First Solo- Photo by Pat O’Donnell
Julie Clitheroe's mile-wide smile says it all...SOLO! Read about her journey to solo further down in SOSA NEWS.
In this edition of SOSA NEWS:

- CFI Update: Joerg Stieber
- Presidential Update Dale Guenter 
- A Student Perspective of the 2020 Season by Emerson Naruse
- Youth Bursary - don't miss out
- Black Lives Matter - a glider pilot's perspective by Michael Viechweg
- Terry McElligott's towing photos
- Learning to Fly at SOSA by Julia Clitheroe
- Marian Rakusan and his 20 in Invermere
- Trophy retrieve
- SOSA's "Men with Chainsaws" action calendar shoot
- SOSA Blast from the Past

SOSA CFI Joerg Stieber:
As the 2020 Season is drawing to a close, we have a lot to be grateful for:
  1. Except for a bent prop on a towplane, we were accident-free. Although, distracted by COVID, we stumbled a bit out of the gate when we started flying.
  2. We had no COVID transmission in the Club
  3. Helped by great weather we had a highly successful season in terms of training and sporting achievements.
In August I wrote:
It is our goal to solo every student who started in July or earlier, by the end of the season and to bring every student who was solo in July to the successful completion of their licence flight test.
I am happy that we not only achieved this goal but exceeded it considerably for all our students who came out to fly regularly.

  1. Jeff Keay
  2. Evan Juergensen
  3. Peter Kermack
  4. Tamas (Tommy) Csete
  5. Will Nyland
  6. Alun Philips
  7. Julia Clitheroe
Flight Tests Completed:
  1. Emerson Naruse
  2. Igor Sek
  3. Marc Whelan
  4. Will Goodwin
  5. Ian O’Reilly
  6. Peter Kermack
  7. Tamas (Tommy) Csete
  8. Will Nyland
  9. Julia Clitheroe
New Licences:
  1. Tamas (Tommy) Csete
  2. Ian O’Reilly
Licences re-instated
  1. Charles Binks-Collier
  2. Adam Zieba
We are celebrating seven 1st Solos and nine successful Flight Tests. We also had two new licences and two licences were reinstated. A group of four students is fully prepped to write their TC Exams they are just waiting for an appointment.
Three of our students passed their Flight Tests in less than two months from the start of their training.
Newly minted instructor Mo Attia is doing a fabulous job and has already contributed over 50 instructional flights. 
Most of the credit goes to our group of 9 active instructors who maintained a consistent 7 day/week operation. The other important ingredient was just the right mix of talent and enthusiasm which our students brought to the table – well done!
In total we had 17 active students, including six new members who joined us this year.
In closing, I want to thank all our members for their support, the instructor body as a whole for your input and counsel and in particular our active instructors who spent so many days at the club.
Joerg Stieber, CFI
Update from SOSA's el Presidente:

I thought hosting the Pan Ams in 2019 was SOSA at its peak. Maybe it was. But here we are in November and I have to say I would never have guessed we'd be looking back on a year as great as this. Joerg's update says most of it. But not quite all.

This season would not have been what it was without everyone putting their best foot forward. Both in terms of hard work, and in terms of positive morale. Thank you! Some deserve honorable mention for their unending dedication to keeping us all in the air:

Ray preparing runways. Diane maintaining runways. Phil making ropes. Malcolm doing, well, what doesn't Malcolm do? Same for Tom--runs the club! Dave and all things planes. Shirley doing everything the rest of us neglect (and more). Joerg kicking around instructors, tutoring, running all new courses. Will and Bill and Gino tending grounds. James introducing Click n glide. Chris K advocating for students. Odin towing (and retrieving) us all summer. Greg Pattinson supporting flight line etc. Rob Russell flight training and social engineering. Pat Wood controlling COVID. Herrie creating this Newsletter. And then the tireless instructors Joerg mentions. And our astounding board of course. 

We're on course for next year to be even better. Hopefully we can convince those who we didn't see this year to come out again in 2021. 


A Student Perspective for the 2020 Season:

By Emerson Naruse

Despite the global pandemic, I think that 2020 was an outstanding flying season.  Even in the extraordinary situation that this pandemic put the world in, the SOSA Board of Directors persevered and very quickly and effectively adapted to the new normal.  Their leadership provided safe protocols for members to enjoy the flying season. 

The decision by the Board to ensure that new and returning students were looked after, really allowed training to be focused and progress to be quick. The use of training “bubbles/groups” made training more efficient and effective as instructors did not need to spend time getting to know new students.  Some were even fortunate enough to experience cross country training.  This focus resulted in many significant student achievements in a few short months.  The CFI even spent hours…and hours…providing personalized ground school training for student pilots studying for the TC exam.  Many of these achievements would not have been possible without the dedicated instructors and countless members who helped a lot behind the scenes.  For this, we are all grateful. 

