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Garey E. Hudson

Garey E. Hudson, age 72 of Boca Raton, FL and Elmira, NY passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, September 29, 2019.

Born on January 15, 1947 in Elmira, NY, he was the son of the late William and Gladys Hudson. Garey graduated from Southside High School, class of 1964 and later received his Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University. In college he served in the ROTC and later served in the United States Air Force from 1968 to 1972. He married Deborah Miller on December 4, 1971. Garey worked as a pilot for over 50 years, most recently being employed by Delta Private Jets.

Garey will be remembered for his devotion to Debbie and his love of flying.

Growing up at Hudson Acres, a small grass airfield in Pine City, he built his first aircraft at the age of 16. Since then, he accumulated over Thirty Thousand flight hours in military aircraft, commercial airlines, private jets and gliders.

He started USAF Pilot training in 1968 and flew the C141 on active duty around the world in transport missions. Later, during his 20 years in the Air Force Reserves, he flew the C-5 based out of Dover, DE. Throughout his military career, he was always top-of-his-class.

In 1975 he started his Civil Aviation career with Eastern Airlines where he flew the Boeing 727 and later as Captain on the Boeing 757. In 1991 he joined Tower Air where he was Chief of Aircrew training for the Boeing 747 till 2000 when he moved to CitationAir. During his 13 years at CitationAir, he was Chief of training during the expansion phase of this charter service from 3 to 80 airplanes. In 2014, he started as Lead Captain with Delta Private Jets, and they moved to Florida where he and Debbie spend the last 4 ½ happy years.

Throughout his years of flying big aircraft, he never lost his love for gliders. He joint Harris Hill Soaring Corp. as a young man, where he flew as a tow pilot and active glider pilot. He built his first glider, a Schweizer 1-26, while he was still in the USAF then later flew the Schreder HP -11.  In over 40 years of soaring, he successfully flew his ASW-19, ASW-20 and ASW-27 in many soaring competitions.

Harris Hill is also where he met Debbie and where they, years later, built their home.


Garey is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Deborah Hudson of Boca Raton, FL and Elmira, NY; sister, Gayle (Douglas) Millis of Moravia, NY; mother-in-law, Ann Miller of Horseheads, NY; sisters-in-law: Cheryl Miller of Corning, NY, JoAnn Knapp of Pittsburgh, PA, Joyce (Kent) Brown of Naples, FL, Barbara (Bryan) Vertoske of Horseheads, NY; and brother-in-law, John Miller of West Henrietta, NY.

Posted: 11/4/2019

George Allan Taylor

January 8, 1932 - June 9, 2019

George Taylor was born in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Massapequa on Long Island when he was 8 years old. Long Island was an important center for the manufacture of military aircraft during World War II and these aircraft were regularly seen flying around the island. George was enthralled by the fighters and bombers in the sky, many forming up for flights to Europe.

His father was an aircraft mechanic and ground instructor in England in World War I and was also an excellent wood craftsman. So it was natural that young George started building balsa wood models and later earned a pilot license for airplanes and glider.

He became a radio operator in the Air Force and much enjoyed his year on an isolated post, Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, spending countless hours exploring the beach and lagoon. On his days off he would often check out a parachute and hop a ride in one of the large military aircraft when local pilots performed recurrency training. After the Air Force he worked at Republic Aviation and Brookhaven National Laboratory where he met his future wife Kathleen Karen Taylor. They were married in 1971.

George joined the Long Island Soaring Association where he towed gliders and gave many hours of instruction and rides in gliders. This pattern continued after they moved to Colorado and joined the Soaring Society of Boulder. He was an enthusiastic ambassador for soaring, talking up soaring and offering free glider rides to everyone he met. They moved to Los Alamos in 1998 and continued flying sailplanes from the Moriarty airport in New Mexico. Much of his cross country flying was in the Schweizer 1-34 (in which he flew diamond distance) and the Schleicher ASW20 which they owned for 15 years.

George built a wooden Duster sailplane with the first flight coming in 1977. For a number of years he was co-editor of the newsletter of the Duster Sailplane Association. He became known in the local homebuilt aircraft community as a skilled pilot and was asked to perform the early test flights on a number of homebuilts. He continually thought of imaginative solutions to unusual problems.

