James Leland

James Leland

James Leland

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Show Date: December 20th, 2017

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Lt. Col. James “Wally” Leland, USAF ret.


A Partial Aviation History of James W. Leland


My first experience with aviation was in the 1930s. I can’t recall the exact date, but my having been born in 1928, it must have been when I was about five or six years old. Barnstormers were flying around the country, landing at small towns and doing aerial demonstrations and giving rides during this period. I recall my sister, Velma, 9 years older than I was, taking me up in a five-passenger enclosed cabin, high wing aircraft, probably a Waco, but I am unable to say exactly. The thing that I do recall was that I was unable to lift my feet off of the floor during the flight, although I was enjoying looking out the window. It was years before I realized that the pilot must have been putting G forces on the aircraft and that was the reason I was unable to lift my feet. It was from this experience that I decided I would like to fly aircraft.

My first instruction flight in a light aircraft was on 10/3/1944. It was made in a J 4 Club Coupe which had a 65-hp engine. The serial number was NC- 24622 and the flight lasted for 15 minutes. It was from a 3000-foot grass strip at Forsyth, Montana. During the next eight months, I made eight flights for a total of eight hours and ten minutes and soloed on 6/18/1945 in another Club Coupe, serial NC- 24820. The instructor was J.C. Hoteling and his certified flight instructor number was C- 298766. He lived in Miles City, MT. Jack would fly in from Miles City, a distance of about 47 miles from Forsyth, each week and give several of us flight instruction. I did not have any more flight instruction from that time until I raduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1953 and entered pilot training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas in August 1953.

I had many flights in different aircraft while attending Montana State College in Bozeman, MT and back seat rides in the T-6 with Air Force Reserve pilots at Stewart Field in NY. After graduation from pilot training, based on my flight training in the Air Force, I applied for a commercial civilian license for single and multi- engine land privileges in September 1954. My ratings included instrument and commercial.

My wife, Muriel, and I purchased our first aircraft in 1955 for $4500 while I was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, MT. It was a 1947 Cessna 170 A. We flew locally at Great Falls and then took a cross-country to Brewster, New York and took several of the family for rides in the aircraft. Unfortunately, on the return trip to Great Falls planning to fly to Anchorage Alaska where I had been assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, I flew the aircraft into weather conditions which I was unable to penetrate successfully (scud-running ). This situation ended in a forced landing upside down in a cornfield at Hobart, IN. Muriel was pregnant with Bill, and she had Michelle strapped in her lap. My seat belt broke, I was stunned, and, due to my Air Force training, quickly exited the A/C, and was standing on the bottom of the upside-down wing stunned while Muriel calmly turned off the battery switch. I then released her seat belt, and she dropped the foot or so onto the roof of the cabin. Not my proudest moment! Fortunately, the biggest damage was to my pride. The aircraft did have substantial damage, and I was forced to transport it back to Great Falls on the back of a 1937 Ford truck I purchased for $800.

Having already shipped our automobile to Elmendorf Air Force Base, I had to modify my plans to get to Anchorage. Fortunately, my brother-in-law, Leroy Palmer, was employed at the Billings, MT Chevrolet dealer and was able to sell me a new 1954 Chevrolet station wagon for cost plus $50. (approximately $2000). Muriel, I, and our daughter Michelle, age one, camped along the Alcan highway on our trip to Anchorage. After I received the car in Anchorage I had previously shipped up, I sold the station wagon for a profit. Leroy and I changed the bearings on the crankshaft of the 1937 truck, and he sold it for a profit also.

