Thursday, January 15, 2015

Free flight tests

One of the indications that our sport is in decline is the panicky removal of financial barriers for aspiring glider pilots.

It's a good news/bad news story.  The good news is that there are some opportunites for free flight tests out there.  The bad news is that these initiatives are necessary.

The first one is from Burt Compton from the Soaring Safety Foundation.  If you were around a dozen years ago, you will remember that we invited Burt to Post Mills to conduct one of SSF's Safety Seminars. That was fun; we should do it again.

Burt is well-known for his promotion of the sport of soaring.  He lives in Texas and is personally responsible for putting Marfa back on the map as a major US soaring site, after it had fallen into decline.  He runs a commercial operation, Marfa Gliders on the municipal airport north of town (not the Army Air Force base in the movie).

Anyway, Burt is offering free flight tests for any glider rating.  All you have to do is show up in Marfa.  He'll even put you up for free. Details here. Marfa is a truly wonderful place, for reasons ranging from aesthetic to supernatural, with gliding in the middle somewhere.

The other opportunity is a little closer to home.

Last year, the state of Vermont, at the request of CAP and other interested parties, sponsored a week long training clinic for Flight Instructor applicants.  It was a howling success.  It produced a handful of new CFIs, and the best part is that they want to do it again.

The details are still being worked out, but in a nutshell, if you are a Private or Commercial pilot who has passed all the required Knowledge Tests and show up for the late summer clinic (somewhere in Vermont, probably Springfield), you will receive all the ground and flight instruction you need and a flight test, all at no cost to you. You will then be a CFI, subject to all the privileges and abuse you have envied in others all these years.

You don't have the Knowledge Tests under your belt, you say? We've got that covered, too. There will be a PMSC-sponsored ground school to help get you through those tests.  Paul has sent out the announcement on the club email list.  Basically it says to contact Paul or Rick if you're interested.

Movie recommendations

It's winter, right? It's the season when we spend a lot of time indoors. Time to break out the DVD movies and watch the good ones again.

The best gliding movie ever made was The Sun Ship Game.  How many of these facts about the movie did you know:
  • It was made by a serious film maker.
  • It is not about the World Championships in Marfa.
  • It features the only known footage of a 2-32 in a gliding competition.
  • It starts out in Vermont.
  • It proves that people were once allowed on the roof of the building at Sugarbush.
  • Lebanon airport appears in a scene.
  • Smoking was cool in 1969.

It was such a good movie that parts of it are excerpted in the second best soaring movie ever made, A Fine Week of Soaring.  This one gets a thumbs up from the weird guy doing gliding movie reviews on YouTube. It takes place at Mifflin County Airport, in Pennsylvania, which some of us have visited.


Every self-respecting glider pilot should own both of these classic films. They are available for purchase here and here (other places as well). Under extraordinary circumstances, you might be allowed to borrow Rick's copies.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015