From his time at Brookhaven and through much of the rest of his life, George continued learning Mandarin from Chinese friends and tutors. This knowledge was helpful when he traveled to China with the Civil Air Patrol for whom he had instructed at several summer encampments.

He enjoyed gardening and loved discovering unusual plants. For decades he tended the Ti plants that grew from a seed he brought back from Kwajalein, seeing it bloom only twice.

George is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughter Jennifer Estelle Taylor Perry of Coronado, CA, grandchildren Brittany Noel Sardella (Long Island, NY), Joseph Allan Perry, and Samuel Craig Perry (Coronado, CA), great grandchildren Salvatore Carmine Sardella and James David Merkle (Long Island, NY), Sister Winifred Leslie Warwick and brother-in-law Peter Warwick of Middletown, NJ.

He was preceded in death by his father George Frederick Taylor, mother Agnes Blanche Murray Taylor, brother Peter Gill Taylor, and first wife Irene Dunne Taylor.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 am on July 2, 2019, at Fuller Lodge, 2132 Central Avenue, Los Alamos, NM.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Soaring Society of America Eagle Fund or to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Posted: 6/17/2019

Harry Larry Edward

Harry Larry Edward (CFIG) started his soaring career in Fremont California, learning his craft from the legendary Les Arnold. He started a small operation in Dyersberg, Tennessee, with an old  Sweitzer 2-22, that he and his brother Bob rebuilt.  In his travels, he flew with Jim Endebro at Calistoga Soaring. He then met Dave Williams of Vacaville Soaring and became the Chief Pilot flying with Jules Gilpatrick and Ed Skuzinski. He started his own soaring school, Big Valley Soaring after leaving Vacaville Soaring. 

Larry was instrumental in training FAA glider inspectors to implement the inspection program for licensing. 

During his career, he soared the Wave at Minden Nevada. He soaredTorre Pines. 

His love of soaring was passed down to his son, Michael Edwards, and to countless others who climbed into the front seat of his Switzer 2-33. He had countless adventures and loved every moment of his life in the wind.


Harry L. Edwards CPO USN (R) will be interred in the National Cemetary Sacramento, CA (Dixon CA) on April 17, 2019. The memorial will start at 11:00 am with full military honors.

Larry is survived by his daughters, Julia Edwards Dake, Viki Edwards Short, and Kathryn St. Claire; son, Michael Allan Edwards; grandchildren, Lisa Buccella Ciarnelli, Michael Edward Buccella, Clint Howard, Cathryn Edwards, Rhett Chassereau, Walter Chassereau and Patrick Lisicki and two great-grandchildren; sister, Iris Edwards Lockerby; brother, Gene Edwards; former wife, Mary Queen Edwards, and many nieces and nephews.

Besides his parents, Larry was predeceased by his beloved wife, Ann St. Claire; and his brothers, Bob and George Edwards.

Posted: 4/19/2019


            Jim Hard was as integral to the Minnesota Soaring Club and Red Wing Soaring Association as lift is to glider flight.  He passed away on February 9, 2019. 

As a long-serving MSC flight instructor he was skilled in all aspects of flight but had a special strength in teaching cross-country flight and thermalling.  He emphasized the “craft” of soaring, honing the skills of capable pilots until they held the steady circle in lift that shoved them aside, or cored thermals so small that even raptors stayed on the ground.  Jim also served as tow pilot, MSC officer, ACE Camp organizer, and the Midwest’s first SSA Master Cross-Country Instructor. 

His dream of flying “around the world” in his 1-26, “271,” required hundreds of cross-country flights, for which he pigeon-holed his students to crew for him with the promise, “You’ll learn a lot of valuable information about gliding by crewing for me.”  Sure, sure, I thought as a student.  But Jim was, in this, as regards all matters of soaring, true to his word.

He asked me to crew one April day decades ago.  Because it was early April I agreed, in part, because I thought he couldn’t go far during the relatively short daylight of an early spring day. 

“If I outpace you, drive to Chicago and wait,” he ordered.  This was in an era before cell phones, in which Jim, upon landing would walk to a farm house and telephone his home to leave directions to his landing location.  I would telephone the same number at regular intervals until I eventually get directions to Jim and 271. 

