What Soaring Is To Me
Imagine that you are free as a bird. You are a mile high, silently circling on a beautiful clear spring day, gaining altitude every turn. Slightly below you there is another sleek engineless aircraft taking advantage of the same thermal (a pocket of rising air). You gently move the joystick left and right, banking the aircraft to try to hit the centre of the rising air. You glance at the instruments being mindful of airspeed, rate of climb, and the other glider. The more altitude we gain the longer we stay up! Your instructor, a friend in the back seat, is getting great photos of the other glider that is piloted by another club member. You see and fly with birds, and climb to the base of puffy cotton-ball clouds. You notice tiny dinky-toy cars creeping along a highway, and little towns a mile below. You constantly remain aware of your location, so you can always make it home. Two hours later, you finally give in and head toward the airfield. You steer around the traffic pattern, your instructor making the radio calls and operating the spoilers to lose altitude. You watch your speed, adjusting it by raising and lowering the nose. You line up on the runway, gently pull back on the stick to round out as the field nears, and grease the landing! What a perfect day!
Soon you are back in your electric wheelchair. You are no longer a pilot. You are once again a quadriplegic, dependant on help from others. But you have tasted two hours of total freedom, soaring with birds and other pilots, silently sailing the sky from cloud to cloud a mile above those poor earth-bound creatures that know not that experience. Nothing can wipe the grin off your face or erase the memory.
That is soaring to me.