Ever since I was a child I dreamed about flying. As a young boy, at the age of 14, I first learned about gliders through the Belgian Air Force’s air cadet program. I mailed the application form, completed the medical, physical, and written tests and was selected as one of 75 candidates out of a group of over 800 applicants. Free glider training for four years! In 1995 I was selected for the International Air Cadet Exchange program and spent the summer with the Israel Air Force. After 130 flights with the air cadets, I closed the first chapter in my career as a glider pilot. The next decade and a half would be dedicated to my professional and family life.
In 2010, my wife, whose parents live in France, offered me a birthday present that she may regret: a demo glider flight at the Pujaut Glider Club in France. What was supposed to be a 20 minute introductory flight turned into a two hour flight! Back home in the US, I reached out to Don Ingraham, a Minnesota soaring legend, and signed up for another flight. Don let me fly his beautiful Twin all the way from tow through landing. I was hooked again!
Following my flight with Don, I signed up for membership in the Red Wing Soaring Association. Paul C. took me under his wings, and not only scraped the rust away that built up of 15 years but also taught me to become a much better pilot.
After joining Evergreen Soaring near Seattle, I quickly took my check ride and obtained my Private Pilot license less than a year after my gliding relaunch. Since then I have obtained a French glider pilot license at St Auban, and can now be found flying the skies of the North West Cascades or French Alps.
I decided to start a blog so that I can share my journey with you as I embark on this amazing adventure of motor-less flight. My interests are in soaring and technology so expect to see a lot of content on the cross-roads of these topics.
Thomas Van de Velde
PS: This first blog is also the first draft of my about page.