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Michael E. McCarron

Michael E. McCarron passed away on August 15th, 2014 at the age of 73. His first love was flying.  He spent nine years in the Air Force as a navigator, and learned to fly in their club. After returning to school to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he flew hang gliders and then sailplanes with his wife, Lurana (Lori). He was instrumental in starting the Saratoga Soaring Association, where he served as instructor, tow pilot, and mechanic. He loved flying in contests, especially in Mifflin, PA, Elmira, NY, and New Castle, VA. Now he has his wings.

Posted: 8/27/2014


Ray Fanchamps

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

Posted: 8/18/2014


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.

Posted: 7/24/2014


TOM RATHBONE

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. 

Posted: 7/7/2014


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...

Posted: 9/16/2013


William McFarlane

         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

Posted: 8/20/2013


Robin Fleming

Robin Fleming, the glider pilot who shared the story of his unwarranted arrest and detention after a legal overflight of a nuclear power plant, has died.

Fleming, a member of the Soaring Society of America and AOPA, flew and instructed out of Bermuda High Soaring in South Carolina. He held a state record in soaring and achieved the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Diamond Badge in March 2012. He shared his passion for aviation with friends and strangers, and touched the lives of many within the aviation community. He died July 3 after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Fleming began flying at Bermuda High Soaring about 10 years ago. When Fleming did not return one evening in 2012 from a cross-country flight, his friends at the gliderport were first concerned for his safety, then baffled that someone as careful as Fleming had been arrested, and then outraged as the conditions of his arrest became apparent and he was charged with breach of peace. Fleming was held overnight in a cell without a clear idea of what he had allegedly done.

The charges were dropped, but he decided to share his story with AOPA to bring the issue to light and make sure no other pilots would be subjected to a similar ordeal. AOPA has urged the Department of Homeland Security to educate law enforcement agencies and infrastructure facilities about aviation and to review all security programs for similar facilities, but to the frustration of many of the pilots at Bermuda High, has seen no meaningful action from the department and its agencies; the association continues to press the issue.

Fleming later filed suit against the energy company and Darlington County, S.C.

Fleming’s interest in aviation began when he was a child, building and flying radio-controlled airplanes. He spoke with enthusiasm about soaring, relishing the constant series of decisions that go into a successful flight, and was eager to share his passion.

“Robin was a dear and sweet man,” said Jay Campbell, a friend and fellow glider pilot who flies out of Bermuda High. “He would do anything for anybody.  He taught Bible studies on Sunday morning and soaring lessons on Sunday afternoon. He competed in high-level soaring contests and mentored fledgling cross-country soaring pilots. In the words of one club member upon acknowledging Robin's death: ‘Romeo Foxtrot One has caught a booming thermal.’ Amen.”

From AOPA

Posted: 7/25/2013


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.

Posted: 5/1/2013


Frank Conner

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. 

-John Conner

Posted: 4/16/2013


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.

-Tim Hanke

Posted: 1/2/2013


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