Today's Travelers are Facing Rigor, Danger and Dread--and Loving It
Kevin F. McMurray
From the Print Edition:
J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00
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Who among us has never dreamed of piloting their own aircraft? The reason most people don't realize the dream is the time commitment and the expense of obtaining a pilot's license. And let's not forget the cost of owning and operating one's own plane. There is an alternative plan of action. It's less time-consuming, considerably cheaper--and foremost--a purer pursuit for those who want to experience the thrill of flying. Some call it gliding, others sky sailing, but at the Schweizer School it is called soaring.
Located in the "Soaring Capital of America," the lush Southern Finger Lake District of Elmira, New York, the Schweizer Soaring School has history and location on its side. A former manufacturer of gliders, Schweizer has operated the school since 1946. The airport is ringed by ridges and mountains, which provide the updrafts that lift these delicate-looking aircraft high into the clouds.
If you are not quite sure that this is the adventure for you, Schweizer suggests taking two test flights with an instructor which can be arranged at a soaring center near you. That's all it takes to get most people hooked. Sign up for the one-week course that will have you soaring in as many as five flights a day that last 15 to 20 minutes. If you show an aptitude you could be soloing by the last day. Want a license to fly solo? Ante up for the extra week and you, too, can earn the coveted wings of a Federal Aviation Administration private glider.
The basic course costs $1,150; the two-week course that gets you a license costs $2,200. Contact the Schweizer Soaring School at 607-739-3821, fax: 607-739-4516. Sail planes can be had for as little as $7,000, fuel not included--or necessary. And you thought you could never afford to be a proud owner of an aircraft.
Oh, yes. Still considering a death-defying climb of Everest? If so, contact Mountain Madness at 800-328-5925, fax: 206-937-1772, or on the Web: www.mountainmadness.com. A spot on the next expedition may be opening. Remember, you only live once.
Kevin F. McMurray is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor adventure. He lives in Brewster, New York
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