Glider Rides

Photo credit: Stephen Kempf


Please feel welcome to come down to Butler and watch the operation for a while if you like. The graceful launching and landing of sailplanes is something that even long-time glider pilots never get tired of watching. Bring something to drink, a picnic lunch, a hat, sunglasses, and a camera. If the schedule permits, we will be happy to show you the engineering behind today's sailplanes, and answer any questions you may have. Or you may simply sit quietly and observe. Of course, we cannot guarantee a ride unless a reservation has been made. Then again, if you come to watch and then decide to soar, don't hesitate to ask. All rides are delivered by FAA Certificated Commercial Glider Pilots or FAA Certificated Glider Flight Instructors.

Rides cost $100 [price subject to change -see fees].

Click here to Purchase a Discovery Ride online now.

If you don't use the above link in-person payment must be by cash or check. No credit cards are accepted at the field.

Rides should be arranged directly through SES and not a third party booking agency. We have had trouble being paid through third parties. Customers receive a better value when they book directly with SES.
SES reserves the right to require payment in full from Rush Cube, Soaring Adventures and other third parties PRIOR to providing rides arranged through them. We suggest you google the reviews and reputation of the booking agencies before doing business with them.

Practical information, please prepare for a great day at the field by following these directions.
1. Make sure to take time to review and sign the Release before coming out the airfield. Flying Sailplanes is a very safe and enjoyable experience - and SES ensures that Demo Rides are provided only by FAA certified pilots in sailplanes.
2. For your safety - people, pets and vehicles need to stay a good distance off the runways at all times. Roosevelt Memorial is an active airport that is visited by a wide variety of aircraft
3. Always keep a good look out for aircraft, and keep all dogs and young children under direct supervision. Airfields can be dangerous places for the unwary.
4. Please remain well clear of the tow plane anytime the engine is running, whether or not it is moving.
5. Please do not approach or stand on the runway until instructed to do so.
6. To protect both you and our pilots - while in the air, please listen carefully and follow the commands and instructions of the pilot.
7. At the discretion of the ride pilot, cameras an phones may be allowed but must either be on a strap around your neck, remain in your hands, or be stowed in one of the side pouches in the cockpit.
8. Under no circumstances should a camera or phone be placed in your lap or between your legs as it may slip away and jam the flight controls.
9. Please stow all cell phones in your personal pockets or one of the side pouches in the cockpit. Again, under no circumstances should a cell phone be placed in your lap or between your legs.
10. Would you like to fly the plane for a brief spell? Feel free to ask the ride pilot if you can get some stick time!
11. There is a 242 lbs. or less maximum weight limit per seat.
12. Get ready for a great experience!!!

Be warned: to take up gliding is to enter a relationship with the sky that could easily get hooked.

If we've interested you, contact us for more information.
Directions to Butler Municipal Airport.

Related links:

SES Release


Map & Directions

Contact Us

Photo credit: Stephen Kempf

Demo Ride Narrative Description

Hangars can become very crowded. Long wings overlap everywhere. Watch where you are going!

We operate off runway 36 on most days. We take off on the hard surface and sometimes land on the grass. Wally is landing on the grass. Roosevelt has a paved runway. Runway 18/36 is 5,001 feet long  and 75 feet wide. Gliders need only a few thousand feet to launch, and a few hundred feet to land.  

A good tow plane has a powerful engine and a wing design that is optimized for climb. It can fly slowly. It doesn't overheat when doing multiple tows. It has great visibility and is fun to fly. After all, need to keep our tow pilots happy. We operate an aircraft designed for towing - a 235-hp Piper Pawnee. 

Let's talk before that first flight. Charlie is reviewing the cockpit procedures with James, another of our 14 year old students. Safety first, James gets an orientation on emergency procedures. The tow plane is waiting in the background.

During initial ground roll, the pilot uses the ailerons to keep the wings level, and the rudder-pedals to keep the nose of the glider down the runway. A little forward pressure on the stick, lifts the tail wheel. When beginning to fly, coordinating the three axes of flight is a real challenge. As your experience increases, the control movements become automatic. You don't even think about it. As speed increases, the landing gear may bounce. Before you know it, we lift off and everything becomes quiet. You're flying...

Once off the ground, you ease the controls forward, to stay a few feet above the runway. The glider wants to climb, but the tow plane is still on the ground. As the tow plane increases speed, he lifts off too. You ease back on the stick, and follow the tow plane in formation. The tow plane turns toward the lift ahead. We bank to follow. We ease up to 2,000 feet above the ground. It's time to be on our own. Reach forward and pull the release. The tow line drops away toward the tow plane. 

The tow pilot feels the release, banks to the left, and descends back to the airport for another tow. Off tow, we bank to the right. This provides separation between us and the tow plane. Now we're on our own. It's time to start using the energy Mother Nature has provided us, to start a climb. Don't forget to look around!  It's beautiful up here, smooth and quiet. Remember, we are a glider and are always descending. We don't have an engine to help us climb. We're looking for air that moves up faster than our glider descends. Many times, we can out climb powered aircraft. See those puffy clouds, over there. That could be our refueling station.

What creates that rising air? Basically, it's uneven heating. Dark, dry terrain heats up faster than lush, green, wet terrain. A bubble of hot air begins to form. Perhaps it's over a parking lot, or a plowed field. Eventually, that bubble of hot air releases and rises. We've all watched bubbles rising in a boiling pot of water. It's very similar. The air cools, as it rises. If there is moisture in the rising air, it condenses and forms a cloud when the temperature cools to the dew point. That cloud marks the rising air for us. No clouds? We look for other markers. These could be soaring birds, or the extremely sensitive instruments on our panel. Often it's just the seat of our pants. We can feel when Mother Nature gives us a boost up! Look at all that pavement at our airport. Think of the heat it can release. While you're at it, remember where it is. It can be embarrassing to get lost!

There's nothing quite like circling in a thermal with another sailplane. I must admit, this example is a little extreme and out of the ordinary! On days when lift may be hard to find, seeing another glider climbing in a thermal marks a good spot. We lower the nose, and fly over to join him. Suddenly, a few more pilots join us. Now the contest may be on. Who can out climb the others? Which glider has the best climb performance?

After landing, life slows down. Gliders are handled carefully as they are fitted with tail dollies and towed at walking-speed back to the hangar or to their trailers. Bugs are wiped off the leading edges of the wings, canopies are cleaned, batteries are plugged in for recharging. The flight review begins for students; pilots download GPS flight recorders to their laptops and replay their day's flight in 3-D on specialized software. Logbooks are updated. 

Drop by to watch, go for a ride, or join the club. Often, we'll have a cookout at the end of the day. You're welcome to join us. It's a great time to talk about soaring, or just to meet others from all walks of life. Maybe you'll make some life-long friends. 

If we've interested you, contact us for more information.
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Last modified July 28, 2023 10:11 PM by CR