History of Soaring in Southern California



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The history of Soaring in Southern California presented by Dr Gary Fogel, historian for the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California. Presented on November 19, 2011 at the Western Museum of Flgiht. Produced by Jarel & Betty Wheaton for Peninsula Seniors www.pvseniors.org

welcome to Peninsula seniors out and about today we're at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance for one of their celebrity lectures let's go see what cindy has for us today good morning everyone I'm Cindy maka and I'm the director of the Western Museum of Flight dr. Gary Fogle is chief executive officer of natural selection Inc a company in San Diego specializing in machine learning algorithms that allow computers to solve engineering problems on their own for industry medicine and defense he holds a PhD in biology from UCLA gary has had a passion for gliding flight since early in his childhood and has established 11 world records and 33 national records for radio-controlled models he and his father Larry helped preserved the Torrey Pines glider port in San Diego through various historic designations and through that process gary became an expert to the early history of gliding in Southern California his book wind and wings the history of soaring in San Diego received the Joseph Lincoln award from the soaring Society of America in 2001 and he is currently working on a co-authored biography of America's first glider pilot John J Montgomery of which we have a replica in our museum now while he is up here please pretend not to notice the bandaid on his forehead he wanted me to tell you that he ran into a door but I think he was bitten by one of his own simulators anyway I'm sure he has some other cock-and-bull story to tell us about it but I promise that none of this will distract from the fascinating history of Southern California soaring so ladies and gentlemen arousing welcome to dr. Gary Fogle Thank You Cindy I think I'll just wear the hat no no excuses but I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today at the Western Museum of Flight it's an honor and a privilege and I appreciate it so I'm going to take you on a journey from the beginning of the dawn of aviation in in Southern California and all the way through til about the 1980s or so and show you the breadth of knowledge and gliding that's occurred just in this region alone and it all started in the late eighteen art sorry in the late 1800s 1880s 1883 with a gentleman by the name of John Montgomery who was living down in the otai Mesa area just south of San Diego and he was incredible inventor way ahead of his time in terms of thinking about aerodynamics specifically about how a wing shape could generate lift and he generated several ornithopters these are flapping wing machines that he could try to get himself to fly in like a bird would but they didn't work and he then built in 1883 his first glider which is the same as the replica that's in the museum here at the Western Museum of Flight in 1883 and with this glider he made several hops and was able to glide for a little bit in a controlled fashion he made two other gliders in 1884 to 1885 in San Diego with different designs on the airfoil shape testing his principles of aerodynamics with varying degrees of success and later he went up to Santa Clara up in the Bay Area and made his more famous glider the Santa Clara it was a tandem wing glider shown here in the picture and he hired a very well-known trapeze artist who had practiced doing trapeze is from balloons hot-air balloons it would take him aloft and he was crazy enough at the time to do hot-air balloon trapeze work great guy for being a glider pilot and so John hired him to do this which is to have his glider hoisted aloft by a hot-air balloon to an altitude of about 4,000 feet in which the pilot would cut up cut a rope release from the balloon and then glide back down in a controlled fashion to a prescribed landing point ahead of have designed ahead of time this is in 1905 and at the time this was the highest altitude flights by man in the world no one had ever flown over just a few feet off the ground hundreds of feet maybe if you're lucky not 4,000 feet at the time and he could glide for minutes at a time and take maybe 15 20 minutes for him to come back down from that altitude and landed exactly where they said he was going to land it was a miraculous achievement the most daring feat accomplished by man in aviation to date and so Montgomery was very well known at this point unfortunately his aranaut Daniel Maloney passed away in a glider accident with the Santa Clara in 1905 and John Montgomery actually also passed away in a glider accident in 1911 in the San Jose area but they were trying to push the envelope of the design of these gliders having airplanes that can fly at incredible altitudes with no motor necessary at the same time in 1909 about it was a gentleman named octave Chanute in in the illinois area who was designing his own hang gliders these were biplane hang gliders does pictured here and he would run and kind of glide down a dune and then halt the glider back up again and glide down the dune again and keep practicing that way and this sort of glider was published in Popular Mechanics as an article about how to build your own glider and at the time in 1910 when this was published a lot of high school aged boys decided this was what this was their thing and they set it off to build these kind of gliders in their garages all around America and that happened here in say in Southern California as well so I did a lot of research on this period looking at the old journals and Aeronautics and Popular Mechanics at this time and turned out there was one contest held here in Los Angeles by the Aero Club of Los Angeles and it was an aeronautical show for the public to come and see aviation in 1909 and there were six people that entered gliders mainly in high school age boys one of them was a gentleman by the name of Edgar Smith you can see him with this triple-decker biplane glider pictured here now Edgar did some amazing things at this contest but I want to just read this passage to you because it's so incredibly important Edgar Smith came in first with this three-decker glider a towline was attached to an automobile and he attempted to cut loose and glide after attaining the proper speed so he's being towed behind a car with a rope right with his three-decker glider hanging on great difficulty was experienced Owen to the limited space and to the fact that the stadium was surrounded by a brick wall on one occasion he rose 10 feet in the air on another trial he was towed 75 feet of the tree of the ground and 425 feet of that distance he was free of the pole of the automobile this won him the Leonard Cup he won the first place prize because for 25 feet he flew without the auto' towing him that was the level of 1909 gliding this was incredible one gentleman set forth to change that and in 1911 Orville Wright who of course had had experience in powered flight in 1903 went back to Kitty Hawk specifically to try to soar to take a motor less aircraft and attain lift and to stay in the air without the motor and tried a ridge soar over the dunes at Kitty Hawk I'll get into the differences between gliding and soaring in just a little bit but what was amazing at the time was that in October of nineteen eleven Orville was able to stay in the air in a glider motionless over the dunes for nine minutes and 42 seconds and that was a world record at the time no one could even believe that he could stay in the air without a motor for more than just a few seconds like everyone else could this is something incredible something very special and that record in gliding stood for many years all the way through World War one and it wasn't until after