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Exploring Arkansas July 2008

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Sailplanes, Alum Cove Rec Area, Buffalo Gap Auto Tour
Sustained flight without an engine is what the art of soaring is all about. We'll take you for a flight in a glider or "sailplane" near Wynne. One of the state's largest natural bridges is at the Alum Cove Recreation Area south of Jasper-where you can also find eerie cave like rooms. The Buffalo Gap Auto Tour offers a unique back roads look at the Ouachita National Forest.

TRANSCRIPT

HIGH ABOVE THE FARM FIELDS EAST ARKANSAS NEAR WYNNE YOU CAN SEE THEM SOARING ON ANY GIVEN SATURDAY AFTERNOON, WEATHER PERMITTING, THESE AIRPLANES WITHOUT ENGINES. A AND THAT'S WHERE WE'LL BEGIN THIS WEEK'S SHOW AND THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU TO THE ALUM COVE RECREATIONAL AREA SOUTH OF JASPER TO SHOW YOU ONE OF THE LARGEST NATURAL BRIDGES IN THE STATE AND WE'LL CLOSE IT OUT WITH A BUFFALO GAP TOUR IN THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST. SO FOR NOW, LET'S GO SOARING.

ZERO. ♪.

SOARING IS DESCRIBED AS THE ART OF SUSTAINED FLIGHT WITHOUT A MOTOR. HARVESTING THE AIR FOR FUEL.

IT'S AN INCREDIBLE SPORT. AND IT'S A SPORT THAT IS REALLY EASY TO BECOME ADDICTED TO. AND MOST PEOPLE THINK WHEN YOU SAY NO ENGINE AT ALL, MOST PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY KIND OF SHRINK AWAY AND THINK OF IT AS BEING SOMETHING THAT'S VERY DANGEROUS. BUT IT'S REALLY NOT. YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR BUSINESS. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. BUT IT'S -- IT REALLY IS   AN INCREDIBLE SPORT. AND YOU KNOW, IT REALLY HOLDS A LOT OF ENJOYMENT FOR THE PERSON THAT'S WILLING TO DO THE WORK AND GAIN THE KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT. SINCE WE DON'T HAVE AN ENGINE, WE'RE HAVING TO MAKE AN AWFUL LOT OF DECISIONS IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. SO YOU'RE HAVING TO JUST THINK ALL THE TIME. MUCH MORE -- MAKE A DECISION MUCH MORE RAPIDLY THAN YOU WOULD FLYING A POWER PLANE OR DRIVING YOUR CAR. SO IT'S VERY EASY TO -- FOR THE TIME TO JUST PASS BY. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN FLY FOR TWO OR THREE HOURS AND IT SEEMS LIKE IT'S BEEN 15 MINUTES SINCE YOU TOOK OFF, YOU KNOW? AND YOU REALLY -- YOU CAN HAVE A SHORT FLIGHT WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE VERY POOR. AND BE STRUGGLING TO STAY ALOFT AND SOMETIMES THAT TYPE OF FLIGHT SEEMS VERY LONG TOO. EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE NOT AIRBORNE VERY LONG. AND WE MAKE FLIGHTS OUT OF HERE. WE'VE HAD GUYS GO NORTH UP TO THE MISSOURI BORDER AND RETURN. AND WE GO DOWN TO HELENA AT TIMES. LAST SUMMER I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO MAKE A FLIGHT TO CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI, AND BACK ON A TO GOOD DAY. AND IT'S JUST VERY ENJOYABLE.

FOR EACH PILOT, THE FIRST TIME FEEL IS DIFFERENT AND UNFORGETTABLE.

OH, IT'S -- THE FIRST TIME I FEEL LIKE I KNEW HOW TO DANCE. NOT TOO GOOD ON THE GROUND. BUT FOR MY 40TH BIRTHDAY I DECIDED I WANTED TO GIVE IN -- I ALWAYS WANTED TO LEARN TO FLY SO I WENT AND LEARNED TO FLY LITTLE POWER PLANES AND I GOT TO THE END OF THAT AND REALIZED TOO OLD TO BE AN AIRLINE PILOT. AND I DISCOVERED SOARING. SO IT ADDS A WHOLE NEW ASPECT 0 IT, WHICH IS YOU DON'T HAVE THE ENGINE TO KEEP YOU ALOFT. AND SO IT'S KIND OF LEARNING A NEW SET OF PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS THAT YOU INFLICT THE PROBLEMS ON YOURSELF. SO IT'S A LOT OF FUN GOING OUT AND TRYING TO GET FROM HERE TO A CITY 20, 30, 40 MILES AWAY AND BACK AGAIN   WITHOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT NATURE IS PROVIDING FOR YOU.

