Cellpic Sunday – 16 September 2018

Somewhere over southern North Dakota.

I’m writing this on Saturday evening. Yesterday we brought our Civil Air Patrol glider from its home base in eastern North Dakota to Mandan, in the south central part of the state. Our plan was to give cadets in the western part of the state orientation rides, one of many benefits that cadets receive from being a member.

There are two ways to move a glider from one part of the state to another, disassemble it, put it in a trailer, and drive it across the country; or do what we did, hook the glider to a tow plane on a 350 foot (107 m) rope and tow it there. As a tow pilot, I’ve been in the tow plane several times on these long distance tows. This time, though, I was a passenger in the glider. I’ve been in a glider many times, even solo, but I never completed the rating to add to my license. I haven’t actually flown a glider more than a little bit in several years. Nor had I ever been in the glider on a long-distance tow.

Towing a glider, especially for flights that last upwards of two or more hours takes a lot of skill. The glider doesn’t just obediently follow the aircraft like a trailer. There was an expert pilot on the controls in the tandem seat behind me, and he expertly followed the tow plane even through some bumpy skies. The skies presented some interesting cloud formations on the flight and we even had to skirt a bit to the north to go around a collection of rain showers.

That red “string” is actually a piece of yarn taped to the plexiglass canopy and is actually a necessary flight instrument. It is the pilot’s job to keep that yarn pointed straight back like it is in the photo. If it were pointing to either the right or left, the pilot needs to apply corrective action on the rudder to make it vertical again.

About the photo: Captured on my Samsung S7, this image has been sized for web display. In most browsers, you can click on the image to get an enlarged, higher resolution view. The rule for Cellpic Sunday is simple, the image must be captured on a mobile device.

John Steiner

4 thoughts on “Cellpic Sunday – 16 September 2018

    • Glider operations can be intensive giving cadets a 20-30 minute ride. 15 cadet rides plus setup, breaks and shutdown means a glider team has a full day’s work. Tow pilot, glider pilot, three crew members on the ground are ideal.

    • One of the reasons I don’t fly a glider is that being towed is my least favorite flying experience. >grin< Once set free from the tow plane, however, it is pure flying and a joy. The silence of flight without an engine is amazing!

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