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Soaring Pioneer Betty Loufek
Soaring Pioneer Betty Loufek (1924-2013)
Betty Loufek and her twin sister Claire Walters started flying in 1941. Claire chose power flying and became a successful flight instructor. Betty chose sailplane flying in addition to power flying and became a successful soaring pilot.
Betty loved the mountains and in 1947 found herself working at a weather station in Bishop, CA where she met Bob Symons and Harland Ross who ran the operation at the airport. Bob instructed Betty in auto tow and aero tow, thermal and ridge soaring, and the art of cross-country soaring.
In 1947 she crewed at the National Soaring Contest in Wichita Falls, TX where she met and then married John Loufek who was the owner of a Laister-Kaufmann 10A. They kept the L-K at Bishop where Betty could fly it during the week and husband John, a graduate student at Cal Tech, could fly it on weekends.
By 1948 there were 90 Silver “C” pilots in the United States, one of whom was a woman – Ginny Schweizer (#86 in 1947). Betty wanted to be #91 and the second American woman. The pilots at Bishop were studying and exploring the wave and Betty's turn to fly it came on April 15, 1948.
Bob Symons flew the BT-13 tow plane and Harland Ross ran the wing. Betty released 2,800 feet above the airport and slope soared to 11,000 feet. She made her way through the turbulent air and found the wave. She then flew south along the mountains reaching an altitude of 21,000 feet. She passed the Silver distance mark and now had Silver #91, the second American woman. She was also the first American woman to fly a wave. She glided to a landing at Olancha to claim Silver #91, Gold altitude gain, and set the women's national altitude gain record of 14,496 feet.
In 1950 she flew with her sister Claire to set three women's multi-place records. The same year she set the American women's distance record of 124 miles (previous record 94 miles) in her L-K during the 9th West Coast Championships with the added handicap of dragging Bill Ivans' 300 foot tow rope behind her although she did not know until landing. Betty participated in soaring regattas and West Coast Championships flying from El Mirage in the late 1940s and early 1950s competing with such pilots as Gus Briegleb, John Robinson, Al Santilli, Paul Bikle and Paul Tuntland. She was usually the only woman although now and then Betsy Woodward joined her. Betsy became the third American woman to earn the Silver badge (#116) in 1949.
In 1954 Betty entered the 21st National Soaring Contest at Elsinore California and earned the title of Women's National Soaring Champion. As she says, “I could hardly miss; I was the only woman among 36 pilots.”
Betty was a flight instructor for the Douglas Soaring Club at El Mirage. Her support of soaring continued through 2002 with contributions to the Eagle Fund. She attended the 12th Landmark of Soaring at Bishop in 2002 commemorating the Sierra Wave Project where she renewed many friendships. She is the author, with her sister, of the book This Flying Life published in 1999.
Betty passed away peacefully at home on January 24, 2013.
Frank Conner lived in Terra Ceia, Florida and passed away March 11, 2013 at the age of 91.
Frank flew Schweizer 1-26 B, serial number 371, for many years and was one of the few people to ever exceed 400 miles in a 1-26. He and Mark Coner, his son, flew as a team in the 1-26 Nationals and won. In 1982 he bought a Speed Astir II and had contest number "OE." Over Easy, that was my dad.
Bill N. Cangero
Bill N. Cangero of Clifton Park, NY passed away June 8, 2012 at 59 years of age. Bill truly enjoyed flying and was a member of the Adirondack Soaring Association in Saratoga Springs, NY. Bill was always known to be at the airport with his car full of tool boxes. He was ready to help any time someone had a flat tire, or any other minor issue. Bill owned a Pilatus B-4, Ka-6CR and a Citabria 7GCAA. Bill is survived by his wife Monica, sons Ted and Ian. We will miss is presence at Saratoga County Airport.
