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Ray A. Fanchamps, 62, a mainstay at Sylvania Soaring in Wisconsin and a clockmaker by trade, ended his battle against brain cancer on July 11, 2014. He passed peacefully at home with his wife Carol Surowy at his side, as she has been since their college days at the UK’s University of Sussex.
Ray and Carol moved to the US in 1981, settling briefly in St. Louis and Cleveland before moving to Madison, Wisconsin in 1985. There, Ray put his psychology and philosophy degrees to work, counseling troubled teens and he apprenticed as a clockmaker. A move to the Philadelphia area in 1991 advanced Carol’s career in biomedical research and also introduced Ray to the world of soaring. He earned private glider and airplane ratings at Kutztown, where one of his favorite activities was wave soaring near Hawk Mountain.
In 1995, the couple re-located near Sturtevant Wisconsin, close to Carol’s new position at Abbott Labs and even closer to Sylvania Airport, the original home of Sylvania Soaring. There, Ray earned his commercial glider rating and ground instructor certification, he joined the staff and declared the Lark his favorite ride machine. He was certainly a stand-out for his Yorkshire accent, his charm and a fondness for Monty Python-esque humor, but as we also came to realize, a curious combination of candor, exuberance, and determination were Ray’s underlying trademarks.
By then, Ray’s fascination with antique clocks had grown into a business, and his manufacturing skills, his knowledge of their history and the multiple mechanisms used to make these time pieces attracted customers worldwide. Ray served as an officer at local, Regional and National levels of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and went on to chair the ad hoc committee charged with development of NAWCC’s online information resources.
Every weekend during our April through November season, however, Ray’s passion was soaring and he was a driving force at the airfield - if he wasn’t taking rides, giving ground instruction or updating the Sylvania Soaring website, he ran the line or helped with maintenance chores. With the 2002 addition of a G-103SL to Sylvania’s fleet, Ray had a new favorite ride machine, and he earned his CFIG in order to provide self-launch flight training in it. A year later, Sylvania Soaring owner Steve Stauber bought the privately-owned Beloit Airport, and the glider operation moved 70 miles west, to its current home.
Ray soon found an alternative to his 280-mile drive each weekend - he refurbished a derelict travel trailer, parked it near the glider hangar and dubbed his weekend digs “The Chateau.” At sunset on any given soaring day in the past decade, the Chateau was the gathering place for staff and customers alike - a cookout often followed, as we reviewed the day’s events and told tales of our past soaring adventures and those planned for the future.
Mid-May this year marked Ray’s last weekend at the Chateau, and while we are saddened by the loss of our inimitable Yorkshireman, we move forward with cherished memories of our remarkable friend and mentor.
- Contributed by Judy Ruprecht
Harold Hal E. Klieforth
Harold “Hal” E. Klieforth
Chief Meteorologist, Sierra Wave Project
Harold Klieforth, the Chief Meteorologist for the Sierra Wave Project of the early 1950s, passed away at St Mary's Hospital in Reno on July 15 at the age of 87. Hal held, with Larry Edgar, the multi-seat altitude records (since superseded): Absolute altitude: 13,489 meters (44,260 feet) on March 19, 1952 flying a Pratt Read PR-G1, N63174, Bishop, California; Gain of height: 10,493 meters (34,420 feet) on the same flight. For further details on the Sierra Wave Project see the book by Robert F. Whelan,Exploring the Monster.
At the time of his passing, Klieforth was a Research Meteorologist and Climatologist, Emeritus, at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) & University of Nevada (UNR), Reno. He was born in San Francisco on July 6, 1927. He was educated at Tamalpais High School, Marin College and the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles. He served in the U.S. Army during 1945 and 1946. Klieforth was on the staff of the UCLA Meteorology Department from 1950 to 1956 during which time he also served with the Sierra Wave Project. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship at Imperial College, London from 1956 to 1957. He then joined the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory from 1958 to 1964, serving at Edwards Air Force base in charge of special aircraft (including the U-2) for atmospheric studies. He spent weekends at home in Bishop, CA with his family and enjoying his mountaineering and environmental studies. From 1965 to 1994 he was an Atmospheric Research Scientist with DRI and UNR. After his retirement in 1994 he continued with DRI as an active colleague and student mentor visiting DRI frequently throughout the years including as recently as last month.
His most recent contact with our sport of soaring was at the Reno 2014 Convention where he reported on his research. In the years 1950 to 1956 the U.S. Air Force sponsored a pioneering study of airflow over mountains (Sierra Wave Project and follow-ons) which featured a partnership between the UCLA Meteorology Department, the Southern California Soaring Association and the Navy at China Lake, CA. TheSierra Wave Project explored the effect of the Sierra Nevada on Pacific storms and the many causes of aircraft accidents in mountainous terrain. That information is the basis for comparisons withchanges in regional weatherphenomena since then and has shown during the past several decades, that cloud forms and their behavior indicate major shifts in the global atmosphericcirculation.
