By Terry Stephens
The merging of Washington State Soaring Association with Evergreen Soaring earlier this year has made Evergreen the largest glider club west of the Rocky Mountains, said Bruce Bulloch, former president of Evergreen.
Both clubs fly from Arlington Municipal Airport (AWO), a major Pacific Northwest center for gliding because of the nearby Cascade Mountains and foothills.
“We just thought it would be more efficient to combine our number of gliders and tow planes,” said Bruce Bulloch, past Evergreen Soaring president. “It’s been our longtime plan to come together as a club and pool our resources.”
Between the two groups, Evergreen has 16 gliders and three tow planes, plus a certified instructor, Lynn Weller, owner of Northwest Eagle Soaring. Based at Arlington, Weller offers orientation flights for the public, flight instruction and lessons on transitioning to glider flying for “power pilots” familiar only with engine-equipped aircraft.
“I was a member of both clubs and started my glider business in 2003,” Weller said. “It’s a great recreational sport. Many members have their own sailplanes, and there’s a discount for members for tow plane charges. We mostly get older people, in their 30s or 40s. It takes time to learn to fly and get your license, and younger people have so many other things taking up their time. Arlington’s a great place for short local flights or cross-country.”
Being a larger club will help in recruiting members, too, Bulloch said. Soaring has a friendly culture of its own, he said, since glider pilots are a relatively small group and get to know each other well.
“A couple of our members are real weather gurus and keep us all up to date on what’s happening,” he said. “The great days to fly are unstable times when fronts are moving in. Email is the heartbeat of the club on weather and flying conditions.
Flying over the Cascades, with all of the thermal lift from updrafts as air hits the mountains and rises, makes the mountain range as good as flying over the Swiss Alps, Bulloch said. Many of the flights are over Mt. Pilchuck and Mt. Three Fingers.
Michael Moore, former president of Washington State Soaring Association, is the new president of the combined clubs under the Evergreen Soaring banner.
For more information, visit [http://www.evergreensoaring.org], [http://www.ssa.org] or [http://www.nwsoaring.com].