"Soaring"

Fly with the Eagles

Twice each year an old grass landing strip north of Cowley draws soarplane pilots and spectators. Cowley airport was established in the days when commercial passenger planes could not fly above the weather, and needed a place to wait out storms plugging the passes of the Rocky Mountains. The rusting cables used to tie down DC-3s are still used by the glider pilots.

But the sounds of engines and propellors are restricted to those of the tow planes that lift the gliders into the thermal updrafts generated by the sun warming the fields around the airport. The soarplanes themselves emit a soft whoosh audible from the ground only on their final landing approach.

The site's global reputation as a gliding destination is due to the "Cowley Wave"--an undulating flow of air that rolls eastward out of the Rockies and bounces across the prairie. Soarplane pilots ride the upwellings to record-setting heights.

Visitors to the soaring camps may purchase a ride with an instructor. In October, lucky passengers may get to soar alongside golden eagles which glide the same mountain updrafts in their fall migrations.

Cowley Airport GPS N49 38.360 W114 06.105