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.