He outpaced me on that April day—quickly.  Halfway through Wisconsin I drove through a blinding snow storm.  The day was that cold.  Since it was in the twenties on the ground, it was sub-zero 6,000 feet in the sky.  Imagine spending hours in a metal glider in frigid air—Jim was tenacious and tough.  As the miles passed in a blur of snow that turned the harvested fields white, I kept radioing “Glider 271, this is glider mobile, do you read?”  Only to be answered by static.  It was inconceivable that Jim was still aloft, which meant I was driving away from his little snow-covered glider stuck in the middle of a corn-stubbled field.  But, as I was to learn, “inconceivable” meant something different as regards Jim and soaring flight.  I reached Chicago as the sun set, and it was pitch-black by the time I got directions to Jim and 271.  He had landed a few miles north of Indianapolis. 

Now, in the interest of honesty, I will admit that Jim could be a bit tetchy.  It was rush hour when I drove through Chicago hauling a 25-foot trailer, and the highway department seemed to be rebuilding every tollway in the city.  It used to be a four-hour drive from West-Chicago to Indianapolis.  It took me six hours.  Exhausted, I walked into a smoke-filled country bar to find Jim on a stool sipping a beer.  The first thing Jim said was, “Where the hell have you been.”  Tetchy. 

We disassembled the 1-26 by moonlight in the bitter freeze and drove home through the wee hours.  As we drove for ten hours he talked about the cold, the nature of April lift, the cold, his decision to fly well out of his way to get around the snow-storm front, the cold, how he could have flown further had daylight not forced him to land, the cold, how at the end of the day he had gotten high and stayed high, the cold . . .  He was right, I harvested an enormous wealth of knowledge about soaring by crewing for Jim.  Up to the end of his flying I continued to learn from him by being his crew.

Years later I painted a watercolor of Jim landing 271 on a grass strip next to a corn field at sunset near Indianapolis to memorialize the flight and the man.  In time the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum added this painting to their permanent collection.  The painting is titled Jim Hard: Diamond in the Rough which I lovingly named to honor the greatness of the man with rough edges.  It’s a comfort to know that Jim is immortalized and recognized by being part of America’s greatest museum of flight.  Orville and Wilbur, Neil Armstrong, Jim Hard—it has a nice ring. 

Jim would eventually earn the World Distance Award for cumulative cross-country flights equal to a distance circling the equator, or 40,000 kilometers—all in a 1-26.  I think of this feat as akin to winning the Indianapolis 500 in a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle. 

Then, bright, attractive, personable Kathleen Winters joined the Minnesota Soaring Club.  Jim and Kathleen found a special bond in the air and their hearts that ended in marriage.  They were both devoted to flight, and Kathleen would crew for Jim as much as he would crew for her.  With Jim’s support Kathleen would write two books about female pilots:  Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.  Kathleen was taken from us too young, with Jim by her side.  In my idea of heaven they are again flying side-by-side. 

MSC flight instructor Phil Schacht once said to me that Jim “has forgotten more about gliding than we know.”  A high and true complement to Jim from one master of the air about another. 

            Once I became a flight instructor, I advised my advanced students to take an instructional flight with Jim and to crew for him.  Studying with Jim was like learning from a Zen master who happened to be part eagle.

            In the last few years I had the honor of conducting Jim’s flight reviews.  Which, after quickly determining he met all FAA requirements for continued flight privileges, I used to learn from him.  Over thirty years of sharing a cockpit with Jim I discovered he had changed his advice about a few things.  For instance, he used to advise that upon finding lift to immediately and fully move the stick to turn as fast as possible—the yaw string be damned.  But, in later years he believed in perfectly coordinated flight, and he flew as smooth as silk.  He was learning till the last time he took to the air.

            Jim taught me, and many of the Minnesota Soaring Club (MSC) and Red Wing Soaring Association flight instructors to fly, and later in advanced training, the mastery of the thermal.  His knowledge is part of the weft and warp of the instruction that the current MSC and Red Wing instructors share with our students.  That is to say, Jim lives on, in the hearts of us that knew him, and in the soaring flights of all of us who are much better pilots for what Jim did not forget and we will never forget—for Jim the man, as well as his knowledge, is unforgettable. 