World War one when the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war forbid the Germans from flying powered aircraft the Germans were very smart people they still wanted to fly they got very heavily involved in gliders what a great way to keep going and they really revolutionized the sport of gliding they made all sorts of different designs and started exceeding Orville Wright's record for endurance in Germany it took until the late 1920s for America to sort of catch up in gliding and that had to do a lot with Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic and this new spirit of innovation and enthusiasm for aviation that was born and the younger kids at the time and this romanticism that grew up in America with Lindbergh's accomplishment one of those people in the same time in America that was experimenting with gliders here in Southern California was a man by the name of William Holley bolus and he's a very very well known person in gliding history grew up in the San Fernando Valley and made 15 his own glider designs starting off with very recruited hang-glider type designs but then getting them more refined over time more aerodynamic and more efficient and he was so good at making these sorts of designs that in 1927 he was hired by Ryan aircraft to be the superintendent of construction on the spirit of st. Louis this is a very well-known designer and also very good at getting projects done on time and getting them out the door which is what Ryan of course wanted for the spirit of st. Louis which they did they got it done on time and of course we all know the story of Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic with that plane but bolas didn't stop there he decided in 1928 to build his number 16 glider which was a revolutionary design it was a real sail plane for the first time an American who design of sleek designed aircraft specifically for the purpose of soaring and it was this glider that's shown on the bottom right hand quarter he test flew that in Bonita which is an area of San Diego and also at the newly named Lindbergh Field in San Diego here's a picture of that glider very different from the early sort of primary hang glider designs it has some unusual features that had tip ailerons so not conventional ailerons but the entire tip of the wing would rotate and in fact they were independently rotated at the beginning of his design later they were coupled and it had rudder and elevator but a very sleek almost like a modern sort of sail plane design you would say and I'd like to then get into the difference between what's a glider and what's a sail plane so the classic definition from this time period in the 1920s and 30s was that if you were taking a glider and gliding down the hill just to go glide down the hill of you were gliding it was just not extracting any energy out of the atmosphere you're just gonna have fun by staying ten feet off the ground and going as long as you possibly can if you were though however able to soar able to extract energy out of the atmosphere let's say that there's a wind hitting a ridge and that wind gets diverted upwards kind of like an inverted waterfall if you knew where that was in the air you could stay in that current and be lifted lifted more than you were falling as a glider and you could stay and remain up in the air that's a sail pointer that would be soaring and the goal was to try to do what Orville Wright had done in 1911 which is to remain up in the air for nine minutes or more and at this point still no American had beaten that record it was still so amazing at the time and there were other people experimenting with gliders at the same time I'll come back to Holly bolas in just a little bit but one of the people here in Southern California was a gentleman by the name of Dale Drake very brave man he decided in 1920 1929 to be towed behind a modern motor plane he was towed from Reedley California which is just north of Bakersfield area it's a long beach to land at the Long Beach Airport here by Ototo valley by era tow and it was a 250 mile Aero tow at the time was the first Aero toe in American history and they said it was a world record I'm not sure if it was a world record or not but it certainly made the news he then went on to try to set and beat Orville Wright's record he wanted to do that here in Southern California being living here in Long Beach one of the coastal ranges that he decided to go try his gliders at was near San Clemente if you drive between San Diego and San Clemente you see the ridges there where the houses are now developed all over the hills he also note sometimes that there's tremendous birds circling in that area I've always wondered if that's a great lifting lifting area but he recognized that that is where the coastal wind hits those mountains and maybe that's a good place to do some soaring so in 1929 April 1929 he and a group went down there specifically to go try to beat over rights record and he got really close he did a seven-minute glide followed by an eight-minute glide and he was going for gusto on the last one ended up crashing on the beach not hurting himself but damaging the gliders sufficiently that that ended the experiments for the day but he got really close it's very good so he almost here in Southern California we almost beat Orville Wright's record in 1929 and there was tremendous growth now in the youth in Southern California becoming interested in gliding because it was such an inexpensive way at getting into the air you could not get very high up maybe but at least it gave you that chance of feeling what Lindberg was like and what he must have experienced and how exciting it was and there were several glider contests that were held in Southern California in this period the first being here at Long Beach at the Long Beach Airport they had a collection of lighters they're looking for distance and duration and tasks of that nature also two held in San Diego in July and over a Labor Day weekend in September of 1929 and these brought together all the glider enthusiasts regionally from Riverside and Long Beach in San Diego to try to compete against each other to see who has bragging rights in Southern California as being the best glider pilots and this is a picture from one of those glider events this is at the Pacific Beach meet in July of 1929 and this is the sort of glider that was being flown mentally by these high school-aged kids that were building these gliders in in their garage or at the woodshop class in their high school and then bringing them out and hopefully not hurting themselves but having a lot of fun and you can see on the picture there's a line that goes on the bottom of the hill that line is the as the bungee cord or the rope that was used to launch the glider so essentially what they would be doing is they'd set the glider at the top of the hill had a big rope which like a big rubber band a catapult you have your two teams of friends and they start running down the hill pulling this rope as fast as they can and you've got your other really good friend hanging on the back for dear life holding you at the end the catapult and when these kids get to a certain point where they start falling over you get released by your best friend on the back and then you get shot off the side of the mountain and you glide down below so the picture of the guys on the right are just about ready to fall over but then once you're released you get to glide down in this case over Pacific Beach off of the south side of Mount Soledad to see who can go the farthest right it all depends on how strong your friends are when you're launching and how strong that rope is but you're gonna go for gust oh and of course when these contests were going on not only did the high school students enter their gliders but Holly bolus entered his sail plane as well and you can see here pictured again the same location