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One More Item Off the Bucket List

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At first glance this might not be what you think of when you think of going RVing but this adventure was made possible by our RV lifestyle. Staying as long as we are in Denver would have been prohibitive if we weren't living in our motor home. Having all my resources at hand made this work for me.

Everything has fallen into place and I have just completed my training to fly gliders. I started this quest on Thursday April 23rd and was able to satisfy the FAA authorized examiner on the oral and flight performance exams on Sunday, May 4. These were 12 intense days of work to get to this point. Having never been in a glider before, everything about gliders was foreign territory. Having a private pilot license already made the process much easier and quicker. I didn't have to take the introductory ground school or knowledge test. I did have to take the glider ground school and this was accomplished with the help of John. I had to learn how to fly the glider with an emphasis on what is different about glider and power airplanes. Sean guided me through this process. For the first few days, as with any aerial instruction, we only flew with good weather, light winds and high ceilings. As my skills progressed the weather became less of a factor with the exception of low ceilings. On those days we did ground work, learning to understand performance factors in gliders and exploring techniques of soaring and cross country gliding.

I made landings right from the beginning and did the take off on my third flight and each flight after that. Each flight was short, the longest being about 20 minutes so the learning was concentrated. I had to make thirty flights, ten of them had to be solo flights. I purchased the 30 flight package to take me through the whole program. It turned out I needed about 3 more flights and finished them off on Friday, May 1. I was signed off to take my oral exam and flight check ride.

I was set to use Saturday to study for the oral exam and to plan the cross country flight my flight examiner, Quay, had set as one of my practical assignments. I wouldn't actually fly the cross country, just demonstrate my skills at planning one and be able to discuss and explain the reasons for planning the way I did. My plans hit a bump when Louise's mother went back into the hospital. She had been recovering nicely up to this point but was complaining about abdominal pain. Louise and I went to the hospital, Irene was in the emergency room with Louise's sister and her husband as well as Louise's oldest daughter. I brought my study materials along and worked while in the waiting room. Mom was dismissed from the hospital about 8:00 p.m. I went home as soon as I knew she was OK. It turned out to be nothing serious.

Sunday I was up early to get weather reports before meeting Quay at his office in Aurora, Colorado. He grilled me, in a friendly way, for three hours. Then we were off to the airport in Boulder to do the check ride. I could have flown better but it was good enough to get my license. So now I am a licensed glider pilot. The weather held off long enough for me to fly but it rained on me all the way back to Wheat Ridge. So I beat the weather after all. One more achievement that I always wanted to reach has been accomplished.

Meanwhile, our plans for the trip to Florida have been canceled. We'll stay here another week and then head for Missouri to see my mother, children and grandchildren. Maybe we'll get to see a shuttle launch next year!

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