History of the Atlanta Soaring Club
By Mitch Deutsch
The Atlanta Soaring Club's inception can be traced to a very tragic day at Peach State Gliderport. On February 11, 1986, Peach State's main hangar caught fire and destroyed much of Peach State's fine sailplane fleet, including a Grob 103, two Grob 102 Club's, a Grob 102 Standard, a Piper Pawnee tow plane as well as two other privately owned ships, an AS-W19B and a K-6. Bob Tisdale, who operated Peach State Gliderport as a commercial operation for approximately 10 years prior to the fire, had expended much money and quite a bit of effort to provide a modern fleet of sailplanes as well as created a fun place to fly.
Bob decided that a hybrid club/commercial operation was the best option to keep soaring alive. The 926th glider squadron, a club type group formed earlier to foster camaraderie and enjoyment of the sport of soaring, was expanded and all pilots who flew at Peach State were encouraged to join the Squadron or pay higher prices for the services. Folks began to show their support. An impromptu banquet was held at the Holiday Inn in Griffin in late April and over fifty pilots attended to show Bob their support.
Peach State's tow plane, Pawnee N11FU, caught fire in flight on July 27, 1986 and made an emergency, but safe landing. The magneto apparently exploded and caught fire, causing extensive damage to the engine area forward of the firewall. Repairs were going to cost several thousand dollars. Bob Tisdale advised that effective September 30, 1986 that glider operations would cease. The February fire, loss of rental equipment and revenue, and inability to obtain renewal for the insurance all combined to force Peach State's demise.
The Atlanta Soaring Club is Conceived
A number of pilots were not ready to give up their love of soaring and began exploring options to keep soaring alive at Peach State. After much number crunching by Don Abrams and Mitch Deutsch it was determined that a club operation was feasible. In fact, the projections allowed for a club to operate with the help of professional staff, with Elsie and Derek Johnson continuing on. Late in August, a telephone survey was made to a number of pilots to confirm if there would be sufficient support for such a club.
A very positive feedback was
received from these phone calls, and an emergency meeting was held in
Atlanta on September 4 to discuss the proposed plans with the Atlanta glider
community. The goal was to have enough interest and funding to start a new
not-for-profit club, to be called the Atlanta Soaring Club (ASC). It was obvious
that the local pilots still wanted to soar and were willing to put forth the
effort to start and grow a new club.
By the end of the month, ASC signed up sixty members, was legally chartered, had
elected officers, final bylaws and operating rules, signed a land lease with Bob
Tisdale at Peach State, arranged for a tow service and had sailplanes to fly.
The Directors included Jeff White, Chris Bowick, Gary Bawtinhimer, Ken Sturgill
(Secretary), Don Abrams (Treasurer), C.B. Howard (Vice President) and Mitch
Operations were to be headquartered in the "old" bunkhouse just north of the new
hangar and Peach State's remaining Grob 103 (N429BG) was leased back to the
club. Gary Bawtinhimer had purchased a G102 (N792G) also for lease back to the
club. Other ships that were being looked at for acquisition were a 1-26 and a
Donations of equipment and time poured in. A partial list of donations included:
Jeff White: Meeting room donation, attorney compensation
Don Abrams: Financial planning and analysis
C. B. Howard: Securing insurance
Mitch Deutsch: Coordination of club formation and membership drive
Jay Newell: Meeting room donation
Chris Bowick, Dee Anderson, Vic and Pam Crane, Marty Pautz, Frank
Fincher, Frank Ivey, Tom Speir, Philip Anderson: Clubhouse equipment,
furnishings, telephone canvassing, and moving efforts.
Derek and Elsie Johnson: Unrelenting help, advise and support to
organize and form the club
Bob Tisdale: Cooperation, good spirit during the transition.
Atlanta Soaring Club is born!
October 4 was the first day of operations for the new Club. At 11:06 AM, Jim
Neffinger (student) and Derek Johnson (instructor) took off on tow in the Grob
103 behind Bob Tisdale in the Pawnee. That first weekend also saw much activity.
Bill Kelley, Al Grizzard, and Steve Naylor fought for the first flight in the
Baby Grob 102, with Steve beating the Grob's owner, Gary Bawtinhimer, to the
Don Abrams, in his AS-W19, scored the club's first land out on the first
weekend, landing about 25 miles to the west. C.B. Howard found a leased-back
Blanik, from Tallahassee, and it arrived on October 7.
At the end of October, ASC had 72 members and though things were going well.
The dates for the SSA National Convention to be held in Atlanta were announced. Mitch Deutsch had met with Bob Gaines and Bob Gray (the convention planners) and it was agreed that ASC should be an integral part of the convention planning and execution, and this event would serve to bring the various soaring groups in Atlanta together. The call was put out to ASC's membership to provide ideas and be prepared to help.
Some concern was raised about the potential development of two-acre housing tracts at the current peach orchard just south of the runway. Bob Tisdale contacted the FAA and made his views known to the Pike County Commission. Since the gliderport was a state licensed facility, the FAA has some jurisdiction regarding clearances, etc. More homework was required of the seller and the commission tabled the rezoning application. Bob Tisdale posted "Low Flying Planes" warning signs along the entrance road to alert potential purchasers and other visitors of the ongoing air traffic over that area.
