RETURN OF THE RAIL: For more than 20 years, a collective of WNC communities between Asheville and Salisbury have strived for the return of regular passenger rail service into the region. At a March 2 meeting, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee outlined a new three-pronged strategy to reinvigorate freight service, expand excursion train opportunities and explore a pilot thruway bus service into the region through Amtrak. Photo by Max Hunt

WNC Rail Corridor Committee hatches new strategy

For more than 20 years, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee has worked tirelessly to prove the economic viability of restoring the historic rail link between Salisbury and Asheville. With changes in the rail industry looming and younger travelers showing increased interest in train travel, the committee is partnering with towns and municipalities and freight rail companies to pursue a new, three-pronged strategy.

Set sail: Planes will tow motorless gliders toward Mount Mitchell, where they’ll be released into powerful wind waves in the hopes of soaring to great heights. Local Wave Camp organizer Sarah Arnold is pictured here being towed in a glider. Photo courtesy of Arnold.

Surfing the skies: Gliders fly high above Mount Mitchell

More than just birds are soaring the winds above Mount Mitchell. Dozens of pilots from around the country will soon attempt to fly motorless gliders over 20,000 feet above the area’s highest peak. They hope to be propelled upward by a natural phenomenon known as wind waves, which crest when air currents blow against the mountain ridge from the northwest.