Harris Hill Soaring Center
A few miles west of Elmira rises Harris Hill, an idyllic, woodsy spot surrounded by other hills and valleys that produce good updrafts. The Harris Hill Soaring Center (102 Soaring Hill Dr., off Rte. 352, 607/734-0641 or 607/796-2988, www.harrishillsoaring.org) has been attracting gliding and soaring aficionados since the 1910s.
Visitors to Harris Hill can take a glider ride aboard one of the delicate vessels parked in the airfield’s hangar. This is truly one of the most unique experiences in the Finger Lakes and well, well worth a ride. Passengers’ level of ease is considered as pilots tailor the ride to their comfort.
All the pilots are FAA certified, and the rides take about 20 minutes, soaring from air current to air current high above the countryside. Sailplane rides are offered daily June–Labor Day, and weekends April–May and September–October; cost is $80 per person.
Harris Hill also has a Juniors Organization in which teens may apply to learn to pilot a glider and receive FAA-certification.
Just down from the airfield sits the National Soaring Museum (51 Soaring Hill Dr., 607/734-3128, www.soaringmuseum.org, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, adults $6.50, seniors $5.50, children 5–17 $4), a well designed museum which chronicles the history of Harris Hill and flying in America. Of special interest are the museum’s 12 antique gliders and sailplanes, and the simulated cockpit.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition