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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 Hal held, with Larry Edgar, the multi-seat altitude records (since superseded): Absolute altitude: 13,489 meters (44,260 feet) on March 19, 1952 flying a Pratt Read PR-G1, N63174, Bishop, California; Gain of height: 10,493 meters (34,420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, 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.”


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

Helen R. Dick (1919-2012)

Photo #9393 | Helen DickAccomplishments:

  • 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
  • Kestrel

Airplanes owned (with partner Johnnie Williams)

  • Mooney
  • 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.

Photo #9394 | Helen Dick

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

Posted: 12/28/2012

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.

Posted: 6/29/2012

Final Glide 

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