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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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