Jim Culp advised that aero tows were
available from two airports north of Atlanta; at Rome and Jasper. Pilots needed
to call ahead for reservations.
Jay Newell arranged for production members of the TV show, "Georgia Digest" to visit the Club and receive a few flights. The resultant videos would be broadcast on all eight of GPTV's stations throughout the state.
Club activity for the early season was quite good. Badge winners included Silver legs for Steve Naylor and Bob Sykes with Bob earning the full badge. Steve Naylor set a GA state record for his climb to 11,226 MSL
The 1-26, N2582H, was officially purchased from Chuck Childers and was immediately made available to the members. Due to the increase in the number of members and their flying successes, a "Member's Recognition Board" was constructed. The Board contained Polaroid mug shots of the members and listed their accomplishments (badges, ratings, solos, state records, etc.
Don Abrams, who had the longest out and no return flight, donated a perpetual trophy called the "Down and Out Trophy" which will be given to the pilot who flies the longest out and no return flight. The only other limitation was that the flight had to result in a safe and damage free landing (except for the pilot's ego).
Don Abrams displayed his AS-W19B to the Atlanta Chapter of the Sierra Club. Assisting in this effort were Derek Johnson, Charles Pinson, Jay Newell and Mitch Deutsch. The presentation was tailored to the Sierra Club's interests and a slide show and video of soaring in the Sequatchie Valley was shown as well as the short video of ASC activities short by "Georgia Digest."
Figures for the first year of operations included 95 members, 2307 tows pulled, 1578 hours in club aircraft and 405 hours of dual instruction. Fourteen students soloed, seven ratings issued and two state soaring records were recorded.
An update on the SSA Convention to be held in Atlanta in February 1988 called for ASC members to volunteer to assist with the daily operations as well as assistance with exhibit set-up/teardown, meeting folks at the airport, speaker proctor, etc.
ASC's Board of Directors offered to sponsor a Boy Scout's Explorer Post. Heading up this effort was Chris Bowick, a Scoutmaster himself who out the call out for three other volunteers to assist the efforts. The sponsorship should provide ASC with potential new members, as the age of the Post's members are between 14 and 21.
With the national convention only two months away, Mitch Deutsch, as "Volunteer Coordinator" for the convention put the final call out for ASC members to assist. It was anticipated that each soaring group would have its own "coordinator" to work at a club level to insure each club's resources could be efficiently tapped.
The Club is scheduled to have a booth on the floor of the convention, where videos will be run, questions will be answered and club promotional merchandise (mugs, shirts, etc) would be sold.
Two speakers from ASC were planning to give presentation seminars. Derek Johnson would participate in the Instructors Revalidation Clinic preceding the convention and later talk about soaring in England. Mitch Deutsch and Jay Newell would share their experiences in forming ASC in a presentation entitled "What to do when your Gliderport is in sink and your are on final glide." ASC would also display its "new" G102 on the convention floor.
The convention efforts took much of the Club's efforts for the remainder of the month. The Club ably assisted Mid-Georgia Soaring Association in sponsoring quite a successful event with over 700 persons in attendance.
An important event that occurred during the convention was a meeting held between Mitch Deutsch and John Karlovich, owner of Etowah Bend Airport just northwest of Cartersville, GA which laid the groundwork for the Club's impending move.
The Move to Etowah Bend
Right Base. One Eight, Etowah Bend- Near Kingston GA
MARCH TO MAY 1988
The title story of "The Phoenix," the newsletter of ASC now edited by Terri Tillman proclaimed "Atlanta Soaring club Rises High With Relocation to Etowah Bend." (Mitch had "retired" a eight year stint as newsletter editor to focus on the Club's move). The article, written by Mitch Deutsch, summarized for the members the issued leading up to the move from Peach State.
The search for a new home was brought about by several reasons; increasing uncertainty of additional (and unworkable) air space restrictions around Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport, the proposed Mode C requirements, the shift of the demographics of potential club members more further north and the impending sale of Peach State by Bob Tisdale all cast doubt about the Club's long term security at Williamson.
In December 1987, a couple of members of the search committee, Gary Bawtinhimer and Jack Pittard came upon Etowah Bend and met John and Audrey Karlovich. When Gary and Jack landed, they thought they were going to just visit another dusty strip in rural Georgia. Instead, as the rounded one of the hangars, they saw a glider trailer and felt they had found the "promised land." They walked up the hill to the Karlovich residence and met Audrey, who in true southern fashion, invited both Jack and Gary inside for refreshments. Coupled with its convenient location, three stoplights and twelve miles from I-75 and less than 40 minutes from the I-285/I-75 intersection, Etowah Bend seemed like glider nirvana.
