You're 3,600 feet above Lake Michigan. The clear blue water stretches out before you. You're flying free on the wind. Without An Engine. What? Don't panic! It's supposed to be that way...if you're in a glider. Watch:

@justbe0616 #puremichigan #gliderflight #feelingfree#livingmybestlife #ShowYourGlow #frankfort ♬ Paradise - Bazzi

A glider is technically defined as an aircraft that does not depend on an engine. It stays in the air by using rising currents of air in the atmosphere, called lift. The most common type of soaring in Michigan is thermal lift. Solar heating of the ground warms the air above it, which then rises in bubbles or columns called thermals. The tops of thermals are often marked by puffy cumulus clouds, a reliable sign to the glider pilot that the lift is active.

This glider had an Aero tow. The glider is towed into the air behind another airplane. This is the most common method of launch a glider.

Soaring is a year-round activity.  For some types of soaring, conditions actually improve in the winter. Here in Michigan though, you'll see more activity from April to October.

The closest place to try this sport In Grand Rapids is at Sandhill Soaring Club. They are located in Gregory, Michigan.

If you'd like to try gliding, rides are given by FAA-certified volunteer pilots and are scheduled on a first-come-first-served basis. Rides normally start around 1 pm.  They recommend you arrive around noon, to get your name on the sign-up sheet.

Rides typically last 20 – 25 minutes for a release at 3,000 feet. The Sandhill Soaring Club offers glider rides to the general public every Saturday and Sunday during the summer and fall, weather permitting. The cost ranges from $140-$200 per person.

 

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