I contracted the civilian maintenance people at Great Falls, MT and had them rebuild the fuselage. I then salvaged some wings from an aircraft that had previously been abandoned after a forced landing on a lake. The aircraft had been stripped of its engine and instruments and there was extensive damage to the wings. It was a big job pulling what was basically an eight-man raft with two wings on it through the muskeg, but I was able to move them to an unused hangar at Elmendorf AFB where I inspected them, disassembled them, and compared the damage to them and to the wings at Great Falls. I hired a couple of airmen from the sheet metal shop to disassemble the wings. They were happy to work for $2/hr. when they generally only made $1.50/hr. at the Officer’s Club waiting tables. I shipped the usable parts to Great Falls, had the wings and fuselage repaired, and made it ready for shipment. I had the disassembled A/C shipped up from Great Falls on an Air Force Globe Master C-124 that needed the extra weight for ballast. I then assembled the aircraft on Elmendorf and flew it to Merrill Field. By this time, I had a great deal of experience in repairing Cessna aircraft, as you can imagine.

I formed an informal club with several individuals at Elmendorf who had a desire to fly this type aircraft. I was the general partner, and they were basically limited partners with no investment. This arrangement paid for the fixed costs in the aircraft for me including the financing, insurance, etc. and all of us paid the operational costs for fuel, oil, tie downs, etc. while we operated the aircraft.

The final flight of the aircraft was made when one of the
members, Sgt. Ward, was on a flight to a remote site at Copper City and failed to use the proper de-icing engine monitoring procedures to prevent carburetor icing. During an attempted landing, he was unable to generate sufficient power to land and the aircraft landed several hundred feet short of a dirt strip. He hit a log and tore out one landing gear. The local FAA accident investigator kept a log of the accidents in Alaska, and the chapter on this accident was titled “Flaps Do Not Stretch a Glide.”

Although I had insurance, the insurance adjuster was reluctant to pay for the accident. I was able to convince him (rather forcibly) that it was a valid claim. Another Cessna 170B owner had been unfortunate enough to have his aircraft based on Merrill Field damaged in a windstorm and elected not to repair it. With my extensive experience on my 170A and with his agreement to let me use his hanger, I bought the aircraft and hired several soldiers (aircraft mechanics) from Fort Richardson who maintained the Army military version of the C-170, the O-1 After the rebuilding , I continued to operate this aircraft in the club environment until I rotated back to the Lower 48 at McChord Air Force Base at Tacoma, WA. I sold the Cessna 170 B to a captain from Elmendorf, and the aircraft remained in Alaska.

My next purchase of an aircraft was with two other members of the 64 th FIS squadron I was assigned to at McChord. Mike Tinglestand who was a fellow F-102 pilot, and the other member was the Pratt & Whitney engine Tech Rep for the F-102, Bill Belair. He had an FAA A&E (aircraft and engine) Mechanics Certificate so the three of us purchased a Piper PA 12 (Super Cruiser) for $1500 from a local owner. We got it for a bargain price as the engine required an overhaul. With Bill supervising, Mike and I overhauled it in Bill’s garage. Bill and Mike transferred out of the squadron and I bought them out and operated the aircraft from the Gray Army Airfield at Fort Lewis, Washington. This arrangement was possible because I started the aero club there and was the chief flight instructor. Although the Army operated aircraft from the Gray
Field, none of their pilots were interesting in flying the club aircraft as the club aircraft were very similar to the ones they
flew on active duty.

When I was reassigned to the Air Force Academy in 1960 to the Plans and Scheduling section in the Commandant’s shop, I ferried the PA-12 from Fort Lewis to Peterson Field at Colorado Springs, CO. I had only one forced landing in a snowstorm at Broken Bow, WY. Broken Bow had a population of about 50 people and no airport. I landed in a farmer’s field being careful to avoid the sheep. When the weather cleared, I flew on to Cheyenne, WY and then on to Peterson Field.

After a few months in Colorado Springs, I had the opportunity to purchase an aircraft from a Cessna dealer in Denver, CO. It was a rather unusual aircraft in that had been used as a prototype by Cessna in the development of a new 172 line. Unfortunately for them, it had been damaged in a hailstorm. I’m sure they collected the money from that damage. The aircraft was still airworthy and had been bought by a dealer in Denver. I purchased it at a sizable discount. I always claimed it was faster than other 172’s with the dimpled skin (like a dimpled golf ball).

I then took on a couple of club members, Major Bert Brennan (my boss at plans and scheduling) and also Buzz Baxter, another member of the Air Force Academy staff under the Commandant.