Several meetings later, the basic premise of the agreement was made. John would make the necessary capital improvements and ASC would lease the land. The formal agreement was signed on March 25, 1988. It should be noted that John was an old-time M-GSA member, having been very active in the soaring scene in the 60's and 70's. John advised one of the reasons he wanted to have ASC at Etowah Bend was he wanted to give back to soaring and help ensure that soaring would continue to be viable.
John had advised he would expedite the construction to meet our situation, but we knew the accelerated move was going to be tough. We had no enclosed space to work out of, no water, sewer, phone or power. The spring of 1988 was unusually wet (and muddy) which would test the resolve of all the club members as well as the Club's new landlord.
Initially, John would construct a covered T hangar to shelter five assembled gliders and twelve in trailers. Derek and Elsie's trailer was relocated from Peach State and would serve as an interim clubhouse. Towing would be provided by John or Jimmy Karlovich via a Piper Pawnee.
On April 24, John and Jimmy Karlovich, rolled the revamped crop duster out of their hangar. Jim then did a test flight confirming the Pawnee was ready. Tom Smith and Derek Johnson hooked up the Grob 103 to the tow rope and at 3:15 pm, the slack was taken out and the first glider tow left Etowah Bend. Unfortunately, a spring failed on the tow plane upon landing and only one flight was had for the Club's first day.
The following members were recognized for their assistance in the move and assistance in restarting operations: ASC's Board of Directors (Jay Newell, Don Abrams, Charles Pinson and Mitch Deutsch) Derek and Elsie Johnson, Gary Bawtinhimer, Jack Pittard, John Callaway, Revel Freeman, Bill McKay, Wells Morse, David Campbell, Mark Darlington, Jack Wright, John Callaway, Mike Rossi, Fernando Silva, Rick Valley, Steve Naylor, Chris Bowick, Thomas Gurtmann, Mike Katopes, Walt Valesky, Noah Pittard, Sam and Sybil Stana, David Finkel, Frank Trowbridge, Tom Fluornoy, Tom Smith, Terri Tillman and the Karlovich family (Audrey, John and Jimmy)
During the first month of operations at Etowah Bend, over 100 tows were taken. While not flying, members assisted on the many chores on the ground, including moving rocks (and more rocks) and debris, helping the Johnsons settle down in their relocated home, transporting and rigging ships, installing the power pole for the meter, and in collating and mailing the May 1988 "Phoenix" announcing the move which was mailed to over 400 pilots in Georgia and Alabama. Jay Newell arranged a feature article in "Adventure Magazine" a targeted distribution quarterly magazine specializing in outdoor adventure-type activities and sports. Charles Pinson displayed his DG-300 at an airshow at Peachtree Dekalb airport.
The M-GSA newsletter also printed some kind comments about ASC in its newsletter. "Best wishes to Atlanta Soaring Club, who during the convention struck a deal with member John Karlovich to move to his airport. We have seen this club make many good moves: forming the club, ensuring its continued existence, joining the SSA and participating in the convention, demonstrating their commitment to soaring in Georgia- and now, through the generosity of John, they have found their new home."
New full members included Paul Schmidt, Jack Wright, and Jim Jackson. Ron Roberts, Gilly Smith and Harold Buck joined as associate members. Ron was to fly his Concept 70, Harold his Nimbus 3 and Gilly his LS6. Mike Rossi purchased Richard Bramblett's portion of AS-W19B "6T".
The ASC Builds a Clubhouse
The club proposed construction of a clubhouse, to be built on the west end of
the newly constructed T hangar. Mitch Deutsch and Rick Valley, architect and
contractor respectively, brainstormed and came up with a plan to utilize the
existing hangar's roof structure and just infill the walls and slab. A
preliminary budget for Phase 1 ($2400)-exterior walls and concrete slab only-
took advantage of "sweat equity" and donated materials. Phase 2 (interior
finishing) needed additional donations (cash and material) as well as volunteer
Work on the clubhouse continued with window installation, exterior painting, interior wiring and exterior trenching for the underground power. Participating in these efforts were Jack Wright, Bill Kelley, Carlos Barrosso (painting and caulking); Rick Valley, Tom Smith, Ned States and Mitch Deutsch (interior walls and trim); Jorge DeCubas and Revel Freeman (glass installation); Alan Cox and Bill Rouse (interior wiring). The clubhouse looked almost finished and all stepped back to take a look at their collective accomplishments.
Click here to see Rick Valley and the tornado wierdness. Note the undisturbed ceiling tiles
On the late afternoon of November 5, the inclement weather took a turn for the worst. At about 4:00 PM, the wind began howling, and was getting dark and a roaring sound emanated from the west. A tornado was about to hit Etowah Bend.
Click here to see the rebuilding.
Within thirty seconds, the entire clubhouse and hangar were destroyed. The gliders tied down under the hangar were displaced against the parked trailers and the club's Grob 102 was flipped inverted on top of the trailers. Some of the trailers and their contents were damaged.
