Ron's Soaring Lore
Lore: A body of litterature that tells a story based in part on fact and in part on enhanced fact.
My dad finished building his first glider, the Annebula about the same time I was born. From the time I was an infant, I was taken on various crewing adventures with my Mom, my two brothers and my sister. I wonder how Dad convinced Mom to do it?
My earliest memory of a soaring adventure was an aborted retrieve. My Mom had all four of us kids in her Dodge station wagon following Dad. Dad was flying the Annebula in a contest. He had landed out every day of the contest leading up to this one. Much to Mom’s delight, Dad radioed that he would be finishing! Mom was making a bee line back for the airport hoping to beat Dad back. We topped the rise of a hill and there was a tremendous crash. A car had been tooling along at about 5mph, we had been going about 70. I was thrown against a foam cooler full of ice and soda which I reduced to tiny chuncks. The car swerved off the road through a ditch and into a fence where it came to rest. The car we hit had be thrown some distance as well. All occupants of both cars emerged unhurt, the primary damage being my Mom’s nerves. Later Mom told me she called Dad on the radio. “Kilo Alpha Ground to Kilo Alpha”. “Go Ahead Ground”. “I have something to tell you. First I would like you to respond that you understand that no one was hurt”. “WHATTT!@##@!” “I would like you to respond that you understand that no one was hurt”. “OK” Dad didn’t quite get the victory celebration he hoped for when landed.
Eventually my brother Dave got interested and old enough to drive, Mom went crewing less and less. For me this meant that going to the airport became a mater of choice. I began participating in rope running, hangar door pushing, and glider rigging as soon as I was physically big enough. It didn't take much to get me to go to Sunflower. It was a great place for a kid. There were acres of concrete for bicycle riding, old hangars full of airplanes to look at, and a tower building to explore that was just packed with neat stuff. There was even a swimming pool!
There were several contests held at Sunflower in the 70's. I participated in several as a line boy and in the process was exposed to Soaring ledgends like AJ Smith, Wally Scott, Dick Schreder and Dick Johnson. I remember AJ Smith giving a winner's speech: he had a pop can explode in the cockpit and things were such a mess he had just couldn't circle and had to settle for climbing straight ahead. A few day's later he got doused at the base of the tower building, was that Charlie emptying his cooler? Will Schuman came with his swept wing ASW-12 and swept away the competition. Justin wills came to a standard class nationals and racked up more points than any American. One day was called off because of poor weather. Justin went and flew over a hundred miles. Big John Brittingham built a 7 foot tower of empty beer cans on a rain day. Maylan "Boom-Boom" Weyre Blew the windows out of the garage in the tower when he ignited a garbage bag of oxygen and acetylene prematurely. I loved the contests. Watching the planes return on the deck at red line never ceased to thrill me. Each day of racing was a dramatic event with beauty, suspense and excitement. The best part for me was listening to the pilots tell their tales around the score board as speeds and points posted.
I started flying gliders in 1981. I soloed in a 1943 Schweitzer TG-3A. The TG-3A was a massive glider. It took both hands on the stick to move the ailerons. The glider had tremendous adverse yaw, you had to lead considerably with the rudder to turn it. I got silver duration in it and had many hours of fun flying it. Giving rides from the backseat with the sliding canopy open was a special thrill.
Over the next few years I got to fly many different gliders including: Slingsby Swallow, Ka-6 CR, Bergfalke 2-55, Schweitzer 2-22, L-Spatz, 1-34RM (a V-Tailed 1-34!) and a one of a kind made by my Dad, the Annebula.
I made my first cross country flights in the Swallow. I made silver and gold distance flights in the Annebula. I flew my first contest (a split weekend local only at Hutchinson) in the Annebula and had my first off airport landing it it.
In 1985 my Dad and a good friend of the family, Bob Park, bought an HP-16. In 1990 I bought the HP-16 for myself. The performance allowed me to fly more and farther than I could in the Annebula. I was thoroughly addicted by the adventure of cross country soaring and flew it every chance I possibly could. I'd travel from Manhattan Kansas to Hutchinson on the weekends and flew all the contests I could manage. When I moved to Kansas City, the marginal takeoff handling became a huge problem. I'd drop a wing and go careening off the runway with just about every launch. Changing a panel of flap to aileron and some creative filing to increase travel made it useable again. I spent over 400 hours flying the HP-16 and having a blast.
In 1991 I bought my Dad's HP-18. The glider and trailer are both works of engineering art. The one man rigger and system of dollies and guides in the trailer is a great example of a very simple system that does its job. Putting the glider together is very simple with a bare minimum of putzing around with trailer and rigging equipment.
The HP-18 is a fantastic ship. There are many small details which really set it appart from other HP-18's, the most visible of which is a one piece front hinge canopy. I have added a center stick kit from Bob K and replaced the stock gap seals with mylar. The control forces are light, the handling qualities are very nice, a full flap approach allows a remarkably short landing and is spectacular to watch from in the cockpit or from the ground.
Most of my flying now is instructing and giving rides in MSA's 2-22. It is very rewarding to help someone progress through the learning process and to see the excitement when they are able to soar on their own.
The following are write ups of some of my soaring adventures.
Learning to Soar
1984 Daimond Goal in the Annebula
1986 Kanas Kowbell Klassic
1990 The Art of Landing Out
1994 Bulter & Return
1994 Emporia & Return
1997 Kansas Kowbell Klassic
Kowbell Klassic Crewing
2002 Schreder Memorial