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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Gliding

Have you ever been to Florida and laid on your sunbed watching the birds soaring and gliding. This is something a friend of ours decided to take one step further and to emulate the birds. We thought he was mad and his wife said, ‘just let me ring the UK and check your life assurance’.

So as he was hopeless on the computer it was up to me to start searching for a gliding school. I struggled at first until I found that in the US they call it sailplaning. Don’t know where the word sail comes into it. The nearest I found was not that far from us, well we didn’t think so. It was near Groveland and little out of the way but findable nevertheless. It was started by Knut and Ingrid Kjenslie from Norway. It is situated on an 160 site which used to belong to the Bronson (now where have I heard that name before) family. We discovered it is world famous as people flock to it for the almost constant near perfect gliding conditions in Florida.

When we got there we found the site was not only their business but their home as well. There were also many homes surrounding the site, some of which had their own hangars so they were able to use their own sailplanes. We were all warmly greeted by Ingrid and while waiting for Knut various things were pointed out to us. It was fascinating to watch the planes taking off with the gliders (sorry sailplanes) taking off behind at the end of a long rope.

At this point our friend was taken off by Knut and the next thing we knew our friend was waving to us while Ingrid towed the glider so that it could be attached to the plane that was due to launch it. We later learnt that this is called ‘The Tug’. We watched the take-off which I have to say looked rather bumpy but they were soon in the air. At this point my husband and I looked at each other and he said he wished it was him up there.

Ingrid came back to us and explained that they normally went up to about 3000ft before they were let go by ‘the tug’. We could only imagine what it felt like, but when our friend came down he said it was amazing, so quiet, just the whosh of the wind. Just like nature intended.

We were later told that they went over our house and could see Disney World and recognized various other places. Our friend took the controls for a short time until Knut took over again and they did some spiraling in the thermals. The way it was described to us was it was b****y fantastic. He said it was the quickest thirty minutes he had ever know.

He would recommend it to everyone - a ‘thrill of a lifetime’ for a birthday or a special event.

Seminole-Lake Gliderport is on Hwy. 33 southwest of Clermont, take Hwy. 474 from US27. Tel: (352) 394 540 for reservations. Experience flights: $80 per person (may have changed). www. soarfl. com

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 8 January 2010
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