Even though the pandemic tightened restrictions for social gatherings, a few dedicated members made the student BBQ possible.  This may be one of the few social events that many will attend this year.   

Thanks to the members for keeping to protocols so that we can all keep flying.  Gratitude to the SOSA Board of Directors for the enormous amount of time and dedication spent on making this season happen.  ….And thanks to the skies for fantastic weather!


Youth Bursary

A letter to the Youth Members

Are you aware there is a Youth Bursary that provides funds for your flying expenses? Do you know for the past couple of years some kids were getting $500 for flying?

The Soaring Association of Canada (SAC) has a Youth Bursary Program that can provide money for your flying. The intent of the program is to help Youth Members offset the cost of tows and glider rentals. However, it does not cover the cost of your Membership Fees.

The program is a competition. The SOSA Board of Directors (BoD) will select candidates from the pool of applicants that apply for the Bursary. The selection criteria are based on your flying goals and the volunteer time you contribute to the Club.

Last year’s recipients were instrumental in helping during the Pan-Am Games at SOSA. Many people were required to help launch the contest grid. Some of the Youth were running the ropes at the flight line. Also, the mid-week Tow Pilot and Intro Coordinator were recipients of the Bursary. With COVID-19 the types of volunteer activities have changed but, there still is a lot of work that needs to be done at the airfield. Please reach out to someone on the BoD to find out what you can do around the Club.

As for your flying goals, this may range from going solo or getting your license or flying 50 km or becoming an Instructor. The CFI would be happy to discuss how SOSA can help you reach your milestone.


The plan for next year is to get the money from SAC in the Spring. This will allow you to understand what funds you have for the flying season.

To get the Bursary in Spring, the applications must be submitted in March. This involves filling out the SAC form. In addition, you will have to write a short essay on your flying goals and how you plan to volunteer at the Club.

Another requirement for the submission is you must be a member of a gliding club. SOSA holds the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the end of February. That would be a good time to join SOSA for the 2021 flying season if you want to apply for the Youth Bursary next year.


To apply for the Youth Bursary, you will need to follow the instructions listed on SOSA’s and SAC’s web site. Below are the links so you can understand what is required.

Disclaimer: Joining SOSA and applying for the Youth Bursary does not guarantee you will receive funds. You will be competing against other applicants from SOSA. Also, there are factors outside of SOSA’s control that may impact the program. SAC may change things in 2021 or COVID-19 may influence what happens next year. There is a risk you may not get any money but, you won’t get anything if you don’t apply.


May the odds be ever in your favor,

Andrew Corrigan
Keeper of the Minutes.

Flying Beyond Unseen Limits 

By Michael Viechweg

Herrie ten Cate, a tall, Dutch-Canadian man asked me to write an article on my gliding experience in context of the Black Lives Matter movement.  I have to admit that I had to think about it at first because for me this is a complex issue and being one of the few glider pilots of colour in Canada (that I know of) and of aviation in Canada in general, this seems to be my time to tell part of my story.  I am also motivated by other influential black people who are making more of an effort to speak out and make a difference. Formula One's Lewis Hamilton, whose family is from my native island of Grenada (and who may actually be a distant cousin of mine) is trying to make a difference in a sport I have loved for decades. This is my opportunity to tell my story. Not as arbiter of right or wrong. Just my story.


As I mentioned above, I was born in the West Indies on the small island of Grenada and came to Canada when I was 3.  My father, a schoolteacher, arrived here first but his first job was as a porter on the CN trains where he carried people’s bags and shined their shoes. My mother arrived with me later and she was a pre-school teacher before eventually becoming a nurse.  This makes them risk takers but this is not an uncommon story for many people in Canada. During my formative years my parents encouraged me to learn very Canadian life skills like skating, skiing and swimming in cold water and not put limits on myself.  I did things because I wanted to do them.  I actually got the flying bug from an older cousin when I was living in Miami and he would drive the two of us out to the airport and watch the airliners take off and land.  I decided that one day I would fly. 


The opportunity came in high school, when as an Air Cadet, I was sent with a few others to learn to glide at York Soaring.  I stopped flying for a few years as I went to university but after a few years, I decided to go back to soaring because I loved it and most importantly, I could afford it.  Eventually I made my way to where I am now at SOSA Gliding club.