this is Holly bolus is number 16 sail plane flying in that July 1929 meet and of course with his exceptional cleanliness of the sail plane he was able to go further and maybe stay up longer than many of the high school kids so he took a lot of the trophies for these contests I will say he did not take the altitude record at one of these meets because one poor group of primary glider pilots they launched the glider so hard that it went up straight into the sky installed and then the forward pilot had to hopefully pull out and pull phob elevator he stirred and he came back out and kept going but they the record for the altitude for the contest for exam is launched there was one contest held here at Redondo Beach at a GLAAD report that was just located near the Hollywood Riviera area if you're familiar with that it's just between Palos Verdes Torrance and Redondo Beach and I've got a map on the next slide but this was a big contest this has attracted twenty twenty thousand spectators to come out and watch these glider pilots from all around Southern California compete for different contests now unfortunately the wind didn't come up and of course this is a ridge soaring contest so with no wind there's not much to do but they tried to go and please the crowd anyway and the soaring champion Jack Barstow only was able to soar for two minutes and two seconds again over Orville Wright's record is still there at nine minutes and no one's able to read it right and here's all these 20,000 spectators waiting for someone to beat it and no one's beating so terribly and they'll Drake also entered he had a flight at one minute which again for Dale Drake was pretty poor so this is where that location of the hollywood riviera glider port was it was an operation from about 1929 to about 1935 or 36 or so located on calle árboles in the Redondo Beach area there was a line a line of trees there and it was a nice open area with a slope that would go out towards Pacific Coast Highway and the ridge beyond Pacific Coast Highway and it would launch towards the west and be able to soar and in fact some people were able to soar all the way around Palos Verdes on the top of bluff Cove and all of that on the west side of Palos Verdes became a very well-known an influential soaring site in the 1930s here's a picture of a primary glider being launched at that hollywood riviera glider port in 1929 1930 or so heading out towards pacific coast highway where the telephone poles are in the distance there's no houses we should have all bought real estate Holly bolus recognized see the skill of his piloting and his sail plane and in 1929 he set out to go break Orville Wright's record he did so at a location in San Diego called Point Loma it's that sort of promontory that sticks out near the bay very nice Ridge it's set out a way from the bay in the prevailing wind it's almost always windy their landings a little difficult because it's a narrow area to land in but in late 1929 he set up his sail plane and was able to stay up in the air for 14 minutes and it was the first time that an American had beat Orville Wright's record from 1911 in an American built glider but he wasn't stopping there and he started going there every weekend and flying more and flying more and flying more and pretty soon he was doing some racula flights all the way up to nine hours and for five minutes at Point Loma going back and forth some of these flights went into the night time he'd have to land at nighttime with all the car headlights and looma nating the road for him so he can come in and land people yelling how are you doing and he'd go back I'm doing okay how are you because he could talk it cries just you know open your cockpit I can hear you great I have no motor how you doing so they would have the conversations at the whole time great fun but of course all of this happened right during the middle of the Great Depression and that was a tremendous tremendously terrible time for people too and having the time and expertise to go out and have fun on the weekends rather than try to think about how am I going to make my money this weekend to survive was a difficulty yet when bolas was making these sorts of records they made national news especially going up into the hours of soaring New York Times Chicago Tribune LA Times it was a big story that a gentleman was able to stay in the air without a motor for hours that was remarkable one of the people that actually read those news reports was Charles Lindbergh I should mention before just so you're aware in San Diego where these locations are on the right-hand side of the slide I have the bottom arrow is otai Mesa where John Montgomery was experimenting with gliders in the 1880s you can see Point Loma also mentioned on the right-hand slide and then I'll mention two other locations coming up one is Mount Soledad in La Jolla and also the Torrey Pines glider port which is north of that area so upon reading all these great achievements by that superintendent of construction that built that spirit of st. Louis plane I flew across the Atlantic he knew Hawley well as well he said I know Holly that's great let's go out to San Diego and see what the sliding stuffs all about because I think that's fabulous and so he and Anne Lindbergh came out to San Diego in 1930 specifically to take glider instruction from Holly bolas and learn all about the sailplane stuff and in ninety in January of 1930 Lindbergh was launched in a sail plane a bullet sail plane over the coast Point Loma learned how to fly and an Lindbergh also took instruction in a glider now she was instructed first in a primary glider like the type of showed you at Lindbergh Field being towed behind a car so that she could kind of get the feel of the airplane and then later that day later that afternoon she was launched in a sail plane off the top of Mount Soledad only with just a few hours of instruction brave woman and then later in February Charles Lindbergh was launched off of that same Mountain Mount Soledad recognized that the cliffs just north of Mount Soledad where the Torrey Pines area are have this nice abrupt cliff that that might have some lifting area and he went to the north started flying in that lift and was able to keep going pretty much out of the sight of everyone that had launched him he's keeping it just keeps going going where's he going and he kept going all the way up to Del Mar and landed on the beach at Del Mar at the time that was a distance record for gliders no one had ever flown that far and everyone was very concerned that Charles number could where's he gone where's he flown to everyone rushed down the mountain trying to chase him see where he's gone so here's a picture of an Lindbergh getting instruction from Holly bolus at Lindbergh Field this is in nineteen nineteen thirty that's the glider she learned in and here she is getting launched that afternoon off of the top of Mount Soledad in the 60 foot bolus sailplane would Charles Lindbergh standing in the bottom right hand corner wondering if that's a good idea or not it was before that accomplishment she won not only her third-class glider license her second class car license but also her first class glider license it's a set of three glider licenses depending on your endurance and how well you've done she was the first first woman to achieve all three of those here's Charles number getting instruction from Holly bolus in a sail plane up at Point Loma and also Charles number getting launched off of Mount Soledad for his flight north to Torrey Pines and of course again everyone on the right-hand side of your screen is gonna fall over here pretty soon when that shock cord is released through all the tumbling right but we launched Charles Lindbergh that's pretty incredible that's a good deal and here he is after landing on the beach after they found him he was already taking the plane apart and of course