National Geographic : 1967 Jan
KODACHROMEBY EMORY KRISTOF ) N.G.S . overlooks the lush Chemung Valley. An airport stretches concrete runways among the farms in the valley floor, and nestled close to it is the Schweizer Aircraft Corporation, where most U. S. production-line sailplanes are manu factured (pages 60-61). Schweizer's soaring school, operat ed in conjunction with its plant, has a safety record that puts soaring's dan gers in perspective. In more than 45,000 training flights, the most seri ous injury has been a strained back caused by a rough landing! Article Launches a Career On a bright April morning the school enrolled a new student. All three Schweizer brothers-Ernie, Paul, and Will-met me. Rather a heady recep tion for a student soaring pilot, but a few minutes later in Paul's office the warm greeting was explained. Paul handed me a familiar maga zine: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, June, 1929. It fell open to a well-thumbed article, "On the Wings of the Wind," by Howard Siepen, that told of the early days of soaring.* "Back in the late twenties," Paul said, "the three of us were all ready to go into the restaurant business. Then this article came along. When we finished reading it, we started building our first glider." He gestured toward the open shop door, where rivet guns clattered and welding torches cast dancing shadows on the wall. "We're still building them." That evening at Paul's home, I got a back-yard briefing on soaring princi ples-and evidence that the restaurant *Other NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC articles on gliding include "Men-Birds Soar on Boiling Air," by Frederick G. Vosburgh, July, 1938, and "Gliders-Silent Weapons of the Sky," by Wil liam H. Nicholas, August, 1944. Swirling vortex of farmland seems staked to the wing tip as Bernie Carris of Horse heads, New York, circles in a Schweizer 2-32. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photogra pher Emory Kristof, in second seat, cap tured the effect by mounting a camera on the wing and triggering a one-second ex posure. The metal sailplane weighs more than half a ton with its passengers, yet sinks only 21/2 feet a second in a flat glide.