Click picture to see Grob 102 Upside down
Mitch Deutsch was pinned under the roof debris and was rescued by Al Grizzard,
Rick Valley and Mike Rossi. Tom Smith had cuts on his head and was taken to the
hospital in Cartersville. Initially Jay Newell was unaccounted for but was
located a few minutes later huddled in the Johnson's residence with Derek and
Once everybody was accounted for, the dazed members surveyed the damage. Only two walls of the clubhouse remained standing, and the hangar was lost and most of the ships damaged. Six months of hard work improving the Club's new home were lost in thirty seconds.
The following day, Sunday November 6, a dozen members along with their spouses showed up to upright and move the gliders. Brian Evans and Peter Johnson did damage assessment estimates while others began disassembling the debris into stacks of materials that could be reused. This work continued past sunset, an indication the Club's members were going to see the Club through this disaster. Assisting in these efforts were Gary Bawtinhimer, Mitch Deutsch, Revel Freeman, Marty and Robin Pautz, Charles Pinson, Marsha and Mike Rossi, Ned States, Terri Tillman, Walt Valesky, Jack Wright and Jimmy Karlovich.
The B4 Pilatus
Almost immediately, John Karlovich stated the facility would be rebuilt, with some changes. The clubhouse would be a separate structure to be rebuilt on the existing slab and a pre-engineered meta sided wood hangar would be constructed just to the north of the clubhouse.
ASC Rebuids the Clubhouse
ASC Clubhouse is a Hollywood Set!
Work proceeded rapidly to rebuild the clubhouse. As of mid-December, all the walls were erected, rafters installed and most of the plywood decking was laid. Much contribution was coming forward from the members, including an anonymous donor who agreed to match $2 for each $1 that was raised. With $6800 in the bank, the club was still a bit short needing about $3100 to complete the project, including the septic system, carpeting and water
Both Grobs were under repair, with the G103 at Bluffton to fix the tornado damage as well as install new spar spigots, as required by a Grob AD. The G102, having received approval from the insurance company for the repairs was in Brian Evans' shop in Cumming awaiting parts. With the breaks in the weather, members put over 30 hours and 100 flights on the newly arrived K21, whose arrival was possible due to a syndicate of members.
With a spell of mild weather and high interest from members, the clubhouse project made great strides and was closed in, only eight weeks after the tornado. Approximately $7200 was raised and about $2600 was needed to complete the building.
Construction for the new hangar was set began. The new hangar, 54' x 60' in size, was of a prefabricated design with wood trusses and columns and be sheathed in metal panels. It would also have a concrete floor making glider movement quite easy. A lean to glider barn was proposed for the north side.
After 31 consecutive weekends (going back to September 1988), the clubhouse was occupied. Though completion of numerous trim items and connection of essential services remained (septic tank, water, and electricity), the building was complete enough to occupy and to move some of the Club's furniture stored at the Johnson residence. The call also went out for members to search their attics and basements for furniture that would have a second life at the clubhouse.
Ned States, John Karlovich, Eric Baron
The new hangar was completed and was full of clubs ships, with the return of
both Grobs from their respective repair shops. Also the glider barn was open and
all spots were taken, resulting in waiting list.
Rick Valley published an insightful article at the four year anniversary of ASC's founding reminding all the current members to understand and appreciate all the efforts to date that has resulted in the ongoing success of ASC.
Rick Valley at Etowah Bend
Mountain Camp at Ft. Payne AL.
The Club's success at the Ft Payne Mountain Camp was documented in detail in the Phoenix. Each day was truly different, offering thermals, ridge and wave conditions as well as the expedited day of inclement weather. Tows were provided by the Pawnee as well as by the "Blue Bomber," the Club's Ford LTD tow vehicle. The most memorable day was Day 6. David Rice took an autotow to 1200 feet and connected into wave. The wind was picking up and the other pilots opted to use the Pawnee. Bobby Bridges and Mitch Deutsch played win the wave-laced skies for the entire afternoon and reached altitudes of 10,000 MSL. Mother nature provided a sky all day filled with numerous saucer shaped clouds. Most everybody stayed late with Mitch and Bobby landing just before dusk.
John Karlovich began clearing to extend the runway approximately 500 feet to the north. ASC was to be featured in Atlanta Magazine and hoped to be in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
David Rice recounted his success in ridge flying at Etowah. A longer tow (only $37) to Johns Mountain, eighteen miles to the northwest provided David with a truly enjoyable afternoon of ridge soaring. With winds at 20 knots from the west, the north-south orientation of the ridge allowed David to fly his K6E about 500 feet above ridge top level at 60 knots for several round trips of the entire 20 mile length of the ridge. David initially planned to land at nearby Rome Airport for a aerotow back to Etowah, but he was able to climb to 5000 feet above Rome's airport and easily glide home, through alternate areas of sink and lift. This confirmed David's belief of the existence of several bars of wave between Etowah and Rome. This information would prove useful for other flights by David and other pilots in the next few years!
During the normally wet December, Larry Goddard managed to find some tolerable weather and earn his Private rating. The runway extension project made progress as Carl Melear and Carl Brunsman chain sawed the overgrowth on the western and northern boundaries of the extension while Mitch Deutsch and Rick Valley cleared the old road embankment just north of the proposed end of the runway to provide sufficient clearance for aircraft trying to land short. While a fair amount of the clearing has been done, a work party was called for later in the month to complete the project.
