Historical facts are carefully documented in issues of the 1-26 LOG. Rather than repeat readily-available information,
I’ve tried to place significant milestones in context.
The Association will continue to thrive as long as there are members who enjoy the pure fun and unique challenge of 1-26
soaring. They have the rich history with which to compare their achievements, thanks to this great organization created
by the vision of Paul Schweizer, Marion Cruce, and Tony Doherty.
SN 001's First Flight
In 1963 Wally Scott of Odessa, TX flew #135 on a bent-leg course 443 sm--the longest
thermal flight on record until surpassed in 2009 by Doug Levy’s 456 mile flight
from Inyokern to Deeth, NV. Wally’s straight line distance was 418, which became the bench-mark to beat.
Wally Scott's Letter to Dr. Yund
Wally’s assessment of the 1-26 enhanced the 1st edition of the LOG published by Schweizer Aircraft in 1964. The Allegheny
Ridge and Western mountain wave have produce breathtaking 1-26 distance flights by Ron Schwartz, Tom Knauff, Jon Leal, Robert
Spielman and others. Mention must be made of Jim Hard’s Minnesota to Illinois and Indiana flights over the years, especially
his diamond distance flight in 1984. Jim earned the prestigious World Distance Award
in 2006 by soaring his 1-26 on 168 XC flights for 15,923 miles in 15 years.
THE REGATTA YEARS at Harris Hill began in 1955 and were held consecutively for at least
sixteen years under the aegis of Schweizer Aircraft Corp. By 1960 80 1-26 kits had been built.
In 1964 Association dues were $2.00, up from $1.00 in
1963. There were about 100 members.
THE NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS began in 1965 with eleven entrants at Harris
Hill and won by Walter E. (Bud) Briggs. Initially there were almost as many Canadian entries as U.S. ones at the forerunner
of the Championships–-hence the name: North American. As Canadian participation dwindled, this was changed to “1-26 Championships”
1965 saw SN#293 built. Bill Cleary of Oklahoma City earned all three FAI diamonds in a
1-26--the first pilot to do so. Four years intervened before #2, Canadian Harold Eley, followed. Charles Shaw was #3 in
1970. Bill served as Central Vice President of the 1-26 Association from
1972 through 1976, and he later served as President
of the Soaring Society of America.
(Photo by Jo Shaw)
Helen and Bill Cleary, Paul and Ginny Schweizer, Charles Shaw at 2000 SSA Convention.
Marion Cruce, a close friend of Bill Cleary, had arrived on the scene. He urged an independent status for the Association
and prevailed to have the second North American Championships in 1966 at Guthrie, OK.
The 1967 North American Championships were awarded to Black Forest, where Marion
donated the Cruce perpetual Championship Trophy and the initial winner was John Brittingham. In
1968 Marion succeeded Dr. Lowell Yund as president of the Association and Joann Hartley
(now Jo or Joann B. Shaw) became secretary and Newsletter editor. Marion’s and Jo's efforts and energy propelled the Association
to 400 members. Unsoarable weather prevented an official contest at Richmond, Indiana, in 1969;
but 27 entrants gave it their best. Schweizer Aircraft continued support by sponsoring the first cross-country Sweepstakes with
really nifty prizes--a Replogle barograph to both the Pro and Tyro winners in 12 regions!
In 1970 Marion personally prevailed upon Jack Gomez and other local Hobbs, NM, 1-26
pilots to hold the North American Championships there thus inaugurating Hobbs as a premier contest site. He made at least
three separate trips to meet and supervise preparations.
(Photo by Jo Shaw)
Marion Cruce assembling #325 at Hobbs in May 1970 while on a visit preparing for the Championships later in the
The bet for super soaring conditions paid off with the best Championships yet. Curtis & Vivian Kath began issuing the Badge
Achievement Certificates. The H. Marshall Claybourn Memorial Trophy was donated to the Association this same year by Marion
Cruce and others. It was initially awarded to Charles Shaw for his 401 mile straight distance flight from Snyder, TX.