Helen R. Dick (1919-2012)
- Silver Badge #337 in 1959 (10th American woman)
- Gold Badge #120 in 1962 (3rd American woman)
- Diamond Badge #79 (International #545) in 1967 (First American woman)
- National, Feminine, Single-place, out and return flight, 249 miles (1964)
- National, Feminine, Single-place, distance flight, 306 miles (1967)
- National, Feminine, Single-place, distance flight 380 miles (1972)
- National, Feminine, Single-place, goal flight 227 miles (1966)
- National, Feminine, Single-place, goal flight of 349 miles (1972)
- California, Feminine, Single-place, distance flight 418 miles (1974)
- Volunteer “Badge Lady”
- SSA director (first elected woman)
- Competition official
- S3C competition documentation techniques and encourage competition soaring
- State soaring records development
- SSA State Governor Southern California
- Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California – Secretary, tow pilot
- SSA Life Member
- Warren E. Eaton Memorial Trophy 1972 (first woman in her name only)
- United States Soaring Hall of Fame 1968 (40th person, second woman)
- Exceptional Achievement Award 1972 (sailplane records)
- Certificate of Appreciation 2005 (lifetime service)
Sailplanes owned (mostly with partner Johnnie Williams)
- Flat-top double-bubble L-K
- Flat-top single-bubble Schweizer 1-23
- Zugvogel IIIB (currently on display in PIMA Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ)
- Schreder (modified) HP-14T (homebuilt by Helen and Johnnie)
- Open Cirrus
Airplanes owned (with partner Johnnie Williams)
- Cessna 140
Helen Dick grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, the youngest of three children in a railroad family where her father was an engineer with the Union Pacific. As was the custom in those days, the family would often go to the local airport on a weekend to watch the airplanes fly. Helen dreamed of the freedom of flight and flying like a bird.
But education came first. Helen attended Idaho State College for two years and then went to the University of California – Berkeley where she received a B.S. in Foreign Trade. After graduation, she returned to Idaho. It was 1940 and World War II was approaching. The government started the Civilian Pilot Training program in order to introduce pilots to aviation and possible later military service. Ten percent of the spaces were allotted for women and Helen joined. She took ground school courses and flew a Piper J-3 Cub. She was hooked. She received her private certificate for airplanes in 1940.
She had accumulated about 75 hours of flying time when she was accepted by the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) for the class of 43-W-8. As the war was drawing to a close, she joined the SPARs, the women's branch of the U.S. Coast Guard. She was assigned to San Francisco where she served in the separation center helping to transition members of the military to civilian life.
After the SPAR service, she moved briefly to Los Angeles and then to San Diego, her home for the rest of her life. She worked briefly for Convair and then took a position with the U.S. Customs and later the Coast Guard where she could utilize her educational background.
Her heart remained in the air but her flying was limited to rental airplanes. Then she met fellow WASP Dorothea Shultz who persuaded her she could get free flying time by joining the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California and becoming a tow pilot. Helen was convinced – the chance for free or at least inexpensive flying was a benefit she could not resist.
Soon she was very active in the club not just as a tow pilot but also as the club secretary. Then the members began telling her she had to fly gliders. Being a typical power pilot at the time, Helen resisted. Eventually she gave in to the pressure and her life was forever changed as she discovered the joy of soaring.
She went on to earn all her badges through the Diamond but her main love was soaring for records – an activity in which she had great success. Most of her flights were north from the desert of Southern California along the mountains of the Owens Valley and often times towards the northeast from the north end of the Owens Valley into the Great Basin. She and her soaring partner pioneered the northern part of this route that has only been soared extensively by other pilots in recent years.
When Helen was soaring weekends, the radio chatter indicated other sailplane pilots were wondering where she was and trying to follow her. They knew her successes and would try to learn from her crosscountry soaring strategies.
Helen's greatest joy was soaring along the Sierra, across the Owens Valley and on to the Inyo and White Mountains on the eastern side of the valley. She lived the dream of her youth – the freedom of flight and the joy of flying like a bird.
Helen passed away peacefully December 15, 2012 after a long illness. She lived a long and good life full of accomplishments and characterized by service beyond herself. She will be missed by her many friends.
Bertha Ryan, photos by George Uveges
Contributions in her honor may be made to The Soaring Society of America or the two soaring museums – National Soaring Museum and Southwestern Soaring Museum.
