"... The sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost..."
With today's technology we can exit an aircraft several miles above the earth, fly free for minutes at a time, deploy our auxiliary wing (the parachute) and land safely at the spot of our choosing. Courage, discipline, training, team work, mental focus, self reliance, and trust are all necessary ingredients for a successful flight, just as they are in life. The joy of a successful flight is indescribable. It lasts me for several days.
One of my favorite places to fly is from the Yolo County airport near Davis California. I have really enjoyed the people and flying at SkyDance Skydiving. The "Thumbs Up" photo at the top of this page was taken March 2008 at about 7000 feet above Skydance.
Vertical Wind Tunnels
For those that find the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet above Mother Earth a bit more than they are ready to try, or for those who find flight for a minute or few is just not enough, there is now a safe alternative where you can get hours of low risk free fall just a few feet above the earth. They are vertical wind tunnels. Wind tunnels that blow air straight up so fast that a person can float on a cushion of air. Skydivers can practice their moves and routines without hurry. Thrill seekers or the curious can fly with out risking their lives, while friends and family watch. I am lucky enough to live within driving distance of I Fly San Francisco Bay, a state of the art wind tunnel in Union City, California. Practicing in the wind tunnel has really helped my progression as a skydiving student. It's also great fun.
Personal Aircraft: Hang Gliders, Para Gliders (and a Helicopter?)
Today personal aircraft are within the grasp of many people. The technology includes everything from small aircraft made of composites and other high tech materials to specially designed parachutes designed to soar on the wind. Unpowered hang gliders and para gliders can be launched from hill or mountain tops, catch the rising air and soar for hours, using nothing but the wind currents and the pilot's skills. I am looking forward to getting a para glider, a man carrying glider I can transport in a back pack.
I used to fly an ultra light air craft called a "Pterodactyl" about 20 years ago. My favorite pastime was to take it up several thousand feet, shut off the engine, and see how long I could soar. There was no in-air engine restart, so I got plenty of practice flying a glider and landing dead stick. I gave it up while raising a family, but the kids are grown now and having my own personal air craft (a para glider) is something I am looking forward to.
Until I saw this Helicopter video I never thought of helicopters as something many people could afford. I have to say that even though I can foresee potential problems with the design, the possibilities suggested by this video of The Worlds Smallest Helicopter really catch my imagination!
Remote control SailPlanes
People ask me how I can put flying model airplanes in the same category as "real" flying. Maybe the adrenalin is not the same, but the satisfaction of hand tossing a glider into the wind and catching a thermal, soaring so well that the buzzards and hawks come and join me, that puts a smile on my face. Or to use the 20 mile per hour rotor on the backside of of a slope and dynamic soaring techniques to accelerate a model that I built with my own hands to well over a hundred miles per hour, that puts a smile on my face.
I guess it's an out of body experience. I put my mind in those little planes and soar for hours. At the end of the day I am relaxed and happy. Yeah, that's flying.