Flying my Schweizer 1-26 sailplane in Virginia thermals
I had been flying sailplanes weekends with the Capitol Area Soaring Society
at the old Leesburg, Virginia airport, nearby, for many years. It was a 1500
foot grass strip where I had kept my Cavalier P-51D Mustang earlier. I had a FAA
glider instructor rating. In 1962 I purchased an old beat up Piper PA-12 Super
Cruiser with a Lycoming 108 horsepower engine. My young son Tad and I stripped
all the fabric off the aircraft, removed the wings and tied them onto the
fuselage and trailed it out to Illinois behind my car. It was recovered with
'Razorback" fiberglass based fabric and a glider tow hitch installed. It is
A close friend and I then purchased a new Schweizer 1-26 sailplane from the
factory in Elmira, New York and towed it to Leesburg, Virginia with my Piper
Super Cruiser at about 60 miles an hour airspeed. It was a long slow journey.
The tow from New York to Virginia is illustrated below.
Arthur Godfrey, a noted radio and TV personality lived near Leesburg and owned
the property that the Leesburg grass airport was located on. He donated it to
the town of Leesburg and with an FAA grant a new paved strip airport was built
a few miles outside of town. By this time I had cleared and seeded a 1000 foot
grass strip that ran from the front of my house towards the Potomac river. The
only problem was that when the spring thaw began, the center of the runway
was under a foot of water. No never mind....the Super Cruiser could easily take
off and land in 300 feet.
During the summer season in Virginia, thermals formed about noon that could
easily lift a sailplane to 5000 feet. All one had to do was center himself
in the thermal and ride the elevator up. I recall two fun flights.
1. From Leesburg, VA to Hagerstown, MD and back in my Schweizer 1-26. Every
time I thought I had to visit a remote corn field, a thermal picked me up and
away we went.
2. With my two young sons, Tad and Lex in the back seat of a two place Schweizer
2-22 sailplane, one day we set our soaring club's two place sailplane altitude
record by climbing up to 10,000 feet plus in some growing cumulo nimbus clouds.
Only problem was that the tight circles while climbing made one son airsick
who filled both of my tennis shoes. My feet nearly froze.
A good graphics of my Schweizer 1-26 sailplane is illustrated below.