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Soaring to New Heights

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(6 votes - 19,846 views)
Posted on March 11th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

The best glider pilots in North America over the age of 55 recently gathered to compete in the Senior Soaring National Championships. Former fighter pilots and commercial airline pilots call soaring the greatest test of all.  How can a 2,000 pound plane with no engine stay aloft for hours flying at 65 miles per hour? Growing Bolder stopped by the final practice round to find out.

And what would a championship be without a reliable ground crew? In this case, the crew chief usually goes by another name -- wife. See how the women are keeping the planes -- and pilots -- in tip-top shape.

Want to meet others who reach for the sky?

With her co-pilot, Carol Foy, by her side, CarolAnn Garratt recently smashed the around-the-world speed record in a light, single-engine plane. It's a record that stood for more than 20 years.

It's one of the most inspiring, empowering and unforgettable world records ever, and only Growing Bolder was there to document it. Come along as the Skydivers Over Sixty smash a world record with team work and a zest for living life on the edge.

Chet Poland was the world's oldest skydiver when he passed away in his mid-90's. We were fortunate enough to spend a little quality time with Chet when he was a very young 90 years old. He taught us in Jumping for Joy that it's never too late to enjoy the thrill of a good jump and the companionship of good friends.

Skydiver, stunt driver, parasailor, aspiring actor and ventriloquist and recent Clown Camp graduate Frank Taylor is always looking for his next adventure. He talked to Growing Bolder about why he feels compelled to keep pushing himself -- and his body -- now that he's in his 70s.

Skydiving simulators are increasingly popular with 50+ thrill seekers. They provide the fun, and you don't actually have to jump out of a plane. Today's simulators are indoor high-tech wind tunnels. But the forerunner was an old DC-3 propeller standing on end. Dangerous? Noisy? Fun? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Just the ticket in this GB Classic.

Time flies and so does this mother-son skydiving team. Growing Bolder found a unique tandem whose definition of spending quality time together involves taking the plunge at 13,500 feet.



Technology - Vehicles, Sports, Living, Travel, Technology, GB Topics - Passions, Sports - Extreme, Living - Hobbies & Collections, Travel - Other, Technology - Science, Relationships, Relationships - Marriage


55 - airline pilot - science - glider - gravity - fighter pilot - aviation - senior soaring national championship - gps - thermal - pilots - planes - green - solar power

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  • Posted 11:51am March 13th, 2009
    Hi, I'm a contest pilot and can comment on this.  The main problem is one of plumbing, which discourages women from becoming competition pilots.  A person is cooped up in a cramped cockpit for several hours straight, which gets uncomfortable after drinking 2-4L of water.  The guys can take advantage of products designed for their anatomy that makes life easier.  There are some female competition pilots, and the current National champion in Open class sailplanes (which means long wingspan) is a woman, but mostly they are young (<30).  Doris Grove (whose husband Tom Knauff is flying in the Seniors) was the first woman to make a 1000km flight in the world but I haven't heard of her competing in a long time.



  • Growing Bolder
    Growing Bolder
    Growing Bolder
    Posted 10:46pm March 12th, 2009
    Great comment Ellen! Actually, they seemed VERY anxious to have women compete. Apparently, there are a growing number of female pilots in local clubs all over the U.S. but there is a waiting list to get into this competition and many veteran and accomplished pilots are turned away. That said, finding a way to make sure women are represented, even if it means moving them up the list, seems like something that should be considered. As we learn every day,  diversity of all kinds only makes something better.




  • Posted 8:52pm March 12th, 2009
    Great video, but I am wondering if there aren't any HUSBANDS being crew.... I mean, we do have female pilots.... or are we really so old fashioned. And Hi Charles



  • Posted 7:08pm March 12th, 2009

      Excellent photography. Great story It clearly demonstrates

    that age is not a barrier to fun and adventure. Sure inspires

    one to give that a try.





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