Come Sail Away

I once worked with a man who told me about an airport North of Columbus where they have a sailplane club. He told me that in exchange for paying the $10 cost for the tow plane, you could fly as a guest with a member. I immediately put this on my list of things I wanted to do.

Over the years, I periodically drove by the club location. It was far enough out of the way that I probably went by it only a couple of times a year. But each time, I was always in too much of a hurry to stop and see if I could get a ride.

The years went by.

A few years ago, I learned my husband was enthusiastic about flying in a sailplane, too. After a couple of years of occasionally talking about it, we finally decided we were going to stop at the club to see if we could ride.

Nearly 20 years had passed since I had originally heard about the club. Yet, the website indicated it was still possible to take a guest ride. We took our road trip and arrived at the field, excited that at last, we were going to have this adventure.

Unfortunately, there was no one else around to participate. By this, I mean the tiny airport was so abandoned looking, I expected tumbleweeds to go blowing by. We got out, walked around, and peered through windows trying to find someone. Either the weather was bad for gliding or there was some kind of event that had taken them elsewhere. We found evidence that the airport was still active, but no sign of current activity.

It was such a let down after taking so many years to get around to stopping.

But, last June, while out in Portland, OR, I took Pat to the Mt. Hood area to go for a flight. It wasn’t quite the same as flying with a club, but it was a far grander view than a flight in Marion, Ohio would have been.

Having planned poorly, I didn’t have enough cash to pay for the ride. Poor Pat ended up paying for his own birthday present.

When it was my turn to go up, I climbed into the cockpit armed with my camera and watched as the guys rolled the sailplane out to the runway and hooked it up to the tow plane. The pilot climbed into the cockpit, sealed us up inside a plastic bubble that immediately made me feel claustrophobic, and gave the signal.

There was nothing to but take pictures. It’s not that easy to shoot from inside a plastic bubble. Although the rapidly moving air blowing through the cockpit prevented suffocation, the mid-day light bounced back at me, ruining most of my shots. A polarizer might have been helpful.

Soaring over the farmers fields below with Mt. Hood looming in the background and the Columbia River rolling by underneath made the two decade wait worth it.