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What is Soaring
To fly as the hawk and eagle has been mankind's dream for centuries. Modern sailplanes make soaring flight possible, and with them humans can fly higher, faster, and farther than the greatest of birds, using only an invisible force of nature to stay aloft.
The sport is called "soaring" and to pilot as well as spectator, it has universal appeal. The terms gliding and soaring are used interchangeably. There are many soaring sites in the United States. Visit one and you are likely to find the pilots are men, women, and young people whose experience in sailplane flying may vary greatly, but who share a common bond in being participants in one of the world's most satisfying and exhilarating sports. How else, within an hour or so of your home, can you become Columbus or Magellan, exploring the unknown?
Soaring offers a sense of freedom unique in sports. As a soaring pilot you are no longer earthbound; as your pilot skills increase, you will learn to venture away from the airport in a sailplane, relying on your own skills and judgment in analyzing the terrain and weather. Instead of passively enjoying the countryside or the sky, you will actively look for lift clues in the air, such as birds and the maturity of cumulus clouds; and you'll gain respect for areas on the ground that can help or hinder you in meeting the continuing challenge of staying aloft.
The intellectual challenge of soaring is its main appeal to many glider pilots. Gravity tells you that you and your machine, which together may weigh 500 to 2000 pounds, have no business staying aloft and that your place is on the ground since you have no engine to stay airborne. You know that the sun and the wind are providing an invisible force frequently far stronger than the force of gravity, but it's up to you to make the most of that force through your interpretation of it and of your own pilot skills. The best combination brings the longest flight, the highest altitude gain, or the fastest speed in a contest.
For sheer beauty, the sport of soaring is unsurpassed. Sailplanes may vary widely in design but they are all graceful - especially when moving through the sky.
Seeing the familiar earth drop away and become ever smaller creates a profound feeling of awe as your sailplane climbs toward the clouds. And the clouds themselves take on new meaning and importance as the earth becomes divided into friendly areas of lift or unfriendly areas of sink.
The pilot can enjoy a special kind of relaxation, too. Aside from the swish of wind over the wings, there's the meditative silence that can have a refreshing unwinding effect. The gain in altitude seems to leave mundane cares on the surface of the earth far below.