Soaring References (see archives)
- Helen Dick is New FAI Award Chairman, Aug, 1962, page 24
- H.R. Dick: FAI soaring awards rules and procedures, Mar, 1963, page 13
- J. Williams, H. Dick, and S. Starr: The Southern California Competition Club, Jan, 1967, page 20
- Orchids to Helen Dick, Sep, 1967, page 5
- H. Dick: Region 12 contest, Aug, 1970, page 8
- H. Dick: How to organize a Regionals Championships, Mar, 1971, page 28
- Helen Dick: How you have it - now you don't, Sep, 1972, page 8
- Helen Dick: Region twelve contest, Nov, 1972, page 14
- Warren Eaton memorial trophy won by Helen Dick, Mar, 1973, page 8
99 News reference:
- Helen Dick – Soaring Like a Bird. 99 News, Sep-Oct 2005, page 10 by Bertha Ryan
Wallace Bud Brown
Wallace “Bud” Brown
The soaring community lost an aid member in the passing of Bud Brown. He was an extraordinary person who gave much in helping the sport of soaring grow and flourish.
I met Bud at the Wright Memorial Day meet in 1965. I was introduced to him by Tom Page as someone who could crew for me for the day, this was on the Saturday contest day. He and a friend left to go back to Lawrenceille after the day’s flying was oer and before leaving he said to me, “Fly on down sometime, we’re starting a club at Lawrenceille.” He should have said “I’m starting a club” as he was the CFI=G and main driving force at the club for many years.
Over time I learned of the many things Bud had done and then continued to do. As a very young man he worked in the oil fields in Texas, but not for long. He drove stock cars and had an abiding love for sports cars. he once showed me a picture of him at the wheel of an MG-TC with a Brooklands windscreen, a very rare car if you had one today. He flew control line model planes for many years, both combat and rat racing. He even designed, manufactured and sold kits for both these types of models. He then transitioned into free flight rubber powered models and flew these in many different categories. His models were always a beautiful piece of workmanship and he won many contests with them. One year he won second place in the national scale free flight category. As you can see, he had many avocations, his vocation was teaching art at the high school level.
I don’t know when he started taking soaring instruction but I know he made his Silver C distance flight in 1955 in the Illini Glider Club’s 1-19. This was off an auto tow, interestingly the drier of the car was Ed Byers. He would go on to obtain his Gold C badge with an altitude and goal diamond. In the early 1960’s his wife, Ellen, gave him a set of plans for a Hall Cherokee, this was for a Christmas present. Well, Bud proceeded to build one beautiful aircraft, after all it was basically built like a model plane only it was big enough to carry a person. One of the modifications he made was to insert extra half ribs from the spar to the leading edge to obtain and hold a better wing profile. He had many long flights in this plane as one of his desires was to obtain Gold C distance and Diamond goal flying a goal and return flight from Lawrenceville. I don’t know how many times he tried it but always fell short, sometimes by just a few miles. He finally made that flight in a good old fashioned downwind dash. He also was a fierce competitor in this plane. He embarrassed more than a few pilots of better performing planes by beating them in contest flights. If he had the resources to be flying the top performance planes, he would probably have been a well known pilot in the competition circles.
He did contribute much to the competition side of the sport in other ways. In 1969 he and Tom Page took care of the turnpoint film processing and identification for the national contest flown at Marfa, Texas. One can imagine what that was like with around 80 pilots. This was just a warm up trial run, so to speak, for the two of them did the same thing at the international contest flown at Marfa in 1970, again a daunting behind the scenes job. He was responsible for setting up and running regional contests held at the Lawrenceille or Robinson airport. He was one of the individuals who started up the SA regatta at Lawrenceille many years back. He was an early member of the EAA and attended their meets.
Bud certainly helped many pilots get back into the air by repairing their broken planes, be they wood or fiberglass. He stared by doing this in the garage of his home and then mod on to the club maintenance hangar. He gave of his time to help others when they were working on their own planes. He truly was involved in all aspects of soaring, instructing, flying, repairing or lending a hand to see that jobs got done.
