I take off and get clearance into the overlying class C airspace, then continuing eastbound I clear the zone. I tell the controller that I'll be returning in about six hours and ask if I should keep the transponder code. He replies enthusiastically in the affirmative and clears me en route.
Ahead and above I see an airplane, about Dash-8 proportions, on a trajectory that will bring it into Edmonton. It's not that far above me and I'm surprised that the terminal controller didn't point it out to me before clearing me en route. They usually point out airplanes you can see, even if they aren't a traffic conflict. In the same instant that I see it, I suddenly realize that my initial understanding of the perspective was completely wrong. It isn't a larger fast airplane far away. It's a glider, right there, moving slowly, just above me, and there's another one below and to the left. They are white with no markings, making them harder to see against sky. Perhaps they were below my field of vision a moment ago. I dodge right and flash past them, wondering if they saw or heard me. I almost hope not. I imagine it's hard to change your underwear midflight in a glider.
I have engines and they don't, so they have the right of way, and of course I willingly cede it, but that was close. Had I struck one, it would be lucky (like this case) if either of us had survived. Aircraft are designed to withstand weather and normal inflight stresses, but not impacts. See and avoid is the rule, but you have to see first. I actually knew there were gliders in the area, because I read the CFS entry for the airport, when I was looking for possible alternate landing and fuelling spots. And today is a Saturday, so the weekend flyers are out.
I made a call on the frequency of the glider port and on 126.7, but never heard any glider traffic, and I never saw a glider there again, even though I was back and forth over that spot several times on the weekend. Perhaps they didn't have electrical systems, so no transponders or radios. I guess that's a lot of weight for a glider to carry, too.