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The Birth Of Soaring In America

Waring Hills Jan 31, 2011

Lieutenant Ralph S. Barnaby's glider is dropped from the zeppelin USS Los Angeles on 31 January 1931.

Another Navy first, today eighty-one years ago a glider was dropped from the USS Los Angeles, ZR-3 (seen above). The idea of dropping a glider from an airship was the Chief of the Bureau of Naval Aeronautics, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett. The pilot was Navy Lieutenant Ralph S. Barnaby and he held glider pilot soaring certificate #1 signed by Orville Wright.  LT Barnaby was dropped from an altitude of 3,000 feet and glided for six and a half minutes before his snowy landing. He was also the first American to receive an International Soaring Certificate and was the co-founder of the Soaring Society of America, and a Hall of Fame member.

Ralph S. Barnaby on a flight from Corn Hill, Massachusetts, of 15 minutes, 6 seconds, August 18, 1929. His flight was the first to exceed the American record for non-powered flight of 9 minutes, 45 seconds, set by Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk, N.C., October 24, 1911.

Model of the Prüfling glider used by Barnaby in 1929 and 1930.

After a successful Navy career, Captain Barnaby would win the Aerobatics, Professional category at the 1967 International Paper Airplane Contest. After the competition, he wrote a book on “How To Make & Fly Paper Airplanes” in 1968. Click on his image below to read an excerpt and learn how to build his amazing paper glider…


Do you think flying a non-powered aircraft is boring…watch this…

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