The donation of a brand new glider triggered the rebirth of the Purdue Soaring Club, formerly known as the Glider Club.
A dedication ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon in Hangar 6 of the Purdue Airport as Purdue alumnus Fred Fehsenfeld donated the Pipistrel Sinus glider to the Purdue Soaring Club. Fehsenfeld, a former member of the Purdue Glider Club, also contributed in helping launch the new Soaring Center.
After a luncheon and a few jazz songs, the curtain was dropped to reveal the 49-foot-wingspan glider, Sky Dancer.
Capt. Bob Moser, a continuing lecturer in the College of Technology, has a lot of experience in soaring as well as a passion for gliders. Moser gave a short presentation on the history of gliders to an audience of about 50.
“Some of the best friends I made in aviation and in my life have been made in my glider field,” said Moser. “You’re not going to take your family on a vacation on a glider ... you’re here because you have passion for flight.”
Fehsenfeld was 17 years old when he first flew a glider at Purdue.
“All I want is for every student who flies this glider to have the same exact experience I had when I was here,” said Fehsenfeld.
Fehsenfeld’s spirit of generosity was obvious in his smiles as they ended the dedication ceremony with a toast in the new Soaring Center.
Michael Pence, a senior in the College of Technology, will serve as the president of the reawakened Soaring Club. Pence says any Purdue student has the access to the glider – with a prerequisite. Anyone interested in flying in the new Sky Dancer must take an elective course which is offered by the College of Technology.
Despite the fact that the glider was available in the fall, the club had difficulties establishing itself because of the government shutdown, which prolonged the glider registration progress. Now with the official dedication behind the Soaring Club, Pence has many goals on his list.
“We’d like to reach out to Soaring Society of America to see if we can get another glider donated,” Pence said. “I’d like to see the glider being more incorporated as an extracurricular activity.”
With just eight students currently eligible to fly the glider, the club looks forward to expanding its size in the future.