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Soaring in Silent Flight

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By Keith Parsons

I had wanted to go for a flight in a glider for quite some time. I had planned on treating myself to such a flight after I obtained my Masters degree, but I never got around to it. So when this opportunity for a free flight came along I had to check it out. I wanted to experience what it was like to fly without all the noise associated with powered flight.

www.freedomswings.org

The name of the organization is Freedom's Wings. It is an organization that promotes flying in and piloting of glider planes. Many, if not all, of the pilots have a disability of one kind or another (the pilot of the glider that I was in has a spinal cord injury and is a paraplegic). The organization flies gliders out of two locations, Van Sant Airport in Erwinna, PA and Blairstown Airport in Blairstown,NJ.

My dad and brother came with me, which was quite helpful. I believe the parking lot is not paved so it is a little bit difficult to maneuver in a manual wheelchair. We arrived and I checked in about one hour before my flight. We then hung out with some of the other people who were there. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. One person let me borrow his spray bottle to help me stay cool. He also let me borrow a cushion for me to sit on while I was in the glider.

Getting in the glider was kind of difficult, especially given that I am 6'5" tall. Three or four people were there to help me get in to the cockpit. They then helped me get situated. However, once I was settled they were unable to close the canopy so they got me out of the front seat and helped me into the rear seat. Unfortunately, even when I was in this second seat, they were still unable to close the canopy. So I was not able to go for a flight.

The people there were great and very helpful. It is not easy getting into the glider even with their help, especially when you are 6'5" tall! You have to be able to tell them what you are comfortable with to make sure that you do not end up hurting yourself. They will do their best to accommodate you. I believe their website states that they have a Hoyer Lift, but I did not see one at this location.

 

You may need some assistance getting around if you have difficulty wheeling over gravel or grass. If you are like me and will need assistance getting in and out of the glider you will need to contact the organization prior to showing up for the flight.  I would definitely recommend trying this out for everybody. From my experience, it seems like the staff will do whatever they can to get you into the air...as long as you are safe!

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