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RC FLYER NEWS MAGAZINE

WE LOOK AT THE PROPOSED FAA REGULATIONS The RC Pilots’ Source

JAN/FEB 2020

Z FLYING AS BOB KNEW IT Z FAA’S PROPOSED FAA REGULATIONS ZWIL"S LEADING EDGE Z

AS BOB KNEW IT

A HISTORY

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LEADING EDGE

I

WIL BYERS

needn’t say this issue is worth reading, but I will!

Autobiography What follows, in this dedicated issue, is the history of one man’s adventures in silent flight. By my account, it is an exceedingly worthwhile read, worthy of an entire issue. It is chapter six, “Flying” of Dr. Robert Lee Moore’s book “As I Knew Him,” which is an autobiography. The complete autobiography documents Bob’s life as a young boy in Gainesville, Texas, where he lived and attended school. It describes his times at North Texas State Teachers College in Denton, TX graduating in 1942, as well as how he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin., graduating in 1947, and as a Ph.D. Chemist coming to work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in 1947. Plus, his adventures in flying gliders and sailplanes in chapter six. As a reader of RC Flyer News, you’re likely like many of us that receive real joy by living vicariously through others’ flight escapades. Then too, you’re interested in aviation, or you would not have opted to browse this issue. Accordingly, as editor-in-chief, I’ve decided this man’s history in silent flight deserves an issue. Hopefully, after you have read “Flying” and possibly reread it, you’ll understand my decision. As Wil Knew Him If I remember the date right, it was early February 2000— after my coming to work for the Westinghouse Hanford Company in Richland, Washington, on December 10, 1970 — when I met Dr. Robert Lee Moore in the 325 Building. I had entered the building, which resided in the 300 Area of the massive Hanford complex (300 square miles) to work with my teammate on instrumentation. Hanford’s 325 Building got built during the Cold War days as an analytical chemistry laboratory. The building had three large hallways to the laboratories, plus a substantial hot cell gallery where chemistries could be done on extremely radioactive materials. As a preface, it is worth noting that Dr. Moore was the “inventor” of the Plutonium Uranium Recovery by the Extraction process, better known as the PUREX process. The PUREX process operated for many years as a means to enrich vast quantities of plutonium and uranium for use in weapons. After my teammate and I completed our work, we were exiting the building by way of the front hall. It was where managers’ offices were located. As I passed Dr. Moore’s office, I noticed the walls were covered with sailplane and glider photos. Without hesitation, I stuck my head in Dr. Moore’s office and introduced myself as an avid RC glider enthusiast — I can be in your face sometimes. I noted how much pleasure I took from seeing his photos. Understand that Bob was born on December 28, 1920, while I was born on February 10, 1950. Bob was old enough to be my father! Moreover, looking back on Bob’s legacy, it

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RC FLYER NEWS • Nov/Dec 2018

is my opinion he was a chemistry genius, with an undeterred passion for flying. To continue, so here I was sticking my head in a chemistry manager’s office, interrupting his work, to tell him I enjoyed flying RC gliders, and that his photos were a joy to my eyes. You would have thought he would have acknowledged my admiration then sent me on my way and returned to his business. Not! Instead, Bob invited me into his office and queried me about my model flying. Bob and I then burned some valuable Hanford management and labor dollars as we discussed gliders, sailplanes, and soaring in the Northwest. Furthermore, not ten minutes into our conversation, he was encouraging me to take full-scale soaring lessons at the Richland Airport. Much, much later, this simple coaxing underscored for me Bob’s everlasting love of soaring and those that took pleasure in it. That was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Bob’s passing. For me, it was much as any young man looks up to someone of his statures. It was my wanting to learn through his adventures in soaring. You see, he often fascinated me with soaring history and tales of famous northwest glider pilots such as Yakima’s Charlie McCallister — the designer, builder, and pilot of the Yakima Clipper, which now resides in Boeing’s Museum of Flight in Seattle. Or how Cloyd Artman pioneered soaring in the Palouse. It was just interesting being around Bob and hearing what soaring was and what it was becoming. Over the years, Bob kept tempting me to become part of the full-scale soaring community. For example, he offered to sell me his famous Schweizer 1-21 glider, which was kept in a trailer in a hangar at the Richland, Washington airport. He enticed with details of how he had many wonderful flights in the glider, as well as with a price that was hard to resist. I examined the glider closely a couple of times but resisted Bob’s temptations—having a wife and young daughter gave me cause, plus the glider needed to be refurbished, recovered, and painted. I was, however, tempted! One of the gliders that amazed me was Bob’s Nelson Hummingbird, which he acquired after his retirement. You see, the Nelson Hummingbird was the creation of Ted Nelson (the man behind the WWII Nelson stud welder). Harry Perl and Don Mitchell designed and built the Nelson PG-185B Hummingbird in 1953. The three men’s impetus was to build and fly a two-seat sailplane that would take off under its power. Once at soaring altitude, the pilot could retract the engine and soar as with any other glider. Then if the lift died, the pilot could extend the engine to power the Hummingbird back to the airfield. It was a first in soaring and the origin of moving away from aerotowing. Bob’s Hummingbird was in good condition but needed some engine maintenance to make it a reliable selflaunching glider. I offered to help with its maintenance. However, a local “expert” offered his services instead. Sadly, I never flew in the Hummingbird because it had rather complicated engine problems. As a result, the glider got sold. Following the Hummingbird, in early 1980, Bob purchased a PIK-20 sailplane, which was a self launcher. He became interested in the PIK in the mid-1970s as a way twitter.com/rcflyernews


to free himself from the need of a towplane and its pilot. When he first informed me about his plan to purchase a PIK, I thought he had become possessed by the evil spirits of the long-extinct northwest Thunder Bird. However, over time I realized Bob was much more forward-thinking than me. Moreover, after watching it take off, enter a thermal, have its motor retracted, and then to see Bob soar it out of sight, I realized the only evil spirit lived in my head. In hindsight, I think Bob’s rather quiet, scientific, and thoughtful demeanor hid the fact that he very much liked people and being around them. Knowing Bob and reading his book has convinced me that his upbringing in rural Texas gave him a want to share his life with the people he valued. It was not surprising then when he told me he had ordered a Glaser-Dirks two-place, DG-500M. The sailplane sported an 8.66-meter wingspan and had a claimed liftover-drag ratio of greater than 45. It wasn’t long after the DG arrived that Bob contacted me to inform me it had arrived and was parked in his hangar. As you can well imagine, I visited the hangar at the Richland airport to have a look at this beautiful new sailplane, which was going to let Bob share his soaring with passengers. Soon thereafter, Bob gave a call to ask if I would like to share a flight. I agreed! It was uneventful and not a long flight, but it underscored the abilities of a self-launching sailplane. Then in the early 2000s — I don’t remember exactly when — Bob called to tell me the soaring conditions looked suitable for the day — asking if I wanted to go flying. I couldn’t get out of the office fast enough, arriving at his hangar in about 30 minutes. Bob already had the sailplane out and readied for flight. We donned our parachutes. I climbed in the back with Bob in the front. The canopy closed and the engine started without hesitation. Bob taxied the DG out to the 26 runway. He then throttled the engine up. It seemed we were airborne before we hit the cross runway 01. Bob retracted the landing gear and flew the sailplane to the west-northwest, climbing the DG at about 600 feet a minute, until we were at about 2000 feet. At this point, he centered the DG in a thermal. He then retracted the engine for soaring. I was overjoyed when he said, “Do you want it?” From that point, I piloted the sailplane for about the next three hours. I climbed the DG in multiple thermals flying on a northeast heading. A couple of hours into the flight, Bob cautioned me not to fly into the cloud base, which was at 12,400 feet. To this day, that soaring flight feels like a dream. It is especially so because Bob was a gentleman’s instructor! He didn’t take control when I made mistakes in soaring! Instead, he provided useful instruction about how to fly the glider to take best advantage of the lift conditions. Flying home, I arrived above my home in West Richland at an altitude of 8,400 above ground level. It was at that point that Bob took over control, set the flaps, and then completed a huge spiral dive for an approach to the airport’s runway 01, and subsequently landed the DG smoothly. It was an unforgettable day of soaring for me. Climbing out of the sailplane, I truly felt humbled in front of this fatherly figure. That was the last time I had the good fortune to fly with Bob. I know that many other local pilots and friends got to rcflyernews.tumblr.com

fly with Bob in his DG over the years he owned it, though. Eventually, he sold his DG to a local doctor, providing him space in his hangar with the PIK, which Bob kept flying. It is worth remarking that Bob earned his Silver from the Soaring Society of America (SSA) as number 180 in 1953; his Gold as #49 in 1956; and his Diamond as #13 (Int #113) in 1958. Port & Chocolate On occasion, I would drop by Bob’s home for a visit. As he told me in passing, he liked a small glass of port each evening. He also explained it was best with Boehm’s exquisite chocolates from Issaquah, Washington. I suspect he got his taste for Boehm’s chocolate early on in the 50s or 60s. You see, there was a glider operation in Issaquah, on a grass strip airfield near lake Sammamish—a strip where I got my first glider ride as well. Consequently, when I would visit my family in the Seattle area, I would sometimes visit Boehm’s for dark chocolate pieces, which afterward got delivered to Bob. Of course, that was in lieu of another tale and a small glass of port, which I never quite acquired a taste for but sipped it slowly anyway. As I said above, Bob liked people. As he documented in his book, he also delighted in a good party of like-minded individuals. This became rather obvious when I invited him to be the featured guest speaker at the 1988 Scale Soaring Fun Fly banquet, which got hosted at the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Washington. The Fun Fly was a three-day affair, hosted at Eagle Butte in the southwest corner of Kennewick, with the option of moving to Kiona Butte, depending on wind conditions. It was a success because of the superb slope soaring conditions, plus. Beyond the show of aircraft, piloting skills, a large banquet, an extensive product raffle, and partying with like-minded individuals, Bob gave an outstanding speech. I think I speak for 99.99% of the people that attended, Dr. Moore wowed the crowd with his history of soaring and particularly soaring in the Northwest and eastern Washington. Suffice it to say; Bob entertained us! Moreover, he underscored his propensity to promulgate his passion for soaring. In 1992 Bob finished his autobiographical book, “As I Knew Him.” Sometime after it was published, I visited him. He generously offered me a signed copy. I admit that at first, I was not much interested in the early history of his days in Texas and at Hanford. Consequently, I skipped over it and went directly to chapter six on flying. I read it once and loved it. I read it twice and enjoyed it again, delighting in some of the dangers faced by Bob and his piloting companions. Then too, his detail of how soaring was evolving and the challenges they faced had me wanting to be back in the day! So it was that during one of our visits, not long before his passing, that I queried Bob about an opportunity to publish his chapter six on flying. Before I go further, I must say that Bob was one of the few people that encouraged me to invest my money, time, and energy in publishing Quiet Flyer. I don’t remember exactly what was said. I only remember him saying, “I like to think of glider pilots, almost without exception, as the ‘Higher Type’ of people.” That stuck with Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

11


LEADING EDGE

WIL BYERS

me! Somehow it gave me a sense that publishing Quiet Flyer was a way to pass on a group’s knowledge base to others. It was, hence, without hesitation that Bob went to his home office to retrieve a 3.5-inch floppy disk, which included his entire book! He handed it to me and said, you are welcome to any or all of it. Again, it was just Bob passing on his love of life and especially soaring. One of the conundrums of my life is how I can ignore the obvious, even when it is plainly of substantial benefit. Such was the case when just before Bob’s passing, he offered to sell me his PIK-20. He made me an offer that any otherwise insightful man would have accepted. Let me point out; Bob had sent the sailplane to Boise, Idaho some months before to have the wings gel-coated and profiled, plus new gap seals installed, which made the PIK like new or better. His offer included the glider’s trailer, two engines, and a parachute. What stunned me, and may be why I did not accept his most generous proposal, was the extraordinary substance of the offer. Bob offered, “Give me a small down payment, small monthly payments, and realize you will

never pay it in full because I will not live much longer!” No exaggeration! This matter-of-fact statement astonished me. Even so, I did not accept this generous offer. I regret not buying HIS SAILPLANE to this day! While he likely never knew it, I looked up to him. I admired his intellect, his lust for adventure, his ability to lead, and his genuine generosity, which accounts of would certainly fill a book. Sadly, it was not long after his offer of the PIK-20 that Dr. Robert Lee Moore died on February 24, 2006, at age 85. Bob had a long and inventive life that touched many. Chapter Six Enjoy chapter six of “As I Knew Him.” I suspect it will most likely delight and inspire you as much as it has me.

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RC FLYER NEWS • Nov/Dec 2018

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History

Flying One Pilot’s Love of Soaring By Robert Lee Moore

F

lying, particularly soaring, has been the obsession of my life. I have logged almost five thousand hours—mostly in gliders—and have lost track of how many thousands of flights. If one counts an early hang glider, which barely got off the ground, I have been involved in gliding and soaring “man and boy” for almost sixty years. Flying has been one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of my life, so I will try to give the reader of this biography some appreciation of that infatuation, though that may not be possible since infatuations defy logic. I used to happily lecture people “ad nauseam” about soaring at the least provocation, but I don’t do that anymore. Elisabeth, my wife, pointed out they really aren’t interested. She was right. In addition, they don’t understand. They may listen politely and glassy eyed and then ask some rude question such as “Have you ever crashed?” Now when anyone, other than a fellow airman, asks me about soaring, I try to answer as briefly as possible without being rude. I will try once more. Earthlings—nonfliers for whom this is intended—may find what follows tedious or boring, and fellow fliers will likely consider it superfluous! What follows will be a highly personalized history of soaring, illustrated with accounts of a few of my more interesting flights. 14

RC FLYER NEWS • Nov/Dec 2018

I could write a soaring book, but I will try not to. Others have done it better. Paul Schweizer published his masterly Wings Like Eagles, a comprehensive history of soaring in the United States. Philip Wills’ delightful On Being a Bird is still available in paperback and is must reading for any prospective glider pilot, crew member, wife or friend of a glider pilot (Wills was a one-time world champion and had literary talent which so many of the British have and which most of us lack). Ernie Gann’s autobiographical Fate Is The Hunter is also a must for anyone who flies, or even rides in aeroplanes. The late Antoine de Saint Exupery’s Wind, Sand and Stars is a beautiful and poetic classic. One line from it has stuck in my memory: “Flying is hours and hours of monotony punctuated by moments of sheer terror!” How true, though I have never found soaring monotonous, but power flying can be. To those of us who fly, flying has an almost religious or mystical quality which it is difficult— perhaps impossible—to explain to earthlings. It is something I think all flyers feel, though something we seldom discuss, even among ourselves. Isak Dinesen observed in Out of Africa that “To Fly is to see the World as God sees it.” Certainly the visual beauty of flying, particularly from the panoramic vantage point twitter.com/rcflyernews


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History

Zanonia - flown by Herber Cloud near Ephrata, Washington.

of a sailplane, is one of the great joys I derive from soaring. Flying fills other needs. When I haven’t flown for a while, I am edgy and uncomfortable; after a flight I am OK for a while. It is as if I were a drug addict in need of a fix. I used to sometimes say, only slightly in jest, that “soaring is my substitute for sex”, at least at my age. But a young, virile competition pilot set me right. He said that I had it backward, and that “sex is a substitute for soaring!” Gann, in one of his recent books, asks “Why did God make women when airplanes are so much fun?” They are so right. There are many aspects to soaring. There is the sensation and joy of pure flight, without the noise and vibration of an engine. Gann has written, “Flying is a release of the spirit, an extraordinary human experience that somehow hoists men and women far above themselves. Aloft the spirit sings without a sound, and no true airman ever regrets himself.” Soaring is also competition, not only with one’s self and the elements but with other pilots in hard-fought contests to determine who is the best and most skillful. It can also include the exhilaration of attempts to set or break records. And then there is the World-wide camaraderie of flyers and particularly of soaring pilots. I like to think of these, almost without exception, as the “Higher Type” of people, and used to say so till Elisabeth told me not to, because that is elitist. But soaring does seem to appeal to certain people—those that sail (soaring is sailing in three dimensions), those who hike or climb mountains, canoe or kayak, or ski. Some individual soaring pilots do all of these things. The soaring pilots are a group that includes people from all walks of life but with a high representation of scientists, engineers, physicians, dentists, and architects, but very few lawyers—perhaps soaring does really appeal only to the higher type of people! 16

RC FLYER NEWS • Nov/Dec 2018

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The Beginning The insects, peterodactyls and birds learned to soar long, long ago—millions of years ago—but man did not learn to emulate them till 1911. Lilienthal, Chanute, the Wright brothers and others had flown gliders around the turn of the century, and the Wright brothers used gliders to teach themselves to fly and to solve the vexing problem of lateral control in a brilliant and elegant manner. In 1903 they added an engine and created the first successful aeroplane. The rest is history. But they had been intrigued with the flight of soaring birds and had made careful observations of bird flight. Early on they stated that “Birds soar by gliding down through rising air.” One can’t describe soaring any simpler than that, and that at a time when learned savants were publishing a lot of nonsense about bird flight, and “proving” mathematically that bees can’t fly! In 1911, when they were rich and famous, the Wright brothers returned on vacation to Kitty Hawk with a glider to test their theories. While there they made many gliding flights and established an official World duration record of almost ten minutes. The flight was made by slope soaring, on the air currents deflected upward by the wind blowing against the sand dunes, and their record was to stand till after the first World War. I may have been predisposed to soaring by the fact that the twenties were an air minded age, by my father’s interest in aviation, and by the toys he brought me. But my awakening occurred in June, 1929 when I was eight years old, going on nine. That month the National Geographic magazine published a wonderful article, “On the Wings of the Wind!,” about soaring in Germany. To me it was like a religious revelation and I began to daydream about soaring and to watch the soaring birds and the clouds and to build crude model gliders. I have rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History since learned that many other American youths were similarly “turned on” or imprinted with a fascination for soaring by that same article. It changed our lives! The article told how the treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI had forbidden the Germans to build aeroplanes, but said nothing about gliders. So some young Germans—university students, professors and returned WWI aviators (also young)—started building hang gliders and launching themselves into the air. It has been said that Germany used this means to rebuild their war machine, but this wasn’t true—at least not in the early years. The Nazis did not come along till much later. These young enthusiasts, some of whom I have since been privileged to know, simply couldn’t bear to be left out of aviation, which was the most exciting technical development in that early postwar world. In the summer of 1920 they held their first of many get-togethers or “meets” on the Wasserkuppe, a large rounded grassy hill in the Rhon mountains. My future friend, Peter Riedel, was there as a fourteen-year-old pilot and has recounted and documented much of what happened. In 1921 Wolfgang Klemperer (also a future acquaintance) exceeded the Wright’s duration record in his “Blue Mouse” sailplane and also made the world’s first cross-country flight—three miles. In just a few years the German enthusiasts created the modern sailplane—beautiful craft with long tapered, full cantilever wings and sleek highly-streamlined fuselages, this at a time when engine-powered aircraft were anything but clean or beautiful. Within the decade of the twenties these pioneers established much of what we now know about soaring. Aviation enthusiasts in other countries took notice, and meets and contests were soon held in France and England. In the late twenties and early thirties, gliding and soaring came to the United States. Some of the German pioneers generously came over to help Americans get started and selected Harris Hill near Elmira in upper New York state as a U.S. center for soaring, perhaps because it resembled the Wasserkuppe and their own Rhon mountains. It is ironic that it was while at Elmira in 1930 that the great Wolf Hirth discovered thermals, and the circling technique of using them, that was to eventually free soaring from the mountains. By the late 20’s gliding was already highly organized in Germany and was usually conducted in large clubs and schools, where lots of people were available to help. Launching was generally by catapult from a hillside. A long rubberized rope, called “shock cord”, was laid out in a V-shape in front of the glider. Someone held the tail of the glider and other men and boys ran forward with the two ends of the shock cord. When it was stretched, the tail was released and the glider shot off into space. If the updrafts were favorable, the pilot might soar for hours, otherwise he would soon be forced to land in the valley below. Three aircraft were used to teach a beginner to fly. The first was a primary, a rather crude aircraft with wire-braced straight wings similar to those on a light aeroplane, an open fuselage, a skid on which to 18

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land, and a bucket seat for the pilot, who sat out in the open. There were no instruments (students were supposed to acquire “the feel of the air”). The student first simply sat in the glider facing a strong wind and learned to balance the aircraft by use of the controls (ailerons, rudder and elevators). Next he was given “ground slides” on level or only slightly sloping ground, then ground skimming flights, and finally straight glides to the valley, followed by gentle turns to right and left. The student next progressed to a secondary glider—similar to the primary but with an enclosed fuselage. In this he might be able to do some slope soaring. Those who survived this stage advanced to the “professor”, or true high-performance sailplane. When gliding came to the U.S. in the late twenties, several companies began manufacturing primary gliders and magazines, such as Modern Mechanics, published plans for those who wanted to build their own. Many were built, and many crashed. The carnage, and the onset of the Depression, did much to dampen enthusiasm. The ranks dwindled and only hard-core enthusiasts carried on. The German technique of launching and training also didn’t fit the American scene and temperament (Americans are not inclined to work hard to give someone else a ride!). Automobile launch—towing the glider aloft behind a car on the end of a long rope—was soon widely used. Meanwhile Wolf Hirth and Peter Riedel in Germany had invented the aerotow technique, which is now used almost exclusively. But there isn’t much you can do with a primary glider, once you learn to fly it. Being towed up and gliding down soon becomes boring. Something different was needed. R. E. Franklin, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan stepped into the breech and invented the utility glider, an aircraft strong enough for primary instruction but with sufficient performance for soaring. It featured a large balloon tired wheel for takeoff and landing from soft ground, a generous skid in front of the wheel, strut-braced wings, and a rugged steel tubing fuselage covered with fabric. As a concession to the more reactionary instructors of the day, the Franklin had a unique removable cowling around the front of the cockpit which could be removed for initial instruction, so the student sat out in the open just as in a primary. It was put on for soaring. The Franklin also carried a small instrument panel. Many Franklins were built, and other companies followed suit. These utility gliders became the backbone of American soaring during the thirties. The Abortive Hang Glider In 1933, when we were thirteen years old, Wayne Taylor and I built a hang glider. It was not a success, which was probably just as well. We found the plans in an ancient library book for boys published by Popular Mechanics in 1909. It was a Chanute-type glider, a biplane with a fixed tail—no movable control surfaces. The pilot was supposed to control the craft by weight shift, a difficult task. He supported himself in an opening in the lower wing with his arms and elbows twitter.com/rcflyernews


supporting his weight on two parallel bars, with his legs dangling. If the machine nosed up, he was supposed to shift his weight forward, against gravity; if it nosed down he was to move backward, and lateral control was by swinging one’s legs to one side or the other. It would have required a trained athlete, such as the great Otto Lilienthal (who was eventually killed), to fly such a bird. Chanute did not fly his own gliders; he hired young men to do so! But we were ignorant, so…. We made a number of materials substitutions, such as yellow pine for spruce and baling wire for piano wire. We covered the wings with old sheets, and bolted it together with stove bolts. Total cost of materials came to slightly over two dollars. When we finished construction, the glider was overweight and I wasn’t strong enough to pick it up and run with it. To help support the weight, we first added a harness made from strips of somewhat smelly rawhide and later an undercarriage with two velocipede wheels and, finally, a strap iron tow hook so that several of us could pull the glider with a rope to help Wayne get airborne. We got it briefly off the ground once, from a slight rise into a stiff breeze. Then the hook straightened out, the rope fell off, and the glider— relieved of the down pull of the rope—started to loop-the-loop. Wayne fell out (unhurt) and the glider continued its maneuver and was destroyed. We were bitterly disappointed, and both declared that we would have nothing more to do with something as fickle as an aircraft. Wayne kept his word, but I didn’t. Label me a “slow learner”! Hang gliders were already obsolete and a part of aviation history when we built ours. However, some years after WWII, long-time soaring personality and friend Richard Miller revived hang gliding (in California, of course), though he advised flying “no higher than one is willing to fall.”The early-type hang glider design was soon replaced by improved designs based on the war-time fabric Rogallo wing. With these aircraft, today’s hang glider pilots are making impressive flights and have achieved a safety record as good as that of the sailplanes we more conventional pilots fly. Moore/Dixon Primary Glider In January of 1937, when I was a junior in high school in Gainesville, Texas, a sample copy of the very first issue of Soaring magazine, published by the young Soaring Society of America, appeared in our school library. It reawakened my dream of gliding, and I joined the Society at once—even though a subscription and student membership cost $1.00! Some of my school friends were building rather advanced model airplanes, and I suggested to them that for what they were collectively spending we could build something in which we could fly. We formed a club and decided to build a Dixon primary—we had found the plans in the back of a glider book published in England. Although there were lots of parts to make, the pace of construction was determined mainly by rcflyernews.tumblr.com

economic factors. We would buy some spruce or aircraft plywood, glue and nails, etc. and use these up and then wait till we could afford more. When a glider was not soon forthcoming, most of the other members lost interest; and the work was continued largely by me and one friend, Ray Floyd Turbeville, an outstanding young man who was sadly to die of juvenile diabetes shortly before the aircraft finally flew. The project did attract interest in the Gainesville aviation community, and we received some welcome expert help. Although today’s Experimental Aircraft Association had not yet been born, there were home airplane builders even then. They took an interest, provided us with some materials and parts, such as turnbuckles from a WWI Jenny. They showed us how to splice cables and apply fabric and dope, and made sure that we were following accepted aircraft practices and that our workmanship was up to snuff. The glider had a wingspan of 36 feet, a wing chord of five feet, and the wing used the popular Clark-Y airfoil. The wings were almost identical to those of a Cub light plane and required making a large number of ribs and other parts. The fuselage was much simpler, just a flat open-truss framework. We did make some modifications because the materials specified in the English plans were different from American practice, and others were made to make the aircraft more utilitarian. The original design had only a skid for takeoff and landing, not really suitable for automobile launching. So, we added wheels—donated by one of our Experimental Aircraft Association friends from a Heath Parasol airplane. The wheels

Dr Robert Lee Moore, 1947 Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History were mounted on a short axle through a vertical slot in the fuselage and a wrapping of shock cord absorbed landing forces. It was an excellent landing/takeoff gear, which absorbed bumps beautifully and had a “knee action” and sufficient flexibility that either wing could rest on its wing tip skid without either wheel coming off the ground—the tip skids were another addition of ours. The plans specified only a simple nose hook—OK for shock-cord catapult launching but not for auto tow. One of our adult friends made a beautiful nose release for us, similar to those used on sailplanes today. It was from a German design in Soaring magazine. The aircraft was completed in the spring of 1938. It weighed, if I remember correctly, only about 160 pounds. The total cost of construction, neglecting donated materials, came to slightly over $84. The Civil Aeronautics Administration or CAA (forerunner of today’s Federal Aviation Administration) paid little attention to gliding, acting as if they hoped the sport would go away. They did,, however, issue our glider registration number 17626 and recorded it as a “Moore/Dixon Primary”. The glider was completed in the spring of 1938 and moved to the Gainesville airport, at that time a one-mile-square, fairly level, grassy field.. A local banker and aviation enthusiast, Mr. Raymond King, kindly allowed us to to store the glider, rent free, in his hangar, where it shared space with his Cub, a Curtis Robin, a Buhl Pup and a few other assorted airplanes. This was fortunate since The June 1929 edition of National Geographic magazine inspired Bob and it took a long time to rig or dehis friends to build a primary glider, which they would eventually fly. rig the glider. Each time it was assembled the myriad of cables which braced the wings and tail had to be hooked up and individually adjusted—such a conservative approach and have the first flights that there was no unwanted twist in the wings—and done by an expert. Fortunately such a person was then made secure (“safetied”) with brass safety wire. available, Vangene Skiles, a lad of about my age who Ditto for the control cables and for the bolts that held lived in Denton, the next county seat. He and his the wings and tail on. We were very grateful to Mr. older brothers, who had recently left for the Army King. Air Corps, had been operating a Franklin utility glider, The day for the momentous test flight finally and Vangene had become an experienced pilot arrived. We had read a library book on flying so with perhaps five hours total time. On the appointed were sure we knew how, but thought it well to take day, he rode over from Denton on his bicycle. He 20

