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Glider flying and potluck at Faribault Airport

Women in Aviation, Stars of the North chapter bring socializing to flying

Stars of the North, the Minnesota Chapter of the international organization, Women in Aviation, International (WAI) have monthly gatherings emphasizing social functions, aviation based educational dissemination, career enhancement, or community outreach programs.

Don't let the name Women in Aviation mislead you. Men are very much a part of the organization as well. WAI welcomes all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels, unifying everyone together with the goal of learning and helping others.

The June 16 gathering of members, theirs friends, family members, and associates focused on picnic style food and the thrill of gliding motorless through the warm summer skies.

The event took place at Cross Country Soaring based at Faribault Municipal Airport.

Owner Don Ingraham and pilot Kyle Hopkins were available to answer questions and prepare people for their glide experience.

Gliders, also called sailplanes, take off and land at about 50 miles per hour.

There are two primary ways for a glider to get airborne. One is being towed by a powered tow plane. The other is ground launch with a powered winch.

Glider cruising speed is in the 60-70 mph range though some models are rated for up 160 mph.

Riders say one of the most impressive aspects of the experience, other than the view, is the sense of quiet. One is alone with one's thoughts at 5,000 feet.

With a buffet of picnic food including hot off the grill fare, a super comfortable sofa in the hangar, and the desire of each attendee to enjoy the anticipation of their turn in the glider as well as to share their impressions afterwards, the Stars of the North chapter had an afternoon to put in the scrapbook.

"Our events are about so much more than just aviation," said SON president, and Air Traffic Control Operations Supervisor Dawne Barrett. "They are about people who love aviation. So much of what we get to do and opportunities we have are because of the relationships we have made. Stars of the North has allowed for friendships and opening doors to so many of us."

Upcoming events are Meeting at Calhoun in July and Girls in Aviation Day in September.


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