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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