The Air Force Academy did have an aero club, and it was operating out of Peterson AFB at the Colorado Springs Airport. Peterson was about 20 Miles from the Academy. Because we had to go through downtown Colorado Springs, the round trip was over an hour. I became active in the aero club as an instructor and eventually became the president of the aero club.

The majority of the membership of the aero club were cadets; however, they had some difficulty with the amount of time it took them to travel back and forth from the Academy to Peterson Field. All of their flying was on their own time, and that free time was limited basically to after the morning parade on Saturday and then on Sunday after church. Major Patch and I approached B/General Seawell, the Commandant of Cadets, and asked for his support in moving the aero club from Peterson Field to the unimproved grass strip at the Pine Valley airstrip on the Academy. This task was not easy. We had leased several aircraft A/C including Maj Patch’s Comanche. Major Bill Patch, US Army, was the son of a famous general during WW II and was an exchange officer from the Army to the Air Force Academy. He owned a Piper Comanche 250, a reasonably high performance four-place aircraft. At that time, he was the President of the aero club and had leased the A/C to the aero club. They also had my PA-12 and Cessna 172 leased two T-34 trainers were also given to the aero club by the Air Force.

Bill and I joined forces to move the aero club with it’s A/C from Peterson Field to the Pine Valley Airstrip Capt. Red Kimball was in the operation section of the Superintendent’s staff and received permission to bring one of the T 34’s over to the Pine Valley airstrip and demonstrate that the airstrip would support our aero club aircraft. B/G Seawell invited the Dean of Academics, B/G McDermott, and Col. Stealy, the Chief of Staff for the Academy, to the Pine Valley airstrip to observe Red make touch and go landings. Both Generals, who had flown combat in WW II in P-38s, commented that they had flown the P-38 from airfields in Europe that were not as good as the Pine Valley airstrip.

As a member of General Seawall’s staff, I approached the General Land requested that he assist me in getting non-appropriated funding to support the aero club. I recall my first briefing for the General with the financial red line that dipped well below the breakeven point. He asked me if there was a possibility that I had the chart upside down! I told him no, that we really were in that much in debt. General Seawall’s response to my request was that he would support me in getting the aero club back in the black and moved to Pine Valley but said that I would then have to help him start a soaring program. I agreed to that arrangement. strips than this in Europe. They all endorsed the movement of the aero club to the Academy.

The Pine Valley airstrip was in operation at the Academy site prior to the Air Force obtaining the 40 acres on which they built the Academy. At one time, it did have a Butler building, which was a common building used on remote sites throughout the Air Force; however, the building had been torn down and removed before the Academy moved from Lowry Field in Denver to Colorado Springs. There were no facilities at the airstrip when we made the proposal to move our aero club to the Academy.

Historically, it is important to realize that there had been an operation at the Pine Valley airstrip prior to our attempt to move the aero club. Lt. Col. Bill Fuchs had been able to start a soaring program at a Denver civilian airport to support the initial years when the cadets were at Lowry Air Force Base. It was a successful operation, and Bill had been able to bring the sailplanes to Pine Valley airstrip when the cadets moved to the Academy. Again, unfortunately this program suffered heavy damage when the sailplanes were destroyed by the winds from the rotor cloud generated by the mountain wave off of 14,114 foot Pike’s Peak. The Academy was basically in the lee of these winds. Since there were no facilities, the sailplanes were tied down out in the open, and the 60-plus knot winds pulled the moorings out of the ground and destroyed the aircraft. The Air Force Academy at this time was undergoing many changes with their relocation to Colorado Springs. Although Bill Fuchs attempted to recover from the disastrous effects of the windstorms, the Academy was unable or unwilling to support him.

Ironically, I knew Bill Fuchs prior to my reporting to the Academy. He had been a Major on the USMA academic staff (teaching Solids and Fluids) when I was a cadet at West Point. I knew that he had a floatplane that he operated off of the Hudson River adjacent to West Point. I visited with him several times after class as a cadet and discussed my future aspirations to be an Air Force pilot. He encouraged me to join the Air Force after graduation and follow my dreams. Now I end up at the Air Force Academy, an Air Force pilot and interested in reviving his soaring program!

