Glider – Sky Sailing
San Diego County is 4,525 square miles in total area with more than 70+% of this area located east of I-15. Most of this area is filled with State Parks, mountains and Indian Reservations giving this setting a very rural feeling with plenty of room for exploration. With coastal San Diego socked in with fog, I decided it was best to head east for some sunshine and adventure. My adventure to this part of the county was to experience gliding with Sky Sailing off Highway 79 in Warner Springs. http://goo.gl/maps/hgH63
Glider Sailplane and Cockpit
Because the drive to Warner Springs is about 60-90 minutes (depending on location in San Diego), I made a reservation the day before to complete my first gliding experience. After arriving a little before my reservation, I filled out the required paperwork, chose my flight and met my pilot. George (Pilot) and I made our way out to the runway area, got situated in our glider and he gave me a brief tutorial on the gears, etc. as I was going to take controls for part of the flight. The cockpit was a little tight but I thought it was going to be a lot worse.
After all systems were checked and the tow was hooked up, we set our eyes on the runway for takeoff, which was a little bumpy but typical of any commercial flight I’ve been on.
Once airborne, the flight is incredibly calm in my opinion. There is a little air pocket hiccup every now and again but not too bad. The views and silence are what made this adventure so exhilarating yet calming at the same time. Because there is no motor, no headsets are required while airborne and communicating within the glider is very easy. George made sure to point out Palomar Mountain, Observatories, Lake Henshaw (lowest level he has ever seen it) and Hot Springs Mountain (highest mountain in SD County 6,535 ft or 1,992 m).
After reaching a comfortable altitude and feeling out the controls for a bit, George let me take control of the Glider. The Glider has a few controls to monitor and keep an eye on but the most important indicator is a tiny piece of yarn right at eye level. George indicated that this piece of yarn should always be blowing directly in front of you so after a turn or bump, the pilot is able to tell what adjustments need to be made. It amazed me how such an expensive piece of equipment was so dependent on a piece of yarn that cost no more than 5 cents.
After flying around for 25 minutes, it was time to bring this glider down and land safely back at the Gliderport. The landing was relatively smooth with the exception of one or 2 bumps but those bumps become less and less obvious the more times you spend in a glider I would imagine.
Glider Log Book
Upon completion of my flight, I was given a sailplane pilots log book to record my flight stats and remarks.
Overall I had a great time and first experience with the sport of gliding in a sailplane. The staff at Sky Sailing were professional and pictures from the wing are included on any flight taken. Upgrades to better picture quality and video are also available at additional cost. Sky Sailing offers gliding in sailplanes for one or 2 people. If you want a 2-passenger ride then both passengers will sit in the back. However, if you do a solo flight like I did, you will sit front and center and have the option of flying the sailplane (with help of your co-pilot).
There are some bumps throughout the flight so if you have “fear of heights or flying” then gliding might not be the best thing for you, unless you are looking to conquer your fears. I look forward to trying another glide in a sailplane and would definitely recommend Sky Sailing to those interested in this adventure.
You may want to consider making a day out of your trip to Warner Springs with visits to any one of the San Diego Casinos close by: Pala Casino, Casino Pauma, Harrahs Rincon or Santa Ysabel. Or roam the streets of Julian while indulging in some great apple pie.
Thanks for the great flight George!