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inspected the glider thoroughly. We then attached it to Mother’s car with a rope about the length we now use for aero-towing—perhaps 200 feet—and test flying began. It was one of the most exciting and rewarding days of my life! After a bit of adjustment to the angle of incidence of the horizontal stabilizer, it flew fine. The sight of it up against the blue sky with the sun shining through the translucent fabric was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen—even if it was an ungainly bird—and the humming and whistling sound it made as it went through the air was pure music. Only someone who has built their own aircraft would understand this high! Skiles then proceeded to give me my first “flying” lesson. Besides the release on the nose of the glider, which connected to a ring on the end of the tow rope, there was another release bolted to the rear bumper of the car, which the instructor—who rode on the running board of the car—could operate if the student got into trouble. The instructor shouted, or used hand signals, to communicate with the student. That first day I was towed back and forth across the field, not quite fast enough to take off. The object was to keep the wings level, raise the tail, balance on the wheels and follow the car in a straight line. It was surprisingly difficult! I oscillated all over the place, banging first one wing and then the other against the ground. It took a while to get the knack of not over controlling and to anticipate what the glider was going to do and then correcting before it did it. By then it was getting late, and Skiles told us sternly not to do anything more with the glider till he could return the following weekend. But we couldn’t wait. There could surely be no harm or danger in a few ground-skimming flights, just a few inches off the ground? In midweek, after school, we tried this. I had the driver go a mite faster and planned to lift off maybe a foot or so, then push the control stick forward and land, and repeat the operation several times (without releasing the tow line) till we got to the far end of the field. The takeoff went fine but when I “landed”, the landing gear compressed, then rebounded and increased the angle of attack of the wing and in an instant I was looking down on the car from a terrifying altitude—maybe fifty feet, an entirely new and strange perspective. They released! I knew, from the flying book, that the three cardinal rules of pilotage were to Keep Flying Speed!, Keep Flying Speed!, and Keep Flying Speed! So, I jammed the control stick forward. The ground came up at an alarming speed—almost exploded in my face—and we hit hard. I sat there with my heart palpitating, but neither the glider nor I appeared to be damaged. As soon as my friends drove back with the rope, we did it again. Training continued in the ensuing weeks. After we could climb to fifty or a hundred feet, fly level most of the length of the runway, then release, and glide down to a gentle landing, we were ready to learn to turn. We were towed a bit higher and would make a 90-degree turn to the left and land, then hook back rcflyernews.tumblr.com

up and make a similar turn to the right—all in calm air. Unlike a car or a boat, an airplane or glider does not have a turn control; the rudder, a misnamed control, does not steer an airplane. It is necessary to use all of the controls in a precisely coordinated manner to make a smooth turn. Contrary to what we thought we had “learned” from the How to Fly book, an airplane turns because it is banked, and the rudder merely overcomes the unequal drag of the ailerons which operate differentially—one goes up when the other goes down—to roll the aircraft to the desired angle of bank. Use a gentle bank for a gentle turn and steeply for a rapid turn, a turn is sort of loop-the-loop in a horizontal plane. It took us a while to get all this through our thick skulls. After we mastered 90-degree turns, Skiles brought out the “long wire”. It was a thousand-foot cable with a short rope on the glider end—a weak link that would hopefully fail before we pulled the wings off the glider. There was also a small parachute on the glider end, which opened when the glider released it. The parachute prevented the wire from falling in a hopelessly tangled mess. With the long wire we could tow to about 800 feet altitude, which seems very high when you are sitting out in the open in a little bucket seat, with the wind whistling by and the wires humming! From this altitude we could link 90-degree turns together to make 180’s and 360’s and could fly patterns and land back at the other end of the runway, ready for the next tow. The glider could glide perhaps eight feet for every foot it descended, so we had to maneuver smartly to get back to the end of the runway before we ran out of altitude. It glided best at about 30 or 35 miles per hour and had a calculated stalling speed or landing speed of only 24 mph—not much faster than a bicycle. We made many hundreds of flights in the glider, and a number of boys and young men were introduced to flying with this glider. Miraculously, no one got hurt in the glider, though we did have a few injuries with the tow car. Besides me, Charlie Dobkins was one of the frequent flyers, as were the Merrick brothers (Jack and Keith), Hugh McCain, and Jim Maupin who went on to a distinguished career as an aircraft designer. Our flights were very short and we tried to figure out some way to log time faster. One idea was to drive around the perimeter of our big field, but the tow wire would go slack at the corners, then jerk taught, and we were afraid we would yank the nose off the glider. We also tried flying at night. There is nothing brighter than a full Texas moon on a summer night; you can literally read a newspaper by such moonlight. We signaled the tow car by flashlight, and I had several beautiful flights and admired the twinkling lights of Gainesville. But landing was a problem; we couldn’t tell where the ground was—it must have been a lot like landing a seaplane on smooth water. Another idea of Skiles’ and mine, a bit later when I had started college and had the glider at Denton for a while, was to tow down the highway that passed the airport on its way to Decatur, thirty miles to the west. We thought that if we did this real early in the Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History morning when the road was deserted, no one would mind, nor would we be detected. There was a highvoltage power line across the road about half way between Denton and Decatur, so we would go down low, fly under it, and then climb back to altitude. We had several nice, long flights before an unsympathetic Texas highway patrolman put a stop to our fun. He was a real spoil sport In Denton we operated the primary and Skiles’ Franklin utility for a while. We kept the aircraft in a barn on the cow-pasture airport on the edge of town, and called our operation the “Denton Glider Club”. The Franklin was the first factory-built glider I got to fly, and it seemed far superior to the primary. I fell in love with it (I looked in vain for one to rebuild as a project when I retired). Things went fine for a while. Then Skiles caught one of the Franklin’s wings on a fence post, while trying to fly it out of a too-small field where some student had landed. We spent the winter building a replacement wing. Meanwhile the barn had filled with hay and the primary had to sit outside. In the spring, Mr. Franklin appeared and claimed the utility—it seems that the older Skiles brothers hadn’t paid for it. He was nice about the whole thing, and I was proud to meet my hero. Meanwhile the primary was showing signs of deterioration and wear, so I grounded it before someone got hurt. Later Dobkins took it to Gainesville for renovation. But, while he had the wings

on the ground in his back yard, some relative drove a truck over them. How could anyone be such a poor driver? So ended the primary, and gliding in Denton and Gainesville. The clouds of war were gathering, and Skiles—after a bit of college—left to become an instructor in the Army Glider Program. Several of the other boys joined the Army Air Corps, and one or two lost their lives in the air war over Europe. I would have given a great deal to go with them, but my health ruled me out. So I stayed in college. I didn’t mind missing the walking army! Civilian gliding, and most private flying, ended for the duration of the war. Soaring Matures The two decades of the twenties and thirties saw the discovery or development of almost everything we now know about soaring; what has come since has been largely a refinement of technique and design. The first soaring flights at the Wasserkuppe used slope soaring, just as the Wright brothers had, however other forms of “lift” soon made themselves evident. Clouds came drifting over the Wasserkuppe and gliders were sucked up into them. Cloud flying had arrived—a particularly thrilling and dangerous means of soaring, now largely banned. Thermals—rising blobs or columns of heated air—were also encountered, though it was a while before they were understood

National Geographic magazine inspired Bob.

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and before it was realized that they occurred over flat country as well as over mountains and that they could be found in clear air—“blue thermals”—as well as where clouds serve as markers. Then Wolf Hirth discovered waves, and brilliantly elucidated their nature. More, much more about all of this later. During these early years an instrument, which was to prove a glider pilot’s most valuable tool, was introduced into soaring by Robert Kronfeld, the great and popular Austrian soaring pilot. This instrument is the variometer, which measures “up” and “down”— rise or fall—almost instantaneously and with great sensitivity. Old-time balloonists had used a crude version for years since it is very important for them to sense altitude change at once. (Balloons are inherently unstable. As they rise, gas expands and they rise faster and faster; as they descend the opposite happens. This can lead to disaster when they run out of gas or jettison-able ballast, so balloonists carry a variometer and generally fly only at dawn and dusk, when there are few updrafts and down drafts). During an early Wasserkuppe contest Kronfeld smuggled such an instrument, in a brown paper bag disguised as his lunch, into his glider. Soon everyone, at least in Germany, was using them. The simplest and most popular version for a long time had two slightly tapering glass tubes, each containing a colored pith ball and connected to an air reservoir, usually a thermos bottle to minimize the effects of temperature changes. If one held the rig in one’s hand and lifted it up, air would flow out and raise the green ball; if one lowered it to the floor, air would flow in and lift the red ball. So, pilots came to talk about “Green Air” and “Red Air”. The aim was to find green air and circle in it and to avoid red air. Our modern instruments no longer use pith balls but we still talk about “green air”. During the late twenties and early thirties soaring pilots, mostly in Europe, quickly pushed soaring performance to impressive highs—cross-country flights of hundreds of miles, altitudes measured in the tens of thousands of feet, and duration flights that eventually became just a measure of how long a pilot could stay awake—this record category was eventually abolished because pilots were going to sleep and killing themselves trying to break the World record. While the first Wasserkuppe “meets” were largely social events, where people flew when they pleased, true contests were soon organized—to see who could fly longest, highest, farthest, and later, fastest, and to crown champions. A series of international badges was also established to recognize levels of soaring skill. Like world aviation records, these were/are administered by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) in Paris. The very first were the A and B badges, for simple gliding. One earned the A badge by making a few simple glides from a hillside launch to the valley. The B required some turns as well, and the C required staying above the launch point about as long as the Wright brothers did. This was followed with the Silver C, now usually referred to simply as the Silver Badge. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

It required a thousand-meter altitude gain, a fivehour duration, and a fifty-kilometer (about 32 mile) cross-country flight. Thermals now make the altitude gain easy, but the five hours is still a test of skill and human endurance, some people try many times, and fail by minutes, before they succeed. Moreover, the first distance flight is always a psychological crisis in a new pilot’s development—when he looks back as the home airport recedes and realizes that he can no longer glide back to its comforting safety! Soon there were lots of Silver Badge pilots and the Gold Badge was created. It is much more difficult. Besides the same requirements as the Silver, it requires an altitude gain of 3000 meters (almost 10,000 feet) and a crosscountry flight of 300 kilometers—not quite 200 miles. Robert Kronfeld was the first pilot in the world to win a Gold. But because Kronfeld was a Jew, Hitler had the numbering system changed to show that an Aryan was number one! Kronfeld was subsequently to die doing flight testing for England during WWII. Later a Diamond Badge was created which it was thought only a handful of pilots would ever win. Our Johnny Robinson won the first World Diamond Badge. The first National Contest in the U.S. was held on Harris Hill at Elmira, New York in the summer of 1930, and similar contests were hosted there annually till well after WWII. Most of the competing gliders were low performance utilities, but there were some beautiful high-performance sailplanes too–either imported from Europe or designed and built here by great American designers such as William Hawley Bowlus, Harland Ross, and Gus Briegleb. The contests differed from those we hold today. The pilots received points for duration and altitude, as well as for distance, and carried sealed barographs—a sort of clock-driven recording altimeter—to prove how high they went and how long they flew. Ironically, barographs are now again being required in U.S. contests, but this time to prove that the pilots have not gone high enough to violate controlled air space. A bit of our continuing loss of freedom! Those early contests were a true competition only between a handful of top pilots– Richard DuPont (president of the Soaring Society and scion of the famous DuPont family), Chet Decker, Johnny Robinson (a California welder), and a very Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

Fred Porter is captured flying his Stan Hall designed Hall Cherokee II glider above the Columbia River at Richland, Washington. Circa 1960s.

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few others. Handsome and charming Peter Riedel, who had flown in the first Wasserkuppe meet in 1920, was–in the late thirties–Air Attache at the German (Nazi) embassy in Washington, D.C. He went around the country with a high-performance German twoplace sailplane, winning friends and giving rides and demonstrations, and of course reporting back on visits to our airplane factories. He also flew in our Nationals, and won with monotonous regularity, but could not be crowned American Soaring Champion, a title that usually went to DuPont. Peter says that in those days there was no such thing as a pilots’ meeting, or a rest day. One simply came to the airport, launched when one felt it was time, and flew as far away as possible. After landing, the pilot telegraphed or telephoned in, got on the train, and returned to Elmira–sleeping en route. Meanwhile his loyal crew retrieved the glider, brought it back and assembled it so the rested pilot could fly again the next day. Total miles flown was what won. There was prize money in those days, which helped these Depression-era competitors to meet expenses; now there is none–because of concern that it would jeopardize the amateur status of American pilots when competing abroad. As a result, soaring is now one of the purest and least commercialized of all sports. While these things were going on in the big world of American soaring, my friends and I in Texas were building and preparing to fly our humble primary glider. A very able and outstanding man named Lewin Barringer was running the SSA (Soaring Society of America) and publishing Soaring magazine from an office in D.C. I wrote to him about our plans and progress. He responded, and shared with us his theory that long flights could be made over flat country, and told us of his plans to come to Texas to test this premise. He brought DuPont’s Minimoa sailplane— one of the greatest of Wolf Hirth’s many designs—to Wichita Falls, Texas and spent the month of April, 1938 there. Some of us in our glider club borrowed a father’s car and drove there to meet him. Although we were only high school kids, he treated us as if we were equals and spent most of the day with us. Although it was not a promising soaring day, he had the Minimoa brought out of the hangar, was launched with the DuPont winch (a truck-mounted device which launched gliders by pulling in a mile of rope, much like a giant fishing rod reel). He flew in and out among the rain showers for a half hour or so and we thought it the most beautiful sight we had ever seen. And it was! The Minimoa was one of the most beautiful gliders ever built. It featured gull wings, bent sharply down halfway to the tips like those of a gull. It was built of birch plywood and finished with clear varnish. The aft portion of the wings and the control surfaces were covered with fabric and clear dope and were translucent, and about the same color as the blond birch plywood. One could see the outline of the ribs and internal wing structure when it flew overhead. The whole aircraft was waxed and polished to a high gloss. It was indeed one of the most beautiful things made rcflyernews.tumblr.com

by the hand of man. And its flight seemed pure poetry. Barringer then took us to his motel room and showed us movies of soaring. Later that day we visited the shop where Harland Ross was building a similar aircraft, the Ross Ibis, for the Soaring Society. Ross was a Wichita Falls native and aeronautical engineer who had made a name for himself in the California aircraft plants and who was to leave a large mark on the development of soaring. We considered both men as heroes and as middleaged, though they were really quite young. Before he left Texas, Barringer proved his point and established a new U.S. distance record–212 miles—from Wichita Falls to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The following year, the Wichita Falls chamber of commerce hosted a soaring contest to attract the California soaring pilots (and provided them some welcome prize money) on their way to compete in the ‘39 Elmira Nationals. Skiles and I took the primary there, as our entrance card, and entertained onlookers while the competition pilots were off on their cross-country flights. We got to meet some famous pilots and to examine some beautiful gliders, including the Zanonia, a twin of the Ibis and which was later to be used by Johnny Robinson to win many contests and records. Before the meet was over, Woody Brown raised the U.S. distance record to 290 miles with a goal flight to Wichita, Kansas. He did this in a beautiful, but fairly low-performance, Baby Bowlus sailplane. Skiles and I had the thrill of participating in the victory parade that greeted his return to Wichita Falls. Soaring was finally freed from the mountains and could now be done most anywhere in our broad country. Not long after this the United States entered World War II, and most recreational soaring and other private flying ceased for the duration. Because Germany had used glider-borne troops in their invasion of Crete, the Allies launched a big glider program and most of America’s glider community, including my friend Skiles, were drawn into it. Some helped to design, build and test the huge cargo gliders while others trained pilots to fly them. The military glider program was a major effort, and gliders played a role in the invasion of Europe and in Burma, but not terribly successfully–parachutes and helicopters proved to be more practical. It cost the lives of many fine people, including Lewin Barringer and Richard DuPont. I rate their loss as one of the several major tragedies of American soaring. Northwest Soaring Pioneers Little did I realize, when I was a high school and college student in Texas, that I would some day live and fly in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. But I had already read in Soaring magazine of the colorful exploits of two Washington soaring pioneers, and their deeds had fired my imagination. One was (at this writing still is) Yakima’s Mr. Charles McAllister. The other was Cloyd Artman, a farm boy who lived at Oroville, up near the Canadian border. They, and a handful of others, started gliding around 1930 with Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History primary gliders; and Artman did things with his primary which no one would have believed possible. McAllister Early in the twenties, young McAllister and his brother resolved to enter aviation and took the entire course of instruction at the legendary Tex Rankin’s flying school near Vancouver, Washington. McAllister then opened, in 1926, his McAllister Flying Service on the Yakima airport, and is still operating there today (1990), aged almost ninety. Soon after moving to Washington I visited Yakima to meet McAllister. I found a small, slender man in immaculate white coveralls who stood very straight and who was modest and unfailingly polite and courteous. He had a mustache and the look of an airman in his eyes. The “ready room” at his flying service–his home away from home–was a warm and hospitable place with a fireplace, coffee always on, and with the walls covered with photographs of airplanes and gliders. Any newcomer who came in was always introduced to all who were there. Other Northwest flyers and flight instructors considered him an “instructor’s instructor” and it was said that–except for the War–no one he had taught to fly had ever been killed in an aeroplane. Much of what we know about the early days of motorless flight in Washington has been recounted by Charlie, and by Prater Hogue–who lives in retirement in Ellensburg. Very early in the thirties, McAllister built a beautiful sailplane, the Yakima Clipper, which resembled a German Darmstadt sailplane but was his own design. In 1933 he made an official attempt, at Badger Pocket near Ellensburg, to better the World duration record. He launched early in the morning and flew all day and was prepared to fly through the night—bonfires had been laid to guide him along the ridge in the dark. But near dusk he came down low at the request of a newspaper photographer. At that moment the wind died and he had to land. He was unable to get it all together—official observers, helpers, etc.—for another attempt. But he made many other flights in the Clipper, including a flight from Yakima to the Richland area. The Clipper now occupies a place of honor at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Artman Artman must rank as the most colorful person that American soaring has ever produced. In 1930 he built a primary glider and taught himself to fly. Because he was very poor, he used butcher paper rather than fabric on the tail surfaces. In his words, he “learned the game by the trial-and-error method, which was hard on both him and his equipment.” It is said that he used up three sets of wings learning to fly, and that one early flight ended after dark in a gully, with one wing on each bank. He learned to fly extremely well, however, and his exploits have become legendary. Primary gliders aren’t supposed to soar, but Artman’s did–using the updrafts on Mt. Hull, WA near the little family farm. One flight lasted thirteen and a half hours, and ended just before midnight. Some launches were with a 26

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“shock cord” made from old inner tubes; at other times he would have his sister Audrey tow him aloft with the family Model-T Ford. He would take along his lunch and his trumpet, and would amuse himself playing the trumpet while he flew. When he was ready to land, he would play a particular tune, “The Double Eagle” to signal Audrey. If it was after dark, he would land by the headlights of the car, which they would then use to tow the glider back to its storage shed. Later he developed a truly unique launch method–a greased board on top of a car. The glider was put on this inclined board and the car positioned at the edge of a cliff. When Artman was ready, he released the glider, slid down the ramp, dove till he picked up flying speed, and then soared. Later Artman built what McAllister described as a “sailplane type;” i.e. with an enclosed fuselage like a utility glider. In this he made many long flights, including one from Wenatchee, Washington to Oroville–a distance which approximately equalled DuPont’s 156 mile National record. He tried out potential soaring sites around the state and would entertain the crowds that gathered, but didn’t fly till a hat had been passed and there were enough contributions to cover expenses. Although his utility had only one seat, Audrey would sometimes crouch in the fuselage behind him while he did consecutive loops. This must have been a crowd pleaser! Finally, late in the thirties, he entered Washington State University at Pullman to study engineering and was a leader in the glider club there. He reported in Soaring on a meet held at nearby Steptoe Butte, a cinder cone that rises 1200 feet above the rolling Palouse farming country in eastern Washington. A road spirals to the top of Steptoe and it is crowned with a small park and a commanding view. Artman considered it ideal because some side of the mountain always faced the wind, regardless of its direction. Over forty hours were logged there with three primaries. The end came not long after, and ironically in the first glider Artman flew that was designed by “experts.” They were a professor and some aeronautical engineering students at the University. It was a twoplace, low wing and strut braced–with the struts in compression. Cloyd and Frank See, Audrey’s fiancé’, were launched in it from a 2000-foot cliffs above the Snake river. When they hit the updraft, the wings folded and they plummeted to their death. It was sadly a triple tragedy! Audrey had lost both her brother and her intended. Soon her mind began to go and she spent most of the rest of her life in a mental hospital. Others While these things were taking place in Washington, across the border in Oregon, optometrist brothers Fred and Sam Chambers, “Pete” Peterson, and several others built a primary and began in 1929 flying it from Mt. Scott and other hills around Portland. Later Fred and Sam designed a secondary for the club, a graceful design which bore a striking resemblance to the later Wolf sailplane. Many flights, but little real soaring was done with both aircraft. A fatal accident twitter.com/rcflyernews


Fred Porter flying his N1374 experimental Hall Cherokee glider.

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History

In those early days, most of the glider operations were flown out of Vista Airfield in Kennewick, WA. Kennewick adjoins Richland to the south. Here, Eric Greenwell is captured taking off is his Ka-6 glider. 28

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History with the primary and the deepening Depression brought their activities to an end. Years later, when Sam Chambers was over sixty, he learned to fly an airplane, and put it on floats so he could commute to his summer place on the Willamette river south of Portland. Much later he was fated to become my father-in-law. He and a fellow University of California student named Smith, had flown a hang glider off the hills behind Berkeley during the 1906/07 school year. Before he died a few years ago, aged very nearly 100, that early hang glider flight may well have qualified this indomitable man as the then oldest living glider pilot in the United States. The onset of World War Two rang down the curtain on Northwest soaring. When soaring resumed in the Northwest over a decade later, it was with an entirely new cast of characters, and the colorful pioneers were little more than a shadowy memory. Richland Glider Club Not long after I moved to Richland to do science work for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, I met Al Withrow, a fellow Texan who was also a flying enthusiast and who was to become a close friend. Unlike me, Al–a mechanical engineering graduate from Texas A&M (“Cow College”)–was an outgoing, gregarious, optimistic, “wheeler-dealer” type of Texan, truly a Type-A personality. We decided in early ’49 to form a glider club and conned ten or twelve others into joining us, with each of us putting fifty dollars into the venture. A large number of two-place training gliders had been built for the military during WWII. These were fairly good sailplanes and were available on the surplus market at give-away prices. We decided to get a Schweizer TG-3, largely because it was available for only $400–from Dr. Allaby, a physician/ pilot in Denver who had bought two from the government but only needed one himself. He kindly agreed to let us have the other at his cost. Al and I set off for Denver over a long weekend to get it. Al’s lovely wife, Chris, and their four small and very active (but well behaved) girls decided to go along–all seven of us in the Withrow’s small, two-door Ford sedan. Al had removed the rear seat and replaced it with a mattress. We three adults took turns driving and sleeping. On arrival in Denver, Chris “discovered” that she wasn’t all that far from Texas, so we put Chris and the girls on the train for a visit there; and Al and I collected the glider and headed for home, taking turns driving and sleeping, as was customary when we went to distant glider contests in those days. The glider was in brand new condition–test flown at the factory but never used by the military, practically a “virgin.” It was completely instrumented in both cockpits and came with a sturdy, factory-built trailer. Its wingspan was 54 feet, with a claimed glide angle was 24 to 1 (not bad for that time), but it was heavy–840 pounds empty–and the wing panels were back breakers, as we were to be reminded every time we assembled it. It took a big crew of people to put it together. 30

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While we had been forming our club in Richland, some Boeing engineers had formed a similar club– the Cascade Soaring Society–in Seattle, also with a surplus TG-3. An airport with very long runways—7000 feet—had been built near Ellensburg, Washington during the war and was now operated as a municipal airport. It was not far from where McAllister had made his duration record attempt and seemed as if it should be a dandy place for glider operations. We agreed to meet our Seattle friends there for a week-long “meet” and for “Kit” Carson—a member of the Cascade club and a veteran of the war-time glider training program—to test our bird. It flew quite well. Some of us even got rides in it. Al, president of our club, was the only one of us with an airplane pilot’s license, and he decided, unilaterally, that we should spend most of our first season helping him get his Commercial Glider rating, and that he would then serve as instructor for the rest of us. In those days Commercial Glider Pilots could legally instruct; don’t ask me why. After two days, though, the wind began to blow, as it very often does in Ellensburg where air from across the Cascades funnels through Snoqualmie pass on its way to the Columbia Basin. For days we couldn’t fly and Al began to develop a bad case of cabin fever. Finally he couldn’t stand it any longer, so he suggested that he and I rent an aeroplane and fly out to the end of the valley–where McAllister had made his record attempt–and test the slope soaring. I listened to the wind howl and the hangar doors bang and had no enthusiasm for this. I am a coward, afraid of many things–bullies, big dogs, snakes, assertive women, high places, etc. But, according to our Anglo-Saxon code of behavior, it is better to be dead than “chicken”, so I reluctantly agreed. There was no plane to rent at Ellensburg, and I thought I was saved. But, Al found one–a low-powered Cub–at the nearby little town of Kittitas. With all that wind, the plane got off the ground smartly. but then it wouldn’t climb. It was doing its best, with the engine running full out, but it just couldn’t get out of the ground effect. Al , a roly poly fellow, must have weighed 230 or 240 pounds, and I was heavier then than I am now. I pointed out to Al that we weren’t climbing, but he said “no problem”, that the slope lift would soon elevate us. With the tail wind, we got to the end of the valley in a hurry and finally climbed slightly above the top of the hill. But Al failed to crab enough into the wind, and we were swept over the hill and into the down draft on the back side. We were now below hill top. I pointed this out to Al, but he said “no problem”, we would just fly around the hill and get back on the up-wind side. But there was no going around. We were in sort of a box canyon, too narrow to turn in and with the ground coming up faster than we could climb. A crash seemed inevitable, and I was going to have a good view since I was riding in the front seat—Cubs, like biplanes, were generally piloted from the rear seat. In those days I wore rimless spectacles. I had read that one should remove them before crashing–to save the eyes–so I did. But the crash didn’t come. At the last twitter.com/rcflyernews


moment Al hauled back on the stick and sat it down the time. We hardly ever got a soaring flight, unless a on the steep hillside. We quickly exited the airplane, thermal was waiting right at the end of the runway. We chocked the wheels, and tied the struts to sage bushes had lots of cable breaks and unplanned emergency with our belts, so it wouldn’t slide downhill. Al went off landings. We got very competent at handling these to reconnoiter. and at landing right on the end of the runway ready for He finally returned and reported that he had the next tow, without having to push the heavy glider found a grassy slope facing down into the wind from around. We logged lots of flights and got lots of good which he could take off–leaving me behind to walk landing practice, but not many hours. out–if we could move the plane a mile or so around Over the Memorial Day weekend in 1950 we hosted the hillside to his “air strip.” We labored and sweated the Northwest’s first postwar soaring contest. Young most of the afternoon moving the airplane, and I was Joe Robertson and several other members of the apprehensive about what he proposed to do. I thought Cascade Soaring Society brought their TG-3. Young of Chris and of those darling little girls and tried to talk University of Washington professor Bob Joppa and him out of it, but without success. As we were turning his partner, Boeing engineer Dean Reynolds, brought the plane around to face downhill into the wind, with their LK (or TG-4, the best of the war surplus trainers). one of us holding on to each wing tip, an especially Bob Fisher, a farmer near Washtucna, WA brought his; strong gust picked the plane up and blew it over onto and Roland Lamb, Cessna dealer in Spokane brought its back, damaging it severely. Al was a good Christian two, one for him and one for his customer, Air Force (I am not); perhaps God sent that gust to save Al from Sgt. Lester Rose. After the war, Lamb had bought three his folly? At this point we both began the long walk LK’s, used one himself and for several years had two out. There was a somewhat strained session with the available for rent at Spokane’s Felts Field. Lamb also owner that evening, and Al and I agreed to pay for the brought a powerful 85 hp Luscombe towplane and damage. Though it was Al’s idea, and I hadn’t touched Kit Carson brought the winch he had constructed the controls, I paid half–a month’s salary. In retrospect, from a surplus barrage balloon winch. The Civil Air perhaps we should have simply bought the damaged Patrol cadets turned out in force, and in uniform, to plane and had it repaired, at least we would then have manage radio communications, crowd control, and owned an aeroplane. Or maybe owning a plane with push gliders around as needed. The event was well Al wouldn’t have been such a good idea! publicized and a big crowd turned out to watch. The Training continued in the Tri-Cities the rest of weather cooperated and lots of flying was done. the year and the next spring, all by automobile tow. Since the winch and towplane were to be used Thanks to my earlier experience in Texas, I was able to for most of the launches, Al decided that he would check out rather quickly and found the TG-3, despite represent our club in the contest and that the rest of its size, to be very pleasant to fly. The spoilers, which us would crew for him. On the last, and best, day of operated from both the top and bottom of the wings, the contest Bob Fisher announced that he would fly to were particularly effective and made precise landings Sand Point, Idaho and did–the Northwest’s first Gold easy. We operated at first from the Pasco airport—Al distance flight, a notable achievement. Sgt. Rose made felt that we had a legal right to use any public airport. We were soon “invited” to go elsewhere–some TG-4A hangared in a museum. airplane owners can become very emotional if one leaves a tow-wire on a runway and it gets wrapped around their airplane’s landing gear or propeller. We subsequently transferred operations to Vista Field near Kennewick, an WWII auxiliary Navy training airfield, which was virtually deserted. For launching we used anybody’s car whose transmission hadn’t yet been ruined and a thousand feet of mild-temper steel wire, with a rope weak link and a parachute on the glider end. The runways were only 3200 feet long, leaving only 2200 feet after we laid out the wire. With the heavy TG-3 we were lucky to get 400 or 500 feet of altitude, even though the tow car was running flat out in second gear all rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History Pendleton, Oregon, and Rol Lamb attempted to fly home to Spokane. He landed at Lind, and observed ruefully that “You have to be an optimist to fly these things without an engine!” Meanwhile our hero found one thermal, climbed in it, and glided to earth about twenty miles north of Pasco. We finally got word late in the afternoon and set out to retrieve him, and our glider. He had landed right in the middle of a huge fallow wheat field, with powdery dust. One would go in over one’s ankles with each step. There was no way that we could get the car and trailer to the glider, or move the heavy glider to the edge of the field. A school teacher, who taught at the one-room school on the Kahlotus road, came to our rescue and took us to find a farmer with a tractor. The farmer wasn’t home, but a ten-year-old kid was, and he brought the tractor and moved the glider to the road; and, he pointed out that Al had flown over a good landing strip on the edge of the field. We dismantled by moonlight and got home quite late. One girl was distraught that she had stood up a date, and another couple had missed a dinner party. Al wasn’t too popular that evening and even seemed a bit crestfallen and contrite, unusual for him. In July Al and I and our Seattle friends were back in Ellensburg. The fact that there might be a reason why the trees and horses there all have a permanent lean hadn’t registered on us —label us “slow learners.” The famous Ellensburg wind was again doing its stuff. It made for some great auto towing however. We hooked two or three cables together and were able– thanks to the wind and the long runway–to launch to 2000 feet or more. We were getting fifteen or twenty minutes with each flight, instead of two or three. The tow car barely crawled down the runway. After release, we could slow the glider and literally back up the length of the runway—since the wind was stronger than our minimum flying speed. Then we’d put the nose down steeply and inch forward to land on the threshold of the runway, ready for the next tow. It was

great fun, and Al and I were taking turns. Al made it clear he wasn’t getting enough air time to suit him, so he suggested that we fly with each other. I preferred to fly alone, but he got into the back seat, and criticized my flying. Then it was my turn to get apprehensively into the back. It was late in the day, and Al was going to land near the hangar to put the glider away for the night. All went well till we arrived high over the hangar and Al perceived that a group of spectators was watching. Al loved an audience! He also discovered that, by just matching his flying speed against the wind, he could sit over a spot in front of the hangar and slowly sink straight down–like a helicopter. He thought that would be very impressive to the onlookers, most of whom were mere power pilots. But Al forgot that the hangar would deflect the wind. From hangar-top level the bottom fell out (no pun) BANG onto the concrete. The nose didn’t drop nor did it spin, it just pancaked straight down. We impacted with tremendous force. The bottom of the fuselage was flattened, both seats broke under the great G loads, the wheel was pushed up into the back seat with me, and the compression of air in the fuselage popped the fabric along both sides. We finally crawled out and lay on the ground trying to get our breath and wondering why we hurt inside—I passed blood for several days and assumed I would die, so didn’t bother to see a physician. The Richland Glider Club was mortally wounded! The Arlington School of Aviation repaired the glider for us through the winter as a classroom project, and charged us only the cost of materials. By then Withrow had left Richland–to help General Electric build a nuclear reactor somewhere. The other members had lost their taste for gliding and asked me to find a buyer for the glider. It went to Montana, and was eventually consumed in a hangar fire. I was the only one to continue soaring—slow learner….

