Club News

Happy New Year!

posted Jan 2, 2018, 5:31 PM by Northwest Soaring Club

Happy New Year NWSC pilots—

Hope you're all set for the record series of high pressure systems that are predicted for the Northern Lower Peninsula starting in April and extending through October. This succession of super high pressure systems will come through one after another, each providing 3-5 days of record soaring conditions for the entire season. 


We still have a few months to get ready, but a busy off season in progress. For starters we currently have 6 registrants for the NWSC Glider Pilot Ground School which will begin a week from tomorrow, Jan 10th, in Cadillac at the Career Tech Center. Phil will be spearheading the instruction for the course. There is still time to register new students—if you know someone that would be interested in taking the Private Pilot Glider knowledge test, have them contact me via the club phone number, 231-352-9160, or the club email,

10 days later, on Saturday January 20 at 12:00, we'll be engaging in our club strategic planning program. We'll be formulating the vision for what our club will look like in the future—creating a master plan for becoming the club we we want. Be a part of this—your input is important. Follow-up meeting is in February.

I'd like to put a cross-country soaring symposium sometime in early spring. This would be a chance for some of the more experienced cc people to share knowledge pertaining to soaring Wx and forecasting, practical soaring NAV, task planning and badge flights, etc. My guess is that sometime in early April would be best for this, but I'd like you all to let the group know which Saturday would work best. We can have a lot of fun with this, along with being ready-to-go for all those high pressures…

I'll be cross-posting this on the blog section of the club website <>, a great resource, and something that would benefit from posts from us all!

See you soon,


Untitled Post

posted Dec 17, 2017, 1:24 PM by Northwest Soaring Club

Enjoy this flight from June 21, 2017

YouTube Video

Club Fun and Points for the Club

posted Jun 22, 2013, 3:29 AM by Northwest Soaring Club

Thanks to Tony, Lloyd and Carol for making a flying day for the rest of us.  Thanks to Neil for the assist on assembly and dis-assembly of M1.


Great to see Kevin flying a glider - and the tow plane!  And already spot landing the 2-33 with taxis' right back to the starting grid!  Kevin is still working on staying aloft however.  That's next.


Unlike Neil, who launched slightly after an unassisted L-23 launch right after his sole L-23 check with Carol.  Neil skied out (considering the 5000 foot tops) and proceeded to tear it up flying small triangles around Wexford.  All the while watching my glider back on the ground as I fell out of the rather disorganized lower levels of lift.  That must have caused just a bit of a chuckle to the O2-starved operator 5000 feet above me.


Hoping to play around aloft with Neil in some thermals, I launched again.  And play is really all we could do on Friday.  It wasn't a get-away day; at least for this driver.  Erik and his hardware could probably have done something.  The first flight did get me to Manton without really trying to go anywhere but the conditions to the north and east looked sketchy, so I cautiously headed back to the security of our house thermals for a quick look at the trace.


Now...Neil and I flew together most of my second flight, although I was inspecting his undercarriage most of the time.  But here is the trace which shows us stretching out toward Lake City together.  We didn't get too far because of the conditions, but it was fun to fly a mini-stretch of the glide together.


The southern regions had a better day than we did.  Glen Betzoldt spanked it with an over-300k flight from Richmond yesterday.  And as you can see, the folks further south at Cesar Creek in OH really lit it up.  But only one guy out flew Glen's Michigan ride.  for standings, and  for the trace.  As you can see here, Glen did it all between 3000 and 4500 feet.


Click here to see our club standings in the region, and the state...  We're third in the state, seventh in the region.  Temporarily.


So why all this with the links and such?  I would urge our club enthusiasts to go the OLC home site and register.  This gives everyone the free ability to log your flights, analyze them, and record your achievement.  What you can't do when you're not registered and logged in, is see the cool Google Earth trace of flights looking at the exact tree you flew over.  So when 10 members have simply registered, I will hold a rain-day clinic on how to navigate the site, download XC Soar - the free app - which is a flight recorder, and gps - and the basics to operation of XC Soar.  Let me know when we have 10 registered, and have a safe Saturday!


