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Charles Rufus Burnett, Jr.'s Final Glide

Charles Burnett, Airport Manager for the Memphis Soaring Society, took his final glide on March 25, 2004, after a short illness at age 67. Charlie was instrumental in the Memphis Airport to the society's private gliderport at Lawrence Field in Cherry Valley, AR.

Charlie joined the Memphis Soaring Society in the fall of 1999. He had flown crop dusters as a young man, and had been involved with model airplanes for many years. As we got to know Charlie, we found that he was a locksmith, and had worked in the hardware business for a lot of years. We noticed that all of a sudden, a lot of things were getting done around our club. The grass was mowed, things were being fixed, and people in the community were becoming aware of Memphis Soaring.

Charlie went through our training program, became a pilot, and bought a beautiful Blanik L-13 to fly. He especially loved to fly Crowley's ridge in east Arkansas. "You can extend the flaps on the L-13 and fly forever!", Charlie said. He took that big ship and danced around the cu's with the best of them.

When we decided that we needed our own gliderport, we located 104 acres in Cherry Valley, Arkansas. Most of us are from cities like Memphis, TN, or Little rock and Jonesboro. We didn't know didlysquat about Cherry Valley, or Cross County, Arkansas. But Charles Burnett knew everyone in that county, and adjoining counties.

Charlie secured a temporary flying site for us while we transitioned from Forrest City to Cherry Valley. He introduced us to the government officials of Cherry Valley, and tradesmen in the are. He also secured a large empty building in Wynne, AR for storage of our gliders over the winter months.

Then we began operations at our new gliderport. Charlie became our Airport Manager. He worked with the contractors, mowed the grass, and cleared our the mosquitoes. He was constantly at the gliderport working or fixing things. "You get as much out of a club as you put into it," he used to say.

Charles Burnett was a good Christian man. Memphis Soaring was proud to honor Charlie witht the attendance of over 30 members at his funeral; and all of them wore suits! We can't get that many members to attend a club meeting. He was an inspiration to all of us, and his passing is a great loss to the Memphis Soaring Society.

Monroe S. David

Posted: 4/1/2004

Final Glide 

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