Dragonfly and the ‘Air Knocker’ While the TG-3 was in the hospital I acquired a glider of my own, seemingly a terrific bargain. It was an engineless Nelson Dragonfly. Ted Nelson, a California genius and long-time soaring enthusiast, had made a lot of money during the war with one of his inventions, the Nelson stud welder, which was widely used in building Liberty ships. After the war, Ted decided that the soaring movement needed a motor glider or self-launching sailplane, and attempted to fill this void. Ted designed and built a reliable four-cylinder, two-cycle engine for the bird and contracted for William Hawley Bowlus to design and build the airframes. Not surprisingly, the result–termed the Bob Moore captured climbing into his Dragonfly, which was engineless. 32

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Aeronca Champion - “Air Knocker”

Dragonfly–looked a lot like the popular Baby Bowlus, only bigger and with an engine. It had a pod-andboom fuselage, with the engine mounted, pusherfashion, at the back of the pod. It seated two people side by side—giving the pod somewhat the look of a pregnant cow—and had strut-braced wings, much like the Baby, but featured an elegant, retractable, tricycle landing gear. Construction was of mahogany plywood and the workmanship was impeccable. A beautiful aircraft, but it didn’t fly very well. The rate of climb under power was marginal and the engine tended to over heat. Although a lot of money was consumed and a number were built and licensed, Nelson decided not to put them on the market. Later he “fired” Bowlus, teamed up with Harry Pearl, and the two created the highly successful Hummingbird, but that is another story. Harry Clark Higgins, a Boeing Company aerodynamicist, had once worked for Nelson and learned that Ted was about to haul three of the aircraft to the San Francisco dump. Harry persuaded Ted to let us buy them. I got one, Harry and Mark Kirchner took one, and Kit Carson the third. Nelson was adamant that he wouldn’t sell us an engine, but that we could add a tow hook and fly them like a regular sailplane if we wished. He somehow came up with the odd and incredibly low price of $263, which included a customrcflyernews.tumblr.com

built trailer! Al Withrow had a beautiful stainless steel release fabricated for me in one of the maintenance shops he managed out at the Hanford plant (a practice euphemistically called “Government work”), and I faired in the place where the engine should have been. The Spokane CAA office was cooperative in licensing the modified aircraft. Performance was disappointing, and the fact that I was low on the learning curve as a soaring pilot didn’t help. The wide fuselage created a lot of drag at high speed–it lacked spoilers, but didn’t

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History need them; one just pointed the nose down and it went down. And, the retractable landing gear was tricky. Fortunately Ted had sent along a lot of spare parts. Initial tests were by automobile towing. Things went fine with only me on board, once I learned how tricycle-geared aircraft are to be landed. Then I tried a dual flight, with my boss, Gene Voiland, a wartime B-17 pilot, as my passenger. We released from tow and came down at 60 mph clear to the ground, with the stick all the way back. The gear somehow survived that landing. Tail ballast was indicated. Some large lead washers were fabricated (more “Government work”), which could then be bolted on whenever I carried a passenger. That worked better, but the summer was wearing on, and I still hadn’t succeeded in catching a thermal from auto tow. Aerotow was clearly what this aircraft required. About that time I met a young man named Edward L. Erickson, a Hanford accountant who hated his job but loved to fly. Ed suggested that if I would help him buy an aeroplane, he could then tow me. So we purchased a 65 hp Aeronca Champion, often affectionately called an “Air Knocker,” a two-place light-plane similar to a Cub. At that time one could buy airplanes very cheaply; the expected post-war aviation boom failed to materialize, and small planes were a

drug on the market. We paid only $400 for ours. I had never made an aero-tow as PIC (pilot in command) and Ed had never towed a glider, so we checked each other out. A 65 hp Aeronca is grossly under powered for this job, particularly with the heavy Dragonfly and its built-in drag. The attempt was a near disaster. We did the experiment from Vista Field, whose surroundings were fortunately wide open in those days, and used a very long manila tow rope— nylon was new and too expensive–on the assumption that the farther the glider and airplane were apart the easier and safer it would be. We did get off the ground but had trouble getting out of the ground effect, and the rope hung down so far that I feared it would catch on the sage brush. We were in a pickle and flew miles over the desert trying to get high enough to come back—we lacked radio in those days and had no direct communication. Memory may be playing a trick on me if I say that we flew under a power line. Finally we were able to return high enough for me to release and land. Switching to a flatter-pitch, climbing propeller helped, but not a lot. However, Ed and I each built up time, and I had a few soaring flights–Ed would tow me into a thermal and I would release and gain a few thousand feet, but generally could not find another. I was beginning to worry that I might be a “onethermal” pilot. At the season end, I sold the Dragonfly.

Bob Moore poses with his Schweizer 2-22A two-place glider, which was often flown in lift at Wenatchee’s famous slope soaring site. 34

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Schweizer 2-22 and Slope Soaring After selling the Dragonfly, I needed a replacement glider. Glen La Moreaux, who had a flight service at Prosser, Washington, became a Schweizer dealer shortly after the war and offered glider instruction for a while. But it proved to be an unprofitable, laborintensive operation with his employees spending a lot of time running wing tips, chasing tow ropes and retrieving the glider when some customer landed it off the airport. His two-place Schweizer 2-22 was for sale, so I bought it. The 2-22 was Schweizer’s answer to the post-war need for a two-place trainer. The 2-22, and the 2-22E and the 2-33 which evolved from it, were to prove the backbone of the American training fleet for decades. It resembled a utility–high wing and strut-braced–but seated two pilots in tandem. The rugged fuselage was built of steel tubing and the wings of aluminum alloy, all fabric covered. There were small spoilers on the upper surface of each wing. A molded Plexiglas canopy surrounded the pilot, who sat in front. The passenger rode behind the pilot, under the leading edge of the wing, and his “windows” lacked glass, this was changed in later models. It had a light wingloading and soared quite well. Meanwhile Erickson and I had bought a replacement towplane, a Myers OTW biplane, which worked much better than the poor Air Knocker. With the lovely 2-22 and tows with the Myers, I was beginning to have some soaring success. In just a few months, before my affair with the 2-22 was abruptly ended, I doubled my total flying experience! Although most soaring was now done by circling upward in thermals, old-fashioned slope soaring sounded as if it would be fun and restful–and a good way to build up time. So, we in the Richland Glider Club had searched for a suitable site–where a ridge faced the prevailing wind, and there was a place nearby for launching and landing. We studied maps and cruised the countryside, in vain. Finally I asked Charlie McAllister. Without hesitation he said, “Go to Wenatchee”, and told us that it was probably the finest slope-soaring site in the country. Charlie and others had often flown there in the early days, camping out on the top of the ridge and launching from there with shock cord or with Artman’s greased board. Withrow borrowed a plane and we flew up to see. It appeared to be all that Charlie had said. Wenatchee, Washington is located where the Cascade Mountains meet the broad Columbia Basin. The Columbia river flows from north to south between the two and, in ancient times, carved a deep canyon or valley. The prevailing westerly winds blow across the river and against the tall basalt cliffs on the east side. These picturesque cliffs tower over a thousand feet high and extend for more than twenty miles. There are two airports within easy gliding distance near the river. Pangborn, the municipal airport, honors Clyde Pangborn, a native son who was the first pilot to fly non-stop across the Pacific. The other, privately owned, was Fancher Field. We landed there and were rcflyernews.tumblr.com

met by a pleasant elderly man, Kenny Patton (maybe 50 years old). One of the co-owners, he said that we would be welcome to fly there and that he would put a tow hitch on one of his Super Cubs to tow us. Fancher Field was to become Washington’s most popular soaring site for over twenty years. Our TG-3 died before we got to take it to Wenatchee, and I didn’t get there with the Dragonfly, but I wasted no time in taking the 2-22. During those visits I had some beautiful and enjoyable flights and introduced a number of people to soaring—by then I was a licensed private glider pilot and anyone who dared could legally ride with me. One memorable passenger was Johnny Owens, a very enthusiastic and joyful young man, a war veteran, who lived up at Omak, Washington and who aspired to add gliding to his list of hobbies. Sadly, a few years later he would be severely injured in a crash and crippled for life. We had a ball that day and were aloft almost five hours. About half way through the flight, Johnny’s bladder began to pain him. But he told me not to land; instead he removed his boot, urinated in it, and then held it out the open window and emptied it! My most memorable slope-soaring flight though, was very nearly my last. It was the 4th of July of 1952. I had trailered to Wenatchee that morning (a five-hour drive in those days), assembled the glider (a lengthy process because it involved a lot of nuts, bolts and cotter pins), and then took a friend for a ride. He got sick after an hour and a half, so I landed and let him out. It was lunch time and I was tired, but I skipped lunch–too eager to get back in the air. Perhaps it would yet be possible to fly five hours for the Silver Badge duration? It wasn’t to be. I made a few passes along the ridge, but the wind was dying. On the last pass I hit sink where previously there had been lift. I turned toward the valley, too late. The right wing brushed the guard wire of a power line that led up to a Forest Service lookout on the end of the ridge. The cable sawed through the leading edge of the wing, about where the strut connected. I got free of the wire and tried to glide to the valley, but the aircraft was not controllable. The outboard section of wing cocked up at an angle, and the glider peeled off to the left and dove straight into the hillside. I watched in fascinated horror as the airspeed needle went around the dial, estimated where we would impact, and thought, “What a silly way to die!” When the dust had settled, I was surprised to find that I was still alive. The fuselage had been demolished almost back to the seat, both wings had broken forward, the seat belt had broken, and I had shattered the canopy with my face. I hurt, was bleeding here and there, and had lost one shoe. But I “knew”, since I could wiggle my toes, that nothing was broken—wrong! The lookout saw the accident and came down to help, and Highway Patrol transported me to the hospital. The surgeon told me cheerfully that the ankle would bother me the rest of my life. He was right. I attribute my survival to the strength of the 2-22 and the concern of the Schweizer brothers for safety. They designed their fuselages Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History according to the principle of progressive failure, with each piece of material selected such that they would fail one by one–thus absorbing a lot of energy–rather than all at once. For a long time after the accident, I was nervous about flying close to the terrain—still am to some degree. But I have since spent many, many happy hours soaring at Wenatchee, a particularly beautiful place to fly where one can ride the ridge while looking down on the Columbia and across at the Cascades. It was from there that I made one of my longest flights, which stood as a Washington State record for almost thirty years. It was also at Wenatchee that I found wave and made the Northwest’s first Diamond altitude gain. About 1970, we got our fiberglass sailplanes and were concerned about chipping caused by pebbles thrown up from the gravel runway by the towplanes. We stopped going there. Fancher Field has changed hands a time or two since and may even no longer be an operable airport—it is no longer shown on the aircraft charts. But many fond memories are associated with our years there, with Kenny Patton and his partner and the kind elderly couple who ran a little restaurant there and fed us. Is Soaring Safe The reader may have formed an opinion by now. In the old days, when I was young and an enthusiastic

missionary for soaring, I always answered emphatically in the affirmative and pointed out all the reasons why gliding was safe. Thus, gliders are very strong, they can land almost anywhere, we fly only in good weather, there is no gasoline to catch fire if one did crash, etc., etc. Flying is definitely more difficult than driving a car, contrary to what some flying schools and hungry flight instructors may tell the public. It is done in an unfamiliar medium that is invisible and usually in motion; it is done in three dimensions rather than two; and it is an activity for which our ground-based instincts ill prepare us. In the air what seems safe may be dangerous, and vice versa. Nor can one pull over to the side of the road and think things over if one gets confused; if one slows up too much–to below that particular plane’s stalling speed–most aircraft will stop flying and fall out of the sky. Any normal person can learn to fly, but it is definitely not as easy nor as natural as learning to drive a car, and this makes for a greater potential for accidents. Flying requires more concentration than driving and one must be in top physical and mental condition. I may have a social cocktail or two at a party and then drive home, but I absolutely do not drink and then fly. Over the years I have lost so many friends and acquaintances in glider accidents, that I now tell questioners that gliding is dangerous, and then

Bob’s Fleet Kinner biplane that was used for recreational flying as well as glider towing. Check out the landing gear and tires! 36

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qualify the answer. Gliding is a risk sport, in a league with mountain climbing, scuba diving, white water kayaking, and deep ocean sailing. If done with the proper attitude, training and equipment, those of us who do these things feel that the risks are acceptable, but even then one could still be killed. The statistics are not favorable. In recent years we have been losing ten or twelve sailplane pilots a year in the United States, about one a month. When one considers that there are only about 3500 registered gliders in the country, many of which fly very little, this is a very high–unacceptably high–incidence. I could not in good conscience induce anyone to enter soaring by telling them that it is safe. I would feel terrible if they were subsequently killed or hurt. If someone discovers the sport, I am happy to help them, and to teach them what I know. But I no longer proselytize. We can rationalize our participation in an inherently dangerous sport with the thought that we may need some risk in our lives, to sometimes gaze on the “bright face of danger.” Some psychologists feel that risk sports provide man (possibly even woman too) something for which they have an innate need. In the old days there was no lack of danger–there were Indians to fight, bears to slay, etc.–but modern man lives in a safe, sanitary, rather monotonous environment. Something may be missing that the risk sports provide and that is not to be found in

tiddlywinks or golf. If so, soaring is a good choice. And one just may be spared the distress of growing old! The Laister-Kaufmann, A Bit about Thermal Flying After loosing the 2-22, I needed a replacement. As soon as I got my leg out of the cast, I flew down to Pendleton, Oregon in my 1929 Kinner-Fleet biplane and negotiated for the purchase of the glider a young aircraft and engines (A&E) mechanic had for sale. He accepted the wreckage of the 2-22 and a few hundred dollars. Joe Robertson subsequently acquired the 2-22, rebuilt it, and sold it to a club in Victoria, Canada. It just may still be flying there. My new bird was a Laister-Kauffmann TG-4A, or LK for short. It had the reputation of being a “widow maker”, but I felt that I had graduated to something that had more performance and that was somewhat more spirited than the docile 2-22. Shortly before WWII, a bright young aeronautical engineer named Jack Laister had built a beautiful and fully acrobatic sailplane called the Yankee Doodle. When the military asked for two-place trainers, Jack redesigned it and added a second seat. The result was a compact two-place sailplane of 50-foot span that weighed only 475 pounds empty, less even than the weight of most of the single-place, 15-meter (49.2 foot) fiberglass sailplanes we fly today. Nevertheless, it was quite strong and had a very high red-line

Bob’s 1941 vintage Meyer’s OTW biplane, which he also used for both recreational flying and glider towing. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History

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Don Chamform was flying his Schweizer 1-26 glider.

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speed. The wings were straight taper, graceful, and efficient but the most expensive type to build since each rib was different. It was fabric covered, with a wing structure of wood and plywood and fuselage of steel tubing. One hundred and fifty-six were built and some are still flying. It was the highest performance of the war-surplus training gliders. Later ownermade modifications could improve the maximum glide angle from the low twenties to something approaching thirty. It was a very nice aircraft for its day, and I was to log hundreds of hours with mine and to introduce many people to soaring, and to make many of them sick by circling tightly in thermals. Today European manufacturers are producing some beautiful fiberglass two-place sailplanes of very high performance, but they are big, heavy aircraft–fine for a fixed base commercial operation, but not for a private owner who has to assemble and derig each time he flies. A few years ago I asked Jack Laister whether it would be possible to bring out an up-dated version of the LK with a modern, high-performance airfoil, but retaining the LK’s light weight and small size? He said, “No”, that the only way it could be done would be to build from wood, plywood, and steel tubing and that the hand labor would now make the price exorbitant. I took the LK to Moses Lake, Washington for the first flight. The reason was that Bob Fisher now lived near there and would give a hand. Bob and his brother, Bill, had both been power flight instructors for the Air Force during WWII, training future aces. After the war, both returned to farming, and each bought an LK. Till he moved to California a decade later, Bob was the finest sailplane pilot in the Northwest, the one that none of us could beat and a mentor to many of us. Much of what I know about thermal soaring I owe to Bob. The flight was made from the old Moses Lake airport, a gravel and grass strip on a slight rise a few miles east of town—not from the huge airport that the Strategic Air Command subsequently built just west of town and eventually turned over to Grant county. Two personable bachelor brothers, Earl and Urban Drew, ran the operation. Earl had been a meteorology officer in the Air Force and, when stationed at Spokane, had often come to Wentachee to fly with us in a Schweizer TG-2 he owned. A fine pilot, he had flown the TG-2 over two hundred miles—without a variometer! He never needed a second tow and came to be dubbed: “One-Tow Drew”. Urban, a swashbuckling type who was irresistible to women and quite different from Earl, had flown Spitfires with the British during WWII, and may possibly have been still suffering from a bit of battle fatigue. The Drews ran a shoe-string operation, Earl had even sold his TG-2 to raise money, but they had lots of optimism and expansive plans. They even tried to start a small airline, but went broke after a few years and went to work flying for the Flying Tiger Airline–I have often wondered what happened to them and whether they are still living? Their tow plane was a 75 HP J-3 Cub, not a rcflyernews.tumblr.com

lot peppier than our tired Air Knocker, but they “guaranteed” a thermal. They used a very short tow rope. As soon as the tow cleared the end of the runway, the ground dropped away a bit, and one had maybe a hundred feet of altitude. They then set off looking for a thermal. When they found one, towplane and glider circled together tightly in it till both reached release altitude. Some glider pilots found this nerve wracking; I know I always sweated profusely during the tow and was glad when I could release. I approached the test flight with some apprehension–I had heard all those stories about pilots being killed in stall/spin accidents in LKs. Although my LK had been worked over and freshly licensed by the A&E mechanic from whom I bought it, I discovered to my horror moments after takeoff that the airspeed indicator (ASI) wasn’t working at all; the needle rested on zero! Banging on it did no good. How could I know how fast I was going? In the enclosed cockpit there was no wind on my face, and I had no idea what sounds correlated with what speeds. Would we stall, spin and crash? We finally reached release altitude—till then I was too low to release and return to the airport. With Fisher watching, I couldn’t just come streaking back! So, I made a feeble attempt to work a thermal, thankfully lost it, and returned. We fixed the ASI, and I tried again. That day was the first and only time I have been so frightened that I soiled my pants. But I announced that the flight was a “piece of cake”. The next weekend I made a thermal flight, there is no soarable ridge at Moses Lake, of five hours and thirty nine minutes duration, for Silver Duration and Silver Altitude Gain, two of the three legs of the Silver Badge. In the middle of the flight, the sky clouded over for a while, cutting off the thermal-producing sunshine. I thought I might have to land, but heat from a fire at the town dump allowed us to remain airborne till the sun returned—that burning garbage sure smelled good! When I landed I was so tired that I had to be helped out of the cockpit–physically and mentally drained. And I was young then! A circling sailplane looks graceful and restful from the ground, but the pilot is working hard all the time–making continual control corrections and many decisions a minute. He may also be under considerable nervous strain. Next weekend, Fisher decided that it was time for me to go cross-country, time to be kicked out of the nest. Like first solo, this is another emotional crisis in a pilot’s development. My friend Larry Welch, a superb pilot, said that some years later he was sitting up on the ridge; i.e., ridge soaring back and forth at Wenatchee trying to get up nerve to turn down wind and go. He said he finally told himself that he had flown in the war and had been shot at and that it was silly to be afraid to fly cross-country in a glider! So he went. I, too, was afraid to leave the familiar safety of the field, but I was more afraid of Fisher’s scorn, so I went. An hour and a half later, I landed at Ritzville, forty miles to the east, met some nice and admiring people Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

Don Chamform was photographed by Bob Moore, while he was soaring his Schweizer 1-26 glider near the Alvord desert.

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History at the little Ritzville airport and told them all about soaring. One of the Drews then brought the tow plane and towed me home. A most memorable day! Most of our soaring here in the Columbia Basin is done on thermals, the most difficult type of soaring. Slope soaring is much simpler; one knows where the lift is and simply flies back and forth in front of the ridge, remembering to always make turns away from the ridge and never into the ridge! Thermals are not only generally invisible but also small and often very turbulent. They are hard to find and require tight maneuvering if one is to stay within them and to achieve the highest possible rate of climb. Fisher had pointed out and demonstrated that one must bank steeply–45 to 60 degrees–in order to stay in the narrow confines of most eastern Washington thermals. At these angles of bank, the G loads build up and one weighs almost twice one’s normal weight, which can cause strange feelings in the stomach. And, the horizon goes around at a dizzy rate–some 360 degrees every fifteen or twenty seconds. This goes on for a long time–till the glider climbs to the top of the thermal; no wonder passengers get airsick! Thermals are formed because sunshine heats the ground, which in turn heats a layer of air in contact with the ground. Eventually some of this air, which is now warmer than the air above it, starts to rise. Even at this late date, the experts still argue about the nature of thermals. Are they bubbles–like invisible hot air balloons; or are they vertical columns of rising air–like the smoke from a smokestack? Some even claim that they have a vortex structure–like an invisible smoke ring, which continually turns inside out as it rises. There may be truth in all of these theories; some thermals may fit one and some another. One uses whatever version bolsters one’s ego! In any event, sailplane pilots watch for areas of ground that they think will heat up faster, get hotter, or hold heat longer than the surroundings, areas such as sand or rock as opposed to irrigated fields. They also watch for soaring birds, rising smoke, and other gliders. Many flights have been saved by spotting seagulls or a circling hawk and joining them—it seems that they also watch us and may come to join us if we appear to have a better thermal, seemingly accepting us as a “big brother”. One also watches for cumulus clouds. Fair-weather cumulus clouds–the pretty fluffy clouds that grace summer skies–are caused by thermals and show where a thermal is, or was at least recently. As the air in a thermal rises, it expands and cools. When it cools to the dew point, it forms a cloud. If one knows the temperature and the dew point, one can easily calculate the cloud base. It is done by simply subtracting the dew point temperature from the ground-level temperature and dividing by the 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit per thousand feet that a mass of air cools as it is lifted upward. This explains why cumulus clouds are flat on the bottom and why all are at the same altitude on any particular day, at least over flat ground. In the humid eastern part of the United States, and in Europe, the clouds may be based as low 42

