Exciting, fast en silent . . . . .
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You will see them flying above Midden Zeeland. Perhaps you have stared at them. Those wide, white birds catching updrafts and staying aloft as long as possible.
You might wonder: who are these people? Is it fun? How does it work en what does it cost? Do you ever have these questions? Then read on.
Glider flying, as free as a bird, high above the land, a beautiful sport. Time and time again, glider pilots are grasped by the game of slowly gliding towards the earth and circling back up again in rising air. After a while you will feel one with the airplane. One with the currents of air. The airplane does what you want. Often it is ‘hard work’ to keep the glider centered in a thermal and sometimes the weather is just awesome for glider flying. One thermal after another and you can fly hundreds of kilometers. Hundreds of kilometers without engine. It’s on days like these you know: ’there’s no greater sport than glider flying’.
Since a glider doesn’t have an engine, they need to find another way to get into the air. This can be done by using a winch (a 260 hp angine mounted on a truck, winching in a steel cable of more than a kilometer) or by towing behind a light aircraft.
Winching is the least used method at Midden Zeeland. Towing is more comfortable and usually puts you right in the middle of a thermal. It is more expensive however.
When the sun heats the ground, the bottom layer of the atmospehere heats up. That air then bedomes lighter than the air above it. Such a layer of hot air can grow to become about 60 meters thick and suddenly rise up in a funnel. This is called a thermal. Gliders, but also birds, use these invisible energy sources. If you manage to stay in one of these columns of rising air, the glider goes up with it. Sometimes up to thousands of feet.
Flights can last for hours and distances can be vast. The Dutch record for thermal flying is currently 10 hours and 24 minutes. The record for the longest distance in a straight line is 905 kilometers.