Island Group Takes To The Skies
By Michael Lanza
all caught ourselves looking up at the sky and
watching in awe as a bird hovers above, seemingly
unmoving, in an air current and dreaming of floating
from cloud to cloud on a summer breeze.
For most of us it's a cheesy fantasy. But for
members of the Long Island Soaring Association,
it's a weekly event.
"It's a fascinating experience," Steven F. Pinello,
a LISA member and local pilot, said of flying
among LISA's squadron of nine engineless aircraft.
Pinello and LISA's 90 member roster stage flights
out of Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley three
times a week, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday,
where they help make the obscure but storied sport
of soaring available to anyone who has ever looked
to the skies with wonder.
Long before the Wright brothers mastered powered
flight, engineers and early aviators grappled
with gliding in their path to the blue yonder.
The technology behind gliding has come a long
way: modern gliders can stay aloft for hours in
good conditions, all without a drop of fuel.
Island Soaring Association pilot and instructor
Mike Hanson manuevers his glider for a landing
over Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley.
a sport," Inta Kraft, a lifelong glider who began
at the age of 6, said. "You compete with yourself
or nature. All I can say is that it's really fun."
The sport of soaring involves seeking and riding
vertical air currents by reading weather conditions
and terrain. In the most common form of soaring,
pilots look for thermal updrafts, which often
form under clouds. Drafts that climb faster than
the glider falls will generate enough lift to
keep the aircraft aloft. Pilots jump from thermal
to thermal and attempt to stay in the air for
as long as possible.
"Cumulus, the puffy clouds - those are the good
ones," Vinny Petruso, president of LISA, said.
LISA uses small propeller planes to tow the gliders
to soaring altitude, about 3,000 feet, according
to Petruso. Members pay a small fee for each flight,
about $30, which covers the tow's fuel costs.
Members are awarded their gliding license after
14 flights with an instructor. LISA's licensed
pilots also offer free flight instruction in powered
aircraft to fellow members.
"It's the least costly way to learn to fly," Pinello
For more information about LISA and how to join,
visit their Web site at longislandsoaring.com.
parks are the perfect location for a barbeque.
Choose a spot on the grass and invite all your
friends without worrying that you'll disturb the
neighbors; they'll all probably be there too.
Alley Pond Park
Winchester Boulevard & Grand Central Parkway
Alley Athletic Field
Union Turnpike & Winchester Boulevard
Springfield Boulevard and 76th Avenue
Beach Channel Dr, B32nd Street
Brookville Boulevard & South Conduit Avenue
Jewel Avenue and Van Wyck Expressway
Union Turnpike and Francis Lewis Blvd.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
off Lake West and off Lake East
Jewel Avenue and Van Wyck Exwy
Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
Upper Highland: Jamaica Avenue
Boardwalk between Beach 20th &17th Streets
147th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard