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Original Issue


A sailplane pilot soars through a wide, noiseless world, forever searching for the free power to keep him there

The pilots soaring in sailplanes on the edge of the Pacific at Torrey Pines, Calif., shown in color on the following four pages, are applying about the same skills they would in small power planes, with one substantial difference. In a sailplane the pilot is forever seeking his power, by picking his way from cloud to cloud, borrowing lift from thermals or searching for updrafts along a ridge such as that which rises 350 feet from the ocean at Torrey Pines. One of Torrey Pines' veterans, Jim Spurgeon, who like many soaring enthusiasts is a power plane engineer by trade, suggests that soaring is more like fishing than power flying. Until he is in the air, the soaring pilot is never too sure what he might catch. As described on page 17, early specialists of the soaring art often caught plenty of trouble.

A modified flat-top sailplane skims the Pacific near San Diego after taking off from cliff in foreground. Plane is ridge soaring 20 feet above water, staying aloft by means of air currents forced upward under the wings as air strikes the cliffs, starts to rise

Frank Perkins, 20, one of the West Coast's youngest licensed glider pilots, readies a plane for flight

Hal Hutchinson of Los Angeles banks dizzily over the Torrey Pines area (runway is at right) as his sailplane drops its towline to begin free flight. At the towline release point, planes are 300 feet off ground, flying at 50 mph