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Passing of Ken Kolstad
Ralph Kolstad has announced that his father, Ken Kolstad, passed away
18th, at the age of 96. Ken and his family have had a long
involvement with Colorado
soaring. Ken and Mid Kolstad received a Paul Schweizer Lifetime
Achievement Award at the
SSA Convention earlier this year.
More info on arrangements when announced.
SSA Govenor, Colorado
Some of their recollections follow:
As newlyweds, Mid and Ken Kolstad read the book written by Lewin
Without Power? where we learned about the Airhoppers Gliding and
Soaring Club. We drove
from Brooklyn to Wurtsboro, NY. The glider field was a grass strip at
the Helms? farm. We
sat on a blanket and watched the operations there. Not long after that
we joined the
Club, and participated in the pilot training.
The glider was a single place utility plane, good for training. It was
towed by an old
Ford very slowly. As we gained experience the tow went faster, gaining
speed. Eventually we were towed to 800 feet or more, where the
possibility of catching a
thermal was better. At this point we released the tow rope and started
a free flight.
We remember some of the other members: Alex Dawydoff, Emil Lehecka,
Ted Pfeifer, Ben
Shupack, Alan VanName, Gus Raspet, Ginny Bennis (now Ginny Schweizer)
and her father.
The designer of the Franklin Utility Glider, R.E. Franklin, visited
During the winters the members met at Ken and Mid?s home for hanger
flying and planning
for the summer flying. For the meeting?s refreshments, Ken made
doughnuts. The members
lined up to grab the doughnuts directly out of the hot fat!
When World War II began, our gliders were sent to Mobile, AL for
training military glider
pilots. Our glider participation was abandoned. The meetings were
still held monthly at
our home. When Mid and Ken became parents of the first two boys of our
five children, Ken
continued. But Mid had to abandon flying gliders.
Moving to Colorado Springs in 1956, we sought others who might be
interested in gliding.
We found David C. Johnson, brother of Dick Johnson of Texas Soaring
stored his glider at his home, and flew from a nearby field owned by
Mark Wild. Meeting
at our house for planning the new club, the Pike Peak Gliding and
Soaring Club was
formed, later merging with the Denver Club to form the Black Forest
The Black Forest Glider Port became known worldwide for its excellent
conditions. One day in 1965, during Christmas week, twelve pilots
earned their Diamond
Altitude rating, including Neil Armstrong, first to land on the moon,
and two teenagers:
Paul Kolstad and Jeff Yund.
The next summer Paul flew 208 miles from Colorado Springs to
Scottsbluff, NE, setting a
Colorado state record. Three weeks later Paul died in a glider
accident at the Black
Forest Gliderport. He is honored by the Paul Kolstad Youth Soaring
Pilots Awards which
were established for pilots age 14 through 20. Since 1968, almost 50
youth soaring pilots
are Kolstad Winners.
To be eligible to apply for the college scholarship grant the pilot
must have one of the
following: Silver Badge or Century One: a cross country flight of 100
miles or Century
Two: a cross country flight of 200 miles or Century Three: a cross
country flight of 300
Chicken barbecues, held on Sunday of the Labor Day weekend, serving
supporters for many
years at the Black Forest Glider Port were fund raisers for the
Kolstad Awards. Ken used
a recipe developed by Cornell University for the chicken sauce (no
furnished by Jeppesen of Denver, were sold. Other contributors have
The Colorado Soaring Association administered the fund until 1980 when
Society of America assumed the sponsorship of the Kolstad Awards. Many
enthusiasts have donated to SSA for the Kolstad Fund and still support
Youth in Soaring.
The annual winner(s) are awarded an amount that is adjusted for
inflation. The first
award in 1968 was $250.00, and is now $1250 (but near to being
In the early days of the Pikes Peak Gliding and Soaring Club. The
Schweizer 2-22 was
dragged from David C. Johnson?s garage to Mark Wild?s field. Winch tow
with a 7000 foot
cable and powered by a Buick Dynaflow engine was used for launching.
from the 2-22 to the 1-26, 2-32 and to aerotow to discover the wave
over Pikes Peak,
increasing the activity at the field. As word spread, pilots came from
Australia, Japan, Norway, India, the USA, and from other far away
places to earn their
Diamond Altitude Badges.
During this period Ken was SSA Colorado State Governor for 6 years
starting in 1967. He
instituted the springtime banquets when members of the Colorado clubs
plans for special events for the summer traveling to Aspen,
Westcliffe, Buena Vista,
Crede, and other sites in Colorado and to Saratoga in Wyoming. This
was the time four of
our five children joined in the sport enthusiastically. The fifth was
more interested in
academics. Andy has a doctorate in Social Studies and is now involved
in Adult Literature
statistic: ?No Child Left Behind?. Marge learned to fly aerobatics
under the tutelage of
Ivan Jaszlics but abandoned it when she found she was too different
from her teenage
friends at school.
We appreciate the interest our children show in keeping active and
growing the Kolstad
Youth Soaring Awards and College Scholarship Grant.
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