At least one Oklahoma visitor found Stafford County just a little lacking in hot air, Wednesday.
Glider pilot Steve Michalik, Edmund Okla., had to put his glider plane down in a plowed field just north of NW 160 Street and Hwy 281 when the plane lost a thermal updraft.
“It wasn’t bad,” Michalik said. “I’ve landed out lots of times before, I stopped in about 15 feet.”
Michalik was participating in an event by the Kansas Soaring Association, based in Yoder. During the week-long event glider pilots are given waypoints they have to fly to and then return to Sunflower airport in Yoder. Wednesday’s route was from Yoder to Medicine Lodge and back to Yoder.
It is not uncommon for the gliders to not complete the route and have to “land out.” Michalik explained that it is not the wind that keeps them aloft, but the lift created by thermal updrafts.
“There were a couple others (gliders) down south of Great Bend,” he said. “One of them guided me to a thermal that got me a little further, but there was some overcast or something and I lost the lift.”
A farmhand, (Pablo) working a section across the highway from Michalik’s landing site came over to check on him then returned with a tractor and rope to pull the glider from the center of the field to 160 Street. A ground crew was on the way with a trailer to load the plane up for the return trip.
The wings and tail section come off for transporting. As Michalik removed the tail wing from his plane a crew pulling a trailer honked as they passed by on their way to pick up the flyers downed near Great Bend.
One day earlier, the “task” took flyers from Yoder to Pratt and back. Machalik made that flight, but said he had to go back with a truck to pick up another flyer that landed in a field south of Pratt.
The Kansas Soaring Association (KSA) group has coordinated members from the Wichita area to the Colorado border. KSA is associated with the national organization, the Soaring Society of America. KSA member, Tony Condon organized the event.
To learn more about non-powered flight opportunities or schedule a ride in on of the twoperson gliders visit them online at http://www.soarkansas.org.