Saskatoon Soaring Club - Our History
History of the Saskatoon Soaring Club:

The following is an excerpt from the Saskatoon Soaring Club Member's Handbook:

Gliding and soaring has taken place around Saskatoon for many years.  The Eley brothers, at Colonsay built one of the first gliders and operated it from their farm during the early 1930's.  Gliding clubs were formed in Regina and Saskatoon in the early 50's.  A club operated for a few years in Moose Jaw during the early 60's.  There were a number of gliders built in Saskatchewan in the 50's and 60's, including pilot owners in North Battleford and Prince Albert.  The early Saskatoon Club operated in Colonsay for a time, and also at a field near Martensville.  This club became inactive in the 60's when an attempt to purchase a new glider from a German manufacturer led to financial problems.  The money was raised and sent for the purchase, but in the meantime the manufacturer went bankrupt and the Saskatoon club ended up with neither money nor glider.

The current club was formed in 1976 largely due to the efforts of original club member Jim Koehler.  Jim had flown with the original Saskatoon Club, and had an opportunity to perfect his skills and obtain an instructor's rating while in Australia.  With a core group of interested potential members, mostly colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan, Jim advertised and chaired a meeting of about 50 potential members in January of 1976.  This positive response led to the formation of a club with about twenty members.  Each contributed $500 as a startup contribution.  Of this, $150 was a joining fee, the other $350 was an equity assessment.  As original members left the club, they could apply for refund of equity in order as new members paid their equity assessment.  After a time, this was removed and replaced with a straight $500 joining fee, and later reduced to $150.

With the capital raised, the new members arranged to purchase an L-13 Blanik (C-GXDU), then about two years old and available in Red Deer.  Members built the trailer in Saskatoon, then travelled to Red Deer to get it.  It was first assembled and flown at Corman Park Airport, using a leased Super Cub as a towplane.  When the crosswind made Corman Park unsuitable, it was often towed a short distance to a strip owned by Don Glazier.  There was plenty of enthusiasm that first year, with records indicating the Blanik made 482 flights and logged over 161 hours in the air.

In 1977 the training and soaring operation moved to a former military triangular strip owned by Don Choving near Vanscoy.  The club arranged for the lease of a Cessna L-19 towplane for use at Vanscoy.  With interest in soaring growing quickly, the club arranged the purchase of a used single seat Schleicher K-6 sailplane during the season.  (Again, members went into their own pockets to finance the purchase).  The Blanik became the trainer (639 flights, 124 hours), and the K-6 was used for conversion to single seat and for soaring (44 flights, 23 hours).  By 1979, total glider activity increased to a total of 345 flights totalling over 170 hours.

In 1979 it was decided that the club should acquire its own towplane.  With limited capital but keen interest and dedication of members, a group within the soaring club formed a syndicate and purchased a Cessna 150-150 (C-GQOK).  They provided the capital, bought the towplane, and leased it to the club.  Eventually the soaring club was able to buy out the syndicate members and get title to the towplane.  Again, many members bought debentures ($1000 with 0% interest) to help with the financing.  These have since all been repaid.  Formation of the Soaring Association of Saskatchewan assisted with grant funding through the Sask Sport Association.

The K-6 was damaged in 1986, and the club was without a single seat aircraft for the remainder of that and the following season.  Also in 1986, the club received notice that Chovin's Skyport (Vanscoy) was shutting down operations, and the club would have to relocate.  The strip at Hanley served for two years, but there was only one runway and it was very rough.  In the meantime, the club was looking for a new "home".  Cudworth offered two runways, hangar space, local towpilots, fuel,, and a welcoming attitude.  A lease was signed for the use of the airport, and purchase of the hangar and adjacent land was arranged for flying starting in 1989.

The Phoebus (C-GAZO) was owned privately by a club member, but offered for sale.  The purchase of the Phoebus for the 1988 season upgraded the soaring capability of the club, and also assured the continuation of high performance funding that was available from Sask Sport.  The lease of the second Blanik from the Provincial Association and the recent addition of the winch brings the fleet to its current level.

In the spring of 2002 the Phoebus was sold and the club purchased a new L-33 Solo as the club single seat aircraft.

The current club has undergone many changes since its formation.  Many new members have been added over the years.  The original Blanik served the club well until 2010.  As of 2011 the club has been actively looking for a new training glider to replace it and in the meantime has been temporarily leasing a K-7 training glider.

Postal Address: 510 Cynthia St, Saskatoon, SK, S7L 7K7       

For questions, or comments, or to leave any message with the Saskatoon Soaring Club please contact: SSC Mail