Gliders soar above snowy Rocky Mountain ridges and exultant music sounds in the background. In-cockpit cameras capture the focused but serene expressions on the faces of the pilots as they guide their aircraft above vast vistas with their towering peaks.
"If you’ve ever watched a soaring bird and wondered what it would be like to fly, then come with us and find out as we fly the CloudStreet: Soaring the American West," intones the narrator of the trailer for a new 60-minute program that will begin airing on PBS stations on May 20.
Set in soaring country of the intermountain west, CloudStreet: Soaring the American West tells the story of four glider pilots in New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. The program puts the audience in the cockpit of high-performance cross-country sailplanes "and takes them on an epic soaring adventure," said Mike Abernathy of Soaring the West Inc., in a news release. Time-lapse photographic methods help show the development of cloud formations.
Abernathy and Matthew Murray produced the film over a decade, working with executive producer Michael Kamins of New Mexico PBS.
The program "contains some atmospheric and aerodynamic science," but mostly "it introduces our audiences to the beauty, joy, and adventure of cross-country soaring," as viewed from 15,000 feet.
Most of all, Abernathy said, he and Murray have created "a program designed to captivate, encourage and inspire others."