The permanent barbeque grille north of the clubhouse was completed by RickValley and Ned States
With the winter season in full force, David Rice, having earned the title of weather guru through his RAOBTOOL program as well as his research, offered two classes; one focusing on weather and a second class in cross country. Meanwhile, Joe Flores volunteered to head up a home study group for those studying to pass the FAA ground school test. Those attending the first meeting included Erick Baron, Michael Vaughn, Julia Robinson, Fred Ewing, Rich Lang, Jack Dunn and Tom Wyatt. Walt Valesky proposed a series of three two-hour ground courses on the FAR's.
David Rice ready to saddle up Delta Xray
The SSA advised the FAA would exempt glider instructors and their clubs from the requirements of drug testing. Joe Flores and his friend John Ellis have constructed a new entrance sign made of colored synthetic stucco at the gravel road entrance from Hwy 411.
Mitch Deutsch, Erick Baron, Joe Flores and Rick Valley gave a presentation on soaring to the Georgia Tech Flying Club. The video, "Running on Empty" was shown to an enthusiastic bunch of students and the club was invited back for a second presentation. Julia Robinson also arranged for print articles in the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Creative Loafing.
The Club extended its condolences upon learning of the passing of longtime MGSA member Bob Grey. Bob had led the efforts for the SSA convention held in 1988.
The autotow day was held at Rockmart, where Rick Valley, Dan Nugent, Jim Karlovich, Richard Keith, Mitch Deutsch, Bruce and Brian Wauer, Joe Flores, Erick Baron, Jason Shokey and Larry Goddard took turns flying and driving. During the afternoon, unfortunately the Club's autotow car, the Blue Bomber, died a final death and it was hauled back behind Erick Baron's pick up to Etowah where it will be relegated to migrate back to its original elements (rust to death).
The club was making its last payment to the bank for the 102 and to commemorate the importance, lowered the rate to $15 per hour, provided $150 was put down as block time.
The Club returned from a very successful mountain camp at Andrews-Murphy. The weather varied from day to day, with flying activities each day. The conditions at the middle of the week were less favorable though numerous practice patterns were made. Wave and thermal flights were made. Participating in the camp were visitors David Pixton, Roger Hinote, Duffy Snyder, John Barksdale, and John Wells. Club members included Erick Baron, David Tan, Marty Pautz, Charles Feyt, Paul Green Ned States, Richard Keith, Walt Valesky, Gary Harvey, Rick Valley, Carl Melear, Larry Goddard, Hans van der Maarel, Mitch Deutsch, David Rice, Fernando Silva and Ben
Kololitin. A total of 200 hours of flight was logged in nine days.
The club presented a new organizational structure that was brought about due to a relatively dismal 1991 soaring season. The weather did not provide enough activity to produce the required revenues. The recession apparently cut back members' spending and the members apparently lost much of their enthusiasm for soaring. Something had to be done or else the club would have to cease operations and sell all its assets.
The model the club used with two full time employees was based on a fair amount of cash flow and it became apparent this model would no longer work. With much sadness, the Club was forced to terminate Derek and Elsie Johnson as employees of the club.
With the change-over in responsibilities, ASC sold back the Clubhouse to the Karloviches per the previous agreement and received a small payment, representing approximately one-third of the expense. The $5500 payment allowed the club to pay off some obligations and still retain some monies for operating the G102.
The goal of the club was to provide more enjoyment at less cost. A summary of the new program is as follows:
Joe Flores' study group was meeting regularly. Attendees included Tag Hinter,
Dan Nugent, Walt Smith, Erick Baron, Hans van den Maarel, Tony Jarl, Jack Agey,
Richard Keith, Charles Feyt, Paul Green and Joe Flores. Assisting on the
instructional side were Jack Dunn, Jimmy Karlovich and Alan Bobo. Jackie Agey
managed his first solo and David Tan obtained his bronze badge.
Though the club remained operational under its new format from Wednesdays through Sundays, Alan Bobo and Jim Karlovich advised with prior arrangement, instruction and towing could be made available on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Alan Bobo in front of the clubhouse
APRIL and MAY 1992:
David Rice led a ground school class for cross country flight planning while Joe Flores' study group for the FAA private ticket was ongoing.
Informal contests were scheduled every other Saturday, beginning on May 16.
The G103 which previously had been operating in Florida, returned and would be made available by Etowah Bend Soaring at the same prices previously charged by ASC. The syndicate of ASC members that owned the K21 sold the
ship. Unfortunately, ASC was in no financial position to buy it, but fortunately Jimmy Karlovich stepped in. Though the hourly rate was higher than previously charged, at least it remained at Etowah Bend.
A "rock party" (better known as a "rock removing party") was held on the morning of April 5, After a hearty breakfast prepared by Carl Brunsman that served at the field, the group (Joe Flores, Tony and Bill Clare, Julie and Peter Ouseley, Mitch Deutsch, Dan Nugent, Jimmy Karlovich, Tag Hunter, Dan Nugent, Kevin Kaylor and Carl Brunsman headed out to the northern part of the runway to clear away rocks.
