Sky Sailing in a High-Performance Glider

If you don’t already know this about us, Jesse and I are both huge movie buffs. Not only that, but I am also a huge fan of Pierce Brosnan. So when the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair with Mr. Hot-Stuff-Brosnan debuted in 1999, I felt like I hit the jackpot (the original with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway came out in 1968).

To say I enjoy The Thomas Crown Affair is an understatement – I love this movie. It combines a surplus of things I love: museums, art, Pierce Bronson, romance, mystery, Pierce Brosnan, adventure, badassery, and Pierce Brosnan (did I already say that?).

It is also the movie that introduced me to gliding/sky sailing. From the moment I saw the scene in the film where Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) and Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) soar through the sky in a Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus high-performance two-seat glider, I knew I had to do it.

Fast forward to 18 years after I first watched the movie and my desire to glide through the sky finally became a reality. I booked a 30-minute high performance glider flight at Sky Sailing, Inc., an airport in Warner Springs, California located in Northern San Diego County.

There’s something that happens to me the day I realize one of my dreams is coming true: I become overwhelmed with excitement and fear.

Excitement in knowing that I’ll be checking off yet another item on my very long bucket list. But also a great deal of fear, which manifests as shaky hands, nausea, anxiety, uncertainty, and a whole lot of what ifs: what if something bad happens, what if I hate it, what if we crash?!?

Well, that last what if—what if we crash—came true.

If you are not familiar with a sailplane or glider, this unpowered aircraft (with no engine/motor) uses naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne. Sailplanes are towed into the air by a powered aircraft behind a 200 foot rope. When the pilot of the glider reaches the altitude he/she wants, they release the tow rope. Gliders are aerodynamically streamlined and are capable of gaining altitude and remaining airborne, while maintaining forward motion.

Our goal was to be towed to 3,000 feet into the air before releasing the tow rope and soaring through the sky. But shortly after my glider was towed to about 100 feet into the air, I heard a loud crack and the pilot behind me say, “the tow rope broke.” To which I panicky replied, “what does that mean?” And he confirmed that we had to do an emergency landing.

When an aircraft doesn’t have a motor or engine, the pilot is at the mercy of the winds and must gracefully maneuver the aircraft wherever the wind takes them. In this case, the wind took us off course to uneven fields filled with bushes and shrubbery. I braced for impact, let out a scream, and expected the worst.

Thankfully, my experienced pilot brought us to a halt with no injuries to either of us or damage to the aircraft.

After ensuring that I was okay, the pilot looked at me and said: “Don’t worry, you’re going again.” And I excitedly responded with, “I certainly hope so.”

Both flights were amazing, but the second ride was my favorite.

Here’s a brief video of my sky sailing dream coming true (minus the crash).

Wishing you peace, love, and adventure,


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