people would come up and wonder why did you have an accident you landed on the beach was there a problem you know oh you're Charles Lindbergh oh my goodness sakes it was it that local news was crazy with this story this is amazing and because of this activity many local kids got involved in gliding because Charles Oberg was gliding in San Diego I got to do it too so because of the Lindbergh's interest here locally regional glider clubs spread everywhere every little city in San in in Southern California had their own glider club the high school kids would be building them in the garages they'd all get together and fly wherever they could they try to compete with each other on the weekends and they had this big regional glider club need and because of that and also because of the need of trying to find the locations to do these things safely they decided to form an organization that would collectively represent all these organizations and that was called The Associated glider clubs of Southern California sort of like the Triple A of gliding at the time right and that glider Club is the oldest surviving glider club in America it's currently active in San Diego but it's still going on not representing all these other little glider clubs now but it's its own it's it's own thing over time I will mention briefly a gentleman by the name of William Crawford who also experienced or experimented with gliders here in the Southern California area specifically in Seal Beach but not just experimenting with gliders he took primary gliders and then tried to apply motors to them to make them more efficient as a motor glider now we have motor gliders flying and in fact there was one just flying before they lectured this morning out of here at the airport usually it's nice to be able to fly in a motor glider because you can fight whoever the lift is good turn off the motor and then soar in that area and when you're done you put the motor back on you come back home this is a little different here's the motor glider that he was experimenting with now he would sit right behind the propeller which is basically right in front of his face with a motor right above his head and trying to make this work it actually did work very well as a very low cost low speed training aircraft so people came to seal Beach specifically to train in this motor glider because it had a very very lowest very slow landing speed but he also could fly for very long distances with not much fuel so he flew from Seal Beach to San Diego 100 miles with this aircraft all the little newspapers along the way would mark when he was coming by it made the news for each local paper the next day it was like big event but again it must have been very noisy but people trying to then take lighting in the efficiency of gliding back to Aeronautics there were other people that were experimenting with gliders in different ways another person here in Southern California was Richard Devine he wanted to fly from Long Beach to Catalina in a glider and he did that by towing his glider behind a boat okay so that's not so that's that's kind of neat I like that idea you know you got car tow you got people shooting off the mountain with catapults we can boat tow across the Catalina the only problem is he had never been to Catalina before so he launched hoping that there's a place to land in Catalina and he got to Avalon he's looking there's no beach where do I land right so finally he found this area called pebbly beach which is just south of Avalon cut the rope he landed at Avalon in a little tiny area with a brick wall another brick wall at the other end he barely missed the brick wall and was able to land but he also had brought along his Fox Terrier as a mat as a company copilot on this flight so this is a picture of him and if you look very carefully he's got it he's got a dog in his lap right so this is this is the dog that went along for the ride this is the spirit of aviation in this period of time question was what kind of coating or fabric was on the on the glider usually they were constructed of steel tube and then covered with like a fabric on the outside it's a very lightweight construction perhaps not as solid as a motor motored plane would have been at the time but still at least just trying to keep his very lightweight as possible so as I mentioned kids all across Southern California thought this was the best thing that I'd ever come along Lindbergh's flying and gliders I got a flying gliders too they convinced woodshop instructors all around Southern California to start building gliders in the woodshop class instead of building chairs because we can go fly him afterwards and that's a lot more fun so this is a picture of the san diego high school class in 1933 flying their replica of oldest sail plane near Point Loma and they do the idea would be that the woodshop instructor would help them teach to teach them how to build a glider they'd all take the glider out the woodshop instructor would take the first flight prove that it's air worthy okay kids it's yours go have fun that's it no other instruction needed just go have fun so they go for the weekends and I love if that would still happen today can't do that today but that would be fun so a lot of kids got involved in aviation here locally where their first starts in gliding and those same students went looking for places to fly all around Southern California if it was a hill that faced a prevailing wind whether it be Palos Verdes Redondo Beach Manhattan Beach or Torrey Pines they were trying to fly there because that was their lifting place that was the place to get the energy out of the out of the wind one of those places was Torrey Pines and the San Diego high school students fly started flying there in the early 1930s by first parking their cars near the beach and towing their gliders with the car on the beach releasing and then flying back and forth on the cliffs and then landing back down on the beach again that was from 1930 to about 1935 and the fishermen were not very happy with these high school kids driving their Model T's on the beach to the lines and the not a good idea so one gentleman came from the East Coast he'd already had experience in gliding his name was woody Brown he found these kids flying gliders upon a beachy so why don't you just start from the top and launch off the top everyone was afraid of this kind of sheer cliff but he was the first to go show that you could go launch off the cliff and it would be fine and he and the kids then started settling on where the right location would be that would be best on this cliff and that's basically how the location of the Torrey Pines glider port was was formed in 1930s many of the other students that were at that time started training getting much better at their gliding proficiency and by 1938 there were so many kids out there flying that the mayor of San Diego dedicated the squad reports of the youth of California I don't know how Americans are dedicated to the use of California but he did so here's a picture from 1936 or so of a primary glider this is a two-place so you got the instructor in the back and the student up in the front this is David Robertson in the back and Mary wind up in front who was a student at San Diego high school and they would go up it with the carto and get an instruction and land back down on the beach this was a popular tool for instruction at the time it looks very similar to this model that I have on the right hand side which we can talk about later two other gentlemen I mentioned woody Brown who's pictured on the right another gentleman was John Robinson who was a San Diego high school graduate he was very very good at welding exceptional welding and he would weld these steel tube framed gliders in his garage on the weekends and then they'd go test fly him at Torrey Pines and he'd make a new one he'd test fly it make a new