Several months back I won a free gliding session with Vol Recreatif in a raffle. My natural laziness, combined with my nervousness about heights, combined with the fact that gliding is only fun if you have good weather, meant that I only managed to get myself to the airfield this past Saturday with the help of a friend of mine who actually has a car.
First things first: air gliding is not hand gliding. You are not exposed to the air. You and a pilot are seated in what looks like a single wheeled airplane with no engine. You're towed to a certain height by an actual (old, rickety, propeller-driven) airplane and then released to coast and drift gently back down. The whole thing takes maybe thirty minutes.
So what was it like?, Well, as I mentioned, heights make me nervous. So I was nervous. Also, there's nothing to hold onto in the glider. Roller-coasters also make me nervous, but at least there are handle-bars. I realize they're nothing more than a security blanket, but still.
It's not like flying in an actual airplane. I feel vaguely safe in an airplane because it's got an actual motor. Something's whizzing, something's making noise, something is keeping us in the air. A glider...glides. There's nothing keeping you in the air except the laws of physics. Yes, I realize that the only thing keeping you in the air with a passenger jet is the laws of physics (perhaps even more so, considering the weights involved), but this is all somehow driven home when you're in a glider. I was slick with sweat and I don't think it was just the heat.
That didn't stop me, however, from snapping some photos of the event, for interested parties.