Wherever you are flying now, I know you are flying high, and staying high, my friend,

                                                                                                                        Stephen Nesser

                                                                                                                        February 10, 2019


Posted: 3/12/2019

Allen Lee Leffler

Allen Lee Leffler, 88 years old, of Pozo, California passed away on March 5th, 2019 in San Luis Obispo, California. Al was born in Millbank, South Dakota to Theodore Lee and Edith Marie Leffler. After his younger brother Jim was born, the family moved to Sulfur Mountain in Santa Paula Ca. Al attended Mupu Elementary School in Santa Paula and enlisted in the Air Force after graduating Santa Paula High School in 1948. Al was sent to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas for basic training. After completing radio signal repair training, he was assigned to the 3310th maintenance squad at Scott AFB in St. Louis, Illinois. While in St. Louis he met his future wife Irene Koskie. On their 1st date Al landed his WW2 trainer plane in a field on her family’s farm. This must have made quite an impression as they were soon married on December 2nd, 1950 in East St. Louis. Al used his training he received in the Air Force to start a career in ocean and land surveying. He was the west coast Vice President for Off Shore Navigation many years before starting his own surveying company Navigation Services Inc., headquartered in Ventura, California. His career took him all over the world. He sold his company in 1983 and they moved to their ranch named the” Flying LB” in Pozo Valley. From his introduction to aviation during the service his passion for flying continued to grow. He flew multiple types of prop airplanes during his surveying career and private life. Al was better known as “Little Boy” from his call sign on the gliding competition circuit. Competition soaring started for Al in 1957 at El Mirage. He was the national soaring champion in 1976 & 1983. He was also invited to fly in the most prestigious soaring competitions – the Smirnoff Derby (1977), Ameriglide (1990) and The Hitachi Masters of Soaring (1986, 1987, 1988). In 1988 he was the 1st American invited to the German Cup in Hungary and won. He was a licensed commercial pilot, soaring instructor and very active in promoting and supporting competitive soaring in America. He was inducted into the United States Soaring Hall of Fame in 2001. Al is survived by his wife of 68 years Irene Leffler, daughters Sandra Gast, Linda McDaniel and son Gary Leffler. 8 Grandchildren and 5 Great Grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are with Chapel of the Roses in Atascadero, California.

Posted: 3/8/2019




If merely judged on the 154 types of powered aircraft and 170 types of glider that he had flown, Derek Piggott can be rated as a remarkable pilot. If it had wings, he flew it: from the Bristol Boxkite to four-engine bombers and jets. However Derek Piggott is best known throughout the world as a glider pilot and instructor. While working as a stunt pilot for films, he probably exceeded the nine lives traditionally attributed to cats, surviving through his flying skills and an ability to think quickly under pressure.

In 1955 he set a British gliding altituderecord in a violently turbulent thunderstorm in a Skylark 2.As it climbed, the glider became heavily coated with ice, which periodically jammed the controls. There was also a risk that lightning would fuse every control rod and cable. After experiencing severe electric shocks he decided to descend, but this proved impossible even with full airbrakes. Maintaining control with only turn and slip and air-speed indicators, he reached over 25,000 feet. With no oxygen, he was barely conscious when he found descending air.

In 1959 the Daily Mail sponsored a race from London to Paris on the anniversary of Bleriot's flight across the Channel. Derek crossed the channel twice in gliders, once in an Olympia 419 that he soared from Deal to the outskirts of Paris, andonce while being towed in a primary glider. Because the primary was easily de-rigged, it was the only aircraft to do the whole distance from Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe.

During an aerobatic flight in a Bocian with a pupil, the rear canopy blew off, hitting the tail-plane and disabling the glider. The pupil jettisoned the front canopy, which hit Derek in the rear seat and embedded itself in the wing. They lost height rapidly.  Derek was puzzled by the pupil's delay in exiting, but the pupil finally bailed out. Derek, after battling with 'g'-forces, managed to escape after the glider inverted. His parachute opened at 500 feet. He later learned that the pupil had removed his expensive sunglasses and placed them in his pocket before jumping. After a cup of tea and calls to the Air Accident Investigation Branch and the police, Derek climbed into another glider and continued instructing. 

Derek was occasionally employed for feature films as a stunt pilot and technical advisor.  He had a great 'camera sense', knowing which maneuvers would look impressive and accurately positioning the aircraft to appear in each shot.  He was able to say whether a shot would work after the rehearsals and suggest an alternative if it did not. For dog-fight sequences he advised fellow pilots to move in behind the other aircraft until they were scared, and then close in a little more.

