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Hall Of Fame Inductees Have Been Named

SOARING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES FOR 2004

The votes are in and the new Hall of Fame inductees have been named. Thanks to all of you who submitted your votes.

Gunter Voltz has been soaring for the past 75 years. Gunter has instructed and had a positive influence on a remarkable number of glider pilots young and old over the years.
Gunter has trained over 30 CFIGs, and we know he has soloed well over 400 students. He trained most of these to get their licenses.

During his career as the head of the SSA Youth Committee, the percentage of youth members reached an all time high that has never been surpassed. In the '60s and well into the '70s, Gunter and his partners ran an Air Explorer post that produced more youth glider pilots than any program we know of. At 88 he continues to teach soaring.

John Byrd flew his first contest in 1969 at the U.S. Nationals and Pre-Worlds in Marfa, Texas. The "Birdman" earned a reputation as a tough competitor. Over the next 30 years he was the Standard Class National Champion twice and won thirteen Regional Championships. He became a regular top-ten finisher at the Regional and National contests nearly every year. John has represented us on the U.S. Team at four World Championships. When he was unable to fly as a member of the U.S. Team at the Worlds, he would often serve as crew.

John Byrd is appreciated worldwide for his unselfish support of his fellow soaring pilots. Always ready to lend a hand, give advice, or share a secret about how to fly more efficiently, John epitomizes the spirit and camaraderie of American soaring.

Leonard Niemi (1917-1995) was named as the Historical Candidate. Leonard Niemi's entire life from high school on was devoted to flight in one form or another. For the soaring community it culminated in the most successful high-performance American sailplane ever produced, the Sisu.

He received his B.S. in Aero Engineering in 1951. Then, in 1960, he and Jack Baugh organized Arlington Aircraft to manufacture the Sisu.

The Sisu, first flown 1958, was immediately recognized as an outstanding performer. It was the first sailplane ever to reach 1000 km. Niemi's 11 production Sisu sailplanes dominated soaring competitions until the arrival of European glass ships.

All the candidates were exceptional and worthy of nomination. The inductees will be honored at a special reception following the induction ceremonies at the SSA National Convention in Ontario, California on Thursday, February 10th 2005. Hope to see all of you there.

Posted: 1/19/2005 By: General News


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