A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Isaac’s First Glider Ride

September 22, 2018
Emilie Phillips
Following the Cherokee to Sterling

This Saturday, the Sterling Massachusetts airport held a small fly-in with a flour bomb contest and a pig roast. Sterling is twenty minutes south of Brookline and a little east of Mount Wachusett. We arrived, together with a Cherokee from Brookline, in time to see the last flour drop competitor and the start of lunch.

The powered pilots hosted the fly-in. At the other end of the airport, the Greater Boston Soaring Club was launching gliders. I debated signing up for a glider ride, but I had already taken an intro ride in scenic Franconia Notch New Hampshire. Tyson has logged several instructional glider flights. So it seemed only fair to give Isaac a chance.

Gliders from GBSC stranded at Jaffrey

We quickly recognized the two pilots manning the soaring club tent. One Saturday in July, they and a third pilot had spent a day aloft, soaring across New England in their Schleicher ASW 27s. They had misjudged the lift at the end of the day, and landed out at Jaffrey. We had chatted with them and ogled their high tech gliders, while they waited for their tow plane.

Isaac being lowered into the glider

One of them, who liked instructing, said no problem taking a kid up. The composite twin they would fly was already positioned third in line for a tow. Isaac was too light to sit in the front seat. Gliders have no engine, so their balance relies on human bodies or ballast in front of the wings. Using Isaac’s booster seat and spare cushions from the Bearhawk, we propped him up in the rear cockpit. We explained to Isaac what not to touch, and then it was their turn to be towed.


When Isaac came back, he said he had fun. The most fun part was the tow. The instructor said Isaac briefly flew the glider.

“He kept pulling back on the stick,” the instructor said, “I told him we’d stall if he pulled more. Then I showed him a stall. After that, he said I could fly.”

The soaring club’s junior program starts at age 13.

“He said I was really good today,” Isaac said, referring to the instructor, “so I’ll be the best when I’m 13.”

Isaac insisted we watch one more glider take off before we flew home.

All Photos