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Some flyers argue, with some justification, that to fly an unpowered sailplane is to approach as closely as possible the "real" flying experience of the birds. The exhilarating sport of soaring is made possible by superbly designed lightweight aircraft, rising air and the skill of pilots.

Soaring offers an unique sense of freedom to those who participate in the sport. It is perhaps best described to earthbound mortals as similar to the sense of freedom experienced when taking a small boat out onto the water and away from the noise and clutter of everyday life - only more so. A sailplane moves in three dimensions, rather than the two of a boat, and the sense of freedom is more apparent and intense. Experience teaches pilots to read the atmospheric conditions and use air currents in a manner comparable with eagles. The views are magnificent and the sense of other-worldliness is ever present. Flight is not silent, as is the case in a hot-air balloon, because the sleek form of the sailplane cuts through the air at considerable speed. There is a constant sound of air passing over the sleek wings. Neverthless there is a real sense of awe, gracefullness, relaxation and tranquillity.

If a photographer is to capture in images the real experience of soaring, it is surely the sense of freedom that must be incorporated. It can be done. Try using a fishe-eye lens from a near-inverted sailplane to capture the inverted landscape from within the surroundings of the cockpit, perhaps with the slender wings flexing under the strain of the aerobatic manoeuvre. Shots of this type inform the viewer of the immediate and wider environments, of the capability of the sailplane and the cloud formations in the area. Including other sailplanes in such images provides further depth and perspective, and may begin to suggest the exhilaration and freedom experienced.

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