Saturday, August 1, 2009

Glider starts 150 miles trip

This story was published by The Ypsilanti Daily Press on Thursday, August 1, 1929.

The first glider ever to take off from Ypsilanti Airport on a test flight left there at 11:20 this morning, towed behind an airplane, bound for Akron, Ohio, where it was expected to land by 2 o’clock this afternoon.

The engineless plane is one of practically all-metal, taper wing construction which is built by Prof. R. E. Franklin of the engineering and mechanical department of the University of Michigan and his brother, Wallace, a former student in the department, and was piloted by the latter. Piloting the Waco 220 plane which towed the glider was Hugh Robbins, Waco distributor in Akron.

It is the first glider attempt of any distance on record in this vicinity, and if successfully completed will be one of the longest on record in this country, according to fliers at the airport. A glider in California recently completed the longest flight in tow when it traveled practically from the upper to the lower end of the state.

About 60 miles an hour was expected to be the average speed of the flight to Akron and the distance by air was estimated at approximately 150 miles. The fliers expected to complete the jaunt therefore, in about two and one-half hours.

A local test flight to the east of the field an hour before the final take-off for Akron proved one of the prettiest sights ever seen on the field here. As the plane taxied across the field, the glider was first to rise, and as the pilot began his ascent the glider dipped perfectly, relieving the upward pull on the tail of the plane to allow both to sail into the air as smoothly as an unhampered plane.

After rising to a height of several hundred feet, to the east of the port and circling to return the glider was cut loose and the pilot brought it to a landing as graceful as that of any plane at a speed of probably between 30 and 40 miles per hour.

The take-off was equally perfect when the plane and glider left for Akron, soaring bird-like, through the atmosphere and out of sight of the small group of spectators, in a southeasterly direction.

Prof. Franklin has experimented with a number of gliders for several years and has completed a number of machines which have proven highly satisfactory in various test. The present machine he has just returned from the East where he obtained excellent results in various types of flights.

In appearance the glider is an exact duplicate of a plane, with the exception of the noticeable lack of motor and propeller. The pilot sits at his controls in the forepart of the machine, just in back of which is the single landing wheel, balloon tired and the average size with which planes are equipped.

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