Outdoor Recreation in the Air

A glider soaring on rising air

Many people who love to partake in outdoor activities do so for the adrenalin rush. There is no greater way to achieve this than to partake in the activities associated with being in the air. Ballooning can be the gentlest of past times. Participants are merely held in the air in a basket supported by a balloon overhead. Hot air is generated from a burner beneath the balloon which produces hot air rising into the balloon. This hot air keeps the balloon above ground and then when in the air the winds will dictate the direction of the journey. The balloon is raised by producing hot air and then taking away the hot air will result in the craft making its way to the ground.

The skill of the pilot will be to find the different directions and speeds of the winds at different altitudes. Generally, however, balloon flights need to be accompanied by a recovery vehicle as it is difficult to locate winds that will be blowing 360 degrees on the same day. Another flight based activity is gliding. This is an engineless aircraft that is held aloft by rising air. The rising air can come from thermals, ridge lift or wave lift. Thermals are bubbles of air rising from the floor as a result of heat being produced by sunlight. This is the most common way of flying and so in order to have great day gliding a sunny day is required.

A para glider suspended high in the air

Ridge lift is achieved when winds blow against the side of a hill and is directed upwards. These conditions are more localized and are helped when the sun is shining at the same time. Wave lift is found at altitude and the higher the altitude the more effective it is. Getting the glider into the air can be achieved by a variety of different methods. The simplest way is for a glider to be attached to a single engine light aircraft. When the plane reaches the required altitude, the attachment is freed letting the plane to travel under its own steam.

The other method is to catapult the plane into the air. This can be done by using a winch or by having a powerful tow truck accelerating the glider along the runway so it will pick up enough speed to leave the ground. The beauty of gliding is the silence that is experienced once the craft is air borne. No sounds other than the wind can be heard and the experience on a clear and bright day can be surreal.

Another way that people can remain in the air without the use of an engine is by paragliding. This is where a pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing which consists of baffled cells. The way the para glider remains in the air is similar to that of the glider taking advantage of rising air. The pilot takes off into the wind and can be done with or without a vehicle. On hill sides on foot is preferred, while on areas of flat land using a vehicle to tow the para glider is often the chosen method. There are other outdoor activities that take place in the air such as parachuting, wing suit flying, or even learning how to fly. The feeling of being suspended in the air gives people a real sense of adventure.