Sailplane pilot talks at Aero Club meeting


          Ben Thompson gave Sun Lakes Aero Club members a first-hand account of his experiences flying sailplanes during a power-point presentation at the club’s February meeting.


          Thompson said he became interested in flying sailplanes while flying Cessna 172 aircraft in Richmond, Ind.  You can solo a sailplane at age 14, Thompson said, and my teenagers were about that age at the time, so we joined a sailplane club and got started soaring.  During the ensuing  years, he has logged about 80 hours in sailplanes.  He has another 80 hours in motorgliders, which have small engines that power the aircraft to altitude and are shut off and the aircraft stays aloft without power.


          Thompson described two types of soaring:  ridge flying, where sailplanes stay aloft by updrafts created by winds blowing against a mountain or ridge; and cross-country soaring, where the glider is carried to altitude by thermals and then flies to distant locations. He has gained altitude at the rate of 2,000 feet per minute on numerous





Ben Thompson (right), shown here with Sun Lakes Aero Club president Bob Walch, was featured speaker at the club’s March meeting.



          Sailplane records include  50,721 ft. altitude and 1,870 miles total distance flown, Thompson said. His flying experience also includes 800 hours in hand gliders and conventional aircraft including  tow planes. Most of his flying is from the Estrella Sailport located about 40 miles southwest  of Sun Lakes.


          Now in its 15th year, SLAC meets the third Monday of each month from October through May at the Sun Lakes Country Club.  More information on the club is available from Bob Walch, 480-895-8869 or Al Galvi, 480-802-0104.