SO HOW DO YOU CONTROL THE KIND OF HARNESSING THE AIR AND WIND TOGETHER TO GET YOU FROM U  THERE AND BACK?

THAT'S THE WHOLE SPORT OF SOARING IS LEARNING WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR. THERE ARE CLOUD PATTERNS LIKE WE HAVE HERE TODAY. YOU'RE TRYING TO WATCH WHICH CLOUDS ARE GETTING BIGGER, WHICH MEANS THEY'RE GROWING AND WHICH ONES ARE GETTING SMALLER AND YOU GO TO THE ONES THAT ARE GROWING. IF THEY'RE STILL SUCKING IN ENERGY AND PROVIDING LIFT UNDERNEATH THEM, SO IT'S NOT SO MUCH THE FLYING THE PLANE AS LEARNING HOW TO READ THE SKY. THAT IS THE SPORT OF SOARING.

CROSSING YOUR NOSE. GOT IT.

THE MEMPHIS SOARING SOCIETY IS ONE OF THE OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY ACTIVE SOARING CLUBS IN AMERICA FOUNDED IN 1947. THEIR FIELD IS LOCATED 9 MILES NORTH OF WYNNE OFF HIGHWAY 1 AND THEN ONE MILE EAST ON COUNTY ROAD 338. THE MEMBERS COME FROM VARIED BACKGROUNDS. SOME WERE COMMERCIAL PILOTS, SOME MILITARY PILOTS BUT THEY ALL COME HERE TO PLAY.

STARTED OUT FLYING IN THE MARINE CORPS. THE LAST THING I FLEW IN THE MARINE CORPS WAS F4 ARE PHANTOMS AND THEN AFTER MY INJURY IN 19 -- I WAS INJURED IN '68 1972 I RAN INTO A GENTLEMAN WHO HAD AN OLD AIR COUP AND HE SAID IT DIDN'T HAVE RUDDER PEDALS. HE SAID WHY DON'T YOU COME FLY WITH ME. YOU DON'T HAVE TO USE YOUR LEGS. I DIDN'T BELIEVE HIM. I'D NEVER SEEN AN AN AIRPLANE WITHOUT RUDDER PEDALS. I WENT WITH HIM AND CAME HOME AND TOLD MY WIFE I HAVE TO BUY AN AIRPLANE. GOT BACK INTO AVIATION. SO I'VE BEEN PLYING AIRPLANES NOW FOR ABOUT 42 YEARS AND A SMALL ABOUT A 4 YEAR HIATUS AWAY FROM IT. AND GOT INTO GLIDERS ON AND OFF OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS, FLY A LITTLE BIT AND THEN MOVE AND THEN TWO YEARS AGO I DECIDED I REALLY OUGHT TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. SO I WENT OUT AND GOT MY GLIDER RATING AND THIS IS MY FIRST GLIDER THAT I'VE OWNED BY MYSELF. AND IT'S AN OLD BIRD. BUT IT'S MY BIRD AND THAT'S WHAT COUNTS.

GLIDERS ACTUALLY REQUIRE MORE SKILL, MORE FLYING SKILL. GLIDERS ARE VERY EASY THINGS TO FLY BUT VERY DIFFICULT TO FLY WELL. THEY TAKE A GREAT DEAL OF WORK, CONSTANT STUDY. IT'S A TO CRAFT. MUCH LIKE A SAILBOAT I WOULD ASSUME, NOT BEING A SAILOR. A LOT MORE FUN. TO ME, IT'S LIKE A BUS DRIVER GOING OUT AND GETTING IN A SPORTS CAR. IT'S JUST A LOT MORE FUN.

IT'S REALLY SERENE WHEN YOU'RE UP THERE. IT'S JUST -- YOU KNOW, BEAUTIFUL. ESPECIALLY A DAY LIKE TODAY, YOU CAN SEE 50 MILES AND YOU KNOW HEAR THE WIND. IT'S JUST VERY RELAXING. THERAPEUTIC. YOU CAN LET GO OF EVERYTHING FOR THE DAY. AND WHEN YOU'RE DOING IT, THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS. JUST VERY, VERY RELAXING. BECAUSE THERE'S NOT AN ENGINE INVOLVED DOESN'T MEAN THAT THESE PLANES ARE NOT SOPHISTICATED.