Although I had never flown a sailplane, I had followed the soaring society of America program while I was stationed at McChord Air Force Base flying the 102 and my PA 12. There was a pilot from Washington State, and although I cannot recall his first name, his last name was Bowers. He had made several spectacular flights in the sailplane. It intrigued me to be able to fly an aircraft without an engine. I had some knowledge of the glider operations during World War II but very little knowledge of what they did with that type of aircraft in a soaring mode. The only difference between an airplane with an engine operating and an aircraft with the engine disabled is that it becomes a glider when there is no power so that it can maintain its forward momentum and generate lift from its wings. This applies to all airplanes! In fact, over the years there have been several occasions where airliners that experienced double engine failures have became gliders. Some were lucky enough to have had at least one crew member with previous soaring experience who was able to land the aircraft with the engines inoperative.

After WW II there was a lot of interest in both powered and unpowered aircraft (i.e. sailplanes), and many combat veterans took up the sport of soaring. The primary provider of these aircraft was the Schweizer aircraft company in Elmira, New York. There were three brothers who operated the Schweizer sailplane factory: Ernie the engineer, Bill the salesman and Paul the marketing representative. Ernie had been flunking math while he was attending Peekskill NY High School, and when the instructor asked why he was not doing his homework, he said he didn’t have time, as he was designing a glider. That design became the TG- 2 and was used during WW II to train combat glider pilots.

General Seawell, upon my recommendation that we obtain a Butler building and install it on the concrete pad where the previous Butler building had been erected prior to the Air Force Academy being established, worked through one of the Air National Guard generals he knew and obtained two Butler buildings in Alaska. He had the National Guard move them by a C -97 aircraft to Peterson Field. I then made arrangements to have the boxes of parts delivered to Pine Valley airstrip. These Butler buildings were designed to be assembled in the field by unskilled laborers. You didn’t have to be a construction expert to put one up. With this reasoning and having an engineering background at West Point, I elected to use the cadets in the aero club to volunteer their labor to erect a Butler building on the Pine Valley airstrip on the previous site. I scheduled a work group to come down to the airstrip on a Saturday afternoon and start to tear the boxes apart, get the parts out, and start the building. The base civil engineer, Col. Bowers who did not work for General Sewall, but rather for the superintendent, got word of my project and in a cloud of dust came roaring onto the airstrip Saturday afternoon to see what I was doing. Although he was a full colonel and I was a captain, I told him that I was erecting a Butler building. He said I was not allowed to do that and that Air Force approval would be required. Col. Bowers was a West Point graduate and, although he was not actively flying, he was a supporter of getting a flying program for the cadets. He ordered me to cease and desist on the erection of the building and said he would go through channels and see if he could get permission to have the building erected. He left it up to me to get the financing for it as funds were available from appropriated funds.

I advised General Sewall of the situation and he authorized me to find a civilian construction company that would erect the Butler building. It is important to note at this point that there would be no soaring program unless we had a Butler building because I had recommended to General Sewall that there had to be facilities at the airfield protect the sailplanes. He stuck by my recommendation. I contacted several contractors, however no bid came anywhere close to the small amount of money that we are able to raise through non-appropriated funds.

An explanation of non-appropriated versus appropriated funds is probably essential at this time. Normally, the operation of the Academy and the buildings the maintenance, etc. is paid out of appropriated government funds; however, those activities that the cadets participate in such as ski clubs, swimming clubs, history clubs, choir clubs and model airplanes, etc. were paid for out non-appropriated funds.I had observed the different clubs when I was a cadet at a West Point so I was familiar with this program.

These non-appropriated funds were generated by the small amount of profit that the cadet store generated in the sale of such things as toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap and other items that the cadets purchased. The amount that the contractors wanted to construct the building escapes me at this time, but I believe it was in the vicinity of $25,000. There was no way that we would be able to raise that much money from the non-appropriated funds in addition to the cost of the sailplanes we had to buy, although General Sewall had the authority to use whatever he deemed necessary for the program.