ForDarling Lilliin 1968, he was responsible for the majority of the designs of six replica SE5A aircraft and for supervising their construction in a period of nine weeks and so worked 17-hour days for this period. They were completed just days before simulated dog-flights. He also advised on the construction of several of the early aircraft re-created for use in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machinesin 1964For some types he had to re-discover how to fly them safely. Some of these replicas were barely flyable until Derek trimmed them so as to make them controllable and tolerably stable.

For Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1967, he was required to fly in a copy of a 1910 Lebaudy airship. It was reported to be almost uncontrollable. He hastened to the library of the Royal Aeronautical Society and read all he could. Malcolm Brighton and Derek managed to get the airship airborne briefly, before hitting the ground and breaking the propeller. They then bounced up into 132,000 volt cables. They were reluctant to jettison all the expensive helium, and so when they landed again, a light breeze was sufficient to send them through another set of power wires, before they eventually dumped the gas. The airship was written off in a storm shortly after.

Using his experience of a crash in an Indian paddy field after engine failure, he deliberately crashed an aircraft for Villa Rideson a river bank while flying towards a cliff. He stopped it from 55mph in 10 yards by making the undercarriage collapse. His major concern had been the cliff, which made the stunt more dangerous and yet it was never seen in the finished film. In The Blue Maxhe was the only stunt pilot to agree to fly for a scene in which the two rivals challenged each other to fly beneath the spans of a bridge. The two replica Fokker Dr.I tri-planes had four feet of clearance on each side when passing through the narrower span. They had limited maneuverabilityand insufficient power to pull up over the bridge if the flight-path began to go adrift. Derek took the role of both pilots. He placed two poles beyondthe bridge and by aligning them on the approach, he could fly down the centre-line of the span. Because of the need for multiple takes of both aircraft from various angles, he flew the wider span of the bridge fifteen times and eighteen times through the narrower span. 

In November 1961, flying Southampton University's Man-Powered Aircraft (SUMPAC), Derek Piggott flew 64 metres, becoming the first person to make an officially authenticated take-off and flight in a man-powered aircraft.For television programs in 1973 and again in 1985, he flew a replica of the first heavier-than-air aircraft, at the site that Sir George Cayley had used in 1853, in Brompton Dale, Yorkshire.Cayley had named the oar-like main control as the 'influencer', which Derek said was a serious exaggeration.

Alan Derek Piggott was born 27 December 1922 in Chadwell Heath, Essex, the son of Rev William Piggott and Alice Harvey. His father was a conscientious objector in the First World War, led the rent strike against London County Council after the war and was a frequent speaker at Hyde Park. When his mother died, the family moved to Sutton, Surrey where Derek attended Sutton County School. When he left school he became a trainee scientific instrument maker. He had been a very active aero-modeller and helped to form the Sutton Model Aircraft Club. After the war he was selected to be a member of the British Wakefield Cup team, a prestigious aero modelling competition held that year in Akron, Ohio.

From the age of four after a flight in an Avro 504, flying was Derek's life. He volunteered for the RAF as aircrew in 1942, trained in Canada and was commissioned in 1943. After months of waiting on a Lancaster Bomber station at Witchford, he volunteered for glider operations, which promised immediate action.  He did his conversion training on to troop-carrying gliders before being posted to India for four weeks as second pilot on Dakotas flying supply operations over the front lines in Burma. 

After a spell instructing Indian pilots at Jodpur, he flew patrols in Austers, during the unrest caused by Partition in 1947, often taking off from narrow roads. He returned to England in 1947 and was posted to the Central Flying School as an instructor of instructors. He became an A1 CFS instructor, the highest RAF qualification for a flying instructor. This involved flying and teaching on many types of aircraft including multi-engined aircraft and early Meteor jets.  

He was selected for the Empire Test Flying School, but high tone deafness caused by long hours in noisy aircraft debarred him. This was a common condition among experienced pilots. The rules were later relaxed, but too late for Derek. Instead he went to the RAF Gliding School in Detling as chief instructor. Although an unspectacular achievement, his systematic sequence of exercises in dual-controlled gliders greatly improved the safety of gliding. In 1953 Derek Piggott received the Queen's Commendation for work on developing and introducing new instructional techniques for gliding in the Air Training Corps. He was particularly proud of his monograph Sub-gravity sensations and gliding accidents which identified why some pilots panicked and flew vertically into the ground.