MAY 1992 THROUGH JANUARY 1993
Operations continued at Etowah Bend during this period with ASC coexisting with Etowah Bend Soaring for the glider activity. ASC tried to concentrate on the "fun" part of soaring (records, badges, contests, social events) while Etowah Bend Soaring dealt with providing tows and instruction as well as upkeep of the clubhouse and the facility in general. ASC had always wanted to be the major soaring operation at the field since it lost its "exclusive rights" a year earlier, but found itself unable to do so due in part to the overbearing presence Etowah Bend Soaring had at the field and general apathy from folks who did not want to get involved.
With the start of spring, the 1993 Inter-Club Contest Schedule (also to be known as the Georgia Tennessee race series or GTA) was announced, with events scheduled at Monroe, Etowah Bend and Chilhowee, spaced about two
On the first day of April, ASC lost its prized possession, the G102 due to an accident. The pilot, Joe Flores, was not seriously injured, by the ship was totaled. Now the club found itself at another crossroads- what to do next. Etowah Bend Soaring was about to reduce their fleet to two 2 seaters and there were several options; liquidate, replace the ship with another single seater or buy a two seater. A meeting was scheduled for May 8 to hash out the issues and build consensus.
The Georgia Tennessee race series contest held at Etowah Bend on April 17 and 18 had fantastic weather with bases as high as 8600 feet AGL. Thirteen participants enjoyed the 7 knot lift. On the 17th, Gilly Smith and David Rice finished first in the A and B Classes, respectively . On the 18th, Dave Stevenson and David Rice finished first in the A and B Classes, respectively.
SSA advised a new "electronic bulletin board" was available to pilots at no charge, though it took a long distance call to log on. It was surmised in the newsletter that electronic forms of communications would be how members in sport related clubs could easily communicate!
Dan Nugent earned his private rating and Jim Williams purchased Don Runyon's old ship, the K8.
With the loss of ASC's only asset, the Club held a special meeting on May 8 to gather consensus on what to do next. Seventeen of the nineteen attendees acknowledged that the G102 should be replaced by another ship, preferably a two seater. And, members advised they were willing to put in additional personal effort in the club's operations. Nonetheless, the Club's mode of operation was needing to change, partly due to the loss of the G102 and more so to the ever-changing political winds at Etowah Bend. It was clear, however, the club members needed to take a more active role in the operation of the facility in order for soaring to survive. The new plan would operate much like a "regular" club does and would theoretically spread the operational burden on more members. It would then be up to each member to help as much as possible.
The new structure was drafted and would be presented formally to the member at the June meeting.
Etowah Bend's responsibilities:
At the June 5th meeting, members approved the purchase if a L-13 Blanik from Chris Smission. The good thing was the ship was already on site and its use could begin immediately. The new operations scheme was presented to all the members and received full support.
On September, 25, the club hosted the Georgia/Tennessee (G/T) race series banquet. This all day event featured fun flying and a contest. Later in the afternoon, G/T awards (etched glass) were handed out by Jim Hogue and was followed by dinner on the grille. All local clubs were invited to join. Visiting pilots included Gilly Smith, Glenn Lawler and Harold Buck. Next year soaring sites in Alabama will be formally included in the series
The owners of the AS-K21 wished to sell. Though the club was in better financial shape and could afford a couple of the twenty five shares priced at $1000 each, it could definitely not afford to buy a majority. Help was asked of the soaring community to purchase the K21 and provide it back to the club on leaseback. Jack Agey, Carl Scheidt and Don Runyon earned their private ratings. Steve Miller soloed in the Club's Blanik. Chris Ruf and jack Agey manned a booth at an airshow at the West Georgia Regional Airport on September 24. Chris Smisson flew glider aerobatics.
Five ASC members and the Club formed a partnership to keep the K21 at Etowah Bend. The partnership included Mike Katopes, Chuck Patterson, Tom Spier, Conrad Suechting and Bruce Wauer and ASC.
The political winds began to shift again at Etowah Bend and tensions were growing between the Club and with Etowah Bend Soaring, and specifically with Jerry Wilson who self appointed himself as Etowah Bend's sole representative in matters dealing with the club. It appeared Wilson thought and convinced the other Etowah Bend principals the club was making all sorts of money and somehow felt they were due their share. The Karloviches, Jimmy and John, apparently gave Wilson their tacit approval to act as their representative as it appeared the Karloviches did not want to
get directly involved in these matters.
Though the Club felt it has met every contractual obligation in its agreements with Etowah Bend, it seemed that was not good enough and it appeared Wilson's goal was to see the club fail. In a demand letter to ASC, Wilson demanded immediate compliance with a list of written demands and a meeting with the property owners or the club would be asked to leave.
In a memo to the Board of Directors by Mitch Deutsch, it was suggested the only practical way to solve these issues may be to seek another location to fly from. Wilson appeared to have the Karloviches' respective ears and no amount of negotiation was going to resolve the tension.
