Glider demo at Delta site on Saturday

A demonstration showing how gliders can be launched from a winch into the sky just below Grand Mesa will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Blake Field in Delta.

The demonstration by the Grand Mesa Soaring Association will include a dozen or more launches of a glider to show how glider soaring can be safe and enjoyable, said Jim Pilkington, who is sponsoring the event.

“I’m trying to promote the technique in west-central Colorado,” while stressing the safety of gliding, or soaring, and its affordability.

Pilkington will launch the glider using a 454 big-block V-8 with a GM three-speed automatic transmission and pickup differential. The engine spins a drum that pulls a line attached to the glider to sling it sharply into the air.

The engine winches as many as 6,000 feet of line to launch the glider into the air at a cost of about $5 a launch, versus $75 to $100 for a launch from a tow plane, Pilkington said.

The winch-driven takeoff is remarkable, Pilkington said.

“You go from zero to 60 in two-and-a-half seconds and you’re at 2,000 feet in 50 seconds,” Pilkington said. “It’s a carrier-deck launch.”

Once in the air, the gliders ride thermals, much like raptors, to remain aloft.

He’s sponsoring the demonstration in hopes of inspiring others, especially younger people interested in aviation, to take up soaring in gliders, Pilkington said.

A video of a launch is available on the association’s Facebook page. Search for “Grand Mesa Soaring.”


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