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Fine Pilot Fine Gentleman

In 1970, when I was a 15 year old student pilot, Dick was one of my three flight instructors (along with Alan Patching and Al Mortimer). North Dallas Gliders ran a car-tow operation on some ranching land that Dick owned in the country near Heath, Texas. Dick was winding down from his most active competition days, but was still very much involved in contests. He was one of the last top-ranked pilots to switch from metal (an extensively modified HP design) to glass ships.

For a season or two at our club operation, while waiting for a new glass ship, Dick bought and flew an old Skylark 4 (2E) since it auto-towed well. Often, he'd do some instructing early in the day, and then take off in the Skylark. He'd be gone for the rest of the day, even in marginal conditions. Near sunset, when everyone else had landed and the ships were tied down for the night, you'd hear a distant, high pitched whistle as he returned to the field and slowly drifted down. Sometimes we'd have to shoo the cows off the top of the ridge to give him room to land.

Dick was demanding as an instructor, but always quick to explain and elaborate. Young guys learned a lot just hanging around the gliderport when Dick was there. A number of us went on to instruct, or to compete, and are still involved in the sport he loved. Dick was a great guy, a great pilot and a great story-teller. The sport of soaring is better for his many contributions over the years, and he will be missed.

-- Kevin Shaw

Posted: 7/27/2008 By: Richard Johnson


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