Career Magazine

First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

By Swayne Martin @MartinsAviation
Lake Tahoe, California, is one of my favorite places in the entire United States. This trip was our 5th time out during the summer. I've been going since I was about 5 years old. Never having seen it from the air, I was pretty excited for the chance to fly over it! 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
Originally, the plan was for me to take a Cessna 172 mountain training lesson out of the Truckee Tahoe Airport (KTRK). That morphed into a glider lesson with Soar Truckee out of the same airport. I decided that it would be more valuable to learn a little bit about gliding and get some mountain training vs. flying in the normal C172. 

Here is the video from my flight, edited, with music added. More videos like this can be found on my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1



I was excited for my first opportunity to fly a glider, but not just anywhere, in a world famous gliding range. Lake Tahoe is essentially a 22x12 mile long granite bowl surrounded by snow covered mountains, in the high Sierras. It sits on the border of California and Nevada. Needless to say, after years of vacationing there, I was excited to see everything from a different angle!First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
Arriving at the Truckee Tahoe Airport, we drove past the main terminal and followed the signs for Soar Truckee. This was my first FBO I'd gotten to over dirt road! The Soar Truckee FBO was small but nice. There were numerous gliders stored, sitting out, landing, and taking off pretty much every time you looked somewhere else. First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
I was introduced to my instructor, Jan, who had been flying gliders for 59 years. He flew in the Belgian Air Force, flying fighters. In addition, he'd accumulated over 22,000 hours just in gliders! First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
We were to fly in a Schweizer SGS-2-33 (N65825). This training glider first flew in 1965. It is nearly 26 feet long and has a long wingspan of 51 feet. It's empty weight is only 600lbs! As of June 2011, there were 347 SGS-2-33's still registered in the USA. First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
From the very beginning, I was put right into the middle of things helping get the glider ready for flight. I helped taxi the glider out by holding onto the wings... something I hadn't ever done before!First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
We pulled the plane around, stopping just short of the runway. To my right, someone climbed in the tow plane and fired it up. The tow plane was  Piper PA-25 N7487Z (a typical tow plane) built in 1965. Here is a photo my aunt took of that plane: First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
Before I knew it, I was getting all strapped up into the glider and got my GoPro Camera set up on the canopy. First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
Right after I closed and locked the canopy, we were on the roll! One really cool thing about flying in a glider is that you will be in the air often before the tow plane is! My aunt took some great photos of our takeoff: 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
Here is the GoPro video of our takeoff from my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1. If you wait or fast forward to the end of the video, you can see our release from the tow:


The first thing you'll notice flying in a glider is how quiet it is. After having done all of my training in a powered aircraft, it was completely different flying in something without an engine. We were released at about 9,000 feet (3,500 feet AGL) and eventually climbed through thermals to an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet! That's almost at the point when oxygen is required!:

First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

Until we reached altitude, the instructor flew through the first set of thermals. During this time, I took some photos of the awesome views from our glider: 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

I would be lying if I said all went well for me during the flight. I got pretty nauseous from the spinning, which was required to fly up the tight thermals. There wasn't a whole lot I could do about it besides look at the horizon and breath deeply. When we would fly straight for a period of time, that bad feeling would go away. 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

After reaching nearly 14,000 feet, the instructor got me to take control and feel the way the glider would fly. Because I wasn't flying in any thermals, we descended a few thousand feet over a period of time. At that point, it was me who was going to do some thermal flying.


First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

One strange thing for me was that I felt a lot better spinning if I was the one in control. My body could expect what was coming motion-wise. I didn't ever really feel bad when I was the one thermaling. 

That said, the views of Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, and the surrounding mountains were incredible from 14,000 feet. I loved being able to see many of the places I grew up vacationing in from a different perspective! It was especially cool to be circling up a thermal with 2 or 3 other gliders!


First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

Looking down at the Truckee Tahoe Airport (KTRK), we counted over 15 private jets. Even for a vacation area, that was an unusual amount! There was everything from Gulfstream 5's to Phenom 100's. At one point, a Cessna Citation X took off directly under us. Within just a few seconds, it was above our plane at 6,000 feet AGL. 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

After exactly 1 full hour of flight, we decided it would be a good time to head back to the airport. At that point, I was pretty exhausted with all of the thermaling. Originally, I had 2 hours scheduled. I ended up deciding that I still got a great feel for things after 1 hour. 

Going through the pattern and landing was pretty interesting. Being in the front, I controlled the spoilers when he would ask for them, other than that, all of the controls were with Jan. When you're in a glider, you come in high to make sure you have enough room to land safely. Touching down, we pulled off to the left into the pullout area and leaned the plane forward, where the brakes are located. 

Here is the video of our landing at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport (KTRK). More videos like this can be found on my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1:

First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

Overall, I had an amazing first glider experience. Getting used to the thermaling took awhile, but it wasn't anything too bad. I would recommend Soar Truckee to anyone in the Lake Tahoe area. The people are so welcoming and always want you to have a good time. I promise you won't regret taking your first glider flight! 
First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

Thanks so much to Jan and the Soar Truckee for an excellent flight!Swayne MartinTwitter: @MartinsAviationYoutube: MartinsAviation1


First Glider Lesson (with Soar Truckee, in Truckee / Lake Tahoe, CA)

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

Magazines