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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Watching Grass Grow

Watching Grass Grow

There is some law of human nature that says if a mode of transportation is developed, there will be races for that mode.

Learn to walk…there will be toddler races and eventually Olympic track and field events.

Nice horse…lets race.




My family used to race sailboats in the summer.  Racing sailboats was exciting.  Watching a sailboat race, not so much.  My Pop used to say it was like watching grass grow. 

Years later I competed with my pop as a team in the race venue that was even more boring than sailboat racing.

My Dad piloted a small single engine airplane.  The tiny airport where he kept his plane also had glider planes.  They had a glider club of which my Dad became a member.  He flew glider planes, and one weekend he took me as part of a team to a glider race.

I think my job as part of the team was to stay out of the way.  I think Dad was on a radio communicating with the pilot information on wind conditions and stuff.

“How” you ask, “do you race gliders?”

It is somewhat like a sailboat race.  There are specific markers that the glider has to reach and then fly off to the next marker.  There was a course much like in sailboat racing, A triangle course as I recall.

A glider will lose altitude as it glides, so how could it actually race around a triangular course?

The pilot looks for “thermals” upward drafts of air.  When it gets in a thermal, he circles in it gaining enough altitude to glide to the next mark and hopefully another thermal.  The pilot needs to keep finding thermals to keep gaining altitude as he glides around the course.

This particular race that my Pop’s took me to, the conditions were not the best.  The planes in the race all found one thermal, but it was not strong enough to reach an altitude which would let them glide to the next mark. 

For about three hours we watched the gliders, (I do not remember how many probably no more than ten) circle around and around in the only thermal they could find and never got high enough to attempt the next mark.

Three hours of watching gliders in a circle gaining almost no altitude, just gliding around and around in a tight circle.

The race was eventually called and there was no winner.  Conditions just did not allow the gliders to make any progress.  It was like a sailboat race with no wind.

This was the last glider race I ever watched.  I have searched the internet on glider races and found nothing.  Perhaps this was the last attempt at such a competition. I don’t think my Pop participated in any such race again.

Instead, on weekends we would take bets on which blade of grass would grow the most in a day. 

That’s a lie, we could not take that much excitement.


  1. If you couldn't take the excitement of watching grass grow, thank goodness nobody every recommended watching paint dry!

  2. Hah! So very true.

    When my husband played in chess tournaments, it was hour after hour of silent unmoving men. After 5 min. I left, went out spent money.

    My husband says the same thing about watching quilting shows.

  3. It is interesting how they did the glider races and in theory it should have worked fine provided Mother Nature cooperated and provided wind. I can't imagine being in a glider though.

    Great memory you shared with us!


  4. They called it after three hours? I'm too impatient for that, I would have called it after one hour. I can't imagine just watching planes circling and getting nowhere for three hours. watching paint dry might be more fun than that.

  5. Well, you have enlightened me about gliders. I always wondered (as a child) how the heck they stayed up in the air. Val and Susan's responses made me giggle.

  6. I have always thought that riding in a glider would be a wonderful thing.

  7. It takes a lot of courage to get in a glider. Have you ever done it JoeH?

    God bless.

  8. Perhaps my one regret is that I never flew in a glider. Always a dream. A race however with no serious thermals might really be a yawn.

  9. Glided sounds like fun but I’m not sure I’d commit to flying in one.

  10. Sounds a lot like what many of us think when we hear stockcar racing -- lap after lap after lap of not much excitement.

  11. I would like to try gliding, but not racing gliders... But most weekends, I’m on a sailboat either training or racing.

  12. LOL!

    That's why I always say that sports is not what you watch, it's what you do.