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as 2000 or 3000 feet, whereas here in the drier west, cloud bases of 8000 to 12,000 feet above ground are typical. If the air is too dry, no clouds will form. Then we have what are called “blue” thermals, which are much more difficult to locate. If clouds are present, a glider pilot steers from cloud to cloud, trying to pick clouds that are just forming. The life cycle of most cumulus clouds is brief–measured in minutes. It is easy to head for a good well-developed cloud and find, when one arrives far beneath it, that it is already developing a fuzzy look and that the updraft has been replaced with descending cold air. If this happens several times in a row, the glider pilot may find that their glider is sitting on the ground as they watch the clouds float by! Here in the arid west, we have another wonderful indication of thermal lift–dust devils. The largest ones can be a hundred yards or more in diameter, and each is the core of a thermal. So we also steer toward any dust devils that are within gliding distance. Fisher taught that one should note the direction of rotation as their glider approaches and enter the lift. They should then circle in the opposite direction, so the velocity vectors subtract rather than add. This type of thermal can be very exciting. The pilot has to fight to stay in the lift, the wings flop up and down and emit alarming creaking sounds, but their glider may then climb at over a thousand feet per minute, perhaps clear to cloud base–if there are any clouds. I like to think of cumulus clouds as being feminine and as resembling beautiful women; they may promise a lot but can let a man down. Dust devils, on the other hand, are a lot like us men–rather homely but thoroughly reliable! If faced with the decision when down low of going to a cloud or to a dust devil, I always pick the dust devil. I know of few other human endeavors in which one can go from the depths of depression to the heights of exaltation more quickly than while thermal soaring. When a glider pilot has gotten low over rugged, not-landable terrain, they may curse one’s self and pleads with the gods for just one thermal. If one then rolls into a boomer and watches the threatening ground fall away, the pilot’s spirit sings. True ecstasy! There is a lot more to thermal soaring than I have indicated, and good pilots never quit learning how to fly them. The best pilot is the one who can visualize the shape of the thermal and his aircraft’s location within it at all times with respect to its strongest lift, and deftly and continuously change the circling pattern to achieve the highest possible rate of climb. This takes both intelligence and lots of work (I am lazy). My friend, Rudy Allemann is one of the best, a pilot whom the rest of us are hardly ever able to out climb. Besides figuring out (while climbing) where to look for the next thermal, the thermal pilot must decide when to leave it and how fast to fly. This is not as easy as it may sound. Each type of sailplane has a series of “gaits”. There is the stalling speed, the slowest speed at which the glider can fly, typically forty knots (45 mph) or so today. There is the speed of minimum twitter.com/rcflyernews


sink, usually a bit higher than stall, which is the speed one might use in slope soaring or while circling in a thermal. And, there is the speed of best glide, the speed at which the glider will glide farthest in still air. This is typically 60 to 70 knots for a modern sailplane. But the pilot flying between thermals doesn’t fly at any of these. He’ll goes faster in order to get to the next thermal quickly and to fly as far as possible before the thermals die late in the day. But if he flies the aircraft too fast, he will waste altitude and have to spend needless time climbing back up in the thermal, or maybe even have to land. There is an optimum speed to fly. This speed depends on expected thermal strength and on sink encountered between thermals. One can calculate this speed by solving a calculus problem, but that isn’t easy to do while flying a glider! Many years ago Dr. Paul McCready, Jr. (more recently of manned flight fame) presented us an elegant solution–the McCready ring. It is marked in knots and is placed around the dial of the variometer and set to the expected thermal strength. One then simply flies between thermals at whatever speed the needle points to. This may be over a hundred knots on a good day, though one’s average airspeed might be more like 60 knots, because of the time spent circling. With our modern high-performance, “slippery” sailplanes it is sometimes possible to achieve higher cross-country speeds by not circling; i.e., by slowing up in lift and speeding up through sink. This is known as “dolphin soaring”, because of the sinuous track through the air. At this point in my soaring career, the LK was the finest and most exciting glider I had flown, and I improved it a bit more by incorporating a number of modifications that Fisher had made to his–a molded “bunny nose” Plexiglas canopy, an extended nose cone, improved fairings and seals, and elimination of any protruding bolts or bumps that caused drag. It shared certain flying characteristics with the other pre-war sailplanes, however. It also had a few unique ones of its own. These pre-war sailplanes had fairly low wing-loadings—typically four to five pounds per square foot of wing area—which was fine for slope soaring and weak lift. They also had a lot of twist built into the wings to try to tame the stall/spin problem, so that the wing tips would still be flying and the ailerons would remain effective at low airspeeds and high angles of attack. At high speeds, low angle of attack, though, the wing tips would then produce no lift, and might even cause a downward force. As a result, sinking speed went up rapidly with any attempt to fly fast. These gliders could be said to have very poor “penetration”. The idea that one should be able to fly very fast between thermals hadn’t sunk in when these gliders were designed. They also had immense control surfaces, including what might be called “barn door” ailerons. Coupling all this with long wingspan and slow circling speed—slower than today’s heavier sailplanes—gave these aircraft some interesting handling characteristics. In a tight turn, the inboard wing would be going through the air slower rcflyernews.tumblr.com

than the outer and generating less lift; consequently one had to use a lot of top aileron to hold that wing up. Meanwhile the outer wing was generating more drag, so one had to counteract that with a lot of inside rudder. Thus pilot thermal soared with a lot of top stick and inside rudder, a sure prescription for a spin in most airplanes, but it was the only way these gliders would fly. The LK had aerodynamically balanced elevators and rudder, hence very little stick or rudder “feel” or feedback, while the large ailerons were rather heavy and eventually fatigued one’s back and arm muscles. The over-size elevator was also very sensitive or “twitchy”, and the pilot could easily over control and induce PIOs (pilot induced oscillations). This was a particular problem during aero-tow, when the glider was being pulled through the air faster than it normally flew. At those times I held the control stick with both hands and braced my elbows on my thighs to avoid pumping the stick. I verified that it would spin, and that it required a thousand feet or so to recover. I found, also, that the spin would turn into a spiral dive, or “grave yard spiral”, if I waited too long. I treated the LK with respect, as one should any aircraft, or any woman. I did not try to thermal down low, and carried extra speed in the landing pattern. Mine never tried to kill me, and we had a good relationship during the six years we were together. About the time I bought the LK, my young friend Ed Erickson quit the Hanford accounting job that made him miserable, sold his car, and returned to Minneapolis to live with his parents while working on the pilot ratings he needed to start the slow climb to become an airline pilot. He made the grade, married a beautiful stewardess, had three handsome children, and retired recently as a senior Northwest Captain–a thoroughly successful and happy life. His daughter is now flying for the same airline. This left me without a tow pilot. Other pilots were afraid to fly my Fleet, so I soon sold it. I loved the Fleet, but loved soaring more, and couldn’t justify both. For a while I based my glider at Moses Lake, and drove back and forth on weekends. Later I operated it at the old Civil Air Patrol (CAP) field by the Yakima river just south of Richland, and induced various people to let me hang tow hitches on their aeroplanes. Since it was a two-place, I took lots of people for rides, and many got airsick–particularly the airplane pilots. Two power pilots even became ill before we released from tow and started to circle; perhaps they were terrified at being up in an aircraft without an engine? After the sick passenger pleaded with me to land, the volunteer tow pilot had often left, and I couldn’t fly again that day. Frustrating! I did have some fine solo flights in the LK. Three are particularly memorable. One was a flight inside a storm cloud (next chapter). Another was the July 1, 1956 final completion of my Gold Badge–with a 203-mile goal flight from Wenatchee, Washington to Orofino, Idaho (a little town on the Snake river east of Lewiston). The flight took eight and a half hours and ended at dusk. My Gold Badge was number 49 Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

The Ross RS-1 Zanonia is a single seat, gull-winged glider. It was designed and built in 1937 by Harland Ross for actor Harvey Stephens. The design was successful and won several competitions, as well as setting many records. Here it is being flown above the city of Soap Lake, WA by Herber Cloud 44

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History in the United States; today (1990) there are almost two thousand, but it was a distinction back then, and more difficult to do with the gliders of that day than with today’s fiberglass sailplanes. When I returned to work on Monday after the flight, Bill Roake had filled my office blackboard with a humorous cartoon, which included something about being seduced by that “Blue Lady in the Sky”. Since then I have often thought about the Blue Lady and still find her irresistible. A year later I made a shorter, but possibly “historic” flight–the first glider crossing of the Cascade Mountains. The flight was made from Wenatchee on September 3, 1957. The late Amos Wood, a Boeing executive and long-time soaring enthusiast, had challenged the soaring community by offering to hold a barbecue for all at his Lake Washington home when someone accomplished this feat. There is some doubt whether my flight met all of his stipulations; however, the glider group was eager for a celebration and twisted his arm. Amos was a good sport and threw a great party. I was presented a unique, handmade trophy, a chunk of Cascade granite mounted on a Sitka spruce base, with the inscription “Thermal/ Granite + Bob Moore = Victory/Cascades”. My yen for a higher performance sailplane finally won out over my love for the LK, and I sold it–to a glider club in Vancouver, British Columbia. Two of their instructors soon spun it in, fortunately without killing themselves. They hit in an irrigation ditch and both walked away, but N54571 was destroyed. Cloud Flying We have talked about slope soaring and thermal soaring. There are two other important and exciting ways to gain altitude in a glider–in clouds and in waves. Early in the history of soaring, the German pioneers discovered the powerful updrafts in some types of clouds and exploited these with enthusiasm. For a while, till Hirth discovered waves, climbing up inside a storm cloud was the only way to go really high–whether to set an altitude record, to earn the altitude legs of the coveted Gold and Diamond badges, or to win contests. But it was done at a cost, sometimes a fearful cost. Cloud flying was discovered somewhat by accident. Big cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds came drifting over the Wasserkuppe and sucked gliders up inside. The pilots returned with thrilling tales, of incredibly strong lift–thousands of feet per minute–and of lightning, ice, hail and turbulence. Some had their gliders torn to pieces, and descended by parachute. Others were not so lucky and lost their lives. Still, cloud flying became an accepted part of the soaring scene and is still practiced to some extent in Europe, where the cloud base is often low and it isn’t possible to climb comfortably high on thermals alone. If the aircraft are fitted with gyros and the pilot knows how to use them, and the clouds are chosen judiciously, it is not unduly risky. However, the practice has long been forbidden in the United States—for air-traffic control reasons—and always fell in at least a legal 46

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gray zone. In the early post-war years, Harland Ross, designer of beautiful sailplanes and no mean pilot himself, contended that instrument flight or “blind flying” in sailplanes was OK as long as one was clear of airways. Others disputed this, but I liked Ross’ interpretation and could hardly wait to outfit my LK with a gyro and give cloud flying a try. The condensation of water is what causes the strong lift inside clouds. It takes lots of energy to evaporate water (some 540 calories per gram) and this energy is returned when water vapor condenses to form cloud. This is why cumulus clouds billow or boil up on top, and why cumulonimbus storm clouds grow to such great heights. If one climbs in a thermal to cloud base and then enters the cloud, the rate of climb usually increases–because of the added boost given to the air by the release of this “latent heat of vaporization”. A large, active cloud can act like a huge “vacuum cleaner”, and itself be a source of strong lift. Well-behaved cumulus clouds are fun to enter. One may be able to gain several thousand feet, come out of the side of the cloud near the top, and then glide to the next cloud, never getting below cloud base or very low. The pilot can also enjoys some breathtakingly beautiful views up among the clouds, an entirely different ethereal world and wonderland. Before I could start my surreptitious cloud flying, I had to learn to “fly instruments”, so I equipped the LK with a battery-operated, war-surplus turn and bank indicator (T&B) and taped some yellow plastic over the inside of the cockpit canopy. With blue goggles on, one couldn’t see anything outside–it was as if it were a pitch black night. A T&B contains a gyroscope that causes a needle to move to the right or left as the aircraft turns, a little way for a slow turn and a big deflection for a fast turn. A “skid ball” in a curved tube (like a spirit level) completes the instrument. This type of instrument flying is known as “needle, ball, and airspeed”. It is not instinctive and requires a great deal of practice and self discipline. It is absolutely essential that the pilot learns to disregard instincts and the signals from their inner ear. Even some pilots won’t believe that they can’t tell up from down without instruments or visual reference, but it is true. The reason is that we have no built-in way to distinguish gravity from centrifugal force or other accelerations. Experiments have repeatedly shown that a flyer without a gyro instrument and unable to see the horizon, or some other fixed reference, will lose control of his aircraft in a matter of minutes and enter a spin or a spiral dive from which he cannot recover. So I practiced diligently “under the hood”. As soon as I thought I had the hang of it, I tried ducking into some real clouds–and found that it wasn’t as simple inside clouds as out in the clear. Once a pilot enters the gray stomach of a cloud, what one English pilot called a “monk’s cell”, one was committed and couldn’t just raise the goggles and peek; and the air in clouds could be quite turbulent, with strong updrafts and downdrafts in close proximity. It was also not unusual for ice to form on the aircraft, so you kept twitter.com/rcflyernews


The GlasflĂźgel H-201 Standard Libelle is capture soaring near huge cumulus clouds that were growing above the city of Grand Coulee, Washington. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History moving the controls and occasionally opening the spoilers or dive brakes a bit to make sure they didn’t freeze in place. It was challenging, and there was just enough hint of danger and of the unknown to make cloud flying zestful and exhilarating, like navigating white water in a kayak. At such times every fibre of your being is alive and all of life’s other problems are forgotten! My most exciting cloud experience, however, was involuntary. Some of us were flying at Wenatchee one Memorial Day and there were beautiful towering cumulus all over the sky, though the bases were rather low. There must have been a lot of instability in the air that day because, about mid-afternoon, the clouds coalesced into one huge thunderstorm covering hundreds of square miles. I had been soaring by myself in the LK near cloud base over the plateau a few miles east of the ridge when I perceived what was happening and decided that it was prudent to return to Fancher. A curtain of cloud hung down between me and the airport, so I switched on the T&B and dove into it, expecting to come out into bright sunshine on the other side. We didn’t emerge! Instead the rate of climb increased, and hail began to buffet the aircraft. Lightening flashed and one could hear thunder. Soon I lost control and the glider spun; but it continued to gain altitude, even when spinning! I would recover from one spin, and it would promptly spin in the opposite direction. I feared one of these would go over into a spiral dive, which could tear the wings off. Finally I released the controls and the glider sorted itself out. It seemed as if I had been in this monster for ages. If I had strayed to the west during this time, there might well be mountain peaks up in the cloud, too–not a comforting thought. I carefully inched the glider around to an easterly heading, away from the Cascades, and steered by compass course till we came out under the cloud–over the Moses Coulee. I slope soared along the edge till the rain passed and then landed in an alfalfa field–to be greeted there in the desert by a deep-sea diver, in canvas suit and round brass helmet! He had been working inside an inverted irrigation siphon, and had just emerged. It seemed as if I had been in cloud for an eternity, but the barograph showed that it had been twenty minutes. Meanwhile two other pilots had had similarly exciting experiences. Bob Joppa finally fell out of the storm some twenty miles to the north and landed his LK in the middle of a rain-soaked, soggy plowed field, complicating the retrieve. Heasley Entz, a cautious cool-headed type, came out near Moses Lake–far to the east. Heasley had rented a parachute that day. He said that as the flight proceeded, the chute felt more and more comfortable. His TG-2 was bright yellow, with a glistening hand-rubbed finish. At one point, he looked out at the wings and they were glowing purple with electrical discharge! He promptly bought the chute, and never left home again without it. The sailplanes we fly today are unlikely to be accidentally sucked up into storm clouds, because they can fly very fast to escape and also because 48

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they have speed-limiting dive brakes, which are very much more effective than the spoilers our early gliders used. These modern dive brakes are so powerful that one can crank a glider over into a vertical dive and not exceed its red-line speed limit. Hang gliders are another matter. It is not unusual today for hang gliders to climb to cloud base and, recently in Europe, several hang glider pilots have lost their lives when they were sucked up into cloud. After I sold the LK and bought the Schweizer 1-21, I added an artificial horizon (AH) to my panel of instruments. Mine was a military surplus J-8, operated from a motorcycle storage battery. An AH makes cloud flying much simpler than a T&B alone, particularly for part-time amateur instrument pilots. Like the T&B, it contains a gyroscope but the readout is different. There is a little airplane symbol on the dial and, also, a horizon bar. When the aircraft climbs, the little plane rises above the horizon; when you dive, it moves below the horizon. When one banks, the horizon bar banks too–always staying parallel to the real horizon. Should the pitot that operates the airspeed indicator ice up, as can easily happen on a glider in cloud, one can maintain a safe airspeed by holding the little airplane at a pre-determined distance below the horizon–another advantage of the AH. I continued to occasionally climb in clouds, as long as I was well off the airways and confident that no other gliders were doing the same thing. Most of these were “routine”, but a couple stand out in my memory because they weren’t quite routine. Once the 1-21 and I were happily climbing up inside a big cloud somewhere between Richland and Yakima. My log book indicates that it was during a contest, so gyros must have still been permitted in competition flying at that time—now they are forbidden by the SSA. All was going well and I had climbed perhaps a mile in cloud when “all Hell broke loose”, figuratively speaking. We found later the push-pull rod that operated the right aileron had come disconnected. How that could happen, and how I could be dumb enough to let it happen twice during the years I owned the 1-21, is something we won’t go into here. This caused the aileron to flutter and the wings to flop up and down like a bird trying to take off. Meanwhile it felt as if we were driving through chuck holes, and the metal glider emitted loud and alarming sounds. Was it going to come apart? Should I jump? One hesitates to abandon an aircraft that cost a year’s salary, even if you’re not afraid of making a parachute jump! All of this would have been bad enough even if I hadn’t had my hands full just flying instruments, but I decided to experiment a bit. I found that if I pulled the aircraft up into a deep stall–almost quit flying–the flutter stopped. Then, if I handled the controls very gently, it would behave till a gust or some disturbance started it vibrating again. Using this technique, we got out of cloud, landed at the Sunnyside airport, and Elisabeth brought the trailer. Some time later, during a National contest at Reno, the aileron pin came out again. But this time I wasn’t in cloud and knew what to do. I limped back to Reno twitter.com/rcflyernews


and Larry Welch (my crew chief) and I figured out how Wonderful Schweizer 1-21 it came out and made a modification so that would Right after World War II, Paul and Ernie Schweizer never happen again. decided that the United States soaring movement Another droll cloud flying experience occurred needed an American-built, series-produced, highnear Sun Valley, Idaho. I had been soaring my performance sailplane. The result was the Schweizer Phoebus (purchased after the 1-21) over the Sawtooth 1-21, where the 1 indicates single place and the 21 Wilderness Area. The thermal day was dying, and I means their twenty first design. No pains were spared needed altitude to glide across the mountains and in making it outstanding. Construction was all metal, back to the airport, so I decided to gain some altitude except for a bit of fabric on the aft portion of the wings in a towering cumulus just to make sure. Things were and on the “flippers” and rudder. The aluminum skin going well, except for a bit of icing, when the gyros was flush riveted all over, for less drag. The wings were began to do strange things. The battery had run down. quite thin and used one of the new mathematically Fortunately we were near the top of the cloud, and I generated airfoils (23012) for much better high-speed was able to steer toward a light area and emerge into performance than the prewar sailplanes. A “first” the sunshine. As fate (or maybe justice?) would have was the incorporation in the wings of tanks for up to it, the ice on the wings spoiled the airflow to such an 300 pounds of water ballast–to allow higher speeds extent that I was soon below cloud base again–where between thermals on strong soaring days—the ballast it melted off. But we made it home. could be dumped if the lift turned weak. Double sets The last cloud-flying story is about how some of spoilers were fitted. One set opened both above birds psyched me out. Birds are not supposed to and below the wings and could be locked open at fly in clouds, though soaring pilots have reported various settings, much like modern dive brakes– seeing hawks and vultures vanish into cloud. One very useful in descending from great altitude, or in beautiful fall day I was flying my Phoebus near escaping from cloud. The other set was conventional Ephrata, Washington. The cumulus clouds that day and connected to the wheel brake. The pilot looked were unusually handsome and had great vertical out at the world from under a large, molded onedevelopment, though it didn’t appear that they would piece plastic canopy and had a great view, but a clear become cumulonimbus, so I switched on the gyros panel was also incorporated in the aft turtle deck so and prepared to have a little fun. It was also the time he could look over his shoulder–perhaps to reassure of year when the great sandhill cranes migrate south. himself that the tail feathers were still there or to see These are very large birds–larger than a Canadian whether the Red Baron was on his tail? The wings goose. Like geese, they fly in a V formation, since were straight taper and the lines were graceful and this saves energy (their wingtip vortices reinforce elegant. Although the empty weight was only 470 in such a way as to reduce total drag). When in pounds, it was perhaps the strongest sailplane ever formation they could easily be mistaken for geese, built. The red-line limit was set conservatively at a high except for their melodious, trumpet-like call, which 135 mph, and it was said, perhaps apocryphally, that a can be heard for miles. Unlike geese, they make use set of 1-21 wings had been test loaded to 14 G at the of thermal updrafts, just like a sailplane pilot flying factory, without failure. The maximum glide ratio was cross country. They will glide and flap along in V 28 to 1. formation till they encounter a thermal, then break The just-finished prototype, in the hands of Richard formation and circle upward in the thermal–sometimes almost out of sight. Then they resume their formation and continue on. I had seen flocks of sandhills earlier in the flight and had tried to get close to them. But, unlike hawks and eagles, they are shy and will scatter if approached too closely. I was now near cloud base and had picked a particularly lovely cloud, and was about to glide underneath it and start my climb, when I looked upward and saw a whole flock of sandhills emerge from the side of the cloud thousands of feet above! They had been cloud flying. I decided that was not a good day to enter a cloud–collision with one of these big, heavy birds would have done The Schweizer SGS 1-21 was a favorite of Bob’s because it neither of us any good. offered superb performance as well as durability. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History

Bob’s wife Elizabeth often crewed for him during competitions and such. He is photographed here sitting in the cockpit of his wonder Schweizer 1-21 glider, which he was able to earn a few badges and records flying.

Comey, won the National soaring contest in 1947 at Wichita Falls, Texas. During that contest, Comey made the first flight on this continent of over 300 miles, setting a new record. Schweizer was preparing to go into production, but the expected orders failed to come in. At the seemingly low introductory price of $2750, there just wasn’t enough interest. They completed one production ship, which was bought by David Stacey, a college professor in Boulder, Colorado. They then reluctantly cancelled the project. Comey’s prototype ended up in the hands of long-time soaring personality Stan Smith, who won an Elmira Nationals with it ten years later. A few years after scrubbing the 1-21, the Schweizers decided that the time was ripe for a less expensive design and produced the first 1-23. It had a shorter wing, round headed rivets, and lacked many of the refinements of the 1-21. But it sold and many were produced. Over a period of years they lengthened the wings, flush riveted and added water ballast, etc. Many years later they were up to something similar to the 1-21, but not in my opinion as pretty or as pleasant to fly. It is a great pity that they couldn’t have continued with the 1-21, and then have made a series of incremental improvements to it; I consider this one of the major tragedies of American soaring. In 1957, David Stacey donated his 1-21 to the Soaring Society of America, to be sold to help the society finance an ambitious growth plan. During the war and the years that followed, the society had limped along with part-time volunteer help, but that 50

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couldn’t continue. I had been elected a Director of the society about that time, and we decided to take the calculated risk of hiring a full-time Executive Secretary, who would run a central office and also edit Soaring magazine. Our membership stood at only 700 nation-wide. We hired a dedicated and hard-working young aeronautical engineer named Lloyd Licher and began the climb to an eventual membership of almost 20,000. But the first few years were precarious; Stacey’s gift, which was auctioned off by sealed bid, was a tremendous help. Bob Fisher and I had always admired the 1-21. With a little egging on by Bob, I submitted a bid–and then forgot about it. Meanwhile Elisabeth and I had started construction of a house, and I was also heavily involved in some pressing projects at work. One evening I got a ‘phone call from Licher, thanking me profusely for my “generous” bid (I had offered $4100, about the price of a 1-23D). The money would pay his salary for the next year. Lloyd implied that I could have offered less, and still have gotten it. As a matter of honor, I couldn’t back out, so we borrowed yet more money on the house. The 1-21 had been advertised as “like new’, very little time (only 80 hours), two-way radios, fully instrumented, modified factory trailer, etc., etc. I had a shining mental vision and pleasurable anticipations. It was late in the year and snow would soon clog the Rocky Mountain passes, so we hurried to Boulder to bring it home. We went at once with Stacey to view our acquisition, and were appalled. It had been twitter.com/rcflyernews


stored for years up under the rafters of a leaky hangar, with canopy and turtle back removed. It had been lowered to the floor for our inspection and was so covered with dust and caked-on mud that one could hardly tell what color it was. Actually it was red; Stacey had painted it himself–what Rudy Allemann calls a “stand back” paint job (looks OK if you stand back far enough). Besides the grime, the “fully instrumented” panel was a bunch of holes with wires and tubes hanging out, not what I had envisioned. We didn’t know what to say. Had I been buying it from a private individual, I would simply have left. Paul Schweizer, in New York and then President of SSA, hadn’t seen it, nor had Licher (in Los Angeles). They had advertised in good faith. Stacey stood there beaming with pride–it was beautiful in his eyes and he was being very generous to SSA. Elisabeth finally broke the silence. She noticed it had a map pocket and said, “Bob had always wanted a map pocket.” The trailer was then brought around from behind the hangar–another shock. Gliders in those days in this country were transported on open trailers, and the 1-21 had left the factory on a war-surplus TG-3 trailer–a light, rugged, quite satisfactory trailer built of welded aircraft steel tubing. But, Stacey had cut out most of the internal bracing (to lower the center of gravity), making it quite limber. It had stood out in the weather for a decade, and the airport operator had occasionally used it to transport wrecked airplanes, thereby bending it a bit. The parts of the glider wouldn’t fit properly on the bent trailer when we tried to load them, but Stacey solved that with rope and wire and bolts hastily procured from a hardware store. Then we went to his house to get the instruments and radios. He assured us that all these things were in the many boxes he loaded into our station wagon. Some of the boxes turned out to contain old plumbing fittings and other junk, and we think he may have taken that opportunity to clean out his garage! Stacey was apologetic about the radios. Radio had only recently become practical for use in sailplanes with the development of VHF (very high frequency) radios of fairly modest current drain. The state-of-theart, battery-powered model that was coming into use in gliders and retrieve cars was called a Skycrafter. I had assumed that two Skycrafters were included in the deal, not so. It seemed that Stacey was a radio ham. He pointed to two boxes and said that if I had a ham friend at home, that person might be able to assemble the various components into a workable radio for me to use in the glider, but he would recommend forgetting about the other box! I did have such a friend, and he did succeed in putting together a workable radio for use in the glider. It drew a lot of current, and I had to carry a huge storage battery in the glider, but it worked OK–till my friend died. Then I had to junk it, because commercial repair shops wouldn’t touch it. I had negotiated with SSA regarding the ground-based radio, and they bought me a used Skycrafter for use as a base station in the retrieve car. After we got home, we spread the wings and rcflyernews.tumblr.com

fuselage out on the grass in the back yard and spent several weeks scrubbing with Bon Ami to remove the grime, vacuumed copious amounts of dust and dirt out of the interior (including a hat full of mud dauber nests), blew out or replaced plugged instrument lines, and installed instruments. Finally it was ready for a test hop. This took place at Vista Field, by automobile tow. It flew and handled beautifully. I quickly came to love the 1-21. Besides a higher glide ratio than I was accustomed to, it had very superior high speed performance or “penetration”. While I had never found it profitable to fly the LK much over 60 mph, the 1-21 would cruise 80 mph between thermals–and even faster with water ballast. With the 1-21, I finally had a sailplane with which I could beat Bob Fisher–as long as he was still flying his slicked-up LK. The 1-21 and I were to win many local and regional contests and to finish in the top five or ten places of all the half dozen national contests we entered during the decade I owned it, even though the 1-21 was no longer strictly competitive by that time. We had many memorable adventures. In those days we were not nearly as limited by concerns about liability and insurance as we are today, so I let many friends fly the aircraft and share in the enjoyment of it. One day I returned from a contest flight of over five hours duration and found my friend Larry Welch looking pensive because he had nothing to fly. I offered him the 1-21, and he then flew for another five hours, landing after dark, which was legal since it was fitted with running lights. Another time, the famous German soaring pioneer, Peter Riedel, was visiting in Richland and I invited him to fly the 1-21. At that time, Peter was based in Seattle–running acceptance tests on Boeing airliners for Pan Am–and he would often come to Richland to fly with us. We were operating that day by auto tow, and not getting very high. At perhaps 300 or 400 feet, Peter released and “racked” the glider–which he had never been in before–into a steep bank and climbed away from us. We younger men watched in open mouthed amazement and marveled that such an elderly person could fly so well. He was fifty-three years old! I have many pleasant memories associated with the 1-21. Perhaps the most looked-forward-to was the completion of my Diamond Badge. While I still had the LK, I had found it is possible to wave soar at Wenatchee. The prewar pioneers, such as Charlie McAllister, appear to have encountered wave there, but didn’t understand what it was. I had found, with the LK, that one could sometimes enter wave from the ridge by climbing as high as possible on a windy day in the slope lift and then penetrating in a westerly direction up-wind out over the Columbia River to a position in the lee of Birch Mountain. If the wind were strong, there might well be wave waiting. I think this was my original discovery, though others may well believe it was theirs. I had reached over fifteen thousand feet there in the LK, but had not been able to achieve Diamond altitude, which requires a gain of 5000 meters or almost 17,000 feet. On July 12, 1958 Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History the 1-21 and I climbed in wave to 22,760 feet, for a gain over low point of about 19,000. It was the first Washington Diamond altitude flight. Many pilots have since used the Wenatchee wave to do likewise, and some have gone much higher than I did. A year later, during a Northwest regional soaring contest at Wenatchee, we were finally–after many tries–to exceed Diamond distance of 500 kilometers. It was done in a straight-out flight, not one of those wimpish triangle flights that are now permitted, and involved crossing the Bitterroot Mountains, a northern extension of the Rockies. I had often thought of such a flight and wanted a high cloud base and strong thermals over the rugged mountains east of Spokane and from there on. I also wanted a strong tail wind. On July 2, 1959 we had none of these, but we were in a contest and Open Distance had been declared, so there was little choice but to go. Near the mining town of Kellog, Idaho, I got lost and flew up the wrong valley for a while–into a roadless primitive area. That could have been an expensive and embarrassing mistake. Often I was below the tops of the mountains, but I kept going because I knew Bob Fisher–my closest competitor–was somewhere out in front. Beyond Mullen pass I had to resort to slope soaring for much of the way to Missoula, Montana. For a hundred miles or more, there had been virtually no place to land. Late in the day, and about 300 miles out of Wenatchee, a thermal from the mountain with a big M on it on the edge of Missoula provided just enough height to allow us to continue on, following the highway as it wound eastward through a narrow canyon. We finally rounded a turn, looking for a place to land, and found at Rock Creek an airstrip that was not shown on the aircraft section chart. There was also a bar, restaurant, and motel! I landed and phoned back to contest headquarters, only to learn that Bob Fisher had thought better of going into the mountains and had turned back at Coeur d’Alene! I had flown 328 miles. in 8 hrs. and 28 minutes. I celebrated with a victory drink, had a steak dinner, and went to bed. Elisabeth arrived at 2 a.m. with the trailer, we slept a while, and then began the long 400 mile drive back to Wenatchee. The flight to Montana completed my Diamond Badge, number 13 in the US (World #113). I consider it the first “All American” Diamond Badge, since the first twelve Diamond Badge pilots all went to Texas for their distance and/or to California for altitude, and Texas and California are not exactly representative of the rest of the United States! I was inordinately proud to have earned all legs of my Gold and Diamond badges here in Washington. I am also proud the Diamond was done in a sailplane that today would be considered to have only rather low performance. It is so much easier in today’s super sailplanes; American Diamond badges now number almost a thousand. Strangely, my feelings when I landed on Elliot Field at Rock Creek, Montana, were not of elation but of disappointment that the quest for the Diamond was over. The many tries had been fun, and now there 52

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seemed nothing more to look forward to completing. I owned my beloved 1-21 for a decade, logged over a thousand hours in it, and had many memorable flights and adventures, before succumbing to the lure of fiberglass and selling it to two friends here in Richland. They too enjoyed it for a long time. It hasn’t flown now for several years and sits forlornly on its trailer in a hangar gathering dust. It needs and deserves a loving restoration by someone who would cherish owning and preserving a great vintage sailplane. Radio Talk After small, battery-powered VHF radios became available for sailplanes, we all had to learn radio talk. It would never do to just talk the way one does on the telephone, or face to face. Heavens no! One must talk “professional”, like airline and military pilots and air traffic controllers. Besides talking at a fast, staccato rate, one runs the words and sentences together so no one can cut in—everyone uses the same channel, just like an old-time party line. Pilots also must use the International Phonetic Alphabet. Unfortunately the authorities keep changing this alphabet, usually to keep the foreigners happy, and I have trouble remembering whether A is Apple, Adam or Alpha? In the old days–the good old days–this information was printed on the back of the aircraft section charts which we carried with us to navigate by. These were wonderful colored topographic maps that showed the earth as it would look from high above. They contained all the information a pilot needed to navigate cross country without getting lost or into trouble. On the back was the Phonetic Alphabet, emergency procedures, and lots of other useful information. Today these maps cost almost six dollars and provide none of this dope. So, we have to remember whether B is for Baker or Bravo? We also had to learn that one doesn’t say “yes” or “no”, rather pilots must say “affirmative” and “negative”– very professional. If one, however, tires of saying affirmative, they can substitute “Roger”–someone overhearing all this talk might conclude that there are a great many glider pilots named Roger, but I know of only one. Roger wilco (will cooperate) is also good radio talk. If a glider pilot is really feeling frisky, they might even answer someone with “Roger dodger”, or maybe “Roger dodger you old codger,” If you want to let the other fellow talk, you say “over.” When through, you say “out”, but never “over and out”, though some do and I used to till I learned better. Above all, never use plain English! Every aircraft has a license number, a combination of numbers and letters the Federal Aviation Agency assigns to that aircraft when it is first registered in this country. These always start with N, which stand for the United States of America—we should have had A, but either the Australians or the Austrians got there ahead of us. One uses the entire number, N and all, the first time one picks up the mike but only the last two numbers or letters after. This would be neat and twitter.com/rcflyernews


The Standard Libelle H-301, Zero Whisky, is captured her banking away from the cameraman, Bob Moore. They’re soaring near Sun Valley, Idaho.