one to test fly it he made a whole series of these gliders and became exceedingly proficient at gliding and also at designing so here's a picture out of the cockpit of one of those sale planes in 1937 if you're familiar with San Diego this is looking south towards la jolla with the script Speer pictured on the right hand side in the water there below it the the surroundings is the same except there's a lot more houses these days and here's a picture of the glider port again in the middle picture is the glider port from 1937 looking east and above is the latter port today or close to today looking in the same east direction there's a main runway that goes away from the picture and a cross diagonal runway that was also used it's still used today and in 1940 the glider port was growing they would have regular contests at the glider port the interesting thing about this photo though is that a lot of these planes are still Holley bolas designs so he kept going and designing better and better gliders people would buy them as a kit build them in their house in the garage take them out the Torrey Pines and enjoy them on the weekends and because San Diego is this hotbed of Aeronautics with Ryan and consolidated and all the companies that were there doing Aeronautics each of those companies had their own glider Club and we come out to Torrey Pines and store on the weekends as well so it was quite a hotbed of activity and again here's John Robinson pictured with the Zenonia sail plane which was at its time the best sail plane in America it had a glide ratio of 30 to one so for every for every 30 feet forward it would drop one foot down which was an incredibly low a shallow glide ratio relative to something like a primary glider or some other types of gliders that were on at a time this was so efficient and the Torrey Pines glider port was such a small little landing area that they had to invent air brakes or spoilers to help get this plane into the landing area and from what I've been able to research this is the first plane in America to have made the use of spoilers for that purpose and now we see spoilers on 767s and all the rest of it from what I can tell this is the first plane to have ever used that here he is soaring over the cliff Satori Pines get back to John Robinson in a little bit but I want to focus on woody Brown woody Brown was a fantastic man not only in soaring but in many other aspects of life he set a national distance record a goal record he said when he was at a glider port contest in Wichita Falls Texas that his landing point would be Wichita Kansas everyone laughed at him you're gonna fly over Oklahoma you kidding me he's like yeah I'm gonna fly over Oklahoma and he flew over Oklahoma in this very small bolus sailplane all day long he took a ham sandwich along but he forgot to eat it and ended up landing at his goal in Wichita Kansas which was a 280 mile flight it made national news the president sent him a telegram congratulating him for his accomplishment all great stuff but what he excelled at other sports too he was one of the first people to surf in San Diego he's well-known in the area for his surfing he took the ability to build glider wings and made very lightweight balsa longboards surfboards out of that same technology plywood balsa all sorts of different hollow boards like an airplane wing would be made out of hollow you know lightweight because it's a big board and got to carry that out all the way to the ocean he designed all sorts of new kinds of long boards also was one of the first to surf the big waves in Oahu in the pipeline area he's well known in surfing as its Legend and surfing and while he was in Hawaii he also noticed that the Polynesians had designed this very stable catamaran design outrigger canoe and he was the first to take that same design and make it modern and take tourists for rides in Waikiki on this modern catamaran making use of the environment in a nice friendly way but in three different sports soaring sailing and surfing he's a legend in all three in fact one of the people that went for a ride on his catamaran in Waikiki was Hobie alter who later ended up patenting the Hobie Cat what he was perfectly happy with Hobie patenting the Hobie Cat what he just wanted to take tourists for rides in Waikiki but it's that level of ingenuity and spreading the same knowledge into different aspects of invention that led him to these different designs world war ii came and during the war a lot of those kids now that were older became instructors for gliders for training the US Army Air Corps and helping pilots become as proficient English in these types of yellow and blue training gliders two-person gliders so that those pilots in the army could go fly much larger troop transport gliders pictured on the upper right they were used to drop troops behind enemy lines at invasions like Normandy and also for the Netherlands and in Burma all in regional conflicts many of these landings were made at nighttime in fields where you come in and land the glider 16 troops would roll out of the glider and and do their thing you could also instead of troops carry a Jeep inside one of these gliders so they're very very large gliders and that was a very risky mission and a lot of glider pilots paid for that but they had their training by those same kids that were flying at Torrey Pines and learn how to fly gliders very very well so they got some really great training one of the best training programs was at 29 palms here in Southern California and during that same time Holly bolus was also designing other things Holly was one of the first to design an error streamed RV trailer for the back of a car he sold the bolas Road chief that later became the Airstream trailer it was predating the Airstream and it was aerodynamic it had this great shape to minimize drag right so I used all the aviation knowledge from gliding into making a trailer that he then take the glider contests and sleeping that's great he sold quite a few of those and in fact they're very rare and if you find them on eBay they sell for $30,000 he also made a troop transport glider for the military the xcg 16 pictured here it's a flying wing type of thing where the troops would be in the inside of that big pod in the center it never went into production it was only an experimental design then the end of the war came and it never got to to see combat but again he still kept designing after the war though all the surplus gliders that were used for training during war too were available to the public at surplus and very cheap and so a lot of the glider pilots immediately started buying up these sale planes because there were pretty good sale planes and flying them back at Torrey Pines and other places in Southern California Torrey Pines became this great center of gliding activity though after the war specifically because of a contest that was held annually in the wintertime the Pacific Coast midwinter soaring championship people from all around America would come to San Diego for this contest because it was the nice warm place to you're not freezing in the Northeast and you can still do some soaring it's not a middle of winter but they made it fun and attractive they had conquests for distance and duration and spot landing of course it's just after the war so they also had a bomb drop you take a little sack of flour with you on the winch launch and that you could have to drop it out and hit a target on the on the way out right it's just after the war the longest flight I've been able to find out of all those contests was a 183 miles from Torrey Pines out to Brawley which is out near El Centro so they were able to fly just on the soaring currents at Torrey Pines and then find a thermal and fly that inland and keep going all the way over the mountains into the desert they also had it each meets a queen for the meet one of those Queens was