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In the air streams above Estonia

  • 2006-09-20
  • by Joel Alas
TALLINN - "For centuries it has been the dream of men to fly - to be free as a bird and float above the clouds. This is what gliding offers," says Hanno Puu, an adrenaline junkie who has overdosed on every imaginable adventure sport. In this case, he's talking about gliding 's the lesser-known cousin of aviation.

A glider sits somewhere between a light aircraft and a hang-glider in the airplane food chain. It looks like a sleek, smooth space-aged aircraft that somebody forgot to attach a rotor to.
But that's exactly the point 's the glider has no motor, no method of powering itself whatsoever. It relies exclusively on the forces of aerodynamics and geography. Too often when we fly, commercial airliners allow us to forget the science behind the marvelous concept of the aerodynamic wing.

At a small air field just outside of Tallinn, Puu delights in reminding people about the wonders of 'lift' and 'thermals'. Puu runs Adventuur, a company that specializes in every kind of activity, on, above and under the ground. He's an expert in rock climbing, scuba diving, orienteering, rafting and snow sports.
His company runs two gliders which carry a pilot and a passenger. The aircraft is winched into the air behind another plane, a small prop-powered aircraft, which tows the glider into the air and releases it at various heights, from 500 to 1500 meters.
The pilot guides the craft as it gently drifts down to earth, searching for thermals to carry the aircraft higher. A thermal is a current of hot air traveling up from the ground, normally from dark patches, ridges or hills 's although there aren't too many of those in northern Estonia.

The aircraft pick up surprising speed 's up to 100 kilometers an hour.
"You can fly a longer distance or simply spin in the air without a destination and enjoy the beautiful view. Our gliding trips last from ten minutes to 30 minutes. It depends on the height," Pull explains.
Puu says gliding is the perfect adrenaline sport for those looking for a shot of relaxation at the same time.
"Gliding gives you a lot of adrenaline, as well as an amazing feeling of being free." he explains.

"Gliders are extremely safe. You are accompanied by an experienced instructor during the whole flight. A glider is the most stable machine in the air. It is an airplane without an engine that uses air streams to fly. Warm air streams lift the glide higher up to the skies. This enables the pilot to cover distances of over 200 kilometers by a glide," he says.
Gliding has long been the reserve of rich hobbyists. It was famously portrayed in the film The Thomas Crown Affair, in which a wealthy art collector played by Pierce Brosnan woos his love interest by gliding across the green fields in upstate New York.
But gliding isn't so expensive that only the Thomas Crowns of this world can afford it.
A flight to 500 meters costs 875 kroons (56 euros).

Adventuur also offers group trips and multiple tickets that make the cost more economical.

For more information:
Adventure Expert, Luite 19a
11313 Tallinn
Tel.: +372 6 999 818
www.adventuur.ee.