Thursday, July 27, 2017

July 27--Day 45--I Have Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth

Usually on a long tour I like to have at least one really cool off-the-bike adventure. I decided to stay another day on Mt. Desert Island (MDI) so I could do a glider plane ride. I've always wanted to fly in a glider. 


Acadia Air Tours just so happens to offer glider rides. I signed up yesterday for a flight at noon today. The airport is in Trenton, just off MDI. Fortunately, the Island Explorer bus goes to Trenton. The gals in the Air Tours office said the busses weren't reliable. I've found that to be completely untrue. 


I woke up to rain this morning, so instead of trying to cook my breakfast in the rain, I caught the bus into town and ate at Jeannie's Great Maine Breakfast. It appears to be very popular as I had to wait 20 minutes for a table. It was pretty good--stuffed cinnamon raisin French toast with blueberry sauce.


After breakfast I walked down to the Air Tours office to make sure, with the weather, that I was still going to get to fly. They said there had been no cancellation. I went back to the Village Green and caught the bus to Trenton. The bus driver let me off right at the driveway to the Acadia Air Tours place at the end of the airport.


I was early. Jeff, the glider pilot, said we might have to wait until 12:30 with the weather. But, shortly after noon, we got going. Barnard, the tow pilot, took me to the plane in the "limo" (a golf cart). He did the pre-flight for the tow plane, while Jeff towed the glider into position with a John Deere lawn mower.

The glider

The tow plane

Jeff pulling the glider with the John Deere glider puller--I mean lawn mower



Jeff hooked up the tow rope to the glider, and had me get in the glider. He got in, and pretty soon Barnard came along, dragging the tow rope. Jeff said, "3-2-1", and the tow rope became taut, and we were moving. The glider was off the ground before the plane. We were going 80 mph. The plane lifted off, and we steadily climbed to 2500 ft. At 2500 ft, Jeff disconnected the tow rope, and the tow plane dove sharply down and to the left. As Jeff said, it looked as if we were the ones keeping the tow plane aloft.

Strapped in

Taking up the slack

Here we go!




We were gliding! It was so cool! Jeff pointed out the landmarks and talked about the island. We saw boats trolling for mussels. Without the plane pulling us, it was much quieter, and we would drop to speeds as low as 24mph. 

Air speed indicator

Bridge to the island




We circled around catching air currents that would speed us up, or turning into the wind and slowing down. I could have stayed up there all day! I asked Jeff what his longest flight had been. He said 8 hours (in Arizona). 


As we were heading back to the airport, Jeff did a dive where we picked up a lot of speed. He said he can go faster if he's got heavier people. I said, "Weight always wins on the downhill." 

Diving toward the ground!



He landed the glider on a lawn mower wide strip of grass next to the runway, and rolled right up to his parking spot. 

Coming in for a landing



They do Go Pro photos. Of course I bought the SD card. I gave Jeff and Barnard a tip. Jeff asked his boss, Steve, if it was okay for Jeff to drive me back to Bar Harbor. Steve gave the okay, so I didn't have to wait for the bus.


Jeff dropped me right at the library, and here I am typing and publishing. It was a great adventure! Now I can add glider plane to my list of ways I've been airborne!



I'm not sure what I'll do the rest of my real day off the bike. I might take the bus to some of the other parts of the island. The weather has turned out okay.

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