Raquel Tejada who became later Raquel Welch she was a native of La Hoya TV national broadcasts it was broadcast on Wide World of Sports very popular it would bring a lot of people to the sport of aviation and gliding in particular thousands of spectators would line the cliffs to watch these activities in San Diego so these are just some pictures from some of the contests it's nice to see the formation flying and you can see the spectators in the background this is one of the spot landing contests again with a bolus baby albatross glider design but you can see lots of spectators lining the hills I wish we had these kind of spectators or aviation meets today just for fun on the weekends be great and people recognize then that Ridge touring was nice but you could do this type of thermal soaring where if you knew where to look in the atmosphere to try to find lift particularly underneath cumulus clouds you could sort it could circle the nose and soar like a bird would gain altitude and then transfer that altitude into distance find the next thermal and go up again and keep doing this iteratively this was a new concept in the 1930s into the 1940s and people started developing better and better tools to do this kind of cross-country soaring and one of the people that excelled at that sport that aspect of soaring was John Robinson he was this gentleman I mentioned to you before who had learned at San Diego High School fluo Torrey Pines spent hours and hours and hours soaring at Torrey Pines he became very very well known in the sport of soaring for his cross-country exploits he was the first three-time national soaring champion also the first to fly over 300 miles in a glider and American first to fly in a sail point over 30,000 feet high pretty incredible it was the first in the world to earn soaring international highest badge of honour the diamond sea award this is an international award for distance and duration and altitude and such he's the first in the world to do that and I interviewed him had the fortune of interviewing him many times he lived here in Southern California when I was researching my book and he credited a lot of that success to that hours and hours of soaring practice that he did Torre Pines because he got to really know his airplane very very well and could land and set up something new and launched and tested out and land and set up he kept experimenting with his new designs and new ways of flying and he really got to know his glider very very well and do these accomplishments another gentleman who enjoyed soaring and learned a lot at Torrey Pines was Paul MacCready and many of you may know Paul MacCready having been here in Southern California also another three-time winner of the Nationals and soaring first to become a world soaring champion as an American in 1956 but he had a passion for what he called doing more with less and really that encapsulates what gliding is all about you're not going to use him at a motor to pull yourself through the air you have to find that lift and energy on your own head figure it out and do more of it the less you have Paul MacCready went on to do some fabulous things he designed the first aircraft across the English Channel under human power also the first aircraft across the English Channel under solar power also design the ev1 for GM which was the one of the first electric powered cars to go into production and also designed the Pathfinder which is shown on the bottom left an unmanned aircraft with solar panels on the wings that can launch and step at very very high altitudes 80,000 feet or so and do reconnaissance missions or surveillance and come back down to land all without a person on board and he credited all these sorts of designs and things and his thought his thought process of doing more with less – the glider experience he had at Torrey Pines yet there's a third type of soaring that was found in the 1950s and it's called waves soaring these are incredibly high altitude conditions I talked about ridge throwing down below and thermal soaring in between but waves soaring is really really very high up really what happens is there's a tremendous wind like a jet stream that might hit a very very large mountain range like this Nevada from the left to right on your picture here and that creates a ripple in the atmosphere kind of like a rock wood inner inner river and if you know where that water is where that wind is hitting the ridge and and where that ripple might be you can go up very very high in these blue regions of lift and of course you can come down very very fast in the red regions if you're not careful the red regions can be so severe that they can rip your plane apart kind of issues but a group of people from Southern California namely John Robinson and Paul MacCready and and others that were here at Southern California along with a team from UCLA set off to experiment in the bishop area near the sierra nevada to see if they could map out this serie wave condition and understand it better for clear air turbulence problems because if you're a powered pilot flying at high altitude with maybe passengers and you start getting buffeted by these conditions you want to actually understand what's going on so they went up in gliders to very very high altitudes explored the wave understood the wave for atmospheric science and then of course some of those same people and some of their friends set off to set altitude records with sailplanes in those conditions because they recognized you could go much higher in a third in a wave than you could in the thermal and so Bill Evans from San Diego set an altitude record of 42,000 feet in a sail plane over a bishop and then Paul Bickle who was at NASA at Edwards set a record in a in ER Schweitzer glider like the one pictured here at 46 thousand feet and those records stood for many many many years I've talked a lot about manned sailplanes but I want to mention three other aspects of gliding that have occurred in Southern California where Southern California has been a mecca of the of those sports one of those is radio-controlled soaring so in the 1950s the radio technology radio transmitter technology became small enough where people at Brian Aircraft and consolidated and leased other organ article companies decided they could put that technology amateur radio technology into model airplanes and fly them just like the real sale planes would and experiment with that these controls were very what's the word remedial you maybe just have rudder control elevator would be preset and you'd only be able to turn the rudder fully to the left or fully to the right and you have to deal with that that would be the first the very early controls but in 1956 a gentleman by the name of dr. Bob chase set a endurance record for model soaring at Torrey Pines by flying 8 hours and 24 minutes it was the first time in the world anyone had ever flown a model airplane for over eight hours and that mark of eight hours is now a continual level of achievement in model soaring today you can get a badge of achievement for if you do an eight-hour flight the first time that was done was here in Southern California over time the technology and the construction ability allowed modelers to model those sail planes in a more realistic fashion like I have shown here where the radio technology can fit in these planes you can't see it but it's there and I can fly it and it looks just like the real one over time and many of the local radio controlled enthusiasts have excelled because of the local conditions being so good we have great Sun we have prevailing wind in the afternoon every pretty much every day we can go have fun and fly they got so good that they're now competing at national and world contests on a regular basis and doing very well I want to mention one local person gentleman by the name of Mark Smith who grew up here flew at Rancho Palos Verdes