Coasting free: Gliding contest being held in Logan this week

Tim Taylor is not only a Utah State University faculty member but he’s also President of the Logan-Cache Valley Soaring Club. He spent years attending national competitions before attempting to persuade national officials that Cache Valley would be a perfect venue for a regional glider event. So he, as much as anyone, is responsible for the Regional Glider Contest underway in the valley all week, based at the Logan-Cache Regional Airport. The Soaring Society of America sanctions the contest. Overseeing the event is one of the organization’s regional directors, Charlie Minner, who is on hand with his wife Mickey, both avid soaring devotees. “After Tim came to us we started checking out the satellite pictures and looking at the flight logs of pilots who have flown in this area,” said Mickey, “and we fell in love with the location and that’s why we’re here to run the contest.” Minner said about 30 glider pilots are entered, some from as far away as Virginia and Florida. It is a race and each day of the contest the competition director looks at the weather and designs a course he thinks will be challenging. Many of those entered this week are experienced competitors who sign up for contests in order to gain points and improve their rankings in order to qualify for national and even world competitions. “They launch every day, as soon as it starts to get warm, usually about 2:30 p.m.” said Mickey Minner. “Our power planes have a tow rope and they tow each glider up to 2000 feet and release them. The course each day is about three hours. “It’s a beautiful thing to see, if visitors want to come and watch,” she said. “As each glider finishes and comes in for landing, as they let go of their water ballast out of their wings it looks like a contrail as they come in.” Minner said in a race it’s a mixture of all types of soaring. “In an area like northern Utah you get to run the ridge across the edge of the mountains, you get to ride up thermals (heat rising from the ground) and you get to glide because you’re moving from one thermal, or ridge, to another in order to get to a pre-determined location.” This week’s event, the first of it’s kind here, has also drawn glider pilots from the Utah who have never flown in a contest before. “They wanted to see how different it was from other types of soaring,” said Mickey, “so that accounts for some of the entrants this week.”

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