General Sewall had committed himself to this program to the point that he had me go back to Elmira, New York on a temporary duty assignment to obtain my rating for sailplanes. After I accomplished this task and returned to the Academy, Dave Johnson, a local sailplane pilot and I established the Pikes Peak Soaring Association. We enlisted several businessmen and other people who wanted to learn how to fly sailplanes. With my instructor rating in “gliders” (which the FAA calls them), I was the instructor pilot. Dave Johnson, John Brittingham, Mark Wild, and I all formed Wave Flights , Inc. and bought a new Schweizer SGU 2- 22. It was a low performance Sailplane Glider Utility, and it was adequate to start the club. Dave Johnson had purchased a surplus sailplane from the government after World War II and made major modifications to it. It was a rather low performance sailplane but, again, could be used as a trainer in the new glider club. Dave also had a Piper PA- 18 super club and was an FAA A&E mechanic. Dave was also in the home construction businesses. His neighbor, Mark Wild, owned about 50 or 60 acres of land adjacent to Dave’s property and agreed to let us use part of the property as an airfield for our glider club. This property was located about 12 miles east of the Air Force Academy out of the lee of the front range. Although we experienced some winds, the area did not have the strong winds from the mountain wave which would damage sailplanes. Initially we stored the SGU 2-22 with the wings removed in Mark Wild’s horse barn and would put the wings back on and fly the trainer when the weather was good.

One of the members to join the club was a retired Lt. Col. from the Air Force, Frank Ladwig. Frank was in the construction business, so I approached him to see if he would be interested in erecting our Butler building at the Air Force Academy. I pointed out that we had two hangers but we only wanted to put up one up and the reason we had two was because we weren’t sure that we would have enough parts from just one kit. Frank did a study and decided that if we would pay him a nominal fee (I can’t remember the amount ), it was enough to do the job. He would put up the Butler building and then remove all of the excess building parts we had as part of the contract. I am not sure what the outcome was financially for Frank, but I’m sure that he did not lose any money and we got our Butler building.

Now we were ready to start our soaring program! I made arrangements with the Schweizer aircraft company to purchase two SGU 2-22’s and a single place SGS 1-26 (the SGS stands for Schweizer Glider Soaring ) and three trailers. I also contracted, using non-appropriated funds, with a company that produced a winch launching device to satisfy the training requirements the FAA required to qualify sailplane pilots in gliders. I went back to Griffiss AFB, Rome, New York, obtained an AF pickup truck with a ball hitch on it, and drove it to Elmira, NY. I made three trips bringing the three sailplanes back up to Griffis. In the meantime, General Seawell with his contacts obtained a C-124 Globemaster (probably from the National Guard) and they came to Griffiss. We loaded the three sailplanes and trailers on the C-124, and I flew back to Peterson Field with myself as an extra crewmember. I used to joke that I had made the longest sailplane flight with three gliders at the same time for over 1500 miles.

Once we had everything in place, I began a program to certify power plane pilots, most of them officers from the academic and operational staff, to become sailplanes instructors. These included several notables later on such as Bill Pogue who became an astronaut and Jim McCarthy, later a four-star general.

During this period, I was quite successful with my own personal soaring flights most of them were made in the Black Forest with the Pikes Peak Glider Club; however, several were made from the Pine Valley airstrip in the Academy aircraft. Using a combination of the aero club assets and the new program that we called the Airmanship Program, strictly for the cadets, we leased a Cessna 182 tow plane owned by John Birmingham, a local rancher and an original investor in Wave Flights Inc. I also personally went to Fort Carson south of the Colorado Springs to the Army Aviation Unit and took a series of flights in an Army 450 HP L-20. I thought it might serve as a tow plane. There was one on the civilian market that was converted to a 650 hp engine. It was used for towing at Odessa, TX. They affectionately called it “The Beast.” While I was at the Academy we never had an opportunity to get a L-20.