AM THIS PARTICULAR AIRPLANE, WE HAVE A INSTRUMENT CALLED THE CAMBRIDGE LNAV WHICH IS BASICALLY A FLIGHT COMPUTER THAT'S MADE JUST FOR SAIL PLANES AND IT'S HOOKED TO A CAMBRIDGE GPS, WHICH IS ALSO RECORDS ALL OF YOUR MOVEMENTS, YOUR ALTITUDE, AND DIRECTION AND SO ON. BUT IT'S CALLED A DATA LOGGER. AND THEN THE THIRD PIECE OF EQUIPMENT THAT WORKS IN CONJUNCTION WITH ALL THIS IS A LITTLE COMPACT POCKET PC. SO ALL OF THESE ARE TALKING AND SHARING INFORMATION BACK AND FORTH. AND   THE CAMBRIDGE FLIGHT COMPUTER HAS ITS OWN INDIVIDUALITY IMTER AND --AL TIM TER AND AIR SPEED IN ADDITION TO THE ONE YOU SEE ON THE INSTRUMENT PANEL. AND THE GPS AT ANY INSTANT IN TIME TELLS THE FLIGHT COMPUTER HOW YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE, HOW FAST YOU'RE GOING, WHAT DIRECTION YOU'RE GOING. AND IT USES ALL THIS INFORMATION TO -- AND IT KNOWS THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR GLIDER. AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE WATER BALLAST ON BOARD OR NOT, YOU PLUG ALL OF THAT INTO THE COMPUTER BEFORE YOU TAKE OFF. AND SO THE FLIGHT COMPUTER CAN ACTUALLY TELL YOU IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH ALTITUDE AT ANY GIVEN TIME TO MAKE IT HOME OR NOT.

USUALLY DURING AN AVERAGE TOW, THE TOW PLANE WILL TAKE THE GLIDER UP TO ABOUT 3,000 FEET OR SO. BUT IT'S UP TO THE GLIDER PILOT AS TO WHEN TO CUT LOOSE.

ON A NORMAL TOW, WE GET OFF TYPICALLY WHEN YOU FEEL LIFT. YOU MAY JUST GET OFF AT A PARTICULAR ALTITUDE THAT YOU KNOW WILL GIVE YOU ENOUGH TIME TO FIND SOME. BUT TYPICALLY WE'LL PULL THE HANDLE AND LET LOOSE OF THE TOW PLANE BECAUSE WE'RE AT A HIGH ENOUGH ALTITUDE AND WE'RE IN LIFT AT THAT MOMENT. SO YOU POP OFF TOW, TRIM THINGS UP AND RACK RIGHT INTO A TURN AND TRY TO START CLIMBING RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

AND THEN WHEN YOU'RE COMING IN FOR THE LANDING, WHERE IS THE A ABORT OR IS THERE AN ABORT SITUATION?

NO ABORTS IN GLIDERS. YOU DON'T GET TO GO AROUND LIKE IN POWER PLANES. YOU'VE GOT TO GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. THAT'S WHY WE DRILL AS STUDENTS , YOU DRILL TO MAKE EVERY LANDING EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE OTHER. THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED A PATTERN WE FLY. AND YOU ARE AT CERTAIN ALT DOING CERTAIN THINGS THE EXACT SAME WAY EVERY SINGLE TIME SO THAT A LANDING IS JUST A LANDING LIKE EVERY OTHER ONE. BUT THERE'S A LOT OF ADJUSTMENTS WE CAN MAKE IN THESE THINGS AS FAR AS IF WE'RE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW. YOU CAN RADICALLY CHANGE THE ANGLE OF YOUR DESCENT IF YOU NEED TO.

YOU'LL DEVELOP A MASTERY OF IT AFTER A WHILE. IF YOU LOOK AT OTHER GUYS TEACHING US AND YOU KNOW, THEY GOT, YOU KNOW, THOUSANDS OF FLIGHTS AND LESSONS AND YOU KNOW, YOU'LL WATCH THESE DWIGHT AT 11:00 SOME DAYS, THEY LAUNCH AND DON'T COME BACK UNTIL 5:00 THAT'S TWO HOURS FOR FOUR RIDES. SO SOME OF US ARE GETTER THAN -- BETTER THAN OTHERS, THEY SHARE THAT EXPERIENCE TOO. THEY GIVE US HINTS AND TIPS A AND IT'S VERY OPEN COMMUNITY. YOU KNOW, THERE'S NO HEROES OR BIG SHOTS. WE'RE ALL JUST OUT HERE FOR THE SAME REASON, HAVE A GOOD TIME, ENJOY THE CAMARADERIE, A LITTLE BARBECUE AT THE END OF THE DAY.

