The author flies a Dave Sanders DAW 1-26 at
White Crest Beach in Cape Cod MA. Photo by Jim Harrigan.
What makes a good sailplane?
by Dave Garwood
When I asked several Slope Soaring aficionados two questions about sailplanes, I received a variety of answers. I hope their responses can be helpful
to modelers of all skill levels, and maybe even generate a
chuckle or two. Maybe you’ll see yourself in the remarks of
The first question I asked is this: What flight
characteristics make for a great-flying Slope sailplane?
Michael Gantner of Ohio responded with, “A refined,
efficient design that is perfectly weighted and balanced.”
“I want aerobatic capability in light lift. I want a low
wing loading,” said Dave Sanders of California. “It’s easy
to make the plane heavier, but when you’re too heavy to
fly, you’re just stuck with shopworn, dirty jokes to pass the
“The most valuable characteristic of an excellent Slope
plane is the ability to convert upward air flow into high
forward speed under the widest possible range of slope and
air conditions,” added Bill Del Hagen of California.
“Versatility combined with simplicity,” said Ohio resident
Some of the other modelers had unique answers.
“What I want most is a plane that dances through the
light air and then screams like a falcon when the winds
crank up,” said Jeff Carlton of Ohio.
“It is an extension of my thoughts and does what I am
thinking,” Doug Blackburn of California said about his
Alex Paul of the Bahamas added to the discussion. “It
goes from floater to rock-and-roller with added ballast.”
Michael Richter of California said that appearances are
also important. “Good or bad habits aside, the best design
to me is flying art—the one that the pilot has purposefully
crafted using his own ingenuity and creative passion.”
Mark Mozo, New York, said a sailplane should fly “like a
Ohio resident Don King summed it up with “Looks good,
flies better, and is durable.”
I also asked the fliers/philosophers to name their favorite
Slope sailplanes. Some of them named specific aircraft,
others had favorites in common, and the rest came up with
some unexpected responses.
Common on the list of favorite Slope sailplanes are
the classic Charlie Richardson Renegade, the GEMS F1
Racer and the GEMS flying wing, and the Frank Cavazos
119 Model Aviation AUGUS T 2014