I was, though, able to obtain a gift of a high-performance Schweizer experimental test aircraft. There was only one of them built. It had a designation of SGS 2-25. It had a 60 foot wingspan and a an aspect ratio of 15.6. Empty weight was 732 lbs with a maximum gross weight of 1158 lbs . With a 231 ft. of wing surface the wing loading was 5 pounds/square feet and, it had excellent low speed performance. With Joe Drach at 200 pounds-plus and myself at 175 pounds, it had a Lift to drag ratio of 30 to 1 that it kept its performance very high for circling in the updrafts flying in the mountain wave and taking advantage of the orographic lift off the front range behind the Air Force Academy.

The Schweizer aircraft company had developed this prototype aircraft for the 1954 world gliding championship in England which later led to the development and production of the SGS 2-32 which had a lift to drag ratio of 35 to 1 and was a high-performance sailplane at the time. It did go into production, and after I left the Academy I purchased a SGS 2-32 from a previous owner. The prototype SGS-225 was purchased by George Arentz, a US Ferrari dealer, and sailplane enthusiast. George was a member of the United States Navy and had suffered some serious hearing problems from broken eardrums while operating Navy fighter aircraft. He was also a race car driver and participated in the Le Mans races. He proudly displayed a very twisted steering wheel from the Ferrari he crashed at Le Mans. George was eccentric to say the least. He drove a Bentley automobile, and he also had several pre-World War II era biplanes . I believe one was a Waco similar to the one in which I had my first flight. The wings were supported by flying wires which are normally made out of steel. George, of course had to have his gold-plated which was quite impressive. After George bought the SGS 2-25 from Schweizer, he had some of his friends trailer it up to the Black Forest gliderport in an attempt to get his Diamond Altitude in the mountain wave. Since I had extensive experience with the wave, I was assigned the duty in Wave Flights to work with George. George had more money than sense, and after being briefed locally at Colorado Springs on what the weather was going to be for the next day to see if a wave would be generated, he would then call a meteorologist in California who he paid big bucks to analyze the Colorado wave for him. Before giving George his wave forecast, the meteorologist would then call Mark Wild and have him describe what he saw in the skies of Colorado that might help him better predict what the wave might be the next day. That generated much amusement from those on site. I can’t recall whether George ever did get his Diamond Altitude but I know I had towed him into the wave several times and he left happy. He was going to move on to buying Duesenberg antique cars.

I suggested to George that he no longer needed the Schweizer SGS 2-25 but that it would be of great value to the sailplane program at the Air Force Academy. George agreed to give it to the Academy, and I made the necessary arrangements for the gift. Of course, George put a high value on the aircraft, and I am sure made out from a tax standpoint very well. The gift was not quite as easy with the staff at the Superintendent’s level at the Academy. They were suspicious of receiving an experimental aircraft for our program. I was quite aggressive in convincing them that it was favorable for the Academy to accept the gift. I recall specifically as a Captain being threatened by a Major in the legal department about my activities with the Airmanship program. The one I remember best was his threat to have me court-martialed if I repeated something that I had recently done. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember saying “Yes sir, yes sir “ as I retreated from his office saluting with each “Yes sir.” Fortunately, he never did carry out his threat, and we did get the SGS 2-25.

Now I had an experimental aircraft which no one could fly and I needed to have it certified so we could use it in our program. I contacted the FAA and as a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, I had several good contacts within the FAA. They guided me through the procedures to register the aircraft to the USAF as a normal category aircraft, with a civilian registration identification N-91892. Although I was not a certified test pilot in either the civilian environment or Air Force category, I was able to make the test flights required to establish the parameters for a pilot operating handbook for the aircraft including maximum speed, maximum weight, etc. As I think back, this whole process would probably never be possible in today’s regulation-controlled atmosphere.