THERE YOU GO.

YOU KNOW, EITHER THAT OR SIT HOME CUTTING GRASS. I'D RATHER DO THIS.

NETWORK TOWARDS YOU. WE'VE -- TURNING IN TOWARDS YOU. WE'VE COMING IN NOW. TURN DOWN NOW.

COMING NORTH SIDE.

THAL UM COVE NATURAL BRIDGE SCENIC AREA IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST IS QUITE A UNIQUE AREA. YOU HAVE ONE OF THE LARGEST BRIDGES IN THE COUNTRY. WILD FLOWERS GALORE HERE AND ALONG THE BLUFF LINE YOU'LL FIND LARGE CAVE-LIKE ROOMS. SO LET'S GO DO A LITTLE EXPLORING.

THAL UM COVE RECREATION AREA IS LOCATED SOUTH OF JASPER NEAR THE JUNCTION OF HIGHWAY 7 AND 16 NORTH OF THE COMMUNITY OF DEER. THIS NATURAL ARCH IS ALL THAT REMAINS OF WHAT WAS ONCE A CORE SANDSTONE CAVE. THE CENTURIES OLD PROCESS OF WIND, RAIN AND ICE FORMED THE SEPARATION BETWEEN THE ARCH AND ROCK OVERHANG. BEING 130 FEET LONG AND 20 FEET WIDE, NATURAL BRIDGE WAS REPORTEDLY USED BY EARLY SETTLERS TO MOVE THEIR LIVESTOCK AND WAGONS UPS ACROSS THE STREAM BED DURING WET WEATHER. DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH TIME YOU WANT TO DEVOTE, YOU CAN TAKE THE SHORT LEO MINUTE ROUND TRIP HIKE LESS THAN HALF A MILE JUST TO VIEW THE ARCH OR YOU CAN HIKE THE ENTIRE 1.1-MILE LOOP TRAIL TO FURTHER EXPLORE THIS PRISTINE AND PICTURESQUE LITTLE VALLEY. HIKING THIS DESIGNATED NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL, YOU'LL FIND PLENTY OF WILD FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY DURING SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER INCLUDING THE RARE SHOOTING STAR WILDFLOWER. THERE'S ALSO A LARGE VARIETY OF HARDWOODS FROM DOGWOOD TO RED BUD, HICKORY, UMBRELLA MAGNOLIA AND BEECH. AFTER YOU HIKE DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE VALLEY, THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL OZARK STREAM THAT YOU CAN TAKE IN BEFORE CONTINUING UP TO THE BLUFF LINE. AS I MENTIONED EARLIER ALONG THE BLUFF LINE YOU'LL FIND SEVERAL OF THOSE CAVE-LIKE ROOMS THAT ARE PRETTY NEAT LOOKING. THE FIRST ONE IS ABOUT, OH, 100 YARDS OR SO AS YOU'RE WALKING ALONG THE BLUFF LINE. IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE MUCH FROM THE OUTSIDE BUT WHEN YOU GET UP TO IT AND LOOK ALL THE WAY DOWN IN THERE, THERE'S ACTUALLY TWO ENTRANCES. ONE FROM THE SIDE AND   AWAY DOWN THERE AND IT'S JUST AWESOME. REALLY AWESOME LOOKING. KIND OF EERIE. WATER AND WIND ALSO SHAPE THESE RATHER IMPRESSIVE ROCK FORMATIONS ALL ALONG THE BLUFF LINE INCLUDING THE CAVE-LIKE ROOMS AND OVERHANGS. NATIVE AMERICANS ONCE USED THESE ROCK OVERHANG FOR SHELTER WHILE ON HUNTING TRIPS AND AT ONE TIME THREE ROAMING GOATS INHABITED THE CAVE ROOMS GIVING THEM THE LOCAL NAME OF "GOAT HOUSES." SO EXPLORE ALL THE GOAT HOUSES, THE NATURAL BRIDGE, THE WILD FLOWERS AND ALL THAT THERE IS HERE AT THAL UM COVE ALUM COVE RECREATION AREA IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST OUTSIDE OF JASPER. ♪  .

IN AN EARLIER EPISODE WE FEATURED THE WINONA FOREST DURING THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST. THE BUFFALO GAP PICKS UP WHERE THE WINONA FOREST DRIVE LEAVES OFF ACROSS SCENIC 7 BIWAY AND UTILIZED THREE SERVICE ROADS FORMING A 9 MIDDLE SCHOOL LOOP THROUGHOUT A PORTION OF THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST. COME WITH US AND LET'S GO FOR A DRIVE. THAT AUTO TOUR IS 60 MILES OR SO WEST OF LITTLE ROCK IN THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST. THE 9-MILE UNPAVED PORTION BEGINS ON FOREST ROAD 11 SIX MILES NORTH OF JESSIEVILLE. THIS BACK ROADS TOUR WILL TAKE YOU THROUGH SOME OF THE OUACHITA'S BEAUTY, TREASURES AND LEGENDS AND FOLKLORE.

