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Stanley J. Montagne - Sierra Mike

Stan Montagne who was well known in the west by his call sign "Sierra Mike" died in his sleep on the morning of February 15,1999. He was diagnosed with cancer last August and put up a valiant fight for survival but was finally overcome. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Jan, his wife of 44 years, his son, Tim and daughter, Teresa.

A native of Sioux City, Iowa. Stan's family moved to Sacramento, California where he finished school.

He joined the navy to see the world and spent four years in the Pacific Ocean aboard the submarine tender Sperry during the time of the Korean conflict. After his discharge from the navy he entered the optical business where he worked until his retirement in 1990. He established a home in Novato, California and lived an idyllic life that allowed him to ride his bike to and from work.

In 1962 he took up a challenging sport that gave him great satisfaction, soaring. His instructor was Hette Amade. Sky Sailing Gliderport at Fremont, California was the base of operation. He completed all the diamond requirements in 1971 and earned badge number 210. While serving on the PASCO Board in the middle 70's he was instrumental in establishing the Esther White Award, a yearly recognition of an outstanding crew. Stan definitely knew the value of a crew. He was the President of North Bay Soaring Association for a time. This group operated from the airport near Sonoma and occasionally took their glider and tow plane into the Sierras to fly at places such as Sierraville and Chester to get mountain-flying experience.

Stan's first glider was an ASK-13. Then he moved up to a Phoebus; then a Cirrus and Jan encouraged him to move into his final plane, a Ventus. He logged almost 5,000 hours flying these craft across the country. Stan flew both competition and fun flights. In the 70's he flew his Cirrus in the Standard Class Nationals at Minden and Ephrata. He flew in many Region 11 contests. In 1987 he was asked by Pasco to be the CD at Minden for the Regionals where he did a fine job under difficult circumstances. A military aircraft had crashed south of Minden and all the courses had to be tasked to the north and east because of the closed airspace. In 1989 he won the Air Sailing Sports Class contest with his Ventus so according to the rules had to run the '90 contest.

Stan's passion to fly cross-country over new territory was satisfied by going on safaris. I had the fortune to team-up with him many times starting in July 1988. What an introduction to safari flying! From Truckee we went all the way across Nevada and landed at Wendover, Utah, our goal. After several days flying locally at Heber City, Utah our next goal was Grand Junction, Colorado. The last time that I saw Stan on this course was when he took off from Heber. He ran the course a lot faster than I did, but kept me informed about the conditions ahead and we both made Grand Junction.

One flight that Stan recalled often, because it gave him particular enjoyment, was the flight we made together from Durango, Colorado to Heber City, Utah. We were both low and scratching in different areas near Durango, but were finally able to join-up, get high and stay high. We cruised across Telluride, Colorado, the Uncompahgre Mountains and into a huge thermal north west of Green River, Utah that got us to our destination. He considered this his best flight ever. I'm fortunate to have been part of this adventure.

In the summer of '98 Stan got to fly over Pikes Peak, another new site for him. His final safari flight was from Durango to Price, Utah. Price was not his destination. He had to land there because of a huge thunderstorm or he would have continued on to Heber City. Every flight comes to an end. And so it is with life. Our flights with Stan have come to an end. But during our 'hangar-flying' we'll remember Stan and be glad we had the pleasure of knowing and flying with him.

By Charlie Westerinen

Posted: 5/1/1999

Final Glide 

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