Hal was an enthusiastic mountaineer having been introduced to the mountains on camping trips with his father in the 1930s. Even in this last year of his life, he spent much of his free time rambling around the mountains of eastern California, filling notebooks with observations on the weather, flora and fauna. As well as exploring the Sierra Nevada, his interests in mountaineering and meteorology have taken him to the Ben Nevis in Scotland, the Argentinean Pampas as well as photographing the Aurora Borealis while over Iceland. Yet he frequently said, “The Sierras are still my real love.”
Hal was awarded the Tuntland Trophy in 1954 for having made an important contribution to the science of soaring flight in a published article or paper during the preceding year for his work on the Sierra Wave Project. (The trophy honors Paul Tuntland, who worked with Dr. Gus Raspet in the Thunder Storm and Ridge Flow Projects. Tuntland lost his life in a sailplane accident in 1950.) Hal also received the SSA Certificate of Appreciation in 1966 for his contributions and services in the field of meteorology. He attended the Twelfth Landmark Dedication which honored the Sierra Wave Project and took place at Bishop Airport in California June 15, 2002. See the National Soaring Museum web site for details (www.soaringmuseum.org). See the SOARING archives on the SSA web page (www.ssa.org) for further information on Harold Klieforth. There is now only one living full timeparticipantin the Sierra Wave Project -- Betsy Woodward (EinarEnevoldson participated during his Christmas break from UCLA).
Harold Klieforth will be remembered for his generosity and accuracy in providing specific and general forecasts for soaring pilots for many years, a tradition continued by the late Doug Armstrong and, recently, by Walt Rogers. We owe many thanks to these three talented soaring forecasters.
Tom Rathbone, aged 86, passed away June 17, 2014. Tom was an active pilot and strong supporter of the EAA young eagles program. If you would liketo make a donation in his name, you may do so online at www.eaa.org, select Contribute, then Young Eagles and in the notes box please state it's in memory of Tom rathbone.
Lt. Col. Jeffery Riddlebarger
The Air Force Academy was saddened by the loss of Lt. Col. Jeff "Cheese" Riddlebarger on August 14, 2013 after an all too short battle with cancer. Cheese was well-known in the aerobatic and soaring communities over the last 9 years for his work with the Cadet Advanced Soaring Teams at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Jeff graduated from the Academy in 1988, went on to fly F-15s during his active duty career, and transitioned to the reserves in 1998. He then began a civilian airline career with United Airlines while also flying AT-38s as an instructor pilot for the USAF Reserves. He helped stand up the first ever reserve associate unit at USAFA in 2004. He lead many team trips. He served as Contest Director for contests and flew in many. He was an outstanding pilot, mentor, friend and will be truly missed by all. This is a tremendous loss for aviation, USAFA and the aerobatic and soaring communities he so loved. Rest now my friend. You've got final glide...
William McFarlane (1929 - 2013)
It is with great sadness that the family of William McFarlane announce his passing on August 12, 2013.
Born December 28, 1929 in Toronto, Canada. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1953. Established and managed Heatcraft in Murfreesboro, TN for many years. -
Preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Peggy and Jeanie, and granddaughter, Lesa Nicole McFarlane.
Bill is survived by his wife, Kathryn Wildman McFarlane and son, Lliam McFarlane; Gwen McFarlane, mother of Robert McFarlane, Jodie (Gary) Moran, Blair (Melody) McFarlane and Gavin McFarlane (Pamela); grandchildren, Robin, Jennifer, Brian, Carol, Stuart, Scott and Sam. There are several great-grandchildren as well.
Bill was an avid pilot and sailplane competitor. He was an instructor, tow pilot and owner of Eagleville Sailplanes. Known as the "Blue Bird Man", he encouraged bluebird conservation by constructing and providing bluebird houses throughout Middle Tennessee. Bill was instructed by Garland Pack who founded Eagleville sailplanes in 1961. Garland Pack also had flight instructions from Orville & Wilber Wright, and a sign off by them. Eagleville sailplane is truly grateful to Bill for shareing his knowledge with us.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations in honor of Bill, lovingly known as "Santa Claus" to the following Senior Citizen Centers: Fifty Forward Martin Center, 960 Heritage Way, Brentwood, TN 37027; Fifty Forward, 8607 Horton Hwy., College Grove, TN 37046.
Article By Ron Murphy Eagleville Soaring club - Photo: Eagleville News Journal
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