Just Fly Together: A Guest Glider Flight Over Southern Palatinate – Rhineland-Palatinate Tour (2)

Glide through the air like a bird, powered only by thermals, without an engine: many air sports clubs offer interested parties the opportunity to board the plane as a guest and get to know the area from the fauna. A sightseeing flight over the southern Palatinate.

The plexiglass hood is closed and secured, the parachute is in the back, the five-point harness is tightened. Out of the corner of my eye I can still see the thin steel cable attached to the glider sliding over the grass, stretching – a kilometer away, the diesel engine rattling, winding the cable at speeds of up to 130 kilometers per hour via winch.

With a tug, the rope pulls the plane over the dry grass. Then the airflow under the wings is strong enough: we take off and push the seats. After 30 seconds, at a height of 400 meters and a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, the steel cable is released with an audible click and – wow: what a sight!

This Saturday I am a guest of flyers of the DJK glider club in Landau. For my first glider flight. In the seat in front of me, Stefan Sauerhöfer directs the club’s two-seater: an ASK 21, quite eight meters long, wingspan 17 meters – the club’s training aircraft. Below us stretches the Ebenberg, a nature reserve and former military training area to the south of Landau. Since the mid-1950s, glider pilots from two clubs have taken off here.

As I listen to the strong rush of the wind and my gaze wanders over the streets and houses of Landau, a beeping sound that sounds a bit tearful begins. The barometer (climber) signals: We are sinking. Two to three meters per second is indicated by the pointer deflection in the cockpit. “This is completely normal,” Sauerhöfer assures me. The 49-year-old is already driving the machine in the direction of a high, dark cloud. Other gliders are already in service there – and a Milan.