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Knauff Soars to Award for Establishing Glider School

by and on March 09, 2020 5:00 AM
Julian, PA

JULIAN — Tom Knauff began soaring in 1964. He owns Ridge Soaring Glider Port with his wife, Doris Grove, at 3523 South Eagle Valley Road, Julian. Many people have enjoyed seeing the graceful, motorless planes sailing soundlessly across the sky, even if they wouldn’t try the sport themselves.

Knauff was invited recently to travel to Florida to Seminole Lake Glider Port to receive recognition for having started a glider school there 30 years ago. He and Grove traveled there many times over the years for competitions. The school is still operating and the directors wished to honor Knauff’s contributions.

Grove started her soaring career in 1972 and together, she and Knauff have established more than 60 national soaring records and nine world records. They are both in the National Soaring Hall of Fame and were awarded the Warren Eaton Award for outstanding contributions to the sport of soaring. They have written 12 soaring textbooks, including glider flight training manuals.

The Federal Aviation Agency sets the minimum requirements to obtain a glider pilot’s license and the standard to which each student pilot is trained.

“When I bought the land and built a glider port 45 years ago, the manuals for instruction on gliding were haphazard and lacking in subjects such as meteorology, navigation and more,” said Knauff. “With our manuals, we tried to offer the most thorough, complete and easy to understand glider flight training materials available.”

With safety always a top priority, Knauff founded the Soaring Safety Foundation and was a trustee for many years.

The area where Ridge Soaring is located is unusual and perfect for gliding. The wind currents formed by the Allegheny Plateau dropping into a valley are such that the gliders can follow currents from the Bald Eagle Ridge at Williamsport to Knoxville, Tenn., according to Knauff.

Grove was the first woman to earn the FAI 1000km Diploma (over 621 miles in a glider). She was also a stunt co-pilot in the 1999 film, “The Thomas Crown Affair,” as was Knauff.

The many pictures on the wall in the bunkhouse are a record of achievements of more than 45 years of pursuing Knauff’s love of soaring. An interesting topography map in the building shows the parallel ridges in the Centre County area. The bunkhouse was built so that devotees of the sport of soaring can bring their gliders and stay for days and enjoy the company of other glider pilots.

The glider port is currently for sale, but will soon, as the weather warms, see the arrival of owners of gliders and others who come for rides. Those who love soaring await the arrival of spring, looking forward to being lifted into the sky for the quiet peaceful rides that gliders provide.

For information, visit www.eglider.org.

The area where Ridge Soaring is located is unusual and perfect for gliding. The wind currents formed by the Allegheny Plateau dropping into a valley are such that the gliders can follow currents from the Bald Eagle Ridge at Williamsport to Knoxville, Tenn. Photo by Darren Andrew Weimert | Town&Gown



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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