AFTER DRIVING ON FOREST ROAD 11 FOR TWO MILES, YOU'LL COME TO THE FIRST TURNOFF TO THE RIGHT WHICH WILL TAKE YOU UP TO DECKARD MOUNTAIN OVER LOOK. F BLACKS LIVE IN THIS AREA AND THERE'S THE-BLACK BEARS LIVE IN THIS AREA AND THERE'S THE LEGEND OF DECKARD MOUNTAIN, THE FAMOUS HUNTING GROUND OF A MAN NAMED DECKARD. ONE DAY HE WAS OUT HUNTING FOR HIS NEXT MEAL AND UPON RUNNING UP TO A LARGE BLACK BEAR, THE BEAR DECIDED TO MAKE DECKARD HIS LAST MEAL. BUT AFTER AN INTENSE FIGHT, BOTH THE BEAR AND DECKARD WERE FOUND DEAD LYING SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE BEAR HAVING A KNIFE WOUND TO THE HEART. TO THE LEFT OF THIS VISTA, YOU CAN SPOT PETITE JEAN MOUNTAIN AND IN THE CENTER THE MOST STRIKING LANDSCAPE FEATURE, THE DOME SHAPED FORKED MOUNTAIN WHICH IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WINONA AUTO TOUR. AFTER DECKARD MOUNTAIN CONTINUE ON FOREST ROAD 11 FOR .02 OF A MILE TO THE BLUE OUACHITA MOUNTAIN OVERLOOK. THIS IS THE LARGE RIDGE LINE RUNNING EAST TO WEST. DURING THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS AREA A FIRE TOWER STOOD ATOP THE PINNACLE TO THE FAR RIGHT. WHEN A FIRE WAS SPOTTED. THE LOOKOUT WOULD PHONE THE CCC CAMP SO CRIEWLZ COULD BCAM CAMPE CALLED OUT. CONTINUING ON FOREST OOZE 11 YOU'LL BEGIN MAKING THE LOOP AT 788 FOLLOWED BY FOREST ROAD 122 TO WHICH YOU'LL EVENTUALLY REACH THE THIRD OVERLOOK ON THE ROUTE AND THE NAME SAKE OF THE TOUR, THE BUFFALO GAP OVERLOOK. HERE YOU'LL EXPERIENCE A CLEARVIEW OF THE MOUNTAIN PASS KNOWN AS BUFFALO GAP. THIS ROUTE WAS USED BY MANY AND LEGEND TELLS US THAT BUFFALO GAP RECEIVED ITS NAME BY NATIVE AMERICANS WHO WOULD CHASE BISON DOWN INTO THE GAP AND ATTACK THEM FROM BOTH SIDES. THERE ARE ALSO STORIES OF SPANISH SOLDIERS TRAVELING THROUGH THIS AREA AND BEING A TACT BY NATIVE AMERICANS. AFTER ONE   SUCH ATTACK THE SOLDIERS SUPPOSEDLY BURIED THEIR GOLD IN BLAKELY CREEK WHICH RUNS ALONG THE GAP. WHEN YOU'RE ENJOINING THE MAGNIFICENT VISTAS ALONG THIS DRIVE, DON'T FORGET TO ALSO LOOK DOWN BY YOUR FEET TO TAKE IN THE BEAUTY OF THE WILD FLOWERS SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE REGION BEFORE YOU MAKE THIS DRIVE YOURSELF, A GOOD SOURCE OF INFORMATION IS THE BUFFALO GAP AUTO TOUR BOOKLET AVAILABLE AT THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST OFFICE IN HOT SPRINGS AND THE JESSIEVILLE RANGER DISTRICT. ♪ SO CHECK OUT THE BUFFALO GAP AUTO TOUR FOR YOURSELF AND EXPLORE THE ROLLING BEAUTY OF THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST BY WAY OF THE BACK ROADS. AND FOR MORE ON THESE AND OTHER DISTINCTIONS, AND TO VIEW OUR MAPS OR TO ORDER A COPY OF AN EPISODE, VISIT OUR WEBBITE AETN.ORG/EXPLORING ARKANSAS AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS.

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