Live to Fly! Fly to Live!

Back to Shan’s Thoughts On Flight


I started off as a power pilot, getting my private pilot single engine license while I was in high school. Unlike many soaring enthusiasts, my introduction to soaring came many years after I first started flying. A few years ago I was looking for a quick flight rating to add to my license in lieu of a “boring” biennial flight review (pilots must take a ground and flight review with a designated FAA examiner every 2 years unless they add a new flight rating, which counts as a review).

After the first soaring flight I was hooked. I knew that all the money I had set aside to buy a little single engine Cessna or maybe a Piper Cherokee or small kit plane was going to go for a sailplane instead.

It’s hard to explain. When you’re soaring, you are truly at one with the sky. Like a sonnet, there are constraints on what you can do (based on lift conditions and weather), but within those limits you have absolute freedom to express yourself to the limits of your capability. Soaring IS pure poetry.


All I know is that when I don’t fly, I feel lost. When I am in the sky, I feel as if I am soaring home. Of my first flight as a 15 year old kid I remember this: “Even before [we] . . . had reached 300 feet, I recognized that the sky would be my home. I tumbled out of the airplane with stars in my eyes and an exquisite yearning in my soul.” To this day, each time I envision my home, I am so overcome it brings tears to my eyes.

I think Pilots are a rare kind of human. They leave the ordinary surface of the word, to purify their soul in the sky, and they come down to earth, only after receiving the communion of the infinite.

These days I soar in a DG-300 sailplane and a Sport 2 hanglider (no longer, since my hangliding injuries my left arm lacks the strength). I still fly power (usually in a rented Diamond Katana), but soaring is my truest love.