Fly Like an Eagle


Dear Family and friends

Yesterday I took action on something I have considered doing for a long long long time. I decided to go up in a glider and try soaring. I think I saw a program on gliders in the early 80’s, and it looked like such an awesome thing to do, it really intrigued me. But with this and that and little kids and no access to surfing the internet, I had no idea how one would go about it, and besides, I was afraid (don’t tell anyone, PUH-LEEZ, it would ruin my rep) (And they won’t hire me for the remake of Xena, either- DAMN!!!)

Anyway, I surfed and found a couple of places that offered rides in gliders and decided that it was now or never, and I should bite the bullet and give it a whirl. Well…YOU GOTTA TRY IT!!!!!

I went out to the airstrip, populated by the greatest bunch of characters you ever saw – they were just too too cute. Little Joe, 86, is about 5 feet 2 and maybe 90 pounds. He has sparkling eyes and ruddy cheeks and reminds me more of Granpa from the Real McCoys than anyone else I can think of. He and his buddies built their first glider in High School when he was 16 and he has been gliding ever since, and is still licensed for commercial flights. He wanted to help me get in touch with the person I needed to see, and spent about twenty minutes looking thru a phone book, which turned out to be a 93-94 book, and didn’t want to call directory assistance. Finally he found what he was looking for, and drew me a map the likes of which I’ve never seen before. For a twenty mile drive from Hemet to Lake Elsinore, there was a series of lines, arrows, crossed lines, and little squiggles. No street names. Just get, here, turn here, etc. I bit my tongue to not laugh, but it was the funnniest thing. I finally asked this other guy who was standing in the hangar watching him draw me the map to help me by telling me names of the streets. Thank god he knew some. I don’t mind chasing geese, but that was really a bit much. Anyway, he was so cute it made me smile all day long. He said if he had a tow pilot, he would have taken me up himself. I thought maybe I would pass on that, but anyway he was adorable.

When I got to Lake Elsinore (after only maybe two wrong turns of a block or two each….. not bad, eh?) I asked, as directed, for Dick Ensign. The fellow I spoke to, who was up on the wing of an airplane, said he had moved two years ago. I was like, huh?, no, I spoke w/his wife half an hour ago and he is supposed to be here….and he was, OH, Richard ENSIGN (not Johnson) – oh, he’s right over there, pointing across the grassy field to a nice looking grandfatherly man working w/a young boy on what will someday be a hangar. Unfortunately, Curly, the tow pilot (is this an old stooges movie, or what?) is unavailable, but he was so nice and we made a date for the following day at noon. And the price I got was like half of what I had seen advertised on the web. He promised me as close to an hour as he could for the tow fee of $45.00, and told me I had located THE CHEAPEST place to fly from in the whole area. Goodie goodie goodie!!!! After I left there, I visited a dairy that had the most delicious milk I have tasted in years and years. I bought some and drank it and bought some more and some ice to keep it fresh for later. Wish I had some more right now. YUM YUM YUM. Reminded me of the milk I used to get in the dairy when I lived on the kibbutz. Tastes like everything good and fresh mown hay and – mmmmmmmm just delicious. We miss so much by having everything preprocessed and prepackaged. All the “sabor” (spanish for flavor, essence, taste) is removed. Sometimes its good just to get back to the real essence of things to remember how they are supposed to be. Because they are all so wonderful and we so easily forget that, wrapped in the day to day of living. But thats what I was reminded of, watching the goats and chickens and calves and roosters and baby bunnies out in the hot parched dusty yard of the dairy, where they had enclosed the animals in a paddock to make a petting zoo and encourage visitors to their dairy. Hot and dusty animals did little to advertise the delicious goodness of their ice cold milk, but then again, it wasn’t my idea.

Anyway, I returned as scheduled the next day at noon. After being strapped in to this itty bitty space, feeling like I was going to take a ride on the Matterhorn, my pilot got in and we talked and waited for the tow plane. I told him I was NOT interested in any aerial highjinks, just smooth soaring and lazy circles – like a birdie – NOTHING FUNNY!!!! His son, a sweet boy of 15, came to get cash, credit card and more cash from Daddy. He complained and forked. He was kind enough to offer me this fine boy, but I told him I really liked them better LITTLE – about two feet tall, actually is my preference. He agreed, that he liked hiim then, too, but that since he hit 13 its been all downhill. I told him he would be happy after he hit 16, so he was encouraged to hang on just a little longer. So I lost my opportunity. Oh well.

Finally, he closed the canopy and the tow plane started moving and so did we. I was a little bit afraid, but figured I could always ask him to land if it got too weird. Well, after just a couple of minutes, hsaid we were flying, and it felt like nothing at all. And we kept climbing behind the tow plane, and the wind started to whistle thru the little window and the temperature inside dropped from VERY HOT to comfortable, and it was just amazing. When he dropped the line to the tow plane, it jerked a little bit, but soon it was just quiet and sort of whooshing. A hawk was circling above us so he followed it over to the ridge to catch the thermals with it. We circled and circled for a long time, going from one place to the other looking for some lift. When he found it, it was just like you were transported up on some kind of elevator that compressed your ribcage and took away your breath. WOW. What a rush!!!! We spent the better part of an hour just doing that. He let me fly for a bit, but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to be a passenger and let someone else worry about the why and hows of the whole thing. It also felt safer. The less I know, perhaps the better. Just sit back and experience it.

Finally, the two riders they were expecting showed up at the airstrip, so he decided to come back in. He did a speed ride down the ridge, which was soooooooooo cooooooooool, then decided to give me a few ups and downs for my money. He did the first roll so suddenly I grabbed on to the canopy to try and right the plane, so he calmed down a bit and did some gentler ones, right and left – and it was like a roller coaster only not so scary or jarring – just like floating, sort of. AMAZING. When we came in for the approach, I was wondering how it would be to land in this strange conraption – but it was smoother than the smoothest jet landing I’ve ever experienced – no bump at all, just rolling down and whoosh onto the ground. The only problem was trying to extricate myself from the half-reclining position that I had been in for over an hour, when my limbs no longer wanted to cooperate. But I managed to get out, as there were another four burly guys waiting as he popped open the canopy. Didn’t want to be dragged out like wet laundry, so I managed to get out without being too clumsy.

Richard came by to see how I liked it, as did the boys and everyone else there. My answer was YES! Althought they all told me how easy it was to get a license and fly, I do not feel particularly driven in that direction, although I definitely want to return (as a passenger). They told me that when the thermals get better, they get up 11 or 12,000 feet – and I GOTTA try it. You should too!!!!!!!!!!!

Thats all the news for today. Tweet tweet.

Love to all.