A meeting was held with Wilson and the Karloviches and since the Club could not immediately identify all its options, the club capitulated to all their demands. The leaders of the Club knew sooner or later that ASC would have to leave Etowah Bend in order to be able to run its operation to the best benefit of its members and not be under the capricious and arbitrary whims present at Etowah Bend.
For the time being, the Board would try to keep things running and present the positive side to its members.
FEBRUARY TO MARCH 1994:
The Karloviches advised they wished to pursue other projects and ventures and to was mutually agreed between the Club and Etowah bend that the club would leave Etowah Bend by the end of March 1994.
The Club's Board of Directors actively investigated a number of solutions:
· Dissolution: Made no sense as the members would not be able to continue their flying and the cash proceeds would have to be given to a like organization. Too many people worked too long for that option to be considered.
· Relocate to another airport: The Club would then have to negotiate a place to fly and arrange for a tow service. The club did not have the financial strength to do this and a general lack of commitment from its members for such a venture was not present. The disruption would likely cause a huge attrition in the membership.
· Merge with the Mid-Georgia Soaring Association (MGSA): After several meetings with representatives of MGSA, it was learned the clubs had very similar goals and purposes. Discussions then led to an understanding that the proposed merger would greatly benefit both organizations
The advantages of the merger were:
· MGSA was a mature club in the operational sense and was well into the social aspects relating to soaring.
· The two groups were roughly the same size and would complement each other.
· The cost of flying would go down as MGSA charged no flying fees.
· There would be a combined pool of six sailplanes (Two Blaniks, a Grob 103 Acro, Grob 102, 1-34 and a AS-K21)
· The training program would continue as more potential instructors were available.
· The Monroe site had been home to soaring for over thirty yeas and was as secure as a club could be at a public field.
· MGSA's focus on cross country. Contests and badges would provide new goals for ASC's membership
· ASC's physical assets would be protected and ASC would retain the camaraderie.
· Flying would continue with no interruptions.
The disadvantages of the proposed merger:
· The loss of Etowah Bend as a soaring site was inescapable as ASC was told to leave.
· Some of the members would need to drive further: Not a really big issue if one wanted to soar
· With a merger, the ASC name would be lost: Once the purpose of ASC was understood, it would be realized the surviving organization would provide the same goals and provide better services.
· Some members will leave the club: If the club did not relocate and merge, all the members would in fact be forced to leave as the club would then be dissolved.
Jeff White, owner of EFX, a Grob 102, graciously donated his ship and its trailer to ASC. Over the years, Mr. White donated thousands of dollars and many, many hours of his expertise so the Club could operate. This latest donation would give the Club the financial resources to be considered as an "equal" with its new merger partner, MGSA.
The ASC Board of Directors at its February 22 meeting unanimously voted to pursue a merger with MGSA. A meeting was scheduled for March 12 for presentation and voting by the ASC members. Members that could not be present were asked to provide a proxy.
On March 12, 2994 members of both Clubs unanimously approved the merger of the two clubs into one organization, the Mid-Georgia Soaring Association.
The details of the merger:
· All current members of ASC were eligible to join MGSA with no initiation fee. All ASC members were asked to promptly fill out a MGSA membership form and send it to Allen Douglas, the MGSA president. On March 23, MGSA scheduled a special meeting to accept the membership applications of the ASC members.
· ASC members would receive a refund of unused ASC dues and monies on account. MGSA would then invoice the new members for annual MGSA dues, prorated for the calendar year.
· It was hoped that Etowah Bend would refund the field use fee on a pro rata basis, but neither soaring Club would have control of Etowah Bend's actions.
· Each new MGSA member would be asked to participate in their capital funding program (NIRCU) that had purchased the Pawnee. The fee would be either a one time $500 fee, refundable once the program was finished, or an
annual $50 fee.
· If the owners of the K21 voted, the ship could be sold to MGSA (ASC voted to have its share sold to MGSA, but the remaining members of the group did not. ASC's share of the K21 was purchased by the remainder of the
· Each new member of MGSA would required to be Operations Director (OD) for two days per year.
· Instruction would be provided by MGSA members for a flat fee of $100 for power transition and $350 for ab-initio training. Those currently in the ASC training program would likely benefit from reduced fees.
As this history is being written from December 2001 through March 2002, it is the writer's observation that the merger has helped provide a very strong and mature club, with a solid financial standing. I never would have dreamt on February 11, 1986 that such a great and wonderful future would have existed!
