A brief history of the Louisville Soaring Club to preserve to a small degree the rich cast of players that have contributed over the years to the complexion of the organization as it exists today.

"Louisville Soaring Club -
 A Reasonably Accurate History"

By Founding Member E.J. Schickli

It will probably never be known if the impetus for founding a soaring club was Bob Miles’ desire for companionship in the sport, or Alberta Miles’ wanting to see light at the end of the glider tug tunnel.  That mystery not withstanding, in late 1971 Bob, by methods now somewhat vague, assembled a group of six additional enthusiasts who started the Louisville Soaring Club in October 1971.  The charter members were: Robert F. Miles, Richard Houser, Hugh Cohen, E.J. Schickli Jr., Wesley Schickli, Wilbur Shake, and George Howell.
E J Schickli
Of that group only Miles and Wes Schickli were current SSA members, and only Miles had a glider rating, although Cohen, Howell, Shake, and Houser had some time in gliders. Bob Miles was the angel who made all of this possible.  He provided the training glider (a Schleicher ASK-13), the tug (a Cessna 150-150), the tug pilot (Bert Miles), and the instructor (Bob Miles).  In addition, because of the paucity of club funds, he charged the club only for the fuel we consumed during operations for the first few years.  Without Bob’s generosity it is problematic that the club would have survived for long.

Operations were based at Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana with glider and tug housed in one of the WWII wood hangars along with a potpourri of old aircraft parts and numerous pigeons.  (The latter required covers on all aircraft.)

Bob MilesBob was a gentile, confidence building instructor who finally got most of us our private rating.  (Wilbur Shake died in an auto accident, Wes Schickli and George Howell moved on the other activities.)

In spite of his desire to see the club succeed, Bob did not want to be President, and Dick Houser was elected our first President, (E.J. Schickli Jr. – V.P., and Hugh Cohen – Sec/Treas)  It was an excellent choice.  Dick being a professional salesman, applied his skills at that to further the club’s interests.  He was the genesis of a number of PR endeavors, including having our first single seater, the venerable 1-26, N111HK, hung over the winter in what was then the Natural History Museum on Main Street.  A real win-win situation since we got publicity and did not have the expense of winter storage.

Membership numbers increased to the high teens or low twenties during the seventies, while we were flying at Freeman Field.  The vicissitudes of life took their toll.  The ASK 13 was lost in a windstorm as members frantically, but unsuccessfully, were attempting to tow it back to the hangar in front of the approaching storm.

The replacement craft, a Schweitzer 2-22, was purchased in a semi-completed re-build condition.  Houser, Schickli and Steve Yeager procured it, and brought it back from Pennsylvania in an all-night 20 odd hour trip, through wind, rain and fatigue.  The next six months were spent completing the rebuild, and getting it relicensed.  It was used as our trainer until the early eighties when we purchased the 2-33 from Dayton Soaring Society, and then sold the 2-22.

The spirit of motorless flight generated much ancillary activity.  Dick Houser purchased two pranged L Spatz 55s and managed to bring forth one good flyin’ machine from the many mangled parts.  E.J. Schickli and Steve Yeager along with two recruits, Ray Craig and Bill Kantlehner acquired a sadly deteriorated Cherokee 2.  (The builder died of an illness, and it sat exposed to the elements for too long.)  After a complete rebuild, it was flown with great elan’ by the syndicate.  It was later donated to the club, its later sale, along with the proceeds of the 2-22 sale became the down payment on the 2-33.

Bob miles was instrumental in the acquisition of the 1-26.  It was purchased from Steve DuPont out of Florida.  Schweitzer had built it expressly for him with some custom features as flush rivets.  It was recovered and painted in Bob’s garage-shop prior to being put in service as our first single place ship.  Has remained a favorite of many members.

In the early 80’s the Miles acquired the farm near Waddy, KY, where he constructed a 3000 foot grass strip, shop, club room and open shed to shelter the club fleet.  A move from Seymour to Miles Field was made in the fall of 1983.

Miles Field - Photo by Lee Jarard

The first soaring flight from the new field was noteworthy in it’s particulars.  Brad Tate towed Kenny Benson to 3000 feet in the 1-26.  When Kenny releases, he realized he did not know what the field looked like from the air.  Consequently, he spent most of the next hour looking in vain for the field.  When an out landing became inevitable, he made a smooth, quiet landing in a field on which tobacco was being harvested.  He got out, approached the farmer, and asked where he could find a phone.  The farmer, not seeing him land, asked where he came from.  Kenny said pointing, “from that airplane.”  The farmer got rather testy and said, “I didn’t give you permission to land, I’m calling the sheriff.”  Kenny, thinking quickly, said, “I had to, I don’t have a propeller.”  Whereupon, the farmer and all of the hired hands ran over to the 1-26.  The old man spent some time looking at the nose of the ship, finally taking off his cap and scratching his head while saying, “I hate to tell you, but you ain’t even got an engine.”  After that they were friends.  (A sad epilogue was that Kenny died soon after that of cancer.)

Herb Binder & DusterDuring this time the creative juices of another one of our members, Herb Binder, began to percolate.  This resulted in the creation of a beautiful BJ-1B Duster.  Herb still flies his wooden wonder when he isn’t adding on to his house, or reducing the number of slips in the “job jar” at home.

Bob Miles’ untimely death in the late 80’s brought another dramatic change in the life of LSC.  The executor of Bob’s estate did not want LOSC to remain at Waddy, so after some research, the club relocated to Bardstown, KY at Samuel’s Field.  After over ten years there, we still feel we have found our true home.

The club has prospered at Samuel’s and we feel we have been a positive force, if not an anchor, at the airport there.  In 1993, Schickli and Cohen finally convinced the membership that they were “over age in grade”, and that the younger members could better motivate the club to more lofty goals.  They were correct, as the young turks have taken LSC to heights that the two seasoned glider pilots would have feared to tread.

Written this 24th day of February, 1997
E.J. Schickli, Jr.