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History

This Glasflügel Standard Libelle, Kilo Four, was manufactured in 1969. It was flown by Rudy Allemann and photographed by Bob Moore near Sun Valley, Idaho—the smoky haze is from a forest fire. 54

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History simple except that the Soaring Society assigns a twodigit contest number to gliders that fly in contests, and they want those numbers used on the air. So, many glider pilots, when they buy a new bird, try to get a license number and a contest number that end in the same two digits or letters. This simplifies things a lot. If they are lucky, they may even be able to get their initials, sort of a prestige thing. Even though there was a shortage of contest numbers, I was able to get BM—amazingly no one seemed to want those letters, I don’t know why. On the radio I identify myself not as Bob Moore but as BIG MARTINI. Tom Davis was THREE MARTINI, Larry Welch was LOVE WHISKEY, and Ron Chitwood was ZERO WHISKEY. We often chattered back and forth to each other and someone listening in might have thought we were a bunch of lushes! Others had their monikers too. Paul Pallmer picked LL, because it was easy to paint on, and much preferred to be called LIMA LIMA rather than LOUSY LOVER! Nor did another pilot, who had BK, appreciate Tom Davis’ dubbing him BIG KNOCKER—I don’t know what any of this means. Over the years we glider pilots heard a lot of amusing things on the radio. One hot summer day a lot of us, flying a National contest at El Mirage in the Mohave desert, were struggling across a mountain pass on the California/Nevada border en route to Las Vegas and beyond when a plaintive call came over the radio to one fellow from his wifey crew person. The air conditioner had quit, the car was over heating, and she was in tears. His terse answer was: “You have your problems; I have mine!”, and clicked off the radio. Next year he had a different wife crew person. Then there was the time Peter Van Gruen landed gear up in the gravel at Fancher. Peter, a stubborn Dutchman had a speech impediment, the result of having been tortured by the Germans during World War II. He stammered badly, but this didn’t keep him from talking, even on the radio. After he landed, there was silence on the radio for a moment, then “duh–duh–duh–Damn!”. There was also a Frenchman who often flew in our contests and who felt impelled to report to his crew in French every thirty seconds, not that they or he could move far in that short time. The rest of us could hardly get a word in. When we complained, he said indignantly that he really didn’t talk a lot! Maybe it just sounded that way to us, because we couldn’t tell the words from the syllables. Glider radio talk may sound lighthearted and frivolous, but it greatly enhances safety for pilot and even those on the ground. It allows glider pilots to continually keep track of each other’s aircraft position, minimizing the danger of collision while thermalling or running between lift patches. It also facilitates helping each other in an emergency, and we can relay landing positions to retrieval crews as well. Instant communication between glider and tow plane, tow car or winch can some times avert a catastrophe, which would otherwise be a challenge. I now feel that no aircraft should take off without operable radio. And, we should use it professionally! 56

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Glider Instructor and the Columbia Basin Soaring Association After the demise of the Richland Glider Club, I was the only glider pilot in the area for almost a decade–till about the time I sold the two-place LK and acquired the single-place 1-21. I operated mostly from the old Richland CAP field and life was uncomplicated. Then several younger scientists and engineers, who had recently come to work at Hanford on General Electric’s Rotational Training Program, became interested and asked me to teach them to fly gliders. Ed McClanahan and Paul Pallmer had completed building a Schweizer 1-26 from a factory kit while Rudy Allemann and Barbara Warren (a young lady chemist) had purchased a meticulously completed 1-26 from Arlen Moore, a sailplane enthusiast and master builder in Sweet Home, Oregon. The 1-26 was (is) a small sailplane of only 40-foot wingspan and modest performance with a claimed glide ratio of only 23 to one. But, it was very lightweight at only 355 pounds empty, easy, and pleasant to fly and land, and quite rugged. Over 700 were eventually built, making it the country’s most popular glider. Many are still flying, and the 1-26 owners have their own association and hold their own one-design contests each year. I upgraded my Private Glider License to Commercial, and later to Instructor, or Certified Flight Instructor for Gliders (CFIG), in order to help these young people (c.f.”The Worst Trained Pilot”). The fact that the 1-26 was single-place, and that the CAP field wasn’t suitable for automobile towing, ruled out training there so we transferred our operations to the largely deserted Vista Field in the Kennewick highlands. I used a combination of techniques to teach Rudy, Ed, Paul, Barbara, and Ed’s vivacious, athletic, redheaded wife, Molly. First I sent them to Chuck Boyne, an excellent power instructor, for some air work in a light airplane and asked Chuck to emphasize those things that are common to gliders and airplanes, including stalls and spins, which cannot be taught safely from low auto-tow launches. Then they learned to fly the glider by the same solo technique we used in the early days, progressing from ground runs and ground-skimming flights on a short rope eventually to the high wire–a good and safe method. (I don’t know of a single instructor who has ever been injured teaching people to fly by this technique. I much prefer it.) Finally I took them up in a two-place glider and taught them aero towing and a bit about thermal soaring. All became excellent pilots, and Rudy would go on to become National Soaring Champion. Ed, too, would do well in competition and record setting and has the distinction of having made the longest cross-country distance flight—from Reno, Nevada to Challis, Idaho—ever made during a National championship. The governor of Idaho, the “Silver State”, awarded him a huge silver punch bowl as a memento of the accomplishment. However, good as the men were, the girls were better. I had visions of their going on to distinguish themselves and winning all of the women’s soaring twitter.com/rcflyernews


This Standard Libelle was photographed by Bob Moore near Sun Valley. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History

Scheicher built this beautiful AS-15 15-meter sailplane in 1970. It was flown by Randall Wright. The photo taken by Bob Moore was captured near Ephrata, Washington. 58

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History records. I would bask in their glory, as the one who taught them to fly. But it was not to be. Barbara got married and turned her attention to horses and dogs, and Molly became pregnant. Beautiful Molly was an all-round athlete–a water skier, a sailor, and an aggressive snow skier, who raced against men because women weren’t good enough. When racing she wore the long thongs some racers then used, which tied their boot solidly to the ski; if they fell, they broke a leg, but if they fell, they lost the race anyway! After she became a mother, Molly changed and became cautious–afraid that her children might be left orphans. Soon she quit flying. Before long others wanted to learn to glide, and we used the same techniques with them. A very aggressive young nuclear engineer named James E. Hard and his partner Gene Rudock acquired a Schweizer 1-19, as did Ron Chitwood. The 1-19 was a single-place, strut-braced utility, very similar to the early Franklins. It boasted, but may not actually have achieved, a glide angle of only 16 to one. Nevertheless, Jim set as a goal earning all legs of his Gold Badge in this lowly aircraft. It took a while but he finally succeeded–a tremendous accomplishment, though he and his crews had a lot of adventures along the way—Jim often landed far from civilization and telephones. Somewhere during this time, I leaned on Rudy and Ed and others to get their Commercial ratings and share the instructional load, since I much preferred soaring to instructing. Also about this time we organized the Columbia Basin Soaring Association, Inc., or CBSA for short. Member Ira Jacobs studied the law books at the library and drew up the incorporation papers. We also began using two-place training gliders and aero tow. Cliff and Nimo Rasch opened a part-time, fixed base operation at Vista Field and for a while Cliff provided towing with a Piper Clipper. They were followed by Bob and Liane Gilbride. Both families had kids, and these delightful children helped us assemble our gliders, chased tow ropes, and cheerfully did many other chores for us. (I was shocked recently to find that one of the cute little girls who used to help me is now a grandmother!). During much of our Vista Field days, the late Jim Smith–an x-ray technician at the hospital, flying buff, and an extremely nice and accommodating person–would tow us with his 85 hp Cessna-140 and, later, with a Cessna-170. CBSA did not actually own a training glider in those days. Rather, each batch of new members who wanted to learn to fly would lease one each spring—a Schweizer 2-22E or a Schweizer 2-33—from Chase and Associates (Bob Chase and Tom Davis) who had a Schweizer dealership in Seattle. It was a mutually advantageous arrangement. Many neat people learned to fly with our club, and a few went on to get their own sailplanes, but most did not. It is a tremendous step from flying with a club or with a commercial operator to owning and operating one’s own sailplane. Owning requires a very big 60

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commitment of both money and time, more than most people can justify. However learning to fly a glider must have been an exciting and memorable experience even for those who did not continue. I hope so. At least my students got their money’s worth–because I never charged for my services. It is legal and ethical for a CFIG to be paid, but I felt that many people had helped me along the way, people I could never repay. The best I could do was to help some others! In June, 1962, a few years after Richland had “disposed of” the splendid Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) airport on the northwest side of Richland was finally opened to civilian traffic, so the airplane owners who had flown from the old primitive CAP field south of town moved there. Gliders were still barred for a while–till a certain AEC security manager retired. Then we were welcome too and moved our operations there. Edward G. “Eddie” Burnett and two partners, the Wheat brothers, had opened a fixed base operation (FBO), which we were to be closely and happily associated for many years. Eddie, like Fred Perkins (who “taught” me to fly aeroplanes) was a craftsman out at the Hanford plant who moonlighted on the side. A very likable, energetic and cooperative person, he was an aircraft mechanic (A&E) who had routinely relicensed and repaired our gliders. He had also been commanding officer of the Richland Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. The extremely nice Wheat brothers, Buck and Bill, were both pilots, and lovable and boyish Buck was a superb and inventive mechanic who could be counted on to devise clever wing stands and other aids for us—he also welded up the excellent trailer for my Phoebus. The Richland Flying Service promptly acquired a unique towplane with which to tow us. It was affectionately called the “Tote Goat” or simply the “Goat”. It had started life as a Piper J-3 Cub, but someone had shortened the wings, installed a huge engine, and used it as an agricultural spray plane. With the spray gear removed it made a nimble and inexpensive towplane. Eddie and Buck towed with a certain elan, often doing aerobatics on the way down after a tow and sometimes tying knots in the tow rope. A tow was initially only three or four dollars—over the years I encouraged them to raise their rates, so they would make a profit and remain happy to tow us. A tow was available almost any time on demand; if we had to wait thirty minutes, we felt put upon. They spoiled us! Eddie, Buck, and Bill soon acquired their commercial glider ratings and glider-instructor ratings, as did some of the pilots and flight instructors who flew for them. I was delighted to be relieved of the instructional responsibility. Instructing was something that I was never really comfortable doing. Teaching someone to fly is a grave responsibility—lousy pun. As a part-time, amateur instructor I worried I might fail to emphasize some important point to a student and that this omission might eventually lead to grief. twitter.com/rcflyernews


Also, students frightened me–one had to let them make mistakes or they wouldn’t learn anything. You couldn’t shout at them all the time, but you could not let them go so far as to kill you both. It is a narrow line. However, I was still sometimes called in as the “instructor of last resort”. I remember one case when they were about to wash out a member of our club who couldn’t seem to get the hang of aero towing. I rode with him and the problem was immediately evident. As long-time power instructors, they were insisting on “coordination”: when you move the rudder, also move the ailerons, and vice versa. This is fine in free flight, but a glider being dragged around the sky on the end of a rope behind a tow plane isn’t in free flight. There the pilot must use the ailerons to maintain the same bank angle as the tug, and the rudder separately, to slip or skid to stay behind the tug. I also substituted a longer tow rope for the very short one they were using. This student soon got his license and became a sailplane owner. After the Richland Flying Service instructors had taught a student the basics of flying a glider, Rudy and I and other veterans from our club would ride with them and teach them how to soar, since this was something the Richland Flying Service pros were the first to admit they knew little about. At far too may commercial glider operations around the country, the instructors have never themselves earned a soaring badge, flown in a contest, or gone cross-country, and those are the things that soaring is all about! Largely because of my early efforts, our club had one of the highest concentrations of Gold and Diamond badge pilots of any in the country. Unfortunately, our happy association with Richland Flying Service–and with Eddie, Buck and Bill–finally came to a sudden end. An air-ambulance mercy flight to Seattle one wintry day ended in disaster, and the resulting lawsuit forced Richland Flying Service into bankruptcy. But Eddie, who is now living in retirement in northern Idaho, still comes down once a year to relicense our gliders. For a good many years now the FAA has required pilots to have a Biennial Flight Review (BFR), a ride with an instructor to make sure they haven’t gotten rusty, not a bad idea if it is done right. I used to give these in our club’s two-place ASK-13 sailplane—a delightful aircraft. It was an eye-opening experience. One tends to assume that pilots with the same rating are equivalent; I was to find that far from the truth. I hardly felt comfortable riding with some of my friends— though I passed everyone—whereas some other pilots are incredibly smooth and proficient. The three best I have been privileged to fly with were my friends Larry Welch, Capt. Ed Erickson and nephew Johnny Chambers. I “taught” Larry and Johnny to fly gliders; i.e., make the transition from power. I would show them how to do something in a glider and they would instantly be able to do it better than I. Great pilots! There is a world of difference between different flyers. Moral: Be careful whom you ride with! I am.

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Soaring Society of American Director Except for a brief time just before World War II when Lewin Barringer was the paid manager of SSA, the society had been operated and kept alive with strictly volunteer labor. Soaring magazine was uneven in quality and often late, the society had only about six hundred members, and appeared to be going nowhere. It might not even survive. In 1957 the Board of Directors, with some financial help from the Du Pont family, took a calculated risk and hired a full-time Executive Director who would put the Society on a businesslike footing and also edit and publish Soaring magazine. Lloyd Licher, a young aeronautical engineer and former member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology glider club, was hired and given a small budget. For some years the Society operated out of the Licher living room, with Lloyd’s wife Rose Marie, herself a glider pilot, and a few part-time employees helping. At this same time, the Board reorganized itself, divided the country into Regions, and provided for the election of representative Regional Directors from each Region. I had long been a booster for soaring and was SSA Governor for Washington. I was now elected to the Board to represent Region 8, a large area that included most of the Pacific Northwest, plus Alaska. The eight years I spent on the Board were an interesting and pleasurable experience, and I came to highly value the friendships and contacts I made there. The Board met for several days twice each year–during the summer at the National Soaring Contest and somewhere else in midwinter–with the Directors paying all of their own expenses, and almost all attending each meeting. I was highly impressed with the caliber, ability, and dedication of the Board members, and with the businesslike way the meetings were conducted. The two dozen or so people on the Board included some of the original founders of the Society, such as Paul Schweizer and Floyd Sweet, famous competition pilots, record holders, and prominent aeronautical engineers. Some, such as Steve Du Pont, the Coverdales, Dale May, and Joe Lincoln, were quite wealthy, as well as generous not only with their time but with their money. A few were veteran airline pilots too. I was appointed the first chairman of SSA’s Membership Committee, and attempted in various ways to help Licher to increase the membership. We ran the first of several successful membership contests, with valuable prizes for those who signed up the most new members. I suggested we insert inexpensive want ads in various aviation magazines as a way to reach potentially interested aviationminded outsiders. These advertisements proved quite cost effective and brought in a steady trickle of new members. The American Chemical Society, the professional society with which I was most familiar, had a system of local chapters, with each chapter receiving a partial dues rebate for each member on their rolls–an incentive to sign up and retain members. I suggested this idea to SSA, and Lloyd Licher, Floyd Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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Dale Hackler was captured banking his PIK 20D away from Bob Moore’s glider so this photo could be captured on film. 62

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Sweet and I succeeded in selling it to the Board. Our Columbia Basin Soaring Association became one of the very first SSA Chapters, and has remained so for over thirty years. The Chapter idea proved successful in that the renewal rate among SSA Chapter members has been much higher than among SSA members at large, but many glider clubs—including the two largest in this state—have unfortunately not become SSA chapters. The membership of SSA did begin a steady growth, eventually reaching 17,000. This was probably largely due to Lloyd’ efforts, though I like to feel the Membership Committee and I played at least some small part. I also interpreted my role as Membership Chairman as an obligation to try to represent to the Board the feelings and needs of the average member out in the sticks who operated on a slim budget, was probably not a competition pilot, and might not even own a glider. A bit before this time the FAI had advanced the idea of a new competition class, to be known as the International Standard Class. The idea was that the Standard Class gliders would comply with a formula that would insure they were simple, easy to fly, and inexpensive–suitable not only for levelplaying-field competition but for recreational flying and club use. They would have their own contests rather than competing against gliders of unlimited span, complexity and cost. I was enthusiastic about the concept and hoped it would become popular in the United States, but found the SSA Board surprisingly cool to the idea. Some of the wealthier members– particularly with inherited wealth–seemed sincerely puzzled at the perceived need for less expensive gliders. One or two pointed out that some of their friends had huge sailing yachts and that others kept stables of race horses, and that gliders cost peanuts in comparison! Although Standard Class became popular worldwide, SSA was slow to give it any encouragement or recognition. Initially the best we pilots of Standard Class gliders could manage was to have an asterisk placed by our names on the score sheet of the National Contest! We do now have separate National Standard Class contests, and name a Standard Class champion, but the basic rules have been changed so many times that these gliders are now almost as expensive and exotic as the others. This evolution has gone so far that senior statesman Paul Schweizer is now pushing for the creation of a new World Sports Class Glider. Hopefully, this effort will be successful. I was amused and somewhat shocked, while on the Board, by the reaction of its members to the hang glider movement, which blossomed during those years. Rather than welcoming these enthusiastic, mostly young people and attempting to help them and provide them a home within SSA, the reaction was one of alarm and the hope that the whole thing would go away. It was something they didn’t want to touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole! So, the hang glider people went their own way, ignored by both the SSA and FAA. They then policed themselves and rcflyernews.tumblr.com

have achieved a safety record at least as good as ours. They are now making flights as impressive as we were turning in several decades ago. Some have already flown 300+ miles; and, it is only a matter of a little time before a U.S. hang glider pilot will earn a Diamond Badge. It seems a pity they could not have been a Chapter or Division of SSA. Ironically, the United States Hang Gliding Association itself is now grappling with how to handle yet a third motorless flight upstart–the paragliders. Although they are viewing paragliding with some of the same reservations with which the SSA Board viewed hang gliders, it appears they will find a way to incorporate paragliding into their fold, to the mutual benefit of both. I was an SSA Director for eight years, served part of that time as Vice President, one of two, and was urged at one time by the other Board members to assume the Presidency—probably because they were having difficulty finding a willing candidate. It was a great honor and something I would have enjoyed. I was sorely tempted, but did not see how I could coordinate it with my job at Hanford and with my employer’s attitude toward an activity that would be viewed as frivolous and far removed from Hanford’s mission. At the end of my last term as Region 8 Director, I declined to stand for reelection. I felt there was far too little turnover of Board membership and that someone else should be encouraged to contribute their ideas and viewpoint. I contrived to get my friend Major Ed Butts elected. He has been followed in turn by Harry Higgins, Rudy Allemann, Bob Lampson, Marion Barritt, Eric Greenwell, and Dale Bush. All have served with distinction. Contest Flying I am a shy and retiring person and not at all competitive–possibly because I was sick a great deal as a child and never participated in competitive sports. I loved to soar and enjoyed working on the FAI badges, but had no interest in entering competition and a vague feeling that contests corrupted the sublime soaring experience. Then I met a man who changed my outlook. I was alone down at the old CAP airport late one afternoon in the early fifties putting an airplane I owned away when a small, low-winged metal plane—a Swift, I think—landed. A youngish man got out wearing a parachute. That seemed odd since few civilians, other than glider pilots, ever wear parachutes. I helped the stranger secure his plane and asked him if I could give him a ride to town. He proved to be Dr. Paul McCready, Jr., who had made a name for himself in American soaring and who was the first American to become World Soaring Champion. It was he who invented the McCready speed ring, some version of which we all use to this day to tell us how fast to fly between thermals. It was also he who, decades later, would solve the problems of man-powered flight, solar-powered flight, and be responsible for many other scientific and technical accomplishments. Paul explained that he was conducting a cloud Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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The ASW-15 was photographed by Bob Moore when it was flying near Sun Valley, Idaho. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History seeding program in Montana and had come to Richland to confer with the Hanford plant’s head meteorologist. He used the little airplane for transportation and took the most direct route, even if it lead over rugged primitive areas with no place to land. He also flew at night. He felt that the airplane was expendable but that he was not. So, he wore a chute and was prepared to jump if the engine quit. Before delivering him to his destination, I talked with him for a while. He asked about my soaring experience and said that I should try competition, and explained why. One can go up and fly around by one’s self and think that you’re doing great. But, if a glider pilot flies in a contest with other pilots–at the same time in the same weather and the same task–it will be immediately evident whether one is doing well or poorly, probably the latter. Then the pilot can work to improve. Also, he said I would find it a lot of fun. I started entering contests here in the northwest and found that he was right. In 1954, I took the LK to my first Nationals–at Lake Elsinore in southern California. Elisabeth prudently had me make out a will before I left. Soaring competitions started in the early twenties in Germany and the first American Nationals was held at Harris Hill, New York in 1930. In the very early days, duration and altitude gain were what was counted, plus events such as spot landings and flour bombing. Then cross country distance–how far one could fly–was phased in, and it was soon realized that duration really didn’t mean much—it showed mainly how steadily the wind blew against a ridge—and that altitude could always be glided out and converted into distance. World War II put soaring in cold storage for the duration. However, during the thirties some form of distance flying dominated the national contests. After the war, in the late forties, contests resumed in this country. With the improvement in sailplanes and pilotage, the flights and retrieves were becoming very long. By the end of some contests the leading competitors were so weary that they could hardly fly. It was a dangerous situation. Consequently, other types of tasks were devised, and these have slowly replaced free distance. Most were some form of speed task, where the idea was to see who could fly fastest around a course. The daily selection was based on the weather, was picked to be challenging, and might range up to hundreds of miles if the lift conditions were strong. Pilots are timed as they cross a start line and again when they finish, and the fact that they actually went to the designated turn points is verified with cameras mounted in the sailplanes. Points are awarded for speed and for distance‚ for those who land out, and the highest cumulative score wins at the end of the contest. During the years I owned the Schweizer 1-21, I flew in all the National contests that were held west of the Mississippi. These included scenic and exciting places such as the Bishop valley and Mohave desert in California; Stead Air Force base at Reno, Nevada; Marfa 66

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and Odessa, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and McCook, Nebraska. In those days, there was only one national contest each year, to pick the National Soaring Champion, no handicap factors were applied, and the pilot with the best sailplane had a big advantage. My 1-21 was no longer state-of-the-art, nor was I frankly as good a pilot as frequent winners such as the great Dick Johnson or Richard Schreder. I didn’t expect to win and went for the excitement, the opportunity to spend two weeks away from the job doing what I most love to do, and the chance to meet some of the great and famous people of American and international soaring. I tried hard though, flew my best, and the 1-21 and I always finished in the top five or ten, out of forty or fifty competitors. I briefly led one Nationals, and had a modest victory speech composed. Like Dick Johnson, one of our sport’s finest gentlemen, I would have thanked the designers of the sailplane, my crew, and the task committee for my success. Unfortunately I never got to use my speech. Winning is fun but to me it certainly isn’t everything. Some pilots feel otherwise. A. J. Smith, a prominent mid-west architect, National Champion and World Champion has often proclaimed that “Winning is Everything!” He is a reasonably pleasant person at other times, but during contests gets up tight and literally seems to hate the opposition. About midcontest he gets mad and fires his crew; amazingly some one always steps forward to crew for him. One can’t believe that he has much fun, particularly if he fails to win. In my day, most pilots were a bit more relaxed. Unfortunately today–in the late 20th century– there seem to be a lot of little A.J. clones. Even if I were still competing, I don’t think I would find it as much fun as I used to be (c.f. “Is Soaring Still Fun?”). I did win a lot of local and regional contests and have a shelf full of trophies—mostly hideous things from a trophy shop but a few that are unique and beautiful. I finished second in one Canadian nationals and also once was awarded the somewhat doubtful title of West Coast Soaring Champion. Gamesmanship and guile played a big role in some of the early contests. Here in the Northwest the other pilots used to call me the Desert Fox, changed later to the Old Fox or the Gray Fox. I think these appellations were intended as compliments—questionable. The last contest I flew in was a small motor glider contest at Ephrata, Washington in 1982. I organized the contest, wrote the rules, did the scoring, and naturally won. In 1988 I was on my way to west Texas to compete in our first-ever Motor glider Nationals. I had set out with the motorhome, the motor glider (on behind in its trailer) and Iris Kay–a beautiful, blonde English exchange teacher who was going to crew, cook, and help drive. En route we were going to visit national parks, do some hiking, and I was going to sample the flying at several famous soaring sites. Regrettably, I became critically ill and we had to turn around at Grand Canyon. Without Iris’ help I might not have gotten home. twitter.com/rcflyernews


