Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Soaring in a Glider at the National Soaring Museum

My stomach dropped and I squeaked out a gasping laugh as the glider plane took a nosedive towards the earth. I had asked the pilot if he knew how to perform any crazy tricks and he kindly obliged in providing me with an exhilarating adrenaline rush. Besides that several second free fall where we plummeted towards earth, I was surprised to find just how peaceful soaring in a glider plane can be.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Glider planes have always intrigued me and terrified me at the same time. The thought of flying in an aircraft with no motor sounds quite nuts if you ask me, but even so, it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

When we were road tripping through the Finger Lakes, we had the opportunity to visit the National Soaring Museum on Harris Hill in Elmira, New York. On our first day of the trip, we toured the museum and learned so much about the history and technical side of soaring and aviation as a whole.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

We saw the first forms of glider planes and how they progressed and developed over the years. We learned about how gliders fly and what conditions are needed such as thermals, ridge lift and wave lift and how wind and clouds play a part in these conditions. We were told stories of how gilder planes were used during past wars, which makes sense since they were silent, and plane engines were anything but. We heard tales about fantastic people and the feats they accomplished in glider planes. Simply put, I was fascinated. And I wanted to go soaring in a glider more than ever before.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

After learning more about the history and understanding how gliders soar through the air, it made me much more comfortable and at ease with the thought of hopping in one for a flight. I was holding hope that we would have a chance to take a flight after touring the museum, but unfortunately, the conditions just weren’t cooperating and we had to stay grounded. We were told that we could come back for a flight later in the week if the weather conditions improved, so I basically kept my fingers crossed all week long.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

As luck would have it, on the last day of our trip, we were given the green light—the weather was cooperating and we could come back for a ride! We rushed back to Harris Hill full of excitement, and honestly, just as many nerves to match.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

There would be two pilots taking us out, and since we were road tripping with our friend Evan, there were three of us going for rides. We decided Evan and Micah would go up first and I would take the last spot. The butterflies in my stomach were growing when I watched Micah and Evan get towed across the runway. Thankfully, our lessons in how gliders stay up in the air did wonders to help calm me down.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

When it was my turn, I climbed into the front seat and excitedly buckled up. After we closed the glass dome above us and gave the okay, the tow plane took off down the runway, pulling us with an attached rope. Watching the tow rope as we sailed through the air made me feel like we were flying on a kite. The pilot kept me posted every time a bump was coming up and what to expect when the tow rope cut us loose. He did a great job explaining how the air currents worked and it made me feel very comfortable despite the fact that we were flying without an engine.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

Our flights lasted about 20 minutes and we got up to around 6,000 feet in elevation. The length of the flight and elevation you reach are dependent on the weather conditions of the day, so each flight will offer something a little different. And the pilots don’t typically do crazy tricks when they give people rides, but if you ask nicely, they might just oblige! Micah was happy to report that he had an entirely peaceful ride as he was not interested in nosediving towards earth like me!

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

The one thing that stood out to me throughout the flight was how quiet and peaceful it was as we were gliding through the air—the ride was so smooth that it was actually relaxing! Except for the nosedive, that was the perfect punch of adrenaline to make the flight unforgettable.

Soaring in a Glider Plane in Elmira, New York

If you are in the Finger Lakes region and close to Elmira, making a trip to Harris Hill is a great decision. The museum is worth a visit on its own—it is fascinating if you have any interest in aviation and/or history, but if you have the chance, soaring in a glider is an experience you will never forget. It is one of our favorite adventures that we’ve had to date. In fact, we loved it so much that it spurred conversations about someday getting our pilots license!

 

Special thanks to the Corning and Southern Finger Lakes tourism board for organizing and hosting us on so many amazing adventures throughout our week in New York. As always, all opinions are our own.

 

22 Comments
  • noel
    Posted at 12:44h, 14 January Reply

    Wow, what an exceptional experience that must have been like that is definitely and adventure not to forget and the landscape below looks so beautiful from above – nice post

  • Maria
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:56h, 14 January Reply

    Oh my! This looks terrifying and amazing at the same time. While it really would push me outside my comfort zone (I’m afraid of heights), I still would love to try it one day. The views are worth it!

  • melody pittman
    Twitter:
    Posted at 11:59h, 15 January Reply

    How cool! What an experience! I would enjoy just seeing the planes but here you can go for a ride, too. nice!

  • Mama Munchkin
    Twitter:
    Posted at 12:19h, 15 January Reply

    I have never dreamed of hopping into a glider, the mere fact that there is no engine has always totally freaked me out. But, after listening to your story and looking at your gorgeous photos I have totally changed my mind. Adding it to my bucket list!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:58h, 21 January Reply

      Glad you are thinking about taking a ride, now! I was freaked out about the no engine thing too, but it was surprisingly a peaceful and exciting experience! Hope you enjoy it if you take a ride 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Horseback Riding in the Finger LakesMy Profile

  • Elaine J Masters
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:49h, 15 January Reply

    I remember that intense quiet from the one time I went gliding too and it was decades ago. It’s the closest we can get to that exhilarating sense of flying. How lucky you were to get the chance.

  • Anne Klien ( MeAnne)
    Twitter:
    Posted at 03:06h, 16 January Reply

    Wow this looks like an amazing experience. I have been wanting to try this activity . We have small airport nearby that cater this activity. I may try it this Summer

  • Chrysoula
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:37h, 16 January Reply

    What an amazing experience! I would love to do that. The feeling of soaring is amazing and the views breathtaking!

  • Annie
    Posted at 16:32h, 16 January Reply

    Holy cow, those planes are so tiny. I imagine you might get a little airsick! It probably also feels a little bit like being a bird, I would love to try it 🙂

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:51h, 21 January Reply

      Yeah, I can see where some people might get a little airsick! I’ve never experienced it before so I didn’t even think of it, but thankfully it was a pretty smooth ride and it did seem pretty birdlike–love that comparison! 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Horseback Riding in the Finger LakesMy Profile

  • Maddy
    Posted at 02:01h, 18 January Reply

    I am constantly looking for new adrenaline experiences and this has now been added to the the list! I never knew gliders were used in the war- but you’re right it makes sense seeing as they’re so quiet. I love that you talked about getting your license – wouldn’t that be fun!

  • Karla
    Twitter:
    Posted at 09:26h, 19 January Reply

    OMG This is an experience I would super love to do. That’s amazing! I bet you had a good time. This would be my perfect birthday gift and a great adrenaline rush experience

  • Drake Clearwater
    Posted at 11:33h, 04 February Reply

    This is my kind of adventure, right here! How much did it cost to go flying though? Last time i priced flights (powered or not) they were prohibitively expensive vs. my budget….

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 04:05h, 05 February Reply

      It was a blast! I know what you mean, flights always seem to be pretty expensive. This was a lot cheaper than I thought it would be. It costs around $90, so not exactly budget but quite a bit cheaper than what I see helicopter prices at typically! Hope you can give it a try sometime 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Hiking and Puffins in Iceland at the Latrabjarg Bird CliffsMy Profile

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