Soaring with the Eagles
This month, Dennis continues his blog in “Soaring with the Eagles.”
It's noon on a day that promises good soaring conditions, and the ground crew attaches the tow rope to my glider in preparation for launch. My tow pilot is ready for take-off at the other end of the 200-foot rope and will tow me aloft to begin my day. Via radio, I ask the tow pilot to take me over to “The Red Rocks.” These distinct, iron-colored rocks absorb the morning sun and are a well-known source of good thermal lift to pilots who fly here at Airsailing Gliderport north of Reno, Nevada. We confirm that we are both ready for take-off, and the tow pilot pushes the throttle forward on the powerful tow plane. We track directly to The Rocks and, “Thump!” There’s the thermal bump, and I pull the release separating me from the tow plane. I bank hard to the right, and the mountainous terrain flows like a painting through the clear plexiglass canopy over my head. I make minor adjustments, centering myself in the rising shaft of air, and am rewarded as my rate of climb increases. This is what it’s all about!
I watch, fascinated, as the Red Rocks rotate directly below my tight circle in the sky. I couldn’t be happier, and then I see them, their black wingspan and white feathered heads distinct against the Red Rocks. Two American Bald eagles, wing on wing, roll into a turn directly below me. Steady in a perfectly executed formation turn, they center the thermal core flawlessly. I’d never experienced the high compliment of having soaring birds join my thermal! With much less weight and much more flying ability, the eagles rapidly close the altitude gap between them and me. Although I’m climbing well, they reach and pass through my altitude effortlessly, still in their perfect formation of two. Humbly, I whisper, “I wish I could do that.”
Dennis Linnekin is Patricia Linnekin's (an HRC team member) husband, and a devoted supporter of HRC's mission and vision, as well as a stellar pilot of all sorts.