He left the RAF in 1953 and became the Chief Flying Instructor at Lasham Airfield where he remained until 1989. Gliding, and teaching gliding, was his primary passion and the activity for which he will probably be best remembered. He wrote eight books on gliding, including his autobiography, Delta Papa, and was the guest speaker at many events throughout the world. His first book, Gliding, is now in the 8th edition, and he wrote several more, including Beginning Gliding, Understanding Gliding,and Gliding Safety. Despite the adventurous aspects of Derek’s life, perhaps his greatest achievement was to make gliding safer: His structured progress cards, instructor courses and defined weather limits for inexperienced pilots undoubtedly saved many lives.

While at Lasham, he pioneered motorglider training using primarily the Scheibe Falke, one of his favourite training planes. In 1980 he also participated in an American FAA / SSA / Industry experimental program that led to the standard certification of motorgliders and their usage as trainers in the United States. He consulted for the US Air Force Academy, which also led to their adoption of motorgliders shortly afterward. Derek was a frequent speaker at SSA conventions, the ChicagoLand Glider Council and other prestigious venues in the US during the 1980’s.

He married Myfanwy Joy Rowlands in 1949, but they separated. Myfanwy died in July 2014. They had a daughter, Julia, the founder and artistic director of Pyramid of Arts, who also died in 2014, and a son, Robert, currently a schoolmaster. His partner for many years, Maria Boyd, a teacher of dyslexic children, also survives him.

Derek was regarded as a warm person, keenly interested in anyone who wanted to fly.  He took immense pains with his pupils and had huge patience in diagnosing faults and explaining techniques. In 1987 he was awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to gliding. In 2007 the Royal Aero Club awarded him their Gold Medal - the highest award for aviation in the UK. Also in 2007 the Royal Aeronautical Society appointed Derek an Honorary Companion of the Society. In 2008 he was awarded the Lilienthal Gliding Medal by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for outstanding service over many years to the sport of gliding. He continued flying up to his 90th birthday, and regularly thereafter but no longer as pilot in command. He was fiercely independent, still drove and visited (and flew) often at Lasham.

Derek Piggott enjoyed a full and happy life for 96 years and passed away on January 6, 2019 with Maria Boyd at his side. He had suffered a severe stroke on December 15, 2018. 

John McCullagh, Lasham Gliding Society

Derek Piggott, in later years, with one of his favourite lecture props. (Photo Credit: Ray Konrath)


As well as a portrait I would suggest this photo, but I do not know the copyright owners. It was published in the Irish Independent recently, but no indication of the owner of the rights.




Derek Piggott flying a Fokker Dr.I triplane through the narrower span of the bridge at Carrigabrick in Co Cork for the Blue Max in 1965.



Derek (nearest) with Roy Cross. With combined ages of 171, the oldest pair to enter a British gliding competition 


Posted: 2/19/2019

Wolf Elber


He and his family came to the US in February 1970 and joined the Tidewater Soaring Society in May the same year

Wolf had a distinguished career first with NASA and later with the US Army. His professional accolades are immortalized on the Internet and in technical publications.

Little is known about his contributions to soaring. He, in conjunction with Steve Sliva, wrote the first display scoring program for the 1982 Nationals in Elmira, NY. This program made it possible for the first time to see schematically the location of pilot’s land-out places. It was a great hit with crews and the pilots who had already returned to Harris Hill.

A year later, he wrote the program for the start ground clock that was used during the 1983 World Championships in Hobbs, NM. He also was one of the three scorers at these World Championships. He tinkered with home-calibrating variometers using the car manifold and home fridge. In the early eighties, he developed a thermal sniffing sensor that Helmut Reichmann in his plane and he and Frauke in their Ka8 test-flew. It worked but too slowly for practical use then. It was about 20 years ahead of its time.

He was an avid supporter of Women Soaring (no wonder, it was a woman, who got him into soaring) and attended about 20 WSPA seminars together with his wife Frauke. At the seminars he was known as mister-fix-it all, especially non-functional toilets. For his efforts in this field, he was awarded the “Golden Plunger Award” (not mentioned on Google).

