Sunday June 6, 2021

Abundant Sunshine, Clear Blue Skies, Temperature 84 Degrees

National Soaring Museum

Thanks be to God for the gift of this beautiful day. What a marvelous day it is, abundant sunshine and a deep blue sky. What a wonderful gift we have been given, a new day full of promise and possibility. Let’s live it to the fullest.

This being Sunday we were grateful for the opportunity of being able to attend virtual worship with our home congregation in Colts Neck, NJ. We sang songs such as How Great Thou Art, we listened to another inspirational message, and had the privilege or participating in the Lord’s Supper. A wonderful say to start the day and the week.

We’re going back now to the National Soaring Museum so that I can share with you some of what else we learned, and share with you some selected pictures of the many exhibits on display there.

In the very beginning gliders were pulled aloft by a group of people running down a hill. Back then you didn’t fly any higher than you wanted to fall. Then a new way was found to launch a glider, by using a bungee cord. Shot cord or bungee cord launching was used in Germany in 1928 and in America beginning in 1929.

The idea was really simple. A 200 foot bungee cord was attached to a hook on the nose of the glider, forming a V with two 100 foot lengths. Gipping the ends of the cords groups of up to 12 men when signaled by the pilot would start running as fast as they could in the direction of flight. Two other men would be holding onto the tail of the glider to keep it from moving. On a signal from the pilot the two in the back would let go. The result was a glider being slingshot into the air. It was said to be a very exciting experience.

Soon thereafter another way was found to launch a glider using a winch truck. This is a restored 1937 du Pont Winch Truck. Winch trucks and auto tows were the primary methods of launching gliders from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

Glider Towing

Today, airplane tows are the common method used to launch a glider, though, in some places the winch truck is still used.

Some of the more notable gliders that were on display follow.

This is a Gross Sky Ghost. Designed and built in 1932 it was the first two place glider built in America. The aircraft featured dual controls and a conventional landing gear plus a wooden nose skid. Its fabric covered steel fuselage was painted in black because it was the cheapest paint available at the time.

This is a Bowlus Senior Albatross from 1932. It featured all wood construction with a fabric covered wing. It was the first to use a landing wheel, rather than a skid, to ease take off and landing. I kept thinking to myself as I looked at it, those who flew it must have been really skinny!

This is a Bowlus Baby Albatross. The kit built Albatross was among the most popular U.S sailplanes of the pre WW II era. Close to 100 kits were sold between 1938 and 1942. They sold for $425. The combination of the mahogany pod and wing leading edge, fabric covered wings and unique U.S. flag-style rudder, created one of the more attractive sailplanes of the day.

This is a Preufling. It became the Navy’s first manned glider in January, 1930. Believe it or not they called that single seat a cockpit! I believe I would want a little bit more around me if I was asked to fly it!

Lt. Barnaby said The most exciting part of the launch from the dirigible was climbing down from the airship into the cockpit of the glider.

This is a Schreder HP-18. It ranks among the best of all U.S. deigned homebuilt sailplanes. The HP first flew in 1975 and initially sold in kit form for just under $5,500. The average builder could complete an HP 18 in about 700 hours using only hand tools, an electric drill, a rivet gun and an air compressor.

One of the more fascinating displays in the museums was that of the WW II glider exhibit. Above is a Waco CG-4A. It was an internally braced high wing monoplane with a steel tube fuselage and wooden wing structure. Contractors with wood-working experience, such as piano makers and furniture companies built most of them. In all over 14,000 were built and it was the most common cargo/transport glider of WW II.

The cockpit was located in a hinged nose which when sung up

allowed access to a cargo area in the back. It could either carry one jeep or fitted with benches it could carry up to 13 troops. The most visible use of the glider was for the June 1944 invasion of Europe.

Unfortunately, because they flew low and slow while being towed they were easy targets for enemy gunners resulting in a great number being destroyed with a staggering loss of life. But even if they made it to the target area their problems were not over. The Germans were known to litter the suspected landing fields with junks of concrete and other large pieces of debris that resulted in many gliders being destroyed when they tried to land with the resulting loss of their crews and cargo.

The museum also has its own Restoration Shop. There were just too many displays here to include in this blog, but one display I found absolutely fascinating.

This is a Harley Chopper made entirely of wood. There was no plaque with any details but the detail is absolutely amazing.

They offer glider rides but because of the weather the day we visited they were not flying. So, I decided to climb into a simulator to see what it might be like. Well, I got in but getting back out was a whole other matter! I honestly thought that my sweetheart was going to have to go find someone to get me back out. It took me over ten minutes but finally I was able to climb out. The clue is, use you arms to push yourself out. When I said something to the woman in the gift shop later, she said, You are not the first that got stuck. On occasion we’ve had to get two men to pull whoever was in the cockpit back out. That made me feel a little bit better. But yes, someday I still do want to take a glider flight.

So that in part is the National Soaring Museum. There is so much more but space and time does not permit my going on. All I can say is, if you are ever in the Elmira area take a couple of hours to visit the museum – you’ll not regret the time spent there.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog.  We always appreciate your company, your comments, and your suggestions. Remember, take time to stop and smell the roses and live each day that God gives you to the fullest.

These are the voyages of  Elvira and her two intrepid travelers.  Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before.

See you on down the road!


  1. I can tell you really enjoyed that museum. And you are wanting to take a glider flight! I am not sure I would be so brave. Is there any data about accidents – in the past and now? But, it does sound like a very interesting museum. I do hope someday you get to take that flight – and more importantly, live to tell about it!


  2. Thanks for the tour through this museum. We’ll put this on our list when we get to the area. I won’t be signing up for a glider ride, thank you. I like the feel of the ground under my feet.


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