Since I knew, realistically, that I probably wouldn’t win a big National, I had fun conducting my own private, contests within a contest. I would try to beat certain pilots–either those I had a grudge against, or pilots and sailplanes which I judged to be about on a par with me and my glider. But, I didn’t tell these people because I didn’t want to offend them. One person I very much enjoyed besting on several occasions was my friend John Ryan, at that time a fellow SSA Director. John is a nice person, but he is a wealthy man, usually had a better glider than I. Unlike most of us, he had hired, professional retrieve crews, whereas Elisabeth was generally my only crew person. In fact, John often had two crews, so they could alternate and one would always be fresh. He typically rented a suite of motel rooms to house them. Alternately, Elisabeth and I sometimes slept in our station wagon. I found great satisfaction when I could beat John. Another person with whom I had a lighthearted one-on-one duel was my transplanted German friend, Captain Klaus Auerbach, a United Airlines pilot. Captain Auerbach is a proud and sensitive person. In a series of contests we always seemed to finish maybe five and six, with me five and Klaus six. We were so closely matched that we sometimes landed out in the same field, waited together for our crews to arrive, and dined together on the way back. I considered this great, good fun, but Klaus took it seriously. The last time we flew in the same contest, he beat me by one place, and I was glad. Mutual friends told me afterward that he had declared that if old Bob Moore beat him again, he was going to go home and commit suicide! I would have felt badly and a bit guilty; his wife, Mary, is a very nice person. Over the years, contest flying continued to evolve. We now have a series of National contests, rather than just one. There is an Open Class contest—not unlike the old National contest—where almost anything goes. The Open Class sailplanes that fly in that contest are very exotic and very expensive aircraft. They have wingspans often over eighty feet, and require a big ground crew and powerful tow planes to haul them aloft. Only a few can afford them, or put up with all this, but their performance is impressive, There is also a very popular Fifteen Meter Class, where the gliders can be complex but the wingspan is limited to a modest fifteen meters—a tad under fifty feet. There is also an International Standard Class, for which I once had great hopes. The idea was that Standard Class gliders would be relatively simple, safe, and easy to fly, and inexpensive. Although rule changes and compromises over the years have eliminated almost all distinction between the Standard Class and Fifteen Meter gliders, except that the former do not have camber-changing flaps. We now also have a Sports Class National, where a handicap factor is applied, as in sailboating, to try to give everyone a fair shake. There is a Motor glider National, and the 1-26 Association has their own separate championship. All of this results in lots of rcflyernews.tumblr.com

national champions being named. Some affluent pilots fly in several of these contests each year, to improve their position on a rating ladder from which our International Team members are chosen. All hope to be sent to the biennial World Championships. Some would almost kill to get to go. The egotistical pilots are the contest stars, but nothing would happen if it weren’t for their longsuffering and selfless crews. The crew–in this country usually a wife–helps assemble the sailplane, washes it, helps push it to the takeoff point (often through desert heat), makes sure her hero pilot is provided with lunch and water for a long flight, hooks up the tow rope, runs the wing tip, and then sits by the radio and waits, and waits, and waits. If he returns, the glider is derigged and put back in its box. If he lands out, she hooks up the trailer and goes to get him. Great fun! It is surprising that some wives tire of this sport. Elisabeth was my crew for many years and did an excellent job. She is resourceful, a good driver, and a perfectionist in most everything she does. But she eventually tired of this fun, and I had to find other people to crew for me. Larry Welch crewed for me at several contests, and Al Wilson at some others. Later I had some fine all-girl crews. Most of us glider pilots are thrifty—tight might be a better word—and hate to spend money, but we do house and feed our crews—hamburgers if the pilot eats hamburgers, steak maybe if the pilot has steak. The crew shares the motorhome or the motel room, and I came to feel that a pretty young woman might be a more pleasant roommate than an old man who snored. I am indifferent, of course, to feminine charm at my age, but I reasoned that a comely crew person would be able–when I was up flying or had landed out–to easily enlist help, if it were needed. If there were a problem with the trailer or with the retrieve car, young men and old men would probably fall over each other to help. This scheme worked fine, but I was surprised to find that some young women snore as loudly as old men! (I had always thought that snoring was a male failing). Moreover, one beauty talked in her sleep. That was particularly disconcerting since I could hear only half of the conversation! All of my girl crew people were great, but my favorite was Debbie Kramar. At the 1980 Region Eight contest she brought her teenage sister, Sharon. Both girls were bright, joyful, and outgoing. They had made matching shorts outfits to wear while crewing and everyone loved them. I didn’t do very well in the flying but was presented a trophy for having the best and cutest crew. Now that I no longer compete, I miss my girl crews. Running a contest also takes lots of people–more unsung heroes–and I sometimes help. It is fun to be there and to play a role, even if I am not competing, the old “fire horse” syndrome perhaps. I think I am qualified by experience to do a good job and am glad to help. The Seattle Glider Council, of which I am a member, hosted the Fifteen-Meter National Contest at Ephrata in 1984, and I was the assistant competition director, helping my old friend Tom Davis. As at many other northwest contests, I did the thermal sniffing–I Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

would go up in my motor glider and radio back my findings so he would know when the thermals had become strong enough to warrant launching the competitors. There were almost a hundred entrants, and the soaring weather that summer was poorer than normal. The result was lots of gliders often milling around in the same thermal, what is known as a gaggle. I flew under one of these one day and looked up at some forty sailplanes circling closely together, like a swarm of bees, an awesome sight. During this contest there were three mid-air collisions, resulting in one fatality. The next summer, I was the Competition Director for the Northern California Regional at Montague, California. The very first day, a 68

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relatively inexperienced pilot was killed. He spun into the ground in a mountain valley and wasn’t found till the next day—turbulence and water ballast may have been a factor, plus his lack of experience. A lawyer for his wife was soon on the phone wanting details, and called back each day during the rest of the contest. We feared a ruinous lawsuit. A persuasive lawyer could have easily convinced a jury of laymen that I had sent this young man out on an inherently hazardous task, whatever the actual facts may have been. Although I enjoy running soaring contests, I decided that I can’t afford to take the financial risk. Since then I have helped in less exposed roles–such as interpreting the turn point photographs. twitter.com/rcflyernews


The Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke made Diamant 16.5-meter sailplane was photographed above Richland, WA when piloted by Kim Kayer rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History Waves We have talked about slope soaring, thermal soaring, and cloud flying. The fourth way to gain altitude in a sailplane is in waves, in some ways the most exciting and aesthetically pleasing of all silent flight. Dr. Wolf Hirth, who taught us how to fly thermals, also introduced soaring pilots–and meteorologists–to atmospheric standing waves. This happened in 1933 near Hirschberg in Germany. For centuries the nearby peasants, keen observers of weather, had noticed a strange cloud that appeared whenever a strong wind blew. However, unlike a normal cloud, it did not move with the wind, but remained stationary. Very strange and a bit frightening. They named it Das Moazagotl, the “Demon”. Hirth had himself aero towed to its vicinity in a carefully instrumented Grunau glider of his design, released, and explored the area. He discovered and elucidated a phenomenon he named “the long wave”. Today we call them “atmospheric standing waves”, “mountain waves”, or just “waves” for short. Soon German pilots were using waves to go to high altitudes without having to enter cloud. Before long waves were found all over the earth, and what may be the great grandaddy of all often appears in the lee of the high Sierras over the Owens valley near the California/Nevada line. Waves have also been detected–by their signature clouds–in the atmosphere of Mars. Waves will be formed when wind blows across a mountain range, if certain conditions are met. A wave is most likely if the air mass is thermodynamically stable–a condition which causes the air to flow like water–and if the wind speed increases with altitude, as it often does. In a classical case, the air will move up the windward side of a mountain, cool, and moisture will condense to form an orographic cap cloud. It will then flow–sometimes actually roar–down the back side of the mountain. As it descends, it is compressed and heated, and the cloud droplets evaporate. If this were all there were to the story, it would be rather dull. Amazingly, though, the air rebounds and heads skyward again, sometimes to a very great altitude–the effect can go to as much as ten times the height of the mountain. It is similar to the standing waves one sees in a river where water flows over a rock or some other obstruction. Downstream of the rock there will be a series of these standing waves–often several successive bounces–with the water flowing through the waves but with the waves themselves staying stock-still relative to the shore. Underneath the atmospheric wave, at about mountain height and several miles from the mountain, there will often be a rather ragged cumulus cloud, called a “roll cloud” because close observation will show it is continually rising on one side and descending on the other, rolling over like a roller bearing. This can be an area of extreme turbulence, which aircraft should avoid. Above the roll cloud, another type of cloud often appears, sometimes a 70

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whole stack of them. These are smooth, beautiful lenticular—lens shaped—clouds. They resemble an airfoil–like the wing of a giant angel, or possibly a flying saucer–and are often composed of ice crystals. They, too, are continuously forming on the upwind side where the air is rising; and, they’re dissolving on the downwind side. If the glider pilot can position his aircraft just upwind of the lenticular cloud, he will find strong, smooth lift. Often the pilot can face the glider into the wind, balance one’s airspeed against the wind, which may be blowing fifty to a hundred miles per hour at altitude, and sit there unmoving, seemingly suspended in space, but going up at maybe one or two thousand feet per minute! It is an incredible, eerie and delicious sensation, somewhat like skiing powder snow. It is so smooth that even an unstable glider, such as the LK or the Phoebus, can be flown hands off, with one’s arms folded and feet flat on the floor and only needing an occasional tap on the stick or foot pedals to keep things straight. All this time the long hand on the altimeter is going around like the second hand on a clock, and one is climbing toward the stratosphere. Right after World War II, Harland Ross and Bob Symons, who both had glider or FBO operations at Bishop, California, called attention to the great potential of the Sierra wave. Symons published photographs which attracted world-wide attention. He also soared his heavy twin-engine, war-surplus P-38 fighter–with its engines stopped and propellers feathered–to 38,000 feet! Leading glider pilots such as Paul McCready, Bill Ivans, and Johnny Robinson went there and quickly set, and then broke, new glider altitude and altitude-gain records. In 1961, Paul Bikle would push the World record to 45,267 feet, a record that would stand for almost thirty years—till recently when Bob Harris climbed in the Sierra wave to just a hair under 50,000. For several seasons in the early fifties, a research program was conducted at Bishop to study the wave. It was a cooperative effort of the Air Force Cambridge Research Center, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the Southern California Soaring Association. The sailplanes were heavily instrumented and were tracked by radar. A huge amount of data was collected and the awesome power of the wave– particularly when the jet stream is overhead–became evident. One day Larry Edgar, a veteran pilot, flew through the rotor zone while descending from a wave flight. His Pratt Reed sailplane, one of the strongest aircraft ever built, was torn to pieces. He managed to parachute to safety, but was blinded for a long time because of hemorrhages in his eyes caused by the tremendous G loads. He still walks with a limp and uses a cane. Flying the Sierra wave bears about as much relation to Sunday-afternoon thermal soaring as a mountaineering assault on Mt. Everest does to an afternoon hike. A reliable oxygen system is essential. Death comes very quickly and insidiously if the twitter.com/rcflyernews


system fails at high altitudes; and a prudent pilot has a back-up system, as well as a bail-out bottle on his parachute—though he might not have time to use either before he lost consciousness. He should also have been tested in a high altitude chamber to see what his physiological and psychological reactions are to extreme altitude. Then too, the arctic temperatures require special clothing, and Plexiglas canopies ice over and require installation of clear-vision panels. The cold can do strange things to aircraft structures. Should the canopy shrink and crack, the pilot would be subjected to instant frostbite. And the glider may behave unpredictably in the thin air. Carl Herold, who probably has more high-altitude wave experience than anyone else in the world, warns that entering this realm is to become an engineering test pilot and that anyone who ventures there is sticking his neck a long way out. This type of flying is not for wimps or the faint of heart, and also possibly not for rational people. Fortunately our Northwest waves are not as robust as the Sierra wave and are not as likely to kill us. We all fly our tame NW waves whenever we get a chance, which is not nearly so often as we would like. I used the Wenatchee wave long ago to earn my Diamond Badge Altitude, and have exceeded Diamond altitude so many times since–sometimes several times in a season–that I have lost track. Even so, flying a wave is always exhilarating and a great treat. At 14,410 foot high, Mt. Rainier generates a grand wave, whose utilization was pioneered by friends Joe Robertson and Cecil Craig. Joe used it to set an official Washington State altitude record of 32,762 feet; and, Cecil used it in 1967 as one of the stepping stones for an epic wintertime flight down the Cascades, jumping from the wave behind one big snowcap to the next, all in a low-performance LK. At Oregon’s Crater Lake, he hit incredible sink and almost went into the lake, but managed to land in snow on the rim. The story of his flight and rescue, and of the helicopter retrieval of the glider, is one of the great adventure stories of American soaring (Soaring Magazine, April ‘69, p. 10). With a modern glider, he might well have succeeded in breaking the World distance record—then at 647 miles. Here in Richland, we are fortunate in not having to journey very far to fly wave. Rattlesnake Mountain, only some fifteen miles from the Richland airport, is oriented perpendicular to the prevailing southwest wind and often generates classic waves, with cap cloud, roll cloud, lennies (lenticular), and all. Rattlesnake is a miniature version of the Sierras–gentle on the upwind side, and steep on the other. At 3,581 feet elevation, it rises about 3000 feet above the surrounding desert. It is the highest land between the Cascades to the west and the Blue Mountains to the east, and the highest mountain in Washington that is barren of trees. Since the Hanford Forbidden Flying Area was abolished, we have been able to explore this wave system. I have climbed in it to 30,000 feet, and Rudy Allemann has gone a bit higher–not bad from a 3,000-foot mountain! Note too, we have probably rcflyernews.tumblr.com

never flown the wave when it was at its strongest. We also sometimes find wave lift where there shouldn’t be any–like out over the Columbia Basin in clear air. These are possibly an “umpteenth” bounce from the Cascades far to the west. Also, big cumulus clouds, or lines of clouds, can sometimes act like mountains and generate wave, particularly if the wind increases with altitude. It doesn’t happen very often, but we are always alert for the possibility. In the old days we would spiral up inside a cloud, emerge on the upwind side, and sometimes transition into wave. Now that cloud flying is forbidden, we get as close to cloud base as we can and then fly upwind. If we find wave, we may be able to climb up above the cumulus clouds, a strange and beautiful place for a glider to be flown. The visual effects are stunning. If we fly alongside or just above a cloud, we can often see our shadow flying along in formation with us, surrounded by a halo–a phenomenon that old time mountaineers called the “Glory” when they saw it from a mountain peak on a cloud bank. At other times one may look down and see a brilliant image of the sun, opposite the real sun and caused by reflections from flat ice crystals. The world up among and above the clouds is an enchanting and beautiful place to be. I could write reams about my scores of wave flights, but will limit this story to just a few–a few of the more adventuresome or hopefully interesting ones. In the fall of 1971, Rudy Allemann, Ron Chitwood, and I were invited to meet transplanted Hungarian friend Dez Kelemen at a little grass strip at Ashford, just outside the west entrance to Mt. Rainier Park, for some wave flying. Dez had used his considerable charm to induce a Mr. Beech, a veteran mountain pilot who flew sightseers around Rainier, to tow us with his Cessna-180. Since the wind was from the west, we were each towed around to the east side and released near Little Tahoma, a pinnacle which sticks up on that side of the mountain, and is itself higher than Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Cecil Craig had found that the wind often flows around Rainier and meets on the back side and that the strongest lift, or sometimes the only lift, is where it converges, often only yards from the rock and ice. So it was that day, but we soon were climbing, and watched the top of the mountain, and its summit crater, sink below us. I finally reached 30,200 feet, with the others a bit lower. From that altitude—jet airplane altitude—the mountain looked most unimpressive, really a dwarf. While all of this was going on, and we were up flying in brilliant sunshine, a layer of unbroken cloud had moved in below and soon obliterated the mountain, which revealed its presence only by what looked like a bulge in a blanket. It was getting late in the afternoon and we debated what to do next. Dez had used up his oxygen and had landed. Rudy and Ron decided to turn downwind and try to glide to Yakima, where their crews would pick them up. I had no crew and hence a more difficult choice since my car and trailer were down below. What to do? I delayed a decision and relayed Rudy and Ron’s transmissions to Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History their crews. The wind at our altitude must have been blowing sixty to a hundred knots. Also, any aircraft flies about two percent faster than indicated for each thousand feet of altitude because of the thin air, so their ground speed was impressive. In a very short time they were over Yakima, and deciding to glide on to Richland. A little later, they were over Richland, and still at 17,000 feet, for a calculated glide angle of 78 to one! I told their crews their position and then had to make my decision. Dez radioed from below that the cloud base was above the tops of the Tatoosh range, on the south side of the park. So I took a deep breath, triangulated on the bulge in the cloud blanket and on Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens, which were in the clear, switched on the gyros, opened the Phoebus’ dive brakes, and apprehensively spiraled down through the cloud– hoping I would come out in the right mountain valley. I broke out right over the Paradise visitor center, and followed the Nisqually river back to Ashford and the Hewitt air strip. We have flown the Rainier wave over the years from several different air strips near the park. It is always a thrill and a beautiful experience to soar over and near that great mountain with its tumbling glaciers. Another beautiful place where we used to fly is at the little town of Sisters, Oregon–almost in the shadow of the Three Sisters mountains, volcanos on the crest of the Cascades which rise to over ten thousand feet. For several years in the late seventies, a young man named Gary Joseph ran a glider operation there and provided towing at the airstrip, which is right on the edge of this delightful little western town, nestled among groves of ponderosa pines. The thermals were great, the scenery was magnificent, and there was often wave–sometimes encountered right over the airport. One wave flight there particularly sticks in my memory, since it involved one of my two close brushes with hypothermia—the other happened when a kayak dumped me into freezing water during a New Year’s paddle. I had climbed high in wave over the Sisters and had enjoyed a splendid view along the Cascades, from Mt. Shasta in California to the south to Washington’s Mt. Rainier to the north. I looked down on lovely mountain lakes that are seen only by hikers and flyers and on massive lava flows as well as on valleys carved by retreated glaciers. At 29,000 feet, my flight had established a new Oregon state altitude record for gliders. I hadn’t expected to go high that day and was therefore dressed very lightly–short sleeved shirt, summer weight wash trousers, tennis shoes and a tennis hat. At 29,000 feet the outside air temperature was forty below zero (either Centigrade or Fahrenheit; they are the same at -40 where the two scales cross. Either is cold). As long as the sun shone into the well-sealed Phoebus cockpit, the greenhouse effect kept me fairly comfortable. But finally the sun sank below a cloud bank out over the Pacific and the cold made itself felt with a vengeance. I started down, but it takes a long time to descend from that 72

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altitude. Additionally, frigid air flowed in as the thin air in the fuselage was compressed at progressively lower altitudes and replaced by bitterly cold outside air. It was getting dark far below on the ground. I began to shiver. Before long my arms and legs were shaking uncontrollably and I wondered whether I would be able to land. Gary and others, monitoring my radio transmissions on the ground, said later that my speech was slurred–one of the symptoms of hypothermia. They talked me down, and took me to a bar where I was revived with hot brandy. Still, or maybe because of all this, it was a memorable flight. Soon thereafter, gliding at Sisters came to an end. A rich Californian bought the airport and booted the gliders off–egged on by a local lawyer (a curse on lawyers!) who disliked the tow plane noise. In September of 1984, I finally got to fly the Sierra wave, almost by accident. I was on a soaring vacation from retirement and was camped comfortably in my motorhome on the Minden, Nevada airport with my PIK-20E self-launching sailplane tied down alongside. I had already had some fine soaring at Montague in northern California and had also flown for several days from Stead Air Force Base at Reno, before Stead closed down to get ready for the annual Reno Air Races. So, I had moved down to Minden—over the years another of my favorite soaring sites—to do some flying along the spectacular Sierras while waiting for the Air Races to get under way. Two nice young men, Steve Hilliker and a friend, were at Minden with a club Schweizer 1-24 trying to earn some of their FAI badge legs. I graciously tried to help them by proffering unasked-for-advice from my vast accumulation of soaring wisdom. One morning at 9 a.m., on a day I didn’t plan to fly but rather to do chores, I heard a tow plane and saw Steve taking off. I thought, “How stupid, the thermals don’t start this early. I will have to tell them that they are wasting their money!” I resumed washing dishes. A bit later Steve’s buddy came by and reported that Steve was in wave over the Kingsbury grade climbing at 600 fpm and that they were going to open the wave window. I quickly forgot about chores, preflighted the PIK, launched at 10 a.m. and headed for the Kingsbury grade, following Steve’s patiently radioed instructions. Meanwhile Steve had reached 28,000 feet and wondered what to do next. Should he come down and let his friend fly or go for distance? We both urged him to go for it. Downwind to the east, or south along the Sierras? He had no map so chose the latter since he could follow the highway. A wind shift finally brought him to earth some two hundred miles to the south, but he had a nice flight. I found that the Kingsbury grade wave had weakened and couldn’t get much above 12,000 feet, but had nice views of the casinos and the ski area at the south end of Lake Tahoe. I moved west and found a slightly better wave, but only to 16,000 feet. Meanwhile, an impressive stack of lenticular clouds had formed to the north between Carson City and Reno, whitecaps were appearing on the lake, and dust was beginning to blow in the valley, eventually closing twitter.com/rcflyernews


the highway. I decided to gamble my hard-won altitude (I don’t gamble with money even in Nevada), glide across the lake, and try to reach the lennies. Just up wind of them, at 10,000 feet in the lee of Mt. Rose, I found smooth 1000 fpm wave lift. At 20,000 feet I was climbing past the top of the lenticulars and still going up at 800 fpm. I really didn’t want to go much higher–at this point I am an old man with lung problems who has never been tested in an altitude chamber, which I would probably flunk. Also, my mask didn’t fit too well because of my beard. And I had no backup oxygen system. Plus I was dressed in summerweight clothes. I decided to climb no higher than 30,000 feet and to then promptly start down. Soon I was at 32,000. At 34,000 we were still climbing 200 fpm. I stuck a little thermometer out the small window. It indicated -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Suddenly my feet began to feel cold, and I noticed that the oxygen was getting low. I turned downwind, passed over the tops of the lenticulars, and spiraled down in the sink area. Still, it took almost an hour to get to the ground. I had been in the air four-and-a-half hours. It was fun to fly the famous Sierra wave, but it was a bit of a “pussy cat” that day–no turbulence, not very cold in the wellsealed PIK, and the air so dry that frost didn’t form on the canopy. The flight would have qualified as a US motor glider record–possibly a World motor glider record too–had the barograph worked. Even so, I have no desire to try the Sierra wave again, or to go higher than I went that day. Since then I have made many delightful lesser wave flights, a few in California but most here in eastern Washington. For a number of years now I have been able to keep my PIK-20E assembled in a hangar ready to fly at a moment’s notice—since it is self-launching, I have no need for a tow plane or a tow pilot. If I spot wave clouds in the lee of Rattlesnake Mountain, I can rush to the airport and be airborne in minutes. Sometimes I have found wave lift right over the Richland airport at pattern altitude, possibly caused by the lower Horse Heaven Hills upwind to the south. Other times I may follow the Hanford Highway to a point in the lee of Rattlesnake, shut the engine down there at three or four thousand feet, locate the lift, climb above the clouds, and go exploring. When going out to get the paper in the morning, I have often spotted lenticular clouds over Rattlesnake, passed up breakfast and hurried to the airport. A series of early morning wave flights confirmed my suspicion that waves should be stronger in the morning than in the afternoon, and I published an article in Soaring Magazine summarizing these findings. I hope I may have many more opportunities to soar “where no birds fly”, as Philip Wills put it. The Phoebus In the late fifties and early sixties, a revolution took place in the construction of sailplanes– the introduction, by the Germans, of fiberglass construction. Smooth fiberglass construction, coupled with new laminar-flow airfoils, permitted a big rcflyernews.tumblr.com

increase in performance and ushered in today’s highperformance sailplane. Students at several Akafliegs (university glider clubs) and three outstanding men were responsible. Several of these exciting new sailplanes were one-ofa-kind and constructed by a labor-intensive “inside out” technique, the same that is used today by many American home builders of sleek little airplanes such as the Rutan VariEze and the Long Ez. However, aerodynamicist Professor Dr. Richard Eppler, German soaring champion Rudolph Lindner, and engineer Hermann Naegele teamed up to devise a better way that used highly precise, mirror-smooth female molds and allowed a series of identical gliders to be quickly turned out, once the expensive molds were made. In November 27, 1957 they astonished the World soaring community with the first flight of the beautiful Phoenix FS-24 sailplane, probably the “cleanest” and most efficient glider that had been produced till that time. I admired the Phoenix and wished I had one, but only eight were built. Then, in the early ‘60s, the three partners announced a new design, the Phoebus (son of Phoenix) to be produced by the famous Bolkow aircraft company. The Phoebus was a Standard Class glider, a class that was gaining importance in World competition, but which was then getting only the most grudging recognition from the Directors of SSA. I wrote for information on the Phoebus. Very soon Dr. Eppler came to visit me in Richland! He was then working for the Bolkow aircraft company in Munich and was on a visit to Boeing in Seattle. Chuck Jackson, a Boeing executive, friend, and glider buff who often soared with us here, brought him to Richland. They were our house guests for a weekend, and we found Eppler to be a highly intelligent and utterly charming person. He was also an ardent bird watcher and was much impressed by the fact that Elisabeth had recorded seeing many more species of birds on our small acreage than they had in all their nature preserves in Germany! A little later I had a business trip to Europe and took extra time to see the Phoebus. Eppler arranged for me to fly the prototype—Lindner’s personal aircraft—at the grassy Hahnweide glider field near Stuttgart and sent a company car to take me to Munich, where I was a guest of the Epplers. While there, he commandeered a Bolkow company plane and pilot to fly us to the factory at Laupheim so I could see “Phoebi” under construction. Later we hiked in the Alps, and he had taught his toddler son to call me Uncle Bob in English. After all that, I could not very well not buy a Phoebus! I firmed up my order and wrote a glowing article for Soaring magazine (Dec., 1965, p20). My Phoebus arrived in the fall of 1966. I owned this beautiful bird for twelve years. We logged over 1200 hours together, and I came to thoroughly love it. It had a very respectable maximum L/D of 37–a big step up from the 1-21’s 28. Despite a rather light wing-loading, only a bit over 5 pounds per square foot, it had excellent high-speed performance and cruised happily Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

Kennewick, Washington’s Vista Field was used a base of glider operations for many years. Here the Phoebus B-1 was photographed getting a aerotow to soaring altitude.