1971 saw the first of the “E” models. Paul Schweizer flew #500 at the Estrella
hampionships that year. 1-26 records were reorganized by regions by Marion Cruce and Charles Shaw. Bill Cleary was
instrumental in introducing the official membership pin. Fred Robinson proposed creating THE official 1-26 Diamond Badge
which began in 1972. Prior diamond legs were not eligible, so Bill Cleary was again
1st and redid his 1-26 three diamond
badge legs. Robinson’s provisions allowed diamond pilots who had earned FAI diamond legs in other types of sailplanes to
now be able to earn a 1-26 diamond badge. Prescribed-Area-Distance tasks (Bickle Baskets) became included in Championship
rules to cut down the distance of retrieves. Pilots looked forward to the chance for making a diamond distance flight on
Free Distance tasks, which the contest director frequently used when weather was marginal hoping to get in a contest. If
called on really good soaring days, a day of competition would be lost to a rest day if any pilot flew more than 250 miles
beyond the contest site.
Destruction and flooding from Hurricane Agnes in 1972 cancelled the Harris Hill North
Americans. Family memberships were initiated that year.
Ron Schwartz accepting the Cruce Trophy at Parowan in
2006. The Old Goat Trophy is also seen on the right.
Nothing marred the 1973 North Americans at Black Forest: a really outstanding
Championships with 48 1-26s competing. One-design soaring had caught on!
1-26s had been in existence 15 years when Marion Cruce wrote his “President’s Message” in the
1969 LOG. The seeds had been sewn for the first one-class soaring “experiment.”
Marion personally did the leg work and organization for at least ten North American Championships beginning with Guthrie,
OK in 1966 and “discovering” Hobbs, NM, in 1970.
Jo Shaw with the H. Marshall Claybourn Trophy. The tray is engraved with
early winners names. The base which was added later has the most recent
It was Marion who donated the Cruce Championship trophy and the H. Marshall Claybourn Memorial annual straight distance solid
Marion felt the 1-26 embodied the best opportunity to safely experience what XC soaring had to offer: The thrill of being at
the top of the last thermal of the day, then gliding for miles in silk smooth air--then an off field landing and retrieve.
Marion might think we’ve gotten soft these days when most points in the Championships are awarded for returning to the field.
In 1964 Schweizer Aircraft published the 1st LOG. The twenty-eighth edition of the
LOG was published by the Association in 2010. Regular memberships were raised to $15 in 1994
and have remained there – a tribute to good fiscal management. It might be added that the SUSTAINING memberships which are
currently $25/yr are what make this possible. There are a lot of us willing to pay a bit more to maintain the Association,
whose publishing expenses continue to rise.
In 1975’s LOG
Marion Cruce recapped the history of the Association, and
Jo Shaw offered assessment.
1976 was the year Charles Shaw flew #196 from Snyder, TX to north of Scott City,
KS for a straight distance record of 428.8 miles, surpassing Wally Scotts’ 418 which had reigned since 1963. In
1981 Harry Baldwin flew #026 a credited 432.34.
By Ron Schwartz and others, distance record flights along the Blairstown ridge are still being pushed. His most-recent
is a staggering OLC flight of 615 miles in 2009. 2009 was a stellar record year.
Doug Levy broke Wally Scott’s prior thermal distance of 443 with a bent-line thermal flight of 456 miles from Inyokern
to Deeth, NV!
1977 was perhaps the zenith of 1-26 interest and enthusiasm. This year dropped the
“North American” from the Championships. The 12th 1-26 Championships at Black Forest boasted 55 1-26s and 70 pilots prompting
thoughts that possible seeding might be required at future contests. Attendees at the annual meeting generously conferred
honorary life Association membership status to all past and future presidents, Secretary/ Treasurers, and Newsletter Editors.