He was a TSS member for 48 years and a shaker and mover in the club. Over the years he owned a Ka 8, a Libelle, and ASW 20 and was always willing to share the planes with others. For 10 years he flew in the Senior Championships at Seminole Lake Gliderport.

On January 12, 2019 he took off for his last flight

Good Finish, Whisky Echo

Frauke Elber

Posted: 1/22/2019

Willi J. Geiselmann

Willi J. Geiselmann, transitioned peacefully on Wednesday morning, January 17, 2018, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Pforzheim, Germany on March 19, 1926 to Josef Geiselmann and Ida Geiselmann (nee Rupp).

Prior to emigrating to America, Willi was trained as a goldsmith and silversmith. After arriving in St. Louis, he worked as a surgical instrument maker for Storz Instrument company for over 30 years. Willi had an early interest in flying from his youth serving in the German Luftwaffe and brought that interest here, becoming an FAA examiner and flight instructor and helping to grow the sport of Soaring in the midwest. He was a member of the St. Louis Soaring Association and the Soaring Society of America for over 50 years. Later becoming a founding member of the Silvercreek Soaring Club. During his time here he started the St. Louis Soaring School and taught many people to become pilots and fly gliders. He earned many achievement awards for flying sailplanes and was always eager to share his interest of the sport with others.

Willi also had a lifelong love of model railroading and was an avid collector of electric model trains. He was active in the Train Collector Association and Garden Railway Club. His passion of restoring and repairing antique trains and those years spent collecting culminated in an impressive collection he was very proud to own and display.

Those left to cherish his memory include his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth Geiselmann (nee Schaefer); his son Willie Geiselmann; daughter-in-law Stephanie Geiselmann; his grandchildren Alexander Geiselmann and Andrew Geiselmann; his sister Louise Bazner and brother Ernst Geiselmann and wife Ella; his cousin Marilyn Lyons (nee Geiselmann); in-laws Knut and Margaret Heise; Katheryn Scheffel and many nieces and nephews of his extended family. Services: Graveside service will be at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 19 at Mount Hope Cemetery on Lemay Ferry Rd in South St. Louis County. Kutis Funeral Home of Affton is entrusted with arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Soaring Society of America

Posted: 1/24/2018

Bruce R. Wilbee

Bruce R. Wilbee, age 51, passed away Sunday November 26, 2017. He was born to Robert and Shirley Wilbee in Buffalo, NY, they moved to Las Cruces, NM where Bruce was raised. He was a graduate of Colorado State University, and was an avid glider pilot, he also loved to travel the world. Bruce enjoyed spending many hours on the baseball field with his son Ryan. He is survived by his loving wife Ann, son Ryan, parents Robert and Shirley Wilbee, and brother Richard (Dena) Wilbee. He was preceded in death by his sister Lauren. A Memorial Visitation will be 4:00-7:00 P.M. Thursday, November 30, 2017 at Yurs Funeral Home, 1771 W. State St. (Route 38), Geneva, IL 60134. A Memorial Service will follow the visitation at 7:00 P.M. at Yurs Funeral Home. To leave an online condolence or remembrance to the family, visit the funeral homes' obituary page at www.yursfuneralhomes.com. For more information, please call Yurs Funeral Home Geneva, 630-232-7337.

Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Nov. 29, 2017

Posted: 12/15/2017

Vernon Frye

All of us who learned the art of cross country soaring  from him and became his friend will never forget him.  I can't think of anyone more admired by all who met him, than Vern Frye.  Vern was responsible for the tradition of assigning 'bird' names to the pilots of NSA and Airsailing.  He spent literally thousands of hours in the pursuit of promoting soaring, training new and old pilots, flying tow planes, maintaining the fleet of club aircraft,  flying tow planes, and organizing.

Vern may have done more to promote soaring than anyone in the world, starting or promoting soaring clubs in places ranging from the USAF Academy to the Berlin Tempelhof Aerodrome in Germany,  where he served a tour of duty as  the commanding officer of our USAF base there.  

Vern was prominently featured in retired General Bell's book about the air war in Vietnam, "One Hundred Missions North."  It is a very good book, and has some entertaining stories about Vern, who bunked with the author while they were flying combat missions out of jungle strips. (Vern actually flew 106 missions north, exceeding the required limit by six, which was so typical of  him).

Posted: 9/19/2017

Final Glide 

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