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between thermals at 80 to 90 knots, about 100 miles per hour. With water ballast, which I later added, it would really go! I expected the Phoebus to become popular, but two things shot it down, particularly in this country. First, World Champion George Moffatt flew one early in the game and pontificated that “It wouldn’t climb.” This was perhaps one of the few times that

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George was ever wrong about anything, but his words queered a lot of sales. It is a bit ironic that George would later use one of my much-published photos of a Phoebus to adorn the cover of his popular book Winning! Secondly, at about the same time the Phoebus appeared, a manufacturer–little known even in Germany–came out with a 15-meter fiberglass sailplane, the Libelle (dragonfly), which seemed too

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History good to be true. But it was. It was lighter than the Phoebus, or any other 15-meter fiberglass ship, and could be easily rigged in a few minutes by a man and a child, an important advantage for the American soaring scene where a pilot often has no one but a small wife for help. Alternately, German soaring is done at large club sites where there are many hands willing and eager to help. Stubborn German engineers seem unable to appreciate our problems, or to accept any suggestions! The graceful, flapped Libelle actually delivered its advertised forty-to-one glide ratio. Many were imported, most are still flying, and they are still very nearly competitive with the latest and best. Allemann, McClanahan, and Chitwood each got Libelles, while Larry Welch and Tom Davis followed my lead. Theirs were “B” models of the Phoebus and had retractable landing wheels, while mine was fixed. However, there appeared to be little or no difference in performance between theirs and mine. I was happy with my Phoebus, and would probably still be flying it had I not succumbed to the temptation to give motor gliding a go. Alvord In extreme southeastern Oregon State, an isolated mountain towers majestically above its arid surroundings to almost 10,000 feet and is often capped with snow even in the heat of a hot August summer. From HW 95 it can be seen far away as a long north-south ridge against the western sky, often surmounted with cumulus clouds in an otherwise cloudless sky and with towering dust devils at its base. It is known as Steens Mountain (singular) and runs unbroken for almost a hundred miles. The east face is a steep escarpment or fault that drops almost 6000 feet to the desert floor, while the west side slants up more gently. During the last ice age, there were huge glaciers on the mountain and these carved impressive U-shaped glacial valleys almost through the mountain near the summit. The Donner and Blitzen rivers flow out of two of these valleys and feed the Malheur Game Refuge and Malheur and Harney lakes 50 miles to the north. A road, passable after the snow melts, loops up from the little “town” of Frenchglen—named for pioneer cattleman Pete French and his partner and father-in-law Dr. Glen—to the 9788-foot summit. It provides a commanding view and is the highest point one can drive to in Oregon. I had first seen Steens Mountain on trips down Highway 95 during a trip to California and did a bit of library research to learn more about it. The dust devils were obviously coming off of the Alvord Desert, a dry lake a dozen miles long and six or eight miles wide that lies at 4000-feet elevation under the highest part of the ridge. It is a superb example of the dry lakes, which are found throughout the arid west. These lakes are covered with a shallow layer of water, often only inches deep, early in the year. This water serves to redistribute salts and silt, resulting in a very smooth surface after the water evaporates. The famous Bonneville Salt Flat is a good example, but the Alvord 76

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is flatter–I have driven at high speed across both. I wondered whether the Alvord might have potential as an interesting soaring site and whether it might be a good place to do auto towing, a type of launching we hadn’t done for a decade or so and for which we “old timers” had a certain nostalgia, though we wouldn’t want to go back to it as a routine practice. I discussed the idea with Arlen Moore, an Oregon glider pilot and friend. A man of action, Arlen promptly took his glider—a beautiful sailplane of his own design—there and confirmed that it was indeed great, in fact super! The following summer, a number of us from Richland and Portland mounted an expedition there, and Arlen brought his tow wire. We have been there many times since, usually during 4th-of-July vacation. We camp on the edge of the dry lake, can launch right from our camp site, and can auto tow to altitudes of over 2000 feet–as high as one would normally get by aero tow. Because there are no facilities for many miles, we bring all the gasoline, food and water we will need. This corner of southeastern Oregon–comprising most of Harney and Malheur counties–may well be the least populated area of the lower forty-eight states, or at least a close runner-up to Four Corners (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah join). It is a brooding, solitary but beautiful place where little has changed since the last century, when the famous cattleman Pete French was feuding with smaller squatters and homesteaders. Since his murder in 1900, the population has actually decreased, since most of the small operators couldn’t make it. Driving from Burns, Oregon to the Alvord, one can almost always count on seeing herds of antelope, as well as coyotes, eagles, hawks, and vultures, but few if any people. Genuine cowboys do occasionally stop by our camp, hunker down, and reminisce about the old days, and about riding horseback the hundred miles or so from there to Winnemucca, and being caught in dust storms on the way. The Alvord Desert belongs partially to the Bureau of Land Management and partially to the historic Alvord Ranch, whose current owner is an affable and hospitable Mr. Davis. One of his cowboys told us that this ranch, “only” a few hundred square miles, is one of his smaller holdings in several states. This part of Oregon is a geothermal area, and there are hot springs and fumaroles across the ranch. One is by the road only a mile or so from where we normally pitch our camp. Long ago the cowboys from the ranch built some concrete basins, into which the sulfurous water is conducted, with a crude corrugated-iron wind screen—open to the sky—around one, plus a walkway and benches on which to put one’s clothes. After flying, and finishing happy hour and supper, we would go there to soak in the hot mineral water, recount the day’s adventures, count the bullet holes in the sheet metal (and hope no more appeared), and stare up at the star-studded desert sky–a perfect end to the day! There are also several small lakes just south of the Alvord Desert where we would sometimes go to swim, in water so twitter.com/rcflyernews


heavily mineralized that one can hardly sink. In the old days, this water was evaporated down in huge kettles to recover borax, which was transported to the railhead at Winnemucca by mule team. Amazingly, a small unique species of desert fish thrives in this water, survivors from some ancient time. Sunup and sundown are enchanting times at the Alvord, with slanting shadows, pastel colors, and frequently impressive sunrises and sunsets. Moonrise across the white desert surface is also a beautiful spectacle, and the moon and stars seem bigger, brighter and much closer than one would view them at home. However, we came to fly. So, after a leisurely breakfast and camp chores, one watches shimmering mirages form as the air just over the lake bed heats up. Finally, dust devils break loose and one then knows that it is time to go flying. An automobile launch is entirely unlike being towed up behind an airplane, which struggles to claw its way aloft with its encumbering load. With auto or winch tow, one doesn’t stagger into the air, one leaps skyward! After rolling only a few feet, the glider lifts off. One slowly brings the stick back, the nose points increasingly steeply skyward, the speed increases, the wind whistles, and the glider is climbing a thousand feet a minute–looking out to the side to check position since one can see only sky over the nose. It is a thrilling sensation. When the glider is almost, it seems, over the car and no longer climbing, the pilot noses the glider down a bit, pulls the tow release, and goes hunting for a thermal. At the Alvord, we would release at 2000 feet or more above the desert floor and head for the lower slopes of the mountain, which had been basking in the morning sun and soaking up heat. Thermals there, aided by any up-slope wind, would enable us to climb up the precipitous east face of Steens Mountain, past layers of brightly colored lava and turrets of rock for an afternoon of cavorting in the sky and the opportunity to wander about over a large part of arid but beautiful eastern Oregon. Also, it was refreshingly cool up there. Although the Alvord is high desert and gets quite cool at night, it can become very hot in mid-afternoon. That’s OK, though, because the pilots are up flying at that time, and only crews and camp followers have to endure the heat. Losing 3.5 degrees per thousand feet of altitude lowers the temperature as we climb our sailplanes to great heights. Since I was one of the few old-time glider instructors who was experienced with automobile tow, I was often pressed into service to check out younger pilots in this method of launch. Two of these flights stick in my memory, though one was very short. In 1974, Jim Anderson, a naturalist and wildlife photographer who was trying to start a commercial glider operation at Sun River, Oregon, brought his Schweizer 2-33A glider to the Alvord. He asked me to check him out in automobile towing. All went well and, after several launches and signing him off, we decided to stay up a while and enjoy rcflyernews.tumblr.com

the soaring. I rode in the front seat so I could take photographs and Jim flew from the rear. We cruised around the slopes looking for bighorn sheep, and Jim swore me to secrecy and pointed out one of the then last nesting places of the rare peregrine falcon. We flew along the summit ridge and waved at the few tourists who had driven up from the other side, but we weren’t doing very well and were skimming along only a few hundred feet above the rocks. I suggested that there might be a good updraft at the upper end of the Donner valley, which should collect the western wind and turn it skyward. Indeed it did. The next moment, we were looking straight down and the world was spinning, and our destruction appeared imminent. Fortunately Jim was a good pilot with quick reflexes, and had been through spin training—something most students no longer get. He made a quick recovery, and we and the 2-33 survived and continued a pleasant and memorable flight. In 1977 we took our two-place ASK-13 to the Alvord, and it fell to me to check out our members for auto towing. All went fine till it was Andy Anderson’s turn. We took off normally and were climbing steeply through about 700 feet above ground level when the wire broke. We both immediately pulled the release to get rid of whatever wire was still attached to the glider and simultaneously nosed over. Unfortunately, the parachute and rope on the end of the wire had blown back under the glider and was hung up on the horizontal stabilizer, next to the fuselage. Worse, the six- or eight-foot diameter parachute had opened. We had to dive straight at the ground to maintain flying speed. Before we got there, the chute tore loose, and we were able to flair out and land. Roger Frank repaired the damage and said that he couldn’t understand why the horizontal tail hadn’t broken off, only a sixteenth-inch-thick piece of plywood was holding it together. Had it failed, we would have gone straight in and died instantly, though I would have lived a few milliseconds longer than Andy, since I was in the back seat. I would have felt very badly, because Andy is an extremely nice person who would have been much missed and grieved by his wife, children and grandchildren. Perhaps the fact that Andy is a good Christian saved us! I haven’t soared at the Alvord since then, though Iris and I camped there in ‘88 and rode our bicycles on the lake bed and had a nocturnal soak in the hot pool. Pilots from Portland and Seattle do still mount expeditions there most every summer, but they now sometimes “cheat” and bring a tow plane. The area may soon change and lose some of its solitude and charm. The long dusty road from Burns is being paved, which will bring more people. There is also talk of developing the geothermal potential of the region, while others propose selling recreational lots to Californians. In the meantime, I take credit for discovering and publicizing the soaring potential of the Alvord–at least I egged Arlen into going there and finding out. I trust the Northwest soaring community is grateful to me! Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

This gorgeous Glaser-Dirks DG-100 was first made in 1974. It was the first sailplane manufactured by Glaser- Dirks, which was developed from the Akaflieg Darmstadt D-38. It is a Standard class sailplane.

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Motor gliding & PIK-20E During my many years of flying pur” sailplanes, I had often been sorely frustrated by the inability to find a tow pilot or a tow plane when I needed one. Also, there were days when Richland was in a big “blue hole” while beckoning cumulus clouds, or sometimes lenticulars, could be seen in the distance, but too far to reach by tow. A motor glider, or self-launching sailplane, with a small engine that would allow it to launch under its own power, seemed like the answer. It is an old idea, and one that even the great Wolf Hirth worked on before World War II. Even so, most of the motor gliders that appeared over the years were neither good gliders nor good airplanes, and some couldn’t even get off the ground at high places like Denver in the summer, nor were they pretty. I wanted something that looked and flew like a sailplane, that had good soaring performance, and that could launch reliably from most high-altitude western airports on a hot day–places where I like to fly such as milehigh Sun Valley, Idaho, or Reno or Minden, Nevada. I also wanted reliable restart capability, so I could come back if the thermals failed. All no small order! There had been one such aircraft, the Ted Nelson/Harry Perl Hummingbird. It was produced in the midfifties–after Ted gave up on the abortive Dragonfly. It had a reliable 40-hp engine, a graceful metal fuselage that seated two people fore and aft, and a high-performance wing. The engine and propeller retracted into the aft fuselage automatically. It was a thing of beauty and, with engine retracted, had better performance than any other two-place glider of the day. Six were built and at least one is still flying. It seemed like the answer to my prayer, and I was tempted. Though the price of $7000, a lot of money at that time, turned me off. I would wait a while. Sadly, the Korean War and the high cost of government certification killed the project. A few other motor gliders appeared over the years, but they looked like little airplanes and didn’t soar very well. I feel the fact rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History that Ted couldn’t go ahead with the Hummingbird is another of the several major tragedies of American soaring! So, I waited for a quarter of a century and kicked myself that I hadn’t bought a Hummingbird when I had the chance. In the late seventies the Finnish firm, Eiri Avon, a respected manufacturer of competition gliders, announced a single-place, high-performance selflaunching fiberglass sailplane that seemed to meet all my criteria. One of their customers, a clever Finnish engineer, had successfully added a snowmobile engine to his Eiri Avon PIK-20D. The factory was impressed, and went into production of the motorized version. The aircraft was designated the PIK-20E and boasted a 40:1 glide ratio, a short takeoff run, and a 700 fpm climb-out rate. It looked to be just what I had been waiting for, so I reflected on the fact that I wasn’t getting any younger, sold my beloved Phoebus, borrowed some additional money from my stockbroker and ordered one. Mine was delivered very early in 1980. It was almost all I had hoped, a delightful aircraft. It has allowed me to do a

lot of flying, often when I otherwise could not have. In ten years I have flown it over 1600 hours, while using the engine only ten percent of the time. At this rate, we should be well into the next century before the engine needs a major overhaul! Some “Purists” frown on motor gliders–though I fail to see why being towed aloft and dragged around the sky on the end of a rope behind an airplane is any purer than launching one’s self. However, I did worry a bit whether self-launch and self-retrieve capability would take some of the zest and adventure out of soaring. Would it eliminate the “pucker factor”? I find it has not, in fact a motor glider introduces some new things to worry about, besides being more complex and demanding to fly. It is heavier than a regular sailplane; mine weighs over 700 pounds empty— about 200 pounds heavier than an engineless PIK. With me, eight gallons of fuel, parachute, oxygen tank, and a few odds and ends, we gross out at over a thousand pounds, or about nine pounds per square foot, versus only five for the Phoebus. Nevertheless, it soars quite well, probably because of the full-span flaps—its ailerons and flaps work together, which one

Bob Moore is readying to fly his PIK-20E at Sun Valley, Idaho. Photo by Cecil Craig. 80

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The Ted Nelson/Harry Perl Hummingbird.

cranks down for greater lift when circling in a thermal, and pulls up when running fast between thermals. It is about as heavy as a 15-meter racer with a full load of water ballast. I learned early-on what this increased weight means. Don’t land off airports! Each time I did I broke something. Then I reflected that the pilots of 15-meter racing sailplanes dump their ballast before they land even on airports, but I can’t dump my extra weight. I concluded that the PIK-20E is an “airport airplane”, at least in my hands. If one gets low, except near an airport, one should start the engine. But how low? Once I waited until I was down to 500 feet, and it didn’t start–one of my early off-airport landings. Twocycle engines can be balky and sometimes are. Now I attempt a restart when I get down to 2000 feet, and I want a good place to land–preferably an airport– underneath. If the reason it doesn’t start is because the battery is low, I can dive to get the propeller windmilling, and it will then probably start. If not, there is still time to retract the engine, close the engine doors, and set up a landing pattern. It glides like a rock with the engine out and not running. So, there are a few “pucker factors” that cause me to fly it even a bit more conservatively than if it did not have an engine. Before long I learned of another big “pucker factor”: engine failure on takeoff. I hadn’t given this one much thought, assuming that it would be similar to a rope break on aero tow, no big deal, but it isn’t. It is more like engine failure on an aeroplane, an EMERGENCY that sometimes kills pilots. If it happens, there isn’t time to line the propeller up and crank the engine back in, and the aircraft is heavy. It has happened to me twice. Each time I got it down OK, though a lot of adrenaline flowed. Now I use every bit of any runway, even if the hot shots are taking off from mid field, and rcflyernews.tumblr.com

even if people laugh at my conservatism. Each time I launch I heave a sigh of relief when we reach five or six hundred feet, where I know I could turn back if I had to. Motor gliding is, therefore, not completely stressless. But I love the PIK-20E. It has made me independent, particularly since I got a hangar. Now I don’t need a tow plane, nor a tow pilot, nor a helper; in short I don’t have to be nice to anyone! Except, that is, the generous and clever friend who keeps the engine tuned for me. The PIK-20E has made it possible for me to soar a lot, and at times when others can’t. Also, it allows me to indulge my passion for cross-country soaring, knowing that I almost surely can get back and won’t have to impose on friends to bring the trailer to get me (one can soon run out of friends). On a typical flight, I will push the aircraft out of the hangar and do a careful preflight inspection, using a detailed check list, something I didn’t bother with when flying simpler gliders. Then I hold my mouth just right and see if the engine will start—it sounds so great when it does! Then I taxi out to the end of the runway–a bit like a mother bird doing the broken wing act, since it taxis with one wing running along on its little wing tip wheel. I do a few more checks, announce on the radio to “Richland area traffic” that Motor glider Bravo Mike is preparing to take off, ease the throttle to the fire wall, and start down the runway. In just a few feet, I can level the wings. If the engine is then turning up its full 6000+ rpm, we continue, otherwise abort. At 55 knots, an imperceptible tug on the stick causes it to lift off, and I must admit I still feel a little thrill every time this minor miracle happens. We are airborne again, off into that “wild blue yonder!” A few minutes later, at perhaps 2000 feet, we will have found a thermal. I throttle back Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

Bob photographed Pepi Siegler flying his beautiful 1960s vintage Slingsby Dart T-51 near Sun Valley, Idaho. It sport a 17-meter wingspan.

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to cool the engine a bit, close the throttle and kill the ignition, then watch in a little mirror on the corner of the instrument panel till the windmilling propeller lines up vertically, quickly apply a brake against the flywheel to lock it, open the engine doors in the aft fuselage, crank the engine in (fourteen turns on a crank, rather like rolling a car window up or down, but not difficult), close the engine doors, trim the aircraft, and concentrate on soaring. Hours later, perhaps after flying several hundred miles, I return and land and only rcflyernews.tumblr.com

then crank the engine out to taxi the half mile back to the hangar. Usually I will not have used the engine at all out on course, and total engine time for the day may total only 15 minutes. We will also have used less than a gallon of fuel, though that is not the point. When I bought mine, I thought that motor gliding was the wave of the future, and I still think so. However, the future has been delayed by the collapse of the U.S. dollar, and today there are only about a hundred self-launching sailplanes roughly equivalent Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History to mine in this country. I hope to fly mine a lot longer, possibly into the next century, and may soon enter some motor glider contests—not with the expectation of winning glory but rather for the camaraderie and excitement. I hope I will know when it is time to quit, or that my friends will tell me and that I will believe them. At that time, I have promised to give PIK-20E N90BM to a favorite nephew. If he doesn’t want it, I will donate it to the National Soaring Museum, and they can sell it to raise money for their worthy cause. Setting Records My PIK-20E was one of the first to come into the United States, with the West Coast and East Coast dealers getting the first two. The United States record book for motor glider records was blank at that time, and the situation was not much better for World motor glider records. So, I thought it would be fun to try to set some. Because the slate was clean, most any flight would qualify. Rather, I wanted any records I filed for to be reasonably respectable. As with pure sailplanes, there are record categories for distance, for goal and return, for altitude and altitude gain, and for speed around a variety of metric triangles: 100 kilometers, 200, 300, 500, etc. I consulted with SSA about the detailed rules and mapped out a series of triangles that fit within the Columbia Basin, and that would meet the 28% requirement; i.e., the shortest leg could not be less than that percentage of the circumference. This doesn’t seem like much of a limitation, but it requires triangles that look almost equilateral. Also, I wanted good, easily identifiable photo targets—airports, highway intersections, etc.—at each turn point, and I wanted to avoid known sink areas and rough terrain. Many potential triangles were eliminated. All of this took a bit of study, and the distances had to be checked by great circle calculation, not just scaled off a map. A sailplane record has to be confirmed in an impeccable manner. This is the job of an Official Observer. Only Gold and Diamond badge pilots, and certain civic officials qualify. My observer was my retired friend, Al Wilson (Gold Badge #129), who was always available and eager to help when I needed him. Sealed barographs, which record altitude as a function of time, are carried. Those used in motor gliders have a second feature that shows whether the engine is restarted after crossing the start line—a restart would disqualify the flight. I carried two of these special barographs, as insurance in case one should fail. A line, marked out on the airport across a runway, was used for start and finish. I would launch, stow the engine, and dive across this line just under the allowed 1000 meters (3,281 feet). Al would determine the precise instant with a special sighting device. Then I would fly the task, photograph each turn point with two sealed cameras, return, zoom across the finish line, land and give the film to Al to have developed. Afterwards, the barograms would have to be examined and the barographs recalibrated by a certified laboratory in Seattle, ditto for the timing clock. After that, one 84

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filled out lots of paperwork. Everyone—SSA, NAA (National Aeronautic Association), and FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)—had to have multiple original copies with signatures. These included a Claim Statement, a Declaration of Turning Points form, an Evidence of Reaching Turn Points form, a Certificate of Photographic Turn Points form, a Landing or Arrival at Finish Line form, a separate Certificate of Photographic Procedure, and a Certificate of Barograph Procedures. Film and traces and calibration certificates also had to be submitted. The paper work took far more time than the flight, and I thought poor Al would develop writers cramp! We spent a long season trying to set some credible records. It was an educational and frustrating experience. There were really surprisingly few days when the weather was of record proportions. A lot of things went wrong. Some flights were thrown out because they were terribly slow, others because I had to use the engine to get home. We submitted only one for a National record, a 300 km flight made on July 16, 1982, with a modest speed of 82.62 km/hr. It was duly certified and I was presented, at a National Soaring Convention, with an imposing certificate. By the time another season rolled around, some younger pilots had bought motor gliders, a bit better than mine. They soon broke my record and filled in most of the blanks, flying in places like California and Texas where the soaring conditions are frankly stronger than here in the Pacific Northwest. My moment of “glory” was brief, but I do still hold all of the Washington state motor glider records. The certificates for these state records would paper a small wall. I would try to upgrade these a bit, but getting an Official Observer when needed was difficult, since qualified friends work. My dear friend Al Wilson passed away in the summer of 1988. He flew the tow plane for the last time for our club only a month before he died. It was evident his health was failing, and I tried to get him to a physician, but none was taking new patients. Finally, I took him to Emergency at Kadlec Hospital. They diagnosed congestive heart failure and admitted him to intensive care. Some of his children arrived from Seattle just in the nick of time. He sat up in bed and visited happily for a little while with them, then asked whether it was a good soaring day, his last words. Assured it was, he died. As he had requested, we—actually Rudy Allemann—scattered his, and his wife Vickie’s, ashes over this northwest area where he so loved to fly. Four Aeroplanes Soaring has been my lifelong love; however, I have had brief, but enjoyable, affairs with four aeroplanes. One can call these wonderful creations either airplanes or aeroplanes. The speller on my computer much prefers the former; but my power instructor, Fred Perkins, always used the later word, even in crisis situations; and it seems to have a nicer ring to it, particularly if one is speaking affectionately or admiringly about a great aircraft. So, I use both words interchangeably, whether spell checker likes it or not. twitter.com/rcflyernews


My first power craft was the Aeronca Champion, or “Air Knocker”. I wrote about it earlier. The Champion resembled the more famous Piper J-3 Cub, but was actually a better airplane. With the same 65 hp Continental engine, it would cruise perhaps 10 mph faster—around 80 mph versus 65 or 70. It was easy to fly—otherwise I couldn’t have checked out in “nothing flat”, cf. “Worst Trained Pilot”. It was an “honest” airplane that would spin if you pushed it too far, which is good in a trainer. It was also not a bad powered glider. I used to throttle back and work thermals with ours, sometimes soaring from Richland to Pasco to buy gasoline. Charlie McAllister used Champions for many decades to teach his students at Yakima; and, he may still have one or two. He always included a bit of soaring instruction, so his students would have a better appreciation for the way the air behaves. Gus Briegleb used to put on a great act at air shows in his Champion. Gus would be towed aloft, just like a glider, with the propeller removed or tied down, and then release and soar, plus do aerobatics, followed by a precision spot landing. His act was always a crowd pleaser. Champions haven’t been built for many years now, but a few can still be found doing yeoman duty at small airports. Its spirit lives on in the more powerful, aerobatic Citabria and the Bellanca Scout. After we gave up on using the Champion as a tow plane, and began to suspect that we might have overworked the engine and done it no good, Ed Erickson found an unsuspecting buyer for our tired airplane; and we then shopped for a replacement. We actually ended up with two, a biplane for towing

and a very nice little Taylor Craft, or “T-Craft” for going places. The T-Craft cost $600, so we took in another partner, redheaded Willis Weichel, a teenage CAP cadet who was a very keen pilot and a good partner. The T-Craft seated two people side-by-side, rather than fore and aft, and was controlled with a wheel rather than a stick, just like an airliner. It had a wide wing and used an airfoil that was convex on the bottom as well as on the top, whereas most other airplanes at that time still used the old standby, flat bottom Clark-Y. Although ours was only 65 hp, which translates into about 3 gallons of gas per hour, it cruised about 90 mph, but could land very slowly and could take off in a remarkably short distance—almost a STOL aircraft (Short Take Off and Landing). It was very pleasant to fly; and, it was nice to be able to sit next to one’s passenger and converse easily. Some surviving T-Craft have been beefed up and given bigger engines and are used by aerobatic pilots for their routines. The odd airfoil allows them to fly almost as well upside down as right side up. We sold our T-Craft when Ed went east. About the time we got the T-Craft, we also bought a Myers OTW biplane, with a big radial Warner engine and open cockpits—helmet and goggle stuff! To finance it, we took in another partner, Ed’s roommate, John Bollin. John had absolutely no flying experience, but Ed promised he could learn to fly in the Myers. Ed may have been a bit of a con man in those days, however, the end certainly justified the means. The Myers was an interesting aircraft, which had been built shortly before World War II for the government’s

Bob’s side-by-side Taylor Craft cost him only $600, which he shared with two partners. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History Civilian Pilot Training Program. The wings were of conventional fabric-covered, wooden construction; but the fuselage was sheet aluminum riveted over a frame—making it sort of a hybrid, a bit of the old and a bit of the new. It had a very wide landing gear, with enormously long oleo shock absorbers, and a full-swivel tail wheel not hooked in any way to the rudder pedals. Steering on the ground was by rudder and brakes alone. This led to an amusing incident one day when John’s regular instructor, old-timer Smitty, was away and a younger instructor tried to substitute. The instructor promptly ground-looped the airplane right off the runway, while a horde of people watched and laughed. Thanks to the wide gear, no damage was done, but the young instructor never got back into that airplane. Under Smitty’s tutelage, Bollin did become a pilot. The Myers was a good tow plane and it was fun to fly—though ours had seen better days and burned almost as much oil as gas. It had an enormous wing area, could fly and land very slowly, and could loop-the-loop out of level flight at cruising rpm! My last, and most fun aeroplane, was a Kinner Fleet biplane which was built in Niagara Falls, Canada in 1929. When I got it, it was already a very experienced airplane with thousands and thousands of hours in the log book and was then half as old as aviation. It was a relatively small biplane (28-foot wingspan and 20 ft 9 in. long). It stood at a steep angle on the ground, on a narrow gear, with big oversize tires (for operation from soft ground), had a very long metal propeller, and a rather archaic but pleasing scallop shape to the tail surfaces. It resembled nothing so much as a World War I fighter. It was more of a handful to fly than the docile Myers, but very maneuverable. It spoiled me. It seemed as if one could almost touch the wingtips, and it could turn on a dime. If you wanted to climb, you opened the throttle and pulled back on the stick and it

climbed skyward like the proverbial “homesick angel”. If one wanted to go down, you simply closed the throttle and nosed it over into a vertical dive. It was so strong and had so much built-in drag that it couldn’t dive fast enough to hurt itself. Visibility was excellent in all directions except straight ahead. These old biplanes were piloted from the rear cockpit, and you did “S” turns while taxiing to see if any obstructions were in your path. I used a nose-high, forward sideslip to keep the runway in sight when approaching to land, and kicked it straight at the last moment. An entry in the log book indicated that a well-known Northwest CAA inspector had once landed this particular airplane on top of another aircraft! I enjoyed the Fleet, and it spoiled me for other airplanes, but had bought it primarily as a tow plane, so I could get a tow in my sailplane when I wanted one. After Ed left, however, the problem was getting anyone to fly it and tow me. Pilots who had learned to fly in Aeroncas were afraid of it. As a result, I finally sold it. I have often regretted doing so! Glen La Moreaux, who had once owned it, bought it from me for $450. Glen lovingly restored it to mint condition, and finally sold it to an airline pilot. That gentleman eventually donated it to the old San Diego Aviation Museum. Friends saw it there and told me where it was being displayed. I had hoped to visit there some day and give it an affectionate pat. Sadly, a firebug destroyed the museum and its great collection of irreplaceable aircraft. N780V perished. Only its brass name plate survived. None of these four aeroplanes had radio, or for that matter very many instruments. It was mostly seat-ofthe-pants flying and navigating with a compass and map. You could, however, fly across the United States that way, and you would see a lot more along the way than you ever see from a modern airliner—assuming you have a window seat and see anything.

