, I did float on air.

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