The altimeter crept past 9,500 feet, the highest I had ever been at the controls of an aircraft. I gazed out over the landscape through the glider's big, bubble canopy and surveyed the scene below. From horizon to horizon, a layer of brown muck blanketed the ground—smoke from raging wildfires in Oregon far to the North, trapped below a strong inversion layer. I had found the one booming thermal powerful enough to break through that layer and climbed far above it. For those few moments I felt completely free—I was alone and on top of the world.
Looking back on the 16 months or so that I've been writing this blog, I see that I've managed to produce a post of at least 500 words every week since I started. Until last week, that is. Lying in bed with a nasty fever, I regretted not writing, but I was in no shape to do it. Like a flight canceled due to bad weather, it's something I just had to accept as part of life.
I was sitting at my desk last Saturday afternoon, engrossed in some work I was doing for a client, when I heard my wife Janet come in the front door.
"If you don't want me to cut my hair, would you come here please?" she said from the other room. "Quickly."
One day in September years ago, my wife Janet asked me what I wanted for my birthday. For some reason I still don't understand I replied, "How about a glider ride?" So, late one afternoon at a small gliderport in Northern California's wine country, I received my first ride in a small aircraft. Gliding almost silently over the rolling hills and forests of that beautiful country in the warm, raking light of early evening was a revelation. I was bitten. Bad. Two weeks later, I was back at the gliderport taking lessons. Seven months after that, I was a Private Pilot with a glider rating.
Bang! Bang!… Bang! Rumble rumble skid lurch thump. Shaking, I opened the glider's canopy and turned to look at the small crowd gathered on the porch outside the FBO. Breaking the awkward silence, Rhett the tow pilot said, "Wow, Kennan, that was really something!"