M1 out

New Gliders, Ratings and Good Conditions

posted May 27, 2013, 4:28 AM by Northwest Soaring Club

Neil did it like he meant it.  Personally, I've admired his commitment to learn and advance his flying skills in a very timely and determined manner.  Today, we have a new Private Pilot Glider!  Great job Neil!  And thanks to the instructors, tow pilots, and examiner who shared their aeronautical knowledge and skills to help Neil's advancement.

More good news...Erik carefully studied and prepped his new LS4 over the last several days for it's maiden voyage in Michigan's hot spot - Pink Cadillac.  Pink that is, because of the common Dr. Jack weather forecasts showing us as the best soaring in the Midwest.  And that Erik did.  Lit it up and climbed out to a nose bleeding seven grand within minutes off tow.  After a call from cloudbase, I joined up with Erik for a very nice triangle in the 100+ kilometer range.  A great early season expedition for both of us.  The LS looks dynamite on the turf, but until you see it with wings working at cloudbase, well, there is simply no way to describe the beauty.  We're both tied down waiting for Rich to show up tomorrow.

Greg Chance arrived for another taste of altitude, and another notch in his stock of experience toward aviation independence.

It was great to visit with John Velis before my flight, and thanks to Erik for assembly help, and John for gridding assistance.  Always comforting when you're rocketing down the runway on launch.

Carol, with John Velis doing most of the flying snagged a couple hours at the flight levels and I was excited to hear their calls and proximities. 

One of the most jaw dropping aspects of the day was new member Kirk and his brother.  They took BA out for a spin and I've personally witnessed the glider as far from the field as it has ever been.  I think we may have a problem Houston.  Kirk is really lathered up to feel some of the very addicting adrenaline which comes from XC flights and leaving the airport behind.  A welcome member to the team xc flying which is simply the most fun a human can have.  I joked with Kirk and his brother about the friendly competitiveness which soaring can offer.  Top of the gaggle in a thermal, first one to the turn point, last one down in the evening...just like golf, only better.  But as I mentioned to Kirk, it is purely ego-driven.  Just like in any friendly competition.  After that comment I thought about egos.  Mine sometimes being problematic, even if unsubstantiated.  The good news is that pilots are able to climb to make room for their egos.  Even the biggest egos on earth - probably doctors - only have 2-1/2 dimensions within to function.  The x axis, the y axis and 1/2 the z axis creating a hemispherical size ego.  We pilots while aloft have the x, y, and z axis along with the advantage of  -x, -y, and -z creating a doubling effect and room for expansion with altitude as the hot-gas laws prescribe.  PVT

Thanks to Tony for making us all the altitude today and dropping us off squarely within the best lift of the area.  Thanks also to Lloyd fro acting as a club member doing retrieves, launches and tie-down assistance, and of the promise of becoming a flying club member..

So there you have it.  Landmark day at the club.


A Good Day of Mixed Operations

posted Aug 14, 2012, 12:50 PM by Northwest Soaring Club

Last Sunday's operations were a great example of the flexibility that the Cadillac area has afforded our club. We provided eight flights to one-day members, or boosters as we refer to them. These are guests who may have an interest in joining the club or are just simply looking to experience soaring. These operations include a glider pilot, tow plane pilot and our happy ground crew. Yesterday the ground crew consisted of a couple of students, John Warren and Mark Miller, who, when our guests were done for the day, each got a number of short flights to practice takeoffs and landings in preparation for their flight tests later this year. Also during the afternoon, Mike Stimac, Pete Brancheau and John Velis enjoyed soaring conditions that allowed them to soar above 6000 feet and stay aloft for over three hours. Mike himself covering well over 100 miles while aloft. At one point we had five gliders in the skys above Cadillac all sharing the wonderful lift provide for us by the day.

Two New Solos!

posted Jul 31, 2012, 4:25 AM by Northwest Soaring Club   [ updated Jul 31, 2012, 4:28 AM ]

Congratulations to Gregg Chance and Neil Wilson, who both soloed Sunday, July 29th, and did a fine job.