off the coast near bluff Cove with his father rod mark in the 1970s became very proficient at model airplanes unfortunately passed away last week but he also designed this sail plane which was a radio-controlled model of a seagull you can see here flying this is it Torrey Pines and this is the the model that was used in the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull they couldn't get the real birds to do the roles that they wanted to do so they hired mark to do the roles at Torrey Pines in film it and they put that in the movie so all the aerobatic you see on that movie we're done by models made out of foam that looked just like seal dolls and of course with these models you can experiment with all sorts of odd designs that you would never really want to hop in maybe then try them out and see how they go first and then make modifications and use it as a sort of practice outdoor wind tunnel if you will of design testing and so here's some different designs that people have tried a flying disk that has elevator or an aileron control but you know interesting designs it's easy to do and fun and of course there are other people in this community that specifically wished to model their sailplane counterparts at smaller scale maybe quarter scale or one-third scale and do that with great proficiency and so here's a club that I'm a president of it's called the Torrey Pines scale soaring Society in San Diego and we have one member on the upper left Carl Courtney who was a World War two glider pilot he flew a troop transport glider just like the one that's pictured he made a model of he flew that in the war in Netherlands and still continues to enjoy model sailplanes us this way of enjoying that sport still and I had the greatly great fortune of experimenting myself with model design so there was a design of a sail plane made in it was designed in 1981 by a man named John McMasters and it's pictured here on the upper right it was a futuristic sail plane a flying wing very sleek and it was designed for the year 2001 now back in 1981 2001 sure seemed like a long way away and was futuristic stuff you know Star Trek and and of course I'd always remember this in my mind when I was growing up when I went to UCLA I had the good fortune of meeting at a man named Chris Silva who was doing his master's degree in aeronautics and I showed him this and I said Chris we're almost a 2001 it'd be really nice to build a model of this and show that it could really fly he said I love flying wing let's let's do this this is gonna be fun so he and his father Sereno so enough to build a one-fifth scale model that we could go fly with radio control and see if it would work and it was made out of foam cut cut the foam made it out of fiberglass with fiberglass on that top just like you're gonna build a surfboard but we all we had was the picture here in a three view when we started off it was supposed to be a very large model the wingspan of the one for this scale model is a five meter wingspan so it's much bigger than this yellow plane pictured here it's a very large model sure enough we went out to Tehachapi to a very remote location I didn't want to hurt anyone and I didn't want to feel bad if someone saw us crash and we threw it off and sure enough it flew great we did a lot of testing in the computer beforehand to evaluate what it would be like to fly to find out where the center of gravity should be on this flying wing since it was such a weird design did flight simulator testing I became proficient at flying it in the flight simulator before we ever flew it for real sure enough when we flew it for real it flew a lot like it did in a flight simulator which was really good we flew for many different flights and and then I had the good fortune of trying to go track John John McMasters to tell him we had succeeded it turned out he was a technical fellow at Boeing up in Seattle so I called him on the phone I said John you don't know me I'm Gary Fogle but we built a model of the altostratus and we've shown that it flew and this was in the year 2001 he was very pleased he said I'm flying down to San Diego I got to see it so he flew down to San Diego with him pictured in the middle with the model and we built a second model with better wings and flew that and I also had the good fortune of speaking with people in Washington DC about this project and they were so interested in it being an example of how you can prototype projects of this nature at low cost it was about three hundred dollars of material with the transmitter and everything was very low cost and show that this could work that they accepted it as a donation to the Smithsonian so it's currently at the Hoover our hozy Center in Washington DC on display as an example of prototyping great I love that kind of story also Southern California became a mecca of hang gliding in the 1970s when that sport had a rebirth because of the different designs that had come along in the time between 1999 and modern day and people recognized of course that because Torrey Pines recognized was recognized as a great spot for real sail planes and also model sale planes that it oughta be good for hang gliders and so in that period in that early period of the renaissance of hang gliding there were four world record set for endurance bye hang gliders the first hour flight first two hour flight first three hour flight and an hour a three minute and 45 seconds flight all at Torrey Pines and it became a mecca of hang gliding early on it's also become a mecca of a newer sport called paragliding where you have a I'll show you a picture of it but it's a flexible wing like a parachute but it's designed like an airfoil and you can soar with that you can pack it up when you're done in your backpack and go walk and go back to work it's the easy to transport so here's what it looks like to be in a hang glider auditory finds these days again a lot bigger homes and we're back there in the 1930s but it's still beautiful and here's what it's like to be in a paraglider at the above the close to Torrey Pines when the golf course is and there are also people that now are taking modern construction and going back to the way it started so can you design a primary glider effectively out of modern components like the modern materials for carbon fiber and aluminum tubing and all you know kind of things we have today and still enjoy that spirit of being out there in the wind and them in the front right and so this is a modern primary glider called the bug it's a kit by the way if you're interested in getting the plans you can build it at home and my friend here you just you just has a wheel on the bottom and you kind of just rolls off the cliff edge and starts flying it's really fun and then there's other people that are experimenting with a combination of a foot launched like a like a hang glider but making it so sleek that it's more like a sail plane in terms of its performance so this is a plane called the Swift it was designed up at Stanford the gentlemen literally runs holding this big wing off the edge of the cliff and they can hook his feet up into this fuselage if you will and it performs at the level of a Schweitzer 126 a modern sail plane very nice design but of course there are a whole group of people that still like coming back to Torrey Pines to do that sail plane activity that its mainstay from the 1930s it's a whole Club The Associated glider clubs of Southern California that uses Torrey Pines on an annual basis with many with lots of permissions to get that done the fly the real sailplanes every every winter and they use a winch to hoist the gliders in the air just like they did after World War two there's a picture of the winch launch they also do car towing when the winds are strong you don't need the winch you just tie the rope to the plane to the car and the hopefully the guy will stop but you go towards the