Flying is a lot like having a staring contest: even with utter concentration, you’ll never be better at it than birds. Go toe-to-beak with our winged companions with today's Groupon: for $125, you get an introductory sailplane flight and ground lesson from Sylvania Soaring Adventures in Beloit (a $250 value).
Sylvania Soaring Adventures' flight crew shepherds fledglings through on-ground instruction and introductory flights in a vast fleet of engine-eschewing aircraft, taking off from Beloit Airport. The two-hour course begins with ground instruction to teach the basic tenets of soaring, from the science of aerodynamics to how not to spill your coffee when performing a barrel roll. The student and FAA-certified instructor will then take to the skies, being towed to an altitude of up to 3,000 feet by a lead aircraft before disengaging for a glide. Panoramic views unfold from the glass cockpit as students take the controls to experience floating like a maple leaf borne aloft on a giant's sneeze. No prior flying experience is required for this course, though repeated viewings of Top Gun do count for extra credit, and spectators are welcome to look on in awe from the ground.
Sylvania Soaring Adventures
From nearly a mile above the ground, the sailplane’s wraparound windows open onto sweeping views of the Wisconsin countryside. Rolling hills and forests, streams, and lakes dot the landscape, and on a clear day, the Chicago skyline peeks out from the horizon. Sylvania Soaring Adventures’s FAA-certified flight instructors pilot guests over these vistas in a fleet of Schweizer SGS 1-26E, Schweizer 2-33, and Grob 103 sailplanes. Towed by a traditional airplane, the gliders reach altitudes of up to 5,000 feet, well above the habitat of endangered birthday balloons. Once released, professional pilots demonstrate basic flight principles, point out landmarks of interest, and sometimes hand over the controls. They also helm training programs to certify students who want to fly solo or pilot gliders for their friends and family.