The details I gave above never made any mention about colour.  This is natural for me. I did mention Herrie’s cultural background and mine because this is how I view the world around me.  When I meet my friends at SOSA I see them in context of their own proud cultural background. French Canadians, Hungarians, Dutch, Germans, British, Kiwi, Poles, Russians, South Americans, South Africans, and those from South East Asia. To me, it’s an honour to associate with these people.  I have a German last name, my mother has a French last name, so I have some European in me and my lost, early, ancestors are from Africa. So, I count myself lucky to be in this group at SOSA.


As far as I know, I am SOSA’s longest standing black flying member and most of the past 20 years I have been the only one. There are other people of colour at the club but no one like me.


Most Canadian pilots know that aviation in our country is its own tribe and I’ve always had the feeling that there have been no more than three degrees of separation among us all.  Is there a diversity problem in aviation? Of course there is! The continuing underrepresentation of people of colour and women says to me that we still have a very long way to go.


In racism I view that there are three main types: blatant, institutional, and systemic. I can only speak for myself in that I haven’t knowingly experienced blatant racism directed at me as a glider pilot although I have heard people say seemingly unintentionally stupid things and I have seen stupid things said towards women. I have not experienced any institutional racism within the two large clubs I have been a member of. But I have experienced systemic racism. This is the most insidious of all because it is the hardest to get rid of and, like a gas in the air, it gets everywhere.  


Like most racism it is learned but this one is propagated in an environment of comfort and convenience experienced by the aggressor.  It’s also insidious because when people like me push back, it can often be met with defensive anger, claims of innocence, and an accusation towards people like me of being “radical”.


The details aren’t important but I actually have experienced systemic racism at SOSA. I have to admit that it bothers me to this day because it spoke to the core of who I am and what I am as a black man and the history of what I represent for my race. It wasn’t someone calling me the “N” word. It was subtle and the person most likely didn’t know they were being unconsciously racist. That said, I’m certain they would never have said the same things to a white club member. Is SOSA a racist organization? Certainly not. But racism and unconscious bias exists in society and at gliding clubs. I’ve seen it first-hand and I’ve been hurt by it.


How can we improve the diversity problem in gliding in Canada and around the world? We all must play our part and here are my thoughts:


1.     Listen. Actually listen to people of colour.

2.     DO NOT SAY, “I don’t see colour.” We NEED you to see our colour but treat us equally.

3.     Some people have visions of outreach programs to local youth. I am very much for this and SOSA is not far from a large First Nations reserve and I would love to see youth from there.

4.     I would suggest that soaring associations perform a census of their membership and determine their backgrounds of how and why people join the soaring community.  Soaring is not cheap and I only got back into it when I had the income to afford to fly. 

5.     To help rid ourselves of systemic racism here’s the tricky part, and this requires self-reflection from every pilot: when you go to the work that pays for your flying look around you and be honest on how diverse that world is.  If you can afford to fly yet the environment in which you work in is not diverse, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this will be reflected in the place where you have fun.

6.     People often don’t take up activities they cannot see themselves reflected in. I live in a white world but I was taught to be fearless. Take a look at your web pages (and other club pages) and ask yourself how diverse it is. How many women and people of colour are represented on club web sites who are not passengers? That number is shamefully very thin.


I have wonderful pilot friends across this great country of ours and I am sure with a bit of effort we can all do our part, increase membership diversity and truly have an open and welcoming environment. Clubs and soaring associations themselves cannot do it alone. Each member of the soaring community must look within themselves and this starts at home.


