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Youths Complete 4-Day UTSI ‘Soaring Camp’

Six area young people were introduced to the fundamentals of flying “and the joy of soaring” in a four-day University of Tennessee Space Institute short course held at the Tullahoma Municipal Airport.

“Seventy-five glider flights were conducted with these students,” said Peter Solies, UTSI associate professor of Aviation Systems and flight instructor for the Soaring Camp held June 5-8.

Students participating were Jessica Dickerson of Morrison, Marcos More’, Ryan Morteson, and Neil Whitehead of Tullahoma, Will Nelms of Lynchburg, and Weston Tennyson of Estill Springs.

Each day began with one hour of ground school followed by flight activity. Each student accumulated ten or more flights in UTSI’s tow-place glider, an Alexander Schleicher AS-K13.

Topics covered in the ground school included safe behavior on airports, roles and duties of group members, foundations of flight, aircraft terminology, aircraft controls, weight and balance, ground launch and aero-tow procedures, airspeed limitations, speeds for minimum sink and best glide, altimeter settings, runway designations, landing pattern, understanding and interpretation of automated weather observation methods.

Flight activities consisted of group activities and individual flight instruction, Solies said. Use of radios was demonstrated but not practiced in the course. Topics covered in group briefings and hands-on demonstrations included tow rope inspection and repair, glider assembly, ground handling, proper tow-rope hook-up and hand signals, wing running, glider retrieval, disassembly, and trailer operations.

Individual flight instruction included the following issues: Walk-around pre-flight check, pre-takeoff check, emergency procedures, pitch, roll, and yaw-control, ground-launch procedures, stalls and recovery, adverse yaw and coordinated turns, pitch attitude and airspeed control, use of trim, soaring techniques, observance of air space, entering and executing landing pattern, adjusting pattern to wind conditions, use of dive brakes, aim point, landing flare, and roll-out.

On the final day of the camp, Mrs. Sarah Kelly, owner and operator of Chilhowee Gliderport near Benton, provided aero-tows in a Piper Pawnee. Each student experienced two aero-tows to 2,000 feet, including “boxing of the wake,” a required maneuver for glider pilot certification.

Earlier flights were launched by the car-tow method on inactive runways with landings on grass runways. Twenty-four introductory flights were conducted with a 200-foot rope to familiarize students with tow procedures and glider dynamics. Subsequently, 39 ground launches were conducted with the full-length, 1,500-foot rope, with typical altitudes of 1,000 feet.

“Due to the excellent weather, many of the flights were soaring flights with altitude gains and extended flight times, and demonstration of thermal centering techniques,” Solies said.
John Stubbs, manager of the Staggerwing Air Academy, assisted by Mrs. Cathleen Gemma of the Tullahoma Chapter of the Civil Air Patrol, recruited participants for the camp.