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  The USA Vintage Sailplane Association  
  By Raul Blacksten
Issue 1/2002


Or, as Raul says, "A great place to see old friends whom you had never met".

Author Raul, who has a master's degree in history, has been a glider pilot since 1984 and owns five vintage and classic gliders. Of these, only his Slingsby T-31B is airworthy while the rest are under rather extended restorations.

He is the Vintage Sailplane Association's Archivist and edits their quarterly newsletter/magazine Bungee Cord. Encouraging all glider pilots to do their oral history or memoirs, Raul has had numerous articles promoting gliders, the history of gliders and oral history published on at least three continents.

He may be contacted at:

Raul fulfils part of a long time dream by sitting in a Franklin PS-2. Chuck Franklin kneels alongside the glider that his father built. Photo: Joe Feather.

What do old gliders plan to do when they retire? Why, they intend to join the Vintage Sailplane Association (VSA), of course. After all, as part of the VSA fleet they know that they can continue to enjoy flying for years to come without all the pressure of badges, records, and competition.

This is not to say that all VSA gliders refrain from competition. During the 2001 US Sports Class Nationals, one VSA restoration award winning glider waxed the tails of considerably higher performance gliders. A Schleicher K-6E with its owner, Scott Gradwell (Jacksonville, Oregon), was placed 1st on three of the six contest day, and 7th overall (out of 23).

The Schleicher K-6E that carried Scott Gradwell to an overall 7th place in the 2001 US Sports Class Nationals. Photo: Dean Gradwell.

Doug Fronius (front) and Vincenzo Pedrielli preparing to fly Doug's Laister-Kauffmann LK-10A. Photo: Raul.

Then there is a certain Laister-Kauffmann LK-10A (a WW II training glider) that seemed to enjoy giving its owner, Doug Fronius (Poway, California), all three legs of his Gold Badge. The “LK” also just seems to enjoy giving rides whenever Fronius manages to gets a break from his busy work schedule. On one recent holiday weekend, this nearly 60 year-old two-seater glider gave more than a dozen enthusiastic passengers the ride of their lives.

Raul's photo of "Always", his Slingsby T-31B with Jeff Byard's Slingsby T-21 Sedburgh<