He is survived by his Ellen, wife of 52 years, a son and daughter and two grand daughters. A legacy is something that is left from the past. The legacy of Bud’s friendship was certainly in evidence from the scores of people that gathered at the glider operations on the first Saturday of November. They came from many places to celebrate the life of this individual they had the pleasure of knowing. There were few tears shed but there were many stories told about all the ways Bud had interacted in their lies and many old friendships were renewed.
The Cherokee that Bud built is now being restored by Tony and Leah Condon as Leah’s plane.I feel I along with everyone in the soaring community who knew and worked with Bud Brown have lost a truly great friend.
Sabrina Jackintell of Sebring, Florida, passed away January 15, 2012. She was an adventurous woman, holding a current world record in aeronautics: the absolute altitude record set in 1979 or 41,562 feet in a glider; a record that stands today despite 30 years of technological advances. Sabrina also obained the US women's land speed record in a car for a period of time at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In honor of her achievements, she appeared on the cover of Soaring magazine and the Merv Griffin Show.
SSA received word David Gilgen of Shadow Hills, CA passed away. No further information was received.
Gerald Kaufman Jr.
Jerry Kaufman lost his three year battle with cancer on March 29 in Brecksville Ohio, near his birthplace of Cleveland. He took a major hand in determining his course of treatment with a dogged determination and attention to detail that was so characteristic of him. Jerry fought the disease with courage and dignity, surviving far longer than anyone expected. Doctors found him to be the most knowledgeable patient they had ever encountered.
He graduated from The Ohio State University, earning a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering, emphasizing Computer Science. Jerry moved to Colorado in 1974 to work as a software engineer for Hewlett-Packard. That was his professional career, retiring after more than thirty years with the company. Colorado was his home his entire adult life.
He was one of the most accomplished glider pilots in the United States. After learning to fly in 1972, Jerry set one world, five national, and sixty-two state soaring records, and accumulated over 4,000 hours of piloting time in gliders. He earned his 1000 Km Diploma in 2004 after pursuing it for years. He competed early on in the contest circuit, but later settled on setting records as his primary passion. He frequently just bumped records by the bare minimum possible, encouraging others to do the same so that records could be broken the maximum number of times. Perhaps to the chagrin of some state record keepers.
Jerry always went one step further than needed. When GPS technology became prevalent, he built an elaborate folding holder for his unit, so that he could verify rounding turnpoints properly, but keeping it out of sight other times. He considered it to be an unfair navigation advantage, and didn't want to avail himself of that. Similarly, he refused to observe for a Silver distance flight unless the pilot landed out. He thought the remote start option, so clearly allowed in the rules, just wasn't the proper way to do it.
He had other interests also, being a dedicated marksman who reloaded his ammunition with an attention to detail only he was capable of. He wrote poetry, and was an accomplished story teller. He was a perfectionist, as few people in this world can ever dream of being.
Jerry is survived by parents, Gerald J. Kaufman, Sr. and Elizabeth, brother Michael and sister Deborah, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Jerry’s ashes will be returned to Colorado and scattered in the mountains he so dearly loved to fly.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Step 13, 2029 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 or The Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621.
Earnest D. Shattuck
Earnest D. Shattuck was born in Long Lane. Missouri on February 2, 1922. He passed away at Zion Hospital in San Diego on 1/13/2012 at 3:05 am.
(Or should I say He FLEW AWAY )
He lived a Long and fulfilling Life as a Retired General Dynamics employee for 20 years. He was survived by 3 daughters, Terry, Jo Ellen, and Toni. (Linda, his youngest daughter recently passed away.) He was also blessed with many grandchildren. His hobby was Flying with the "Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California" for many years, which he was the President both in 1953 and 1954. He was heavily involved with club operations throughout the 1950s and was in charge of publicity in the late 1950s. Soared at Torrey Pines, Warner Springs, Elsinore, etc. He also enjoyed Flying his Cessna 172 for as long as he could. He will be missed by his many flying buddies at Gillespie and Brown Field. Arrangements for a Military Funeral at Miramar National Cemetery are being organized by the Telophase Cremation Society. 1-800-520-5146. Subject to the Miramar Schedule, which has yet to be determined.
Ernie is FLYING HIGH with the eagles now. Soaring Torrey Pines.