BADGES, SSA AWARDS AND STATE RECORDS RECORDED BY ASC MEMBERS SEPTEMBER 1986 THRU MARCH 1994
· As compiled from Soaring magazines-8/88, 11/99, 10/90, 11/90, 6/94 and 10/94 copies missing. Dates are date recorded or earned and (published in Soaring)
· Achievements from alternate sites recorded by members are listed. Some of the recordings appear to be late (i.e., badges recorded at Peach State after ASC's move to Kingston)
September (December) 1986:
Jay Newell: C Badge, 13126; B Badge
February (May) 1987:
Bob Sykes: Diamond Altitude, Gold Altitude, California City, CA, Grob 103B
April (July) 1987:
Bob Sykes: Silver Altitude/Distance. Matthews Field, TN, Dart 17
May (August) 1987:
Steve Naylor: Silver Altitude. Peach State, G102
January (April) 1988:
Jay Newell: Silver Badge, 5053; Silver Altitude/Distance/Duration, Matthews
Field, TN, Dart 17R
Sam Stana: C Badge, 12470; B Badge, Peach State, GA
Charles Pinson, C Badge, 13467, B Badge, Peach State, GA
February (May) 1988:
Tom Fluronoy III, C Badge 13474, Peach State, GA
June (September) 1988:
James W. Karlovich: Silver Altitude; C Badge 13559, Kingston, GA Sagitta
Sam Stana: Silver Altitude, Kingston, GA, G102
Revel Freeman, B Badge, Peach State
July (October) 1988:
Derek Johnson, Open, Speed Over an Out and Return Course of 300km, 49.36
mph, Nimbus 2, Kingston, GA.
September (December) 1988:
Charles Pinson, Silver Duration Silver Badge 5148, Kingston, GA DG300.
Tom Fluornoy, Silver Altitude, Kingston, G102
October 1988 (January 1989):
Tom Smith, C Badge, 13671, B Badge, Kingston, G102
February (May) 1989:
Ned States, Silver Duration, Matthews Field, AS-W20C
Bruce Wauer, B Badge, Peach State
March (June) 1989:
Bruce Wauer, C badge, 13745, Kingston, GA
April (July) 1989:
Gary Harvey, C Badge, 13759, B Badge, Kingston, GA
Jerry Wilson. C Badge, 13768, B Badge, Kingston, GA
May (August) 1989:
David Rice, Silver Altitude and Silver Duration, G102; C Badge, 13779; B
Badge, Kingston, GA.
August (November) 1989:
Tom Wyatt: B Badge, Kingston, GA
September (December) 1989:
Tom Wyatt: C Badge, 13896, Kingston, GA
December 1989 (March 1990):
Jerry Wilson: Bronze Badge, 598, Kingston, GA
April (July 1990):
Ned States: Silver Badge, 5280; Silver Distance, Matthews Field, AS-W20C
Jack Wright, Silver Altitude, Matthews Field, K6CR
Tom Wyatt: Bronze, 617, Kingston, GA
D Rich Lang, B Badge, Kingston, GA
William Swift, Kingston, GA
May (August) 1990:
Ron Roberts, Gold Badge 1908; Gold Distance, Matthews Field, Concept 70
David Rice, Silver Badge, 5305; Silver Distance, Kingston, K6CR
Carl Melear, C Badge, 14015; B Badge, Kingston, GA
June (September) 1990:
Jack Wright, Silver Badge, 5316; Silver Distance/Altitude/Duration,
Matthews, TN; K6CR
August (November 1990:
Fernando Silva: Gold Distance, 1925; Diamond Goal and Gold Distance,
Minden, NV , LS3A
Larry Goddard, B Badge, Kingston, GA
Michael Vaughn, B Badge, Kingston, GA
September (December) 1990:
Jerry Wilson: Silver Badge 5367; Sliver Altitude/Distance/Duration,
Kingston, GA K6CR
Larry Goddard, C Badge, 14119. Kingston, GA
October 1990 (January 1991):
Fernando Silva: Silver Badge 5385, Silver Distance, Minden, NV LS3A
March (June) 1991:
Erick Baron: Silver Altitude, Kingston, GA G102
April (July) 1991:
Jack Wright: Gold Distance, Matthews Field, TN K6CR
Erick Baron: C Badge 15197, Kingston, GA
June (September) 1991
Fred Ewing: C Badge 15254, Kingston, GA
David SC Tan: C Badge 15275 and B Badge, Kingston, GA
John O Duvall, Jr.: B Badge, Kingston, GA
July (October) 1991:
Mitch Deutsch: Gold Badge 1977, Gold Altitude, Minden, NV Pegasus
Gary S Harvey: Silver Badge 5435, Silver Distance, Kingston, GA LS4a
Joe Flores. Silver Altitude, Minden, NV G102
August (November) 1991:
Jerry Wilson: Gold Altitude, Minden, NV Kestrel 17
September (December) 1991:
Erick Baron: Silver Duration, Kingston, GA G102
Jorge DeCubas, Silver Duration, Kingston, GA G102
Bradley Pope: C Badge, Kingston, GA
October 1991 (January 1992):
Jerry Wilson: Gold Badge 1998, Gold Distance, Matthews Field, TN K6CR
Erick Baron: Bronze Badge, Kingston, GA
December 1991 (March 1992)
David SC tan: Bronze Badge 731
Michael Vaughn: C Badge 15394, Kingston, GA
August (November) 1992:
Alan Bobo: B Badge, Kingston, GA
November 1992 (February 1993):
Ned States: Gold Distance, Matthews, TN AS-W20C