Grandmother discovers gliding Woodbine woman enjoys soaring CARROLL COUNTY SENIORS

December 30, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Mary Brueckmann has seen Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards from on high.

Soaring several hundred feet above the city's sights in a glider gave the 66-year-old Woodbine resident a different and lofty perspective.

"The feeling of freedom is wonderful," she said. "On the ground, I don't have the same mobility."

Although a stroke has left her with impaired speech and walk, Mrs. Brueckmann does not let her difficulties keep her earthbound. She uses a walker on the ground and a glider -- with a pilot -- to sail through the air.

Just down the road from the home she shares with her son and daughter-in-law is the Woodbine Gliderport and the freedom of flight for the grandmother, who has always enjoyed travel and flying.

"Gliding is not much different from flying in a plane," she said. "Drifting along with the wind gives you quite a thrill, and there's no engine noise."

Her words and leg movements come slowly and with some difficulty, but her eyes dance as she recalled images from the sky. A clear day, light winds, a glider and a sense of adventure are the only requirements for a fine flight, she said.

"There are no restrictions," she said. "I have soared as high as possible and never been scared."

Pilots can take their passengers as high as one mile, although most flights average about 3,200 feet above ground, said a spokesman for Soaring Adventures of America, an organization of glider enthusiasts.

Shortly after Mrs. Brueckmann came to live with her son two years ago, she spotted gliders overhead and decided the sport was for her.

"I just saw them up in the air and knew I wanted to go," she said. "I asked my son to go along, too."

Frank Brueckmann didn't mind driving his mother to the gliderport, but balked at taking flight himself.

"He lifted me up and plopped me in the machine, and he didn't try to talk me out of it," said Mrs. Brueckmann. "But it was my daughter-in-law who went with me that first time."

Diana Brueckmann said she hadn't planned to take flight with her mother-in-law, but after that first airborne adventure she can understand the fascination. She called the ride "a beautiful experience."

"At about $150 for a 45-minute ride, it is quite expensive, though," she said.

Mary Brueckmann has flown often since that initial glide and has progressed to where the pilot lets her fly just a little on her own, said her daughter-in-law.

"In fact, she would even like to take flying lessons," she said.

Before her stroke, Mrs. Brueckmann worked in several fields including fabric design.

Now, Mary Brueckmann and her glider pilot "soar solo." She offers encouraging words to fledglings on the ground.

"I am trying to talk the grandchildren into taking a ride with me. always recommend it to other seniors, too. I tell them there's nothing to hold them back," she said.

She spends weekdays at the South Carroll Adult Day Care Center.

"I like coming here," she said. "I am very comfortable with thpeople here."

She takes advantage of classes at the South Carroll Senior Center, which is in the same building as the adult day care center. She enjoys painting and is taking art lessons. She said she would rather be gliding, though.

"As soon as the weather turns good, I will be up in the air again."

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