Bird’s Eye View of a Wildfowl State – Preparing for take off

Having never worked in a hangar, I hung back while Gray cleaned his windscreens, tested the flaps, ensured all the wires and controls were operating, and then he released the cables that were holding the glider still in the hangar and asked me to help guide the vehicle out into the open.

I took hold on one wing while Gray steered from the middle.  I was amazed just how light and controllable the glider was.  We steered it gently through the doorway and out onto the road.   A friend of Gray’s turned up – he was a research assistant at the university and often helped Gray out as groundcrew.  Then  from an aircraft parked up behind us, another guy stepped out and as we shook hands, Gray explained that this was to be our pilot and he had just emerged from our tow plane.  We worked together to run the glider over to the main runway at Brookings.  At least it was the main runway (12) when we used it.  The usual main runway was being completely dug up, extended and resurfaced.

It took a while to sort out the tow plane so Gray decided the best place for me was in the cockpit.  He allowed me to sit in the front seat, strapped me in, closed the windows then returned to the tow plane to walk a rope back to the glider and attach it to the nose.  I took the opportunity to recce the instruments in front of me.  It all looked remarkably simple.  A basic altimeter on the left, some gauges to measure how quickly the glider is rising or falling, the variometer, the airspeed indicator,  and something to monitor the banking and rolling and tilting that the glider might do.  Taking centre stage in the middle of the dashboard was a large wooden knob.  I avoided touching anything and sat patiently but totally excited waiting for this new experience.

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Preparing for take off