cliff edge and then release the rope and you get out over the edge and there's so much lift you don't have to worry about it and here's the pictures of what it's looking like when you go for a ride in one of these gliders today over a little way it's beautiful I had the great foot a great pleasure of flying in the pitch and the glider pictured on the upper right for an hour flight with my friend doug furnas this is a world war two trainer glider that's been refurbished just like you refurbish a vintage car people refurbishment of sale planes of course and we ended up having a nice hour flight in the morning on a very very windy day and Torrey Pines so over time because of these four different sports that now all share Torrey Pines it's week its own sort of Kittyhawk of the West it's recognized as this mecca of importance for all these different forms and also celebrates the fact that we are now in our 125th year of gliding in Southern California and this is the place that now is representative of that history it also has its issues with a unique combination of all those different types of air traffic so there's all sorts of site-specific rules that are enforced to make sure that the traffic is complimentary the glider port property pictured on the right as the satellite picture also shown as a topo map on the left is owned by two different property owners the cliffside portion is a city park it's owned by the city of San Diego the runway portion on the back end is owned by the University of California it's a part of UCSD and so in order to get the sale point operations every year we have to get permission from these different property owners and also FAA and other other organizations to to get that done we've been trying to protect this resource for aviation for years now there are two building projects going in here on the where the red triangles are pictured that are very large multi-story buildings that UCSD is put in we went through a whole process of trying to fight that process but the buildings are there FAA has worked with us though to change the runway configuration slightly to still allow the gliders to fly despite the buildings and we're hoping to get those gliders back in operation here very soon once those buildings are finished but in order to make sure that not only the citizens recognize the value of this property but also to make sure that it continues as a glider port in the future my father Larry and I worked very hard from 1991 through 2003 to get various organizations to recognize the history of this place and all the way up to the listing of it on the National Register of Historic Places to preserve it of course that doesn't necessarily preserve it because the property owners can still go through hurdles to build on the property but we're hoping at least it causes recognition in the public interest that this is a valued asset for Southern California so for me though it's it's a personal story because I learned how to fly models and get my interest in aviation from my father auditory Pines we would go out there on the weekends and I experienced what it was like to be that San Diego high school kid that interested and grew up with aviation was very fortunate in that way so you can barely see but on the upper right I'm a little on the little guy that doesn't reach higher than the cockpit and of course that's me when I was four with my little model airplane but I've grown up and I still share the passion that I had as a kid and it's taught me a lot about aviation in physics and in math and all sorts of other scientific applications so I would like to hopefully say that we can restore these kind of places to get that sort of bond and passage of aviation history to the younger people so that they can continue doing that we all enjoy so I'd like to thank not only Western Museum of Flight but also these other organizations for working so hard to preserve this resource as its legacy of soaring and sit in Southern California I do have some models to display this is an exact quarter scale model of a primary glider it's a it's a German primary glider but it's very similar to the ones that were flown here in Southern California in the 1930s this is radio control so it will fly I've flown it at Torrey Pines many times it requires a lot of wind and because it's a very draggy plane to get it to really soar it takes a lot of wind but it's a lot of fun to fly and it can it's landing it has the approach angle of the space shuttle it just comes down like a brick so this is a model airplane called the blaster – it's all made out of carbon fiber fiberglass the wings are hollow the all up weight of the slider is 10 ounces it's a very very light weight lighter and the idea is for this sail plane you launch it by the wingtip there's a little peg on the left wing since I'm right handed I use that that peg on my left on my right hand side and I literally spin like I'm going to throw a discus and I'll get enough energy out of spinning that I can throw this glider very several hundred feet into the air and then go out and look for thermals and stay up for as long as the thermal currents are there and on a good day I can fly that plane on one launch for maybe thirty minutes and it's got full air runs elevator and rudder it also has flaps for landing the idea is in the contests that people fly these with now these are actually actually getting very popular in these contests usually you're doing a timed event so you have to fly for five minutes come back down and then fly exactly for five minutes again contest so when you're coming in for landing you don't land on the ground you try to catch it by the wingtip so that you can throw it immediately off and continue your round all right so the catching is just grab it and throw it it's a lot of fun so this is a glider called an SDXC it's a cross-country model sailplane and it's got about a 14 foot wingspan again all fiberglass construction carbon fiber wing rod so modern composite materials and these kind of gliders are launched on a winch you get up in this thermal current like a eagle where our Hawk would do you fly it very high and then the object is to hop in your buddy's pickup truck I start flying cross-country to get to the next thermal and go up in that the beauty of it is that in this kind of a bigger sail plane I have a device that is a very ometer so a very ometer is an instrument that does the rate of climb how fast you're climbing or how fast you're falling and of course I can't be in the plane so what it does is it sends a signal down to my ear I have an earpiece that has the very ometer noise so dududududududududu means I'm climbing or do it son sinking right so I listen I'm watching the plane and I'm listening the whole flight to know where I'm in the lift or not and if I'm in the lift I'll circle there go up and then continue on and so there are people that do this they do it in very remote locations we typically fly out near Taft or same way Obispo areas we're in the middle of California where there's just roads and farms and that kind of thing but I had the pleasure of using this plane to set three World Records one was a gone return distance so in a goal return flight you have to say before you launch you have to say where your goal point is going to be you have to fly their return and they come back and land at the point of launch we did 10 kilometers and then let's second when we did 20 kilometers and on the last one it's done 39 kilometers out and back and that's the current world record so this is the current world record holder for model sailplanes for goal and return distance I want to thank you for your time and interest and I appreciate it thank you thank you for watching Peninsula seniors out and about here at the Western Museum of Flight and Torrance I'm Betty Wheaton I'll see you next time you

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