© Cleveland Soaring Society, Inc. Established 1962
It all began in March 1962 when an ad was placed in the local newspaper looking for anyone interested in starting a glider club. At that time, nobody even owned a glider. CSS held their very first meeting at the Cleveland Engineering Society’s Flight Room on Chester Avenue in Cleveland. Later that year, meetings were held in the Operation’s Bldg at Burke Lakefront Airport. Over the years, CSS held meetings in a variety of homes, offices and restaurants.
The Club later began operations in Lenox, Ohio, on a grass strip operated by two women, Pat Hange and Harriet Hamilton. They owned a Schweizer 2-22 and a J3 Cub with a 85 hp engine. Later on they moved their flight school to Arcadia, FL where after long years of operating, hurricane damage forced them to close down their operations. Pat Hange, a charter member, went on to be inducted into the Soaring Hall of Fame, a distinction not many soaring clubs can claim. A small group of interested individuals purchased a Schweizer 1-26 and began to learn to fly off of a winch in Erie, Pa. Many members drove several hours just to get a few minutes of flight time off of the winch, seldom getting over 1000 ft. It was through those few dedicated members, that CSS began to develop into a true glider club. A 2000’ tow was usually a 15 minute ride and much better than the short 5-8 minutes previously experienced off the winch.
In 1964 a move was made to an airstrip west of Medina. Twelve members bought a used 1-26 and another group of 14 members bought a new K7. Unfortunately the K7 was short lived when it encountered some trees – thus ending the K7 group.
Over the years, this dedicated glider group moved from a variety of airports. Many members felt our move in 1980 to the Chardon Airport (now closed) was best 12 years for the club. The airport offered three runways and the membership solely ran the operation. After the closure of the airport, the club was forced to move and found its next home at the Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio. After a few years and opportunity opened to move to Warren-Skeets Airport for a much wider grass runway. Four years later, a move was made to Freedom Airport on Rt. 303, followed by a move three years later (2003) to Miller Airport in Alliance, Ohio. To some, it might appear as though the glider club moves from location to location like a band of gypsies, but anyone with knowledge of airports knows that many circumstances such as excessive power traffic, narrow runways, and most of all, high rental fees can mandate such moves.
Miller Airport had excellent facilities and the pristine farm fields and many recreational lakes make it a wonderful setting. For a few years, the club benefited from the excellent thermal conditions being farther south, away from the dreaded lake effect of Lake Erie. Due to an unfavorable environment caused by human frailties, the club decided to move again to a former location, Geauga County Airport (7G8), its current location. A move is almost always marked by a loss of some members and a gain of some members but the following years were marked by a resurgence in new memberships and the return of the silent wings over the Amish farm lands.
A Brief History of the Cleveland Soaring Society