On Saturday, the 26th of July 2014, at 7G8 it looks like an ordinary flying day, the members untying the gliders, unraveling the tow ropes, warming up the golf cart, laying down the different paraphernalia on the table and setting up the shading tent with the Cleveland Soaring logo on its side. The day's tow pilot is warming up the Scout and making its test flight of the day. But the day is not an ordinary day, a member since the founding of the club decided to come for a visit, to reminisce the good old days and to feel the excitement that the sport brings and also to share narratives of his accomplishments gained from years of dedication to the sport that we love.
Steve Raab had been a long-time instructor for the club and had trained a long line of eager students longing to fly free like the soaring birds of the sky. Through the years of flying at different airports, he had been as ubiquitous as the thermals and the wind currents we like to play with, always there to provide rides, instructions and tows to whoever need it. He had also performed at the Cleveland Air Show, one of his performances being instrumental in inspiring me to feel the visually exciting movements he was performing through the air. I was also fortunate to have him as my main instructor and the one to solo me. One of the ultimate experiences that a soaring pilot would ever have is flying in a wave, that powerful force of nature that could hurl you at more than a thousand feet per minute but feel like you are hanging on a length of string and not realize the lift until you gaze at the variometer and the altimeter that are moving at incredible indications, but preceded by violent turbulence in the rotor clouds that your only goal is to try to stay attached to the tow plane. Steve had experienced it at Black Forest Soaring in Colorado when he went to the hypoxic altitude of 37,000 ft. ASL. This is an altitude where if you close your air vents and exhale, ice crystals will form on the canopy.
Steve made two flights with his former student, Dave Tiber, now an instructor himself and I'm sure that Steve flew the SGS 2-32 like a bird taking to the sky, while the tow pilot, George Ponti and I chased them around to take some images. We hope that Steve enjoyed his visit which would be quite different from the more sedate environment that he resides in now and that the other CSS members felt honored to have a club legend in their midst, akin to the feeling that the eaglets would have when the eagle returns to the nest.