The Soaring Society of America will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a display of vintage and modern gliders at AirVenture 2007 in Oshkosh. Volunteer members of the Soaring Society of America will be available to explain all aspects of soaring, glider licenses and places to take a ride or begin instruction during the fly-in from July 23-July 29.
According to officials, the exhibit will highlight three unique gliders: a Stemme S6, a Sisu, and a Pipistrel Taurus motorglider.
The Stemme S6 and the Pipistrel Taurus are motorgliders, capable of self launching. After climbing to altitude, the engine and propeller are stowed and the aircraft flies like a traditional glider. Motorgliders are unique in that they are powered gliders, but do not require a single engine private pilot license. Both the S6 and the Taurus on display will be the first of their models imported to the United States. They are both two-seat gliders, which are ideal for training or for leisure flying, society officials claim. The Sisu 1A is a classic American competition sailplane that won many championships in the 1960s and 1970s. The Sisu 1A glider in the exhibit, N6390X, also is a first, in that it was the first Sisu glider to be built on the production line.
The display at Oshkosh is part of a year-long celebration of the society. “AirVenture encompasses the spirit of adventure and search for advancements in flight that have been a part of soaring from the beginning,” commented Anne Mongiovi and Ian Cant, who are leading the planning for the exhibit. “It’s a natural place to showcase gliders, which have long used advanced composites, winglets, and efficient design to achieve long flights without an engine.”
Gliders, or sailplanes as they are sometimes called, typically do not have an engine but stay aloft using columns of rising air, or thermals. Thermals can rise to thousands of feet and are often marked by puffy cumulous clouds. Sailplane pilots bank their crafts in tight circles to climb in thermals, often achieving climb rates of 500 to 1,000 feet per minute or more. Flights of more than three hours are common.
Sailplanes are towed aloft behind a powered aircraft to around 2,000 feet above the ground before releasing the tow rope. Without a motor, gliders must quickly find a thermal to climb on or they will be back on the ground in 20 to 30 minutes. Fortunately, thermals are common, so staying aloft is not normally a problem, according to society officials. Skilled pilots can fly hundreds of miles by gliding from thermal to thermal in cross country flights.
For more information: 505-392-1177 or SSA.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The Soaring Society of America, with about 13,000 active members, represents the interests of all glider pilots in the U.S.
• The world altitude record in a glider is 50,721 feet, while the record for distance is 1,869 miles flown in one flight in one day.
• The record for speed is 190.6 mph.
• High performance gliders can fly over a mile and only descend 100 feet in altitude.
• A single place glider weighs about 550 lbs. and has a speed range between 45 and 170 mph.
• Every cadet entering the United States Air Force Academy begins his or her flight instruction in a glider.
• Young pilots can solo at 14, and can obtain a private pilot license in a glider at age 16.
• There are approximately 38,000 licensed glider pilots in the United States.
• The U.S. has 180 soaring clubs and 150 commercial operators, including at least one in every state.
• A private pilot glider rating requires about half the flying time needed for a powered rating: 20 flights, including at least 10 solo flights totaling two hours.
• An FAA medical examination is not required for a glider license.
• Famous US glider pilots include: Senator John Kerry, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Story Musgrave, Alan Shepard, author Richard Bach, singer John Denver, actor Christopher Reeve, Charles Lindbergh and before the existence of the FAA glider license, the Wright brothers.