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September 12, 2015 Flying, How to, Sailing, York River

The Other Soaring

Anne and Mark Richards of College Station, Texas, went soaring on the York River near Williamsburg, and he was intrigued by the aerodynamics of the sail plan.

“I fly a Piper Cub. It costs around $140 an hour to rent and I do it for enjoyment. It takes 40 to 60 hours of flight time to qualify for an FAA license. There’s a lot of course work and a lot of weather to study. I spent a lot of time in a flight simulator.

“You look at those clouds over there and realize that it’s much more turbulent just below them than it is just above them. We typically fly between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. Anything above 10,000 requires oxygen and I don’t need to add an oxygen tank to what I’m doing up there. At 18,000 feet, you need to be instrument-rated.

“We’re flying with an engine that has 140 or 150 horsepower, much less than a car had 20 years ago. The plane weighs around 2,000 pounds. If the engine fails, I have a 9 to 1 glide path, so I would be looking for a plowed field to land. That’s better than a highway, which often has power lines in the path.

“We have 144 physicians in our group practice, but only two of us fly. That’s surprising. I fly occasionally to visit my mother. It’s just for fun.”

Anne has flown with Mark but wasn’t wild about it. “One time he was at the controls in the clouds when the computer lady said “Pull up!” and kept repeating it.” Mark said, “I knew we were okay but it was easier to comply and get the computer lady under control.”

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