Richland Flying Service’s acquired a “Tote Gote” towplane, which had started life as a Piper J-3 Cub. 86

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These aeroplanes also lacked starters; one started their engines by swinging the propeller, a somewhat risky operation I never liked, particularly with the tall biplanes and their big engines. There was a romance to the old open-cockpit biplanes and the deepthroated, low-pitched throb of their big round engines though. They, and the Iron Horses—the old steam locomotives—have to be the two most emotionarousing, spine-tingling machines our age has produced. They were almost living things! The Worst Trained Pilot I can claim, with some justification, to be the “worst trained” pilot—of either gliders or aeroplanes—in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years I acquired a Private Airplane rating, a Private Glider rating, a Commercial Glider rating and a Commercial Glider Instructor rating, all with remarkably little dual instruction and without ever having taken a written exam or having attended ground school. I wasn’t trying to defraud the system; it just happened that way. My motives were wholly innocent. Should I tell this story to the present FAA, they might well take away my pilot’s license. Should they ever read this, hopefully I will already be beyond the pall. My first flight in a glider—before World War II—was solo in the primary, and when the “instructor” wasn’t present. After the war, I learned to fly our club’s Schweizer TG-3, with some help from my friend Al Withrow, who was only a bit more experienced than I. By the summer of 1950 I had accumulated ten hours of time and hundreds of auto tow launches. Al then decided I was ready for my Private Glider Pilot license. The flight test took place (solo) at Ellensburg, where Gerry Casey, a very nice CAA man and himself a glider enthusiast, was directing traffic for a huge airplane fly-in. On the Sunday morning of the test, Casey was out in the middle of the airport directing landing airplane traffic with a light gun—it was before most airplanes had radio. He told me to go over to the inactive runway and make a couple of automobile launches, landing once into the wind and once down wind. I did as directed, and then trotted over to ask him how I had done. “OK” he said, still pointing his light gun at approaching airplanes—I doubt he actually saw me fly. Then he asked what score I had made on the written test? My mouth must have dropped a mile. What test? Al hadn’t mentioned one. Casey, the gentleman, still directing traffic, gave me an oral test. I guessed enough answers correctly to satisfy him, so he signed my papers and I became a licensed glider pilot. I have told elsewhere how a friend and I subsequently bought a 65-hp-powered Aeronca Champion to use as a tow plane, and found it grossly inadequate. Since I then owned a half interest in a light airplane, I decided I might as well learn to fly it. I engaged the services of the late Fred Perkins, a Hanford worker and great guy who instructed on a part-time basis at the old Richland Civil Air Patrol field just south of town. Fred was tremendously impressed rcflyernews.tumblr.com

with the fact I was a glider pilot and, I think, may have made a bet with the airport loafers he could solo me in the Champion in nothing flat. We rode around the traffic pattern once and he landed the airplane. Next time around, I landed it. Then he got out, and I did it solo. This is the literal truth! We did fly it a bit more together, learning certain maneuvers one must do to get a license, but most of my flying of the Champion was solo. A bit later in the summer, Fred announced that I should fly the Champ to Prosser the next weekend and take the Private Pilot’s flight test with Glen La Moreaux, the local CAA Examiner Designee. A minimum of only forty hours was required at that time to get a power license, but one could count twenty hours of glider time—about all I had. I pointed out to Fred that I didn’t have a matching twenty hours in the airplane, but he said “no problem”, we would just write an extra twelve hours into my log book and fly it out later. We never did! He pointed out that if I didn’t take the test at once, I would need a lot more time because the rules were about to change, and glider time could no longer be counted. So, I apprehensively flew to Prosser on the appointed day, the last day before the rules changed. La Moreaux was a portly Frenchman with slicked-back black hair and a big black mustache, a fine gentleman and an airman of the old school who was adept at all aspects of flying, including aerobatics, buying and selling airplanes, repairing them, teaching people to fly, and dusting and spraying crops. For decades he and his helpers ran their flying service from some ramshackle low buildings on the north side of the airport. Glen is long dead now and no trace remains to show he was ever there. The day I went there for my flight test, others were waiting, too, because many other requirements for the Private license were also being upgraded. My turn came very late in the day, and I became more nervous with each passing hour. Finally Glen squeezed into the back seat and told me to take the plane up to two thousand feet. With our combined weight, it didn’t want to go that high. My deficiencies must have been immediately evident, because what was supposed to be a test became another hour of instruction, with Glen showing me, among other things, spins over the top and out the bottom—all under two thousand feet and without parachutes! As the sun was nearing the horizon, we came back and I made one of my typical bouncy landings. For a while there was silence. Then Glen finally spoke up and said that anyone who flew gliders surely must be able to fly better than I had demonstrated. Also saying, “that he realized if he didn’t pass me, after tomorrow the license would cost me more”. So, he reluctantly and generously signed my papers. He assumed that, since I was a licensed glider pilot, I had taken the written test, and didn’t ask. I was now licensed in both power and glider, and could legally carry passengers, and still without having taken a written exam or ground school. Subscribe @ RCSportFlyer.com

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History

Bob Moore photographed Dale Hacker’s PIK-20D from above, looking down on the north end of Ephrate, WA

Some years later several young friends became interested in gliding, we organized the Columbia Basin Soaring Association, and I was asked to instruct. So, I took my LK to Wenatchee one weekend to take the flight test for my Commercial glider rating. The proud and famous Peter M Bowers—aviation writer, airplane designer of the Fly Baby, and all-round aviation buff—was the Glider Designee for the Northwest region and had come from Seattle that weekend for this purpose. We went up in my LK and I flew the way my friend Bob Fisher had taught us to fly eastern Washington thermals, banking very steeply. Peter, who preferred gentle, airliner-type turns, promptly got airsick, and asked peevishly if I always flew that way. I assured him I did, and quoted the famous Fisher as my authority. Pete asked me to take him down, and I think signed my ticket to get rid of me. Still no written exam or ground school. Some years later the FAA decided that those who did glider instruction should be full-fledged Instructors, not just pilots with a Commercial rating, probably a good idea. But there was a grandfather clause, so all I had to do was sign my name to become a Commercial Flight Instructor Glider (CFIG). Some years later it was decided that instructors should be re-certified every two years by flying with a genuine FAA Examiner. That could have been my undoing. But the man who did the honors was one of the Good Old Boys from the Spokane FAA office, and he would have been the first to admit he knew very little about soaring. So, we would pretend he was a student and pretend I was an instructor and go up and soar for a couple of hours and have a ball. He came down as happy and excited as a kid, and my ticket would be good for another two years. I have since let it lapse. I could reactivate it by taking a refresher course, and a written exam, which I would probably flunk. I haven’t bothered, nor am I eager to instruct. The liability problems in today’s litigious society frighten me. Anyone who has read this far will surely agree I must indeed be the poorest and least trained airplane or glider pilot in the Pacific Northwest, maybe even in the whole United States! 88

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History Is Soaring Still Fun I think so, but not as much fun as it used to be. This may simply be the lament of a tired old man who thinks everything was better when he was young and “full of piss and vinegar”, but I think not. The membership of the Soaring Society is declining and the size of the U.S. sailplane fleet is shrinking. Others must feel similarly. There are a lot of reasons I feel as I do. Our modern fiberglass sailplanes are incredible machines, which deliver performance that would once have been thought impossible. The 15-Meter and Standard Class gliders are delivering measured glide ratios of over forty-to-one, while the big, Open Class birds have reached over sixty-to-one and can literally glide beyond the horizon from the top of a high Western thermal! These modern sailplanes are all less interesting and have less “character” than those that preceded them. The designers have honed in on the ultimate efficient design. All are shoulder wing with “T” tails, and all are white, so their composites won’t melt in the sun. They all look alike. At a contest, even I have to walk up close and read the fine print on the side of the cockpit to know whether I am looking at an ASW-20 or an LS-4, or something else. It wasn’t that way in pre-fiberglass days. Gliders then were built of wood and plywood, steel tubing and fabric, or aluminum; and some had conventional tails while others sported V-tails and some T-tails. There was no confusing a Slingsby Skylark with a Schweizer 1-23 or with Irv Prue’s or Dick Schreder’s latest creations—all were fine sailplanes, with distinctive appearances. They were fun to examine and compare. Further, gliders then were painted in bright, cheerful colors, which gave a festive air to any gathering of sailplanes, and each pilot had his own color scheme—a great help in telling friend from foe at a distance and in deciding who to follow and who to ignore! Further, these modern, high-performance birds are extremely expensive—both inherently and as a result of the collapse of the value of the U.S. dollar. When mine wears out, I am not sure I can ever afford another. They are also expensive to repair. These racing machines have high wing-loadings and high landing speeds, and an off-airport landing is likely to put it in the shop. They may repose there for anywhere from several months to a year or more, because there are only a very few shops in the entire country currently certified and qualified to perform this exacting type of repair. In the old days, off-airport landings were seldom of much concern. Those “primitive” gliders had generous-sized wheels, a broad skid in front of the wheel, and a low touch-down speed. They could be landed in any small, reasonably level field, and we had to demonstrate that we could approach over a (usually imaginary) three-foot fence, touch down, and stop within a hundred yards in order to qualify for a Private Glider License—for the Commercial rating, the 90

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distance was reduced to only 100 feet! Few, if any, modern gliders can. Notably, my friend Don Santee, after finishing his Diamond Distance flight in his “primitive” K-8, was able to land safely late in the day on a baseball diamond, after a memorable flight that took him across the Grand Canyon (since the Canyon has been made a Restricted flight area). Then too, if we did damage our old-time gliders, they were fairly easy to fix. One, simply, got out the glue pot and some wood and fabric or the welding torch. Likely, the glider would probably be back in the air the next day. Any local A&E mechanic could handle more extensive repairs of those birds; and, they often would let us do a lot of the work ourselves and sign it off for us. Consequently, I think we flew those gliders with more exuberance and less worry than many of us feel today. I also enjoyed contests more back then. I think most pilots took winning a bit less seriously, had more fun, and did more socializing. There was also more variety to the tasks we flew, which did a better job of picking a well-rounded, resourceful Champion. They encouraged glider manufacturers to produce gliders better suited for club and recreational flying, not just a stable of heavy, specialized “lead sleds” that are designed exclusively to win contests. Today, everything is racing. Unfortunately, distance flying has been completely eliminated. I understand the reasons why. Our pilots and gliders have gotten too good. Today’s Open Class pilots would often be able to glide till after dark, and would kill themselves landing. Everyone would be subjected to long retrieves and exposed to off-field landings and possibly expensive repairs. There is no going back, but distance flying is what soaring is all about. I groaned as loudly as anyone else whenever a Competition Director would call Open Distance. Even so, it is those adventurepacked flights of many hundred miles over unfamiliar country, and sometimes across several states, which stick in my memory, not the short races around closed courses. By the end of a contest, the latter usually blur together in my memory, but not the “vulgar downwind dashes”, as Philip Wills called the task he loved so much. When straight-out distance was eliminated—initially to shorten retrieves during President Carter’s energy crisis—another type of distance task was introduced: the cat’s cradle or “Bikle basket” (for Paul Bikle, who suggested it). It was an excellent task, where the pilots flew as far as possible, with each selecting his own turn points from a list, and none of the retrieves were very long. It required the ability to use all of the soaring day, both weak and strong, and required a lot of pilot judgement of weather and terrain. Many of the pundits didn’t like it—too much “luck factor” they declared. What’s wrong with a little luck? Some of us need a bit of luck! The experts preferred to fly a task set for them by someone else, and only in the middle of the day when the thermals are strongest. In addition to the fact that today’s contest flying has twitter.com/rcflyernews


become somewhat boring, the kinds of soaring flight we can engage in at other times have been restricted, at least here in the United States. Of the four major types of lift: ridge, thermal, cloud and wave, cloud flying is banned. It was a lot of fun and a challenge. Too bad it is gone. We can still do wave flying, but only in designated areas where there is an established wave area or “window”. We have such an area over Mt. Rainier, one over Rattlesnake Mountain, and one at Wenatchee— there are a few in other parts of the country too. By calling Air Traffic Control (ATC), we can activate these, if doing so doesn’t interfere too much with commercial traffic. ATC is usually cooperative, but it is rather like being an animal in a nature preserve or park. One can go up, enjoy the view, as well as the power and smoothness of the wave. Maybe you can earn a badge or set a record. You can no longer use the altitude to go anywhere. A flight like Cecil Craig’s down the spine of the Cascades is no longer legal. This is a tragedy because wave lift could make possible some spectacular crosscountry flights. Modern sailplanes could go a very long way in wave. Note that a few pilots have installed transponders and other equipment in their gliders to try to comply with ATC requirements, but gliders, with their inability to maintain constant altitude, don’t really fit into the ATC system.

Even thermal flying is being impinged on by FAA. In the old days we could fly most anywhere we wished and as high as we wanted. It was real “Freedom of the Skies”. The ceiling for uncontrolled flight is now 18,000 feet above sea level here in the western U.S. and 14,000 in the eastern part of the country, and the FAA keeps trying to force it lower. Cumulus cloud base over the mountain ranges here in the western U.S. is sometimes over 18,000, so we cheat a bit. Maybe it is OK till someone gets caught! Further, the Feds keep trying to impose positive control, all “in the interest of safety”, of course. In 1987 they almost succeeded, with the connivance of Congress, in creating huge Positive Control Areas around most every major airport. In the eastern half of the country, these would have overlapped and virtually shut down all general aviation activities. Only concerted action and lobbying of Congress by all segments of general aviation got this turned around. The Feds will doubtless be back. Meanwhile, Traffic Control Areas (TCAs) around some major airports, such as Sea-Tac and Spokane, bar us from big areas of airspace, needlessly so because there are other solutions, which the FAA won’t seriously consider. Coupling this with creeping urban sprawl and the closing of many small airports, and there are fewer and fewer places where one can fly gliders near most metropolitan areas. Seattle

Bob’s dear friend, the late Al Wilson (Gold Badge holder #129), stands next to his 1958 Cessna 175 tow plane. rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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Richland was quite barren in the summer of 1947 when Dr Bob Moore arrived to start work for the DuPont Corporation as a Ph.D. Chemist. Alternately, the surrounding desert promised glorious gliding and soaring conditions. 92

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History soaring pilots now have to go sixty miles north to Arlington, or come to Ephrata. Eastern Washington pilots are lucky, at least for now. The Feds have taken other steps that make pleasure flying less fun and more difficult than it used to be too—always in the interests of “efficiency” or “safety”. Most of the weather stations, where pilots could talk face-to-face with a helpful person, have been eliminated—replaced with remote, faceless computer networks. And drug tests are being imposed on anyone who flies an airplane for hire, who flies a club towplane, or who instructs—all without any clearly proven need. Were I to resume instructing, I would have to arrange for expensive, periodic drug tests, and would have to pay for having to undergo this insulting invasion of my privacy. So, I won’t instruct any more, though I like to think I could help students and young pilots by imparting to them some of my hard won “wisdom”! The FAA has also embarked on a rigid program of assessing severe penalties for even the most minor, often innocent, infractions of their voluminous and

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very technical rules. Additionally, they have hired hundreds of young lawyers to prosecute violators, with the FAA serving as judge, jury, and prosecutor. There is no recourse to the courts, not a comforting situation. This new breed of FAA employee replaces the “Good Old Boys”, now retired, with whom we used to deal. They were men who loved flying every bit as much as we did and who would help us in our dealings with CAA and FAA, as long as we played fair with them. Many of those men became our friends. The new breed can impose fines of thousands of dollars and long prison terms for civil violations, which would merit only a warning ticket or small fine on the highway. Not much fun! One must be wary, and give the new FAA types no more than the time of day. Anything you say to them can be use against you; and, you are guilty till proven innocent. The damnable tort lawyers (not among my favorite people) have had a strong negative impact on soaring—and on many other aspects of American life. Because of them, liability insurance has gone sky high, and this has wiped out all manufactures of small airplanes and gliders in the U.S. All of our gliders now come from Europe. These high insurance costs also make it more expensive to hold contests and air shows. Moreover, restrictions written into our glider insurance limit how we can use our sailplanes. In the old days we often flew each others’ gliders, but no more—our insurance policies won’t permit it. And some of us feel we can no longer run a contest or instruct. The potential liability exposure is just too high! My last gripe is that the soaring weather isn’t what it used to be! It really isn’t, at least here in the Columbia Basin, and I think this is true many other places, too. Since our early postwar soaring here, numerous dams have been built on the Columbia and Snake rivers, large areas have been brought under irrigation, and the air has become more humid. There may also have been a change in weather patterns. Jim Hard’s careful records seemed to indicate this. In the early days, we would enjoy excellent soaring for almost a week after the passage of a cold front, and then another front would usually come through and flush out the stable air. Now, the good soaring may last only a day after a frontal passage. Really clear twitter.com/rcflyernews


The DG-100 turns for the heavens under lovely cumulus clouds building in the distance. It is the passion for soaring! rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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History days, when we can see the distant mountains, are increasingly rare—in part because of smog that moves up the Columbia Gorge from Portland or through Snoqualmie pass from Seattle. We also generate our fair share of smog here now. Something similar to our Columbia Basin experience is probably true in many other parts of the United States. Captain Fritz Compton, who was an SSA Director and competition pilot when I was, said that when he first started flying an airliner down the East Coast, it was generally VFR (visual flight rules) and CAVU (ceiling and visibility unlimited) all the way from New York City to Miami. In later years it was so murky they had to be on instruments all the time. So it is that, over the years we have had to get better and better sailplanes in order to do as well as we did with our crude, early gliders! Despite all the change, I still enjoy soaring. It remains my abiding love and obsession! I hope I can continue for another ten years. That would take me through the turn of the century, when I will be eighty years old. Perhaps that will be a good time to hang it up and turn to some other less demanding sport, such as golf. But, like the late Philip Wills, I am extremely grateful I was able to live and fly during the best part of the twentieth century, to experience the progress of gliding and soaring from the hang glider and the primitive primary to fiberglass glass slipper. Soaring has enriched and added excitement to

what might otherwise have been a rather drab life. R.I.P. Soaring Society of America Life Member Robert Lee (Bob) Moore January 21, 2006 (age 85) “Big Martini” High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds—and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious burning blue I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace, Where never Lark, or even Eagle, flew; And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high un-trespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. John G. Magee, Jr.å

Bob, I hope you’re soaring wherever you are! It is the freedom that no man can honestly explain. 96

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TRAILING EDGE Who Really Owns the National Airspace? If you DON’T CAREFULLY READ the proposed rules by the FAA, which follows, you are relinquishing your ownership of the national airspace! Federal Register/Vol. 84, No. 250/Tuesday, December 31, 2019/Proposed Rules 72438 December 26, 2019

“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced a proposed rule that would continue the safe integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly called drones, into the nation’s airspace by requiring them to be identifiable remotely. Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the FAA, law enforcement, and federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. The FAA seeks input on the Notice of Proposed Rule-making (NPRM) for Remote Identification (Remote ID) of UAS that today was published in the Federal Register. It is accompanied by a comment period that closes March 2, 2020, to receive public feedback and help the FAA develop a final rule to enhance safety in the skies over the U.S.” This proposed rule-making absolutely makes me livid! The FAA is about to tell RC aircraft enthusiasts that we don’t own the national airspace. Instead, they do! Let me remind every one of you who takes the time to read this article that the FAA does not own our national airspace. We do! Moreover, the FAA does not have the right to give our nation’s airspace to anyone or any corporation under their unfunded mandate! Alternately, the U.S. government does have the right to protect the citizens of the USA from terrorists that want to use the national airspace illegally. As a simple point of fact, we modelers are NOT the threat; and we never will be the threat. To continue, please read the FAA Executive Summary, which follows. I’ll comment further after you’ve done so.

“This proposed rule would establish requirements for the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operated in the airspace of the United States. Remote identification (or Remote ID) is the ability of an unmanned aircraft in flight to provide certain identification and location information that people on the ground and other airspace users can receive. This is an important building block in the unmanned traffic management ecosystem. For example, the ability to identify and locate UAS operating in the airspace of the United States provides additional situational awareness to manned and unmanned aircraft. This will become even more important as the number of UAS operations in all classes of airspace increases. In addition, the ability to identify and locate UAS provides critical information to law enforcement and other officials charged with ensuring public safety. While remote identification alone will not enable routine expanded operations such as operations over people or beyond visual line of sight, it is a critical element for building unmanned traffic management capabilities. The FAA envisions that the remote identification network will form the foundation for the development of other technologies that can enable expanded operations. Full implementation of remote identification relies on three interdependent parts that are being developed concurrently. The first is this proposed rule, which establishes operating requirements for UAS operators and performance-based design and production standards for producers of UAS. The second is a network of Remote ID UAS Service Suppliers (Remote ID USS) that would collect the identification and location in real-time from in-flight UAS. The Remote ID USS would perform this service under contract with the FAA, based on the same model the FAA currently uses for the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). The third part of the remote identification ecosystem is the collection of technical requirements that standards-setting organizations will develop to meet the performance-based design and production requirements in this proposed rule. All UAS operating in the airspace of the United States, with very few exceptions, would be subject to the requirements of this rule. All UAS operators would be required to comply regardless of whether they conduct recreational or commercial operations, except those flying UAS that are not otherwise required to be registered under the FAA’s existing rules. All UAS produced for operation in the airspace of the United States would have to comply with the design and production requirements established in this proposal with exceptions for amateur-built UAS, UAS of the United States government, and unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 0.55 pounds. This proposal establishes design and production requirements for two categories of remote identification: Standard remote identification UAS and limited remote identification UAS. Standard remote identification UAS would be required

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to broadcast identification and location information directly from the unmanned aircraft and simultaneously transmit that same information to a Remote ID USS through an internet connection. Limited remote identification UAS would be required to transmit information through the internet only, with no broadcast requirements; however, the unmanned aircraft would be designed to operate no more than 400 feet from the control station. Under this proposal, the vast majority of UAS would be required to comply with one of these two categories of remote identification. For those limited exceptions, which include certain amateur-built UAS and UAS manufactured prior to the compliance date, operators flying UAS without remote identification capabilities would be permitted to fly only at certain specific geographic areas established under this rule specifically to accommodate them. This proposal envisions that within three years of the effective date of this rule, all UAS operating in the airspace of the United States will be compliant with the remote identification requirements. No UAS could be produced for operation in the United States after two years and no UAS could be operated after three years except in accordance with the requirements of this proposal. Details on the requirements and their applicability are in the sections that follow.” Having read the above, I think back to my two decades of work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. There I worked in nationally recognized standards laboratory and for more than a decade providing nuclear security and design solutions. As such, we were often obliged to create terrorist scenarios that were sometimes completely and utterly ridiculous. They were because the adversary would die before completing the scenario’s act of terror. If I told you more, I would have to take you out (a typical security clearance joke for those that don’t understand). In my opinion, the FAA’s proposed rules for our UAS (let’s be clear we’re flying RC aircraft) are ridiculous as they pertain to RC model aircraft flown for recreation and education. The FAA is attempting to make a power grab to own and thereby regulate the airspace by fiat! Again, remember the FAA’s proposed rule-making at this point is an unfunded mandate. It appears to me that they’re making the rules as they go, with the hope that something will stick, with much of it being pie in the sky. Let me be obvious as to what I’m going to say: I believe the proposed rule-making scenarios of the FAA is their way to hide behind all-powerful corporates’ skirts. After all, consider the players the FAA is bidding for in their rule-making. It is the companies and corporations with bottomless pockets. They are the benefactors of the political elites. Think about it: Blast reported on January 31, 2020, “Bezos, who is already the richest person in the world, added 13.2 Billion to his net worth in just about 15 minutes’ time.” Are you following me? For-profit companies want to own the national airspace for their financial gains. Hey, listen, I’m all about free enterprise. Hell, I believe corporate tax rates in the USA should be zero—after all, they employ people in a capitalist society, and those people pay taxes and benefit from the employment that companies and corporations provide. However, I also believe that corporations should pay for the resources they use: man, mineral, manufacturing, and ecosystem. They should not be able to steal it from the U.S. citizenry that currently owns the national airspace, no more than they can take the water, landing, etc. For example, Wing Aviation LLC, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, recently received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance to begin using drones for routine delivery of consumer items. Then too, Amazon has said it could start delivering online orders by drone in the coming months. Further, Auterion recently landed a $2 million contract from a U.S. Department of Defense unit to drive innovation in the PX4 ecosystem and compatibility standards in the drone industry. One must ask the question of how much will these users pay for the right to pollute our national airspace with their “millions” of drones? Or will they be handed said airspace at no charge? Just maybe, the citizens of the USA should demand that those using the national airspace pay a usage tax. It could be based on miles flown in the airspace by commercial drones. After all, the likes of Amazon and Google are not going to fly their drones without seeing a return on investment, right? I realize that drones can and will benefit society as a whole, but they also have the potential to damage the ecosystem. It doesn’t require much imagination to see that they already have. That is if you consider how they’re impacting recreational RC aircraft flying and posing significant threats at events such as the Super Bowl, etc.. Consequently, a national airspace tax for those that use it for profit could help save the ecosystem and environment. Let me underscore the above point by explaining that I met DJI’s Chief Executive Officer, Frank Wang, on September 2, 2011, during the Shanghai Model Exposition. At that time, Frank was simply an enthusiast who wanted to create flying machines that were different from all the rest—ones that could be piloted without line-of-site control by using GPS stabilization. He wasn’t constrained by adherence to an unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) platform. Rather, he was free to experiment in the airspace, which was notably in China—a very rules-based society. The FAA must recognize that RC aircraft enthusiasts and hobbyists provide abundant and inexhaustible resources for aviation knowledge, as well as significant educational assets. Imposing the FAA’s UTM system rules on recreational RC model aircraft diminishes if not destroys this wellspring of experience and education. Also, can you even imagine the financial burden modelers will suffer if we’re required to incorporate UTM systems in our models? Then too, if they’re not appropriately installed or even appropriately monitored, the user may incur fines or worse. Have FAA minds also considered that 0.55 pounds are only 8.8 ounces and that 400 feet are but one and third football fields in length? For that matter, have they contemplated the financial disintegration that they’re imposing on the small RC and rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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TRAILING EDGE model aircraft companies, to the benefit of those behemoths that came late to the aviation party? So, of course, the FAA and their champions have dominating the national airspace in their sights. They envision robot drones buzzing about like swarms of bees pollinating crops, which real bees have been doing for millions of years. They pedal the search-and-rescue missions as if we’re all lost in the forests and can’t walkout. They propose that drones perform remote 24-7 surveillance of the citizenry, but minimize privacy in this day and age of “terrorists” hiding behind every bush. Then too, they’re telling us that without millions of drones buzzing about, we can’t have high-resolution weather, climate, and environmental monitoring. When in point of fact, there are weather satellites and other options such as high-altitude autonomous aircraft available to do the same. Then too, don’t ignore the fact that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has filed documents with the International Telecommunication Union authorities for plans to launch 20 sets of 1500 of small satellites— approximately triple the number put into orbit by humans to date. However, one must ask, what is the cost to the citizenry for this colossal overreach both in terms of money and our ecosystem? (Let me underscore that I loathe the word ecosystem, which they have conveniently substituted for the term national airspace. They must think it has a more innocuous sound to it. Like they’re saving the planet’s ecosystem from us.) Let’s imagine some of the negatives for a moment. There are many: When will we see Amazon packages falling from the sky? Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that Amazon’s technology is so “bulletproof” that their drones will never be without error. Hell, yes, they will. Just think about the immense knowledge based within the Boeing corporation, yet they still have problems with the airplanes, rockets, and even drones, etc., sometimes. The 737 Max airliners parked on the ramps around the world document it. You know if corporate drones are going to be zooming about everywhere that there will be damage to private property. One might imagine a loss of GPS link while a local law enforcement surveillance drone is checking on the noisy party, and it crashes into one’s expensive Lamborghini—it didn’t fly home! That might be an exaggeration, but you get the point. Furthermore, many drone systems have the potential for failure: batteries, motors, controllers, propellers, and package release mechanisms, not too to mention if, in the future, they opt to use hydrogen fuel cells. Within the FAA’s proposed rulemaking, I’ve not read anything about inspection and maintenance, such as currently exists within general aviation. Was this an intentional oversight? Or maybe I just missed it! Unless you were born yesterday, you know Google’s backstory to their success, remember? Google was founded in September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Their secret to success was a search algorithm for the Internet. However, what made Google wildly successful was their Chrome browser, which let them collect search data on those individuals that use it to search the Internet. It was a way to do massive data collection that until then had not been done before. Do you not think that Alphabet’s Wing Aviation LLC is not going to include massive data collection, while their drones whiz about the ecosystem? Will that data collection be invasive? Can you imagine the following scenario: Wing or another such company starts to offer online drone surveillance. The customer pays a fee to have the company to launch their drone to spy on a house, business, car, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, school, wildlife, etc. while they watch in realtime on their computer. The customer then uses surveillance data to act upon the finding. One can certainly envision the good and evil this data will make possible. I’m thinking of a jealous husband here, but then I’m single. Lawyers will love it! Humor aside, you know surveillance data is where the real profit center lives. That is because the FAANGs have done it before (FAANG is an acronym that refers to the stocks of five prominent American technology companies: Facebook(FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX); and Alphabet (GOOG) [formerly known as Google]). They use the data they collect on us to sell us stuff—lots of STUFF. And, they sell the data to others as well, mostly without you knowing where your data “landed.” Furthermore, as modelers, we must consider that there will be baseless charges made against us for encroaching on the

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national airspace or not following the rules to the letter. It will be so because the restrictions the FAA is proposing are utterly ridiculous. Again, I refer to the 0.55-pound model and the 400-foot distance limit from the pilot. I’m thinking about the RC aircraft pilot that forgets to turn off the Remote ID USS system in his aircraft and then drives over the hill to grandmother’s house. Can you just imagine the legal fees one may incur trying to defend yourself from baseless charges? Also, let’s all recognize that our RC aircraft are flying in microclimates most of the time. Any pilot that has flown an RC glider or sailplane understands the reality of microclimates and how they can move your model in that environment. Even an expert pilot could find their RC aircraft drifted outside the limits of the FAA’s proposed flight envelope. Additionally, the systems and rules are going to change! An unknowing pilot may then inadvertently violate the regulations or not stay current with the FAA systems’ requirements. The possibilities for inadvertent rule-breaking are nearly limitless. One of the FAA’s proposals for the development of remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems includes open standards. I’m not a programmer, and I don’t pretend to be one, but will these open standards make it possible for hackers to subvert the system or put RC aircraft pilots in harm’s way. After all, how is that some of the best data collectors on the planet have had their systems hacked? I’m just saying. To put my wrap on this colossal mess of rule-making for an unfunded mandate, you must read the entire proposal. It is only 87 pages of some of the best therapy I’ve found for insomnia. Check it out at:

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-12-31/pdf/2019-28100.pdf My final analysis of the FAA’s proposed rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems is: More Is NOT Always Better! Significantly, the underlying reality concerning the FAA’s proposed rule-making is that RC aircraft have not interfered in the safe operation of full-scale aircraft or even drones in our national airspace for more than 100 years. Moreover, those of us that love RC aviation as a hobby and have logged millions if not billions of hours of airtime have yet to cause an incident in our United States’ national airspace. RC aircraft are not the problem for the UAS community. RC aircraft pilots are not terrorists! The predicament the RC hobbyist community is now facing is how to compete with the unmitigated greed of those hungry to profiteer by exploiting our national airspace. Their pockets are deep, and they lobby our United States representatives to have it their way. Therefore, we too must be heard, and it must be loudly.

It’s truly becoming an Orwellian world! rcflyernews.tumblr.com

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RC Flyer News Jan/Feb 2020 (Vol 24-01)  

RC Flyer News' Jan/Feb 2020 issue includes the Leading Edge; a huge history spread of gliding and soaring by Dr. Robert Moore, the Trailing...

RC Flyer News Jan/Feb 2020 (Vol 24-01)  

RC Flyer News' Jan/Feb 2020 issue includes the Leading Edge; a huge history spread of gliding and soaring by Dr. Robert Moore, the Trailing...

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