Life at Our New Home

posted Jul 18, 2011, 1:35 PM by Northwest Soaring Club   [ updated Jul 18, 2011, 1:50 PM ]

Well, we are well into our first summer here at Cadillac and enjoying our new host airport greatly. The city of Cadillac and the airport have welcomed us warmly and we are feeling very comfortable in our new home. Located on the northeast portion of the airport we are staging our fights off the north/south grass runway. This has provided us with ample room to park our vehicles and trailers, setup camp for the day and to tie up our gliders at night.

Soaring conditions are thus far proving to be superior to our Frankfort location with lift many days to 4k-5k, some days up to 8k-9k and the occasional day beyond 10k and even 11k! Lift seems to develop mid-afternoon at Cadillac and continue to work until dinner. Club members are enjoying the challenge of finding and working the lift with much of the talk on the ground about just where the lift is located for the day. Many smiles as pilots return to the airport after staying aloft for an hour or more.

Please, if you get a chance, come out and visit us at our new home!

Let the Season Begin!!!

posted Apr 10, 2011, 7:48 AM by Northwest Soaring Club   [ updated Apr 10, 2011, 7:52 AM ]

The club gathered at the Frankfort hanger on Saturday, April 10th, to air out the planes and give them a good spring cleaning. Check rides were performed and the 2011 gliding season had begun!

The Northwest Soaring Club is Moving to Cadillac

posted Jan 24, 2011, 2:28 AM by Northwest Soaring Club

For Immediate Release


January 12, 2011 (Frankfort, MI) The Northwest Soaring Club announced it was moving its operations from the Dow Memorial Airport at Frankfort Michigan to the Wexford County Airport in Cadillac Michigan for the 2011 and 2012 soaring seasons.


Club President, Dave Van Hammen described the move as one primarily intended to provide a more engaging soaring experience for members. Soaring conditions accessible from Cadillac were identified as the strongest in the state on many days. A move to Cadillac is seen also as one that will more centrally locate club operations, providing a base better able to serve on a regional basis, encouraging access by new members and the public, while facilitating broader community outreach.


Van Hammen noted that a large part of the club's mission was focused on providing introductory flights to the public and that, "We think the soaring experience available to the public at Cadillac will be unforgettable." Conditions often allow passengers in the club's gliders extended flights made possible by naturally occurring lifting air currents created by the sun—the same way eagles soar.


Club members organized soaring "badge camps" in 2009 and 2010 to promote soaring achievement flights. The four-to-six-week programs were held in Thompsonville, Michigan in 2009, and then Cadillac in 2010, in order to escape the negative effects of Lake Michigan on soaring conditions at Frankfort. The camp held in Cadillac produced many officially recognized flights, some of more than 5 hours in duration, while cruising altitudes over eleven thousand feet.


These conditions, and an invitation extended by the management of the Wexford County Airport, persuaded club membership to seriously consider the change in location. "We think our move will breathe new life into the club", said Van Hammen. "The experience available to pilots—both to students and the experienced glider pilot-- can be spectacular."


Along with providing introductory flights to the public the Northwest Soaring club offers flight training in club owned gliders to its active members. Club training programs offer pathways to FAA licenses both to new student pilots and pilots wishing to transition to gliders. "There is no less expensive way to gain access to flight than through a soaring club like ours" Van Hammen explained. "One of our stated goals is to make the flight experience accessible to the broadest range of participants possible."


The Northwest Soaring Club had been a fixture in the Frankfort area going back to 1973, with club predecessors going back to before World War II. The club has introduced thousands to the joys of un-powered flight through introductory flights made with the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan as a scenic backdrop. The club acted as a center in the early '70s for the extremely successful soaring festivals staged in the area which brought thousands to participate, and to view, spectacular glider and hang-glider flights along the dunes. Northwest Soaring Club glider flights made that experience available to the public.


"The dunes are a great place for hang gliders" Van Hammen explained, "but its been more than sixty years since the soaring pioneers made flights at the lakeshore…the days of towing a glider into lift along the dunes by a car on the beach are far behind us."


Club members are excited about the prospects of flying at Cadillac. The future holds the promise of an enhanced flight instruction environment, an inspiring experience for club guests and day members who want an introduction to gliding, with many members now planning to explore the world of cross country soaring.


For further information contact NWSC Vice-president John Velis at 231-499-4045

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