Terry McElligott: "I shot from above the clouds and was on an aerobatic lesson tow to 5K. Poul Hanson and a student ... Above the clouds tows are often spectactular. The Pawnee wing shot, one of my favourite personal flying images, is from a couple of years back. I can almost, but not quite, verbalize its appeal ... it's about the light, strong colours, and sense of movement."
First flight in the Junior- Photo By Sasha Pejic
Learning How to Fly with SOSA
By Julia Clitheroe
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had my head in the clouds. The concept of flight seems like a magical superpower to me. I have always been very fixated on an aviation pathway. This year I learned that things may not go to plan, but it may be for the better. Shortly after receiving the Glider Pilot Scholarship with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, I was very downhearted because I thought that it would be impossible to fly for yet another year. Then, I realized that with a couple of jobs, some convincing, and lots of determination, I might be able to find another way to start flying. SOSA Gliding Club became the evident answer. Little did I know that SOSA would have such a positive impact on my life. I think this was all meant to be. 
After some waiting and uncertainty, I became a SOSA member. On my first visit, I was warmly welcomed by many smiling, bucket hat-wearing members, who happily told me what SOSA is all about. Within my first hour at SOSA, I even had my first driving lesson- they had me drive the flight bus to another runway. After being at SOSA for a couple of hours, I knew that this club had amazing energy, as well as a beautiful glider fleet. After learning some ground operations, I asked a bold question, "Can I start flying?” Me being as eager as I was, I came prepared with my radio certificate, category three medical, and a promise to write the student pilot permit exam within a week. After some discussion, I had started my flying training. This was quite an eventful first day at SOSA. As my supportive parents drove me home, I honestly was in tears of joy. After that day, I knew that I was going to try to fly as much as possible, even if that meant doing online school between flights.
In just over a month of training, I went solo. This happened sooner than I expected, and it was quite a surprise. It was a beautiful, warm, and breezy September day. I remember preparing for a usual flying lesson, and then getting told, “You will not need a face mask on this flight.” I then realized my time had come to fly solo for the first time. I was super excited, slightly nervous, but most importantly, I felt ready. I felt such an indescribable feeling of freedom and pride as I released from the tow plane. Although I was told to keep my first solo short, I ended up landing after 45 minutes because I was so caught in the moment.
A month after doing my first solo, I had completed all my flight training and passed the flight test. I will soon be a licenced glider pilot after I complete the TC GLIDE written examination. I am astonished about how well everything ended up working out. With the support of many people, my goal went from being impossible to being achieved within two months. Every time I step into the cockpit, a grin appears on my face from ear to ear. Along with learning how to fly, this experience has taught me some much-needed life lessons as well. I learned how important it is to bounce back from adversity, how to be confident in my ability to learn, and how to go after what I want. Currently, I am researching post-secondary education opportunities related to aviation. As I explore different pathways in my career, I now know that there will be turbulent times, but I also will remember that turbulence is a good indication that lift is on its way. 
I am extremely thankful for everyone who has helped me make my dream become a reality. I am excited to see where soaring and aviation will take me in life.

Marian Rakusan sent in these photos of his fabulous trip to Invermere with his ASW 20. If you want to find out more about flying in this part of the world go to:
You can also listen to Episode #17 of The Thermal and hear CFI Trevor Florence talk about the club.

By Sasa Pejic

On Aug 19, 2017, as a member of London Soaring Society, I went for a flight in their Grob 102.
My big goal for that year was to fly to SOSA and back. One big fear I had to overcome was that I’d be in thermal around Rockton, and suddenly 40 other gliders would join.
End result-made it to SOSA, landed out there, and no other gliders were in my way…
Glorious day, even got presented with the Travelling Trophy by SOSA pilot and beer fairy Rob Russell! That day I decided I would become a SOSA member!
When I became a member at SOSA, Rob kind of implied that I owe him a trophy.
Rob’s wish was my command!
On July 15, 2020 I took off in LS-4 FAOS, turned around Toronto Soaring, and on the way back landed out at York Soaring … brought the trophy back home!

Trophy background:
Spring, 1990, York Soaring's Sam Whiteside introduces the '1-26 Travelling Trophy' to encourage pilots to try XC soaring in the Schweitzer 1-26.
York's 1-26 Travelling Trophy. Revived in 2014 for all non-motorized gliders. Rescue it!
It started out as the 1-26 trophy and you had to fly to the site of the trophy in a 1-26 to claim it.  Since most clubs replaced 1-26 it is no longer type specific, you just have to fly to where it is to claim it and then take it home and then someone has to fly to the new site to claim it for their club and take it home.  It's open to all the SW Ont clubs to participate.
SOSA's "lumbarjacks" take on the undergrowth
As the days grew shorter, Will Nyland, Malcolm McLaren and their intrepid band of amateur foresters turned their attention to the thick underbrush and trees at the north end of runway 21. The mission was to expand the cleared area to about 28 meters from the west runway markers to create more maneuvering room for flight operations, glider parking and relocation of the gazebo. Will reports that the work is nearing completion and despite extensive use of chainsaws, trimmers, loppers and choppers, there were no showstoppers. All has proceeded according to plan. Next steps are to bring in a bulldozer to remove the remaining tree stumps, then relocate and reassemble the gazebo and reseed the area, in preparation for our 2021 season. The gazebo already has been disassembled. There will be a slight delay in the work as some things need to be sorted out with GRCA. There is an expectation that work will resume next week. As Will notes, many hands make light work, so many thanks go out to all members of Team Ibuprofen: Dennis Guay, Jerzy Szemplinski, Willem Langelaan (who came all the way from Bolivia!), Jan Zachemski, Malcolm McLaren, Jeff Keay, Ian O'Reilly and Tom Coulson. Thanks also to the lenders of the chainsaws and other equipment, McLean Taylor Construction and Battlefield Rentals. Keep an eye on Click N Glide if you're interested in helping out as this work wraps up for the season.
SOSA Blast from The Past - 1969
Mystery glider...who knows the answer to what type of glider is in the car ad?
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