Once we had the aircraft certified and I checked out several other pilots in the it, we made some major modifications to the systems and aircraft, one being to remove the standard oxygen system and replacing it with the most modern system at the time which was a liquid oxygen system that was installed in the F-102. I had 600 hours in that aircraft and was very familiar with what was available and able to obtain a system, probably surreptitiously, through supply channels which allowed us to do pressure breathing at high-altitude. I made many high-altitude flights in the aircraft, the most notable one when Major Joe Drach and I made an attempt to beat the US two-place distance record of 405 statute miles. The record was held by Dick Johnson, the brother of Dave Johnson who started the Pike Peak Glider Association and Wave Flights with me. Dick was a very good friend of mine and an aeronautical engineer for Texas instruments.

A description of that flight with Major Joe Drach may be of interest. I forecast a Mountain Wave to occur the next day and scheduled the aircraft to be relocated from Pine Valley airstrip over to the Colorado Springs airport for a planned attempt at making a record-breaking flight the next day. We needed to relocate them because if the wave did begin it would be early in the morning and we would’ve been unable to get off the Pine Valley airstrip with 40 to 50 knot winds. I also made arrangements with the FAA air traffic control system to be able to climb above 24,000 feet which was an altitude restriction for that type of aircraft (so it wouldn’t interfere with airline flights). Having limited communications and no transponder, just voice communications, they allowed Joe and myself to climb above 24,000 feet, if we could. If we had communications failure, we were to immediately descend below 24,000 to be sure that airspace would not be blocked for the airliners.

My forecast was valid. Our house was at the west end of the Pine Valley housing area, and the windows which opened outward at the base of our bedroom floor slammed shut about 4 AM announcing the arrival of the rotor cloud coming off the front range. I knew that the wave was formed, so I contacted Joe Drach and had our tow plane there with Hal Ravensberg to tow us into the lee of Pike’s Peak at 0730 AM. We released at 12000 feet, 2,000 feet below the peak in the lee of it, and climbed to 32,500 feet for a new Colorado State record for two-place gliders. We started our turn downwind hoping to fly in excess of 405 statute miles. The initial planning and execution were on target and we were on our flight plan as we followed the undulating wave pattern of the mountain wave at minimum airspeed of 46 miles an hour. With a 60-mile-an-hour tailwind, our glide angle was something like 100/1, which means that for every 5280 feet we descended, we would travel 100 miles. We started out quite well as we proceeded on course, milking all of the performance we could get from the sailplane and wave. We were about 100 miles out and we were below 24,000 feet. Unfortunately, the weather system included a front that created the wave but instead of continuing to be active in moving to the east it stalled out much as an aircraft would. By the time we got about 200 miles east of Colorado Springs, we were down to about 4000 feet above the ground with a head wind . We flew another hour and traveled about another 18 miles before we aborted the attempt and landed at the Oakley, KS airport after 6 hours and 40 minutes.

About the author:

I took early retirement in 1995 from Kodak and I have been in the real estate business since then. During my Kodak career my family lived in six states and we owned thirteen homes. I held positions as Food Trade Manager, Attractions Manager for Florida, Director of Sales Promotion, National Account Manager to HEB Grocery Company and National Sales Manager – US Military – Worldwide. In the twelve years since I retired from Kodak, I’ve been in the real estate business. My entry into the business was through two major agencies; one a local upscale boutique company and the other a very large local operation of a national franchise. I found both (plus most others in the business) to be more oriented towards gross sales and less towards taking care of the needs of the consumer. As a result, I formed my own company. I have three agents besides myself in the company and two staff personnel. Approximately ninety percent of our business comes from direct referrals plus we represent all of the relocating employees for three corporations. Each week I host the area real estate show, Real Estate Focus, on NewsTalk 930 KLUP, Saturdays at 11:00am. The show also streams live on my web site , http://www.HeartofTexasRealty.com and on http://www.KLUP.com. In addition, Bjorn Dybdahl, owner of Bjorn’s Home Entertainment, http://www.Bjorns.com and I host the San Antonio Movers and Shakers Show that airs at 10:00 am each Saturday from the same station and web sites. The real estate show deals with area real estate information and the SA Movers and Shakers show honors the education, business, civic, and public leaders who keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive in our city.

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