Four gliders sailing in the blue Tullahoma skies – including a two-seater that carried several spectators aloft Thursday – was a “perfect prelude to one of the Space Institute’s most cherished traditions,” said John E. Caruthers.
Caruthers, University of Tennessee associate vice president and chief operating officer of UTSI, thanked Gary A. Flandro, himself a glider pilot, for “inviting his friends and associates to join us for this Miller Wilder Glider Event.”
Flandro, who holds UTSI’s Boling Chair of Excellence in Space Propulsion, flew his own glider for the show before delivering the 28th Quick-Goethert Lecture in the Institute’s auditorium a few hours later.
One of those hitching a ride with Peter Solies in the Institute’s glider was Professor Wolfgang Alles, Flight Dynamics Chair at the Technical University of Aachen – in town for the lecture. Solies, an associate professor in Aviations Systems, also founded the Institute’s Soaring Club and its chief flight instructor.
Richard W. (Dick) Butler of Manchester, a graduate of UTSI and a world glider champion, flew his glider for the two-hour event, named in honor of Miller Wilder, a UTSI student killed in a glider accident in Arizona in June 2004.
Lending a hand to students and other handlers readying the gliders for flight was Gerhard Waibel, sailplane designer for the Schleicher glider manufacturer in Germany, and Mrs. Waibel. Winfried Goethert, a son of the late B.H. Goethert, first director of the Space Institute, drove the tow truck for the UTSI aircraft. Daniel Banuti, an Aachen exchange student visiting UTSI accompanied a host of Institute students in assisting the pilots.