They didn’t consider the potential financial burden of adding up to five non-paying memberships per year, nor could they imagine
the large increases in future publishing/mailing costs. This By-law provision was rescinded in 2007.
Noteworthy was the 1977 agreement with SSA for Division status, brokered primarily by
Charles Shaw and Bill Cleary.
Regular dues increased to $6.00/yr in 1978, and membership held steady at about
450. The first “all-Eastern” FAI Diamond Badge in a 1-26 was earned by Tom Knauff.
1979 marked 25 years since #001 took to the skies. It also marked the production
of #700--the last of the 1-26s.
The Silver Anniversary of the 1-26
The offices of secretary/treasurer & Newsletter editor failed to perform and membership and revenue declined in
At the beginning of the 1980s 12 Diamond achievement certificates had been
awarded. Three-diamond 1-26 pilots (Eley, Horvath & Williams) did their flights prior to 1972
and did not requalify. Separate diamond LEG achievement certificates had been awarded for 40 diamond goals, and 26 diamond altitudes.
1981’s stellar achievement was Harry Baldwin’s 432 mile straight-distance thermal
flight from near Mt. Laguna, CA to Gabbs, NV.
Financial troubles beset the Association in the early 1980s
. Then secretary/treasurer
Tim Farr helped to solved them by suggesting two new categories of Association memberships: LIFE Memberships and Family
LIFE memberships ($126 & $26). Over 100 members signed on at $126 almost immediately. In 1982
interest rates exceeded
10% so the money invested in the Life Membership Trust fund earned enough to sustain Newsletters and mailings to these
members. But that didn’t last, so Life memberships became more expensive in 1995
and again in 2007
No chronology of the Association would be complete without mention of Jack Greene, a most-ardent and loquacious booster
from the early eighties. First to sign up for the Championships, he vowed to win the Old Goat trophy before he’d shave.
Sadly his death in 1990 ended the quest. Jack served as chairman of the Competition Rules Committee for several years
Why I fly a 1-26
In 1984 30 paid LIFE members added $3,780 to the Association’s depleted coffers. In
1986 Lew Neyland donated the David C. Johnson Memorial Trophy to the Championships for
the highest-scoring first-time contestant.
After a lapse of a few years, Sweepstakes were reinitiated, chaired by Tom Holloran.
There were 30 entries. It has continued to the present now automatically scored on the Association website from flight
recorder data. The scoring program was written by Kevin Ford. Sweeps was initially intended to get new pilots to go
cross-country, but it has also encouraged competition among seasoned “Diamond Class” pilots in three regions.
1-26 Sweepstakes Chronicle
In 1987 Lew Neyland became president and injected new enthusiasm and energy.
Regular membership was boosted to $8. The free distance task disappeared from the Championships. The President’s
trophy was donated by Dudley Mattson for the fastest Championships flight. Association Regional Record categories
were expanded to include feminine, O/R distance, 100, 200 & 300 Km Triangle speeds, 150 Km O/R Speed, Junior & Senior.
1988 saw the membership fee jump to $10. President, Lew Neyland, promoted the Colorado
“500-Mile” records camp.
The Virginia Schweizer Trophy for lady Championship contestants was first awarded to Elaine Cutri at El Tiro in
1989. Bob McNeill published Wing Tips. Del Blomquist began the Jean, NV Goal Strikes.
In 1990 Paul Schweizer affirmed the availability of 1-26 parts either from Tom Tappan
or Schweizer Aircraft. The H. Marshall Claybourn trophy went to Jim Hard for a 413.68 mile flight out of Minnesota.
Jim was honored with SSA’s Exceptional Achievement Award at the 1991 Albuquerque
SSA Convention. At that Convention, Jim Payne did a symposium on GPS technology, opening eyes to the possibilities of
this new technology that would literally revolutionize navigation and flight substantiation. Ron Schwartz’s unprecedented
ridge flights commenced with an out-and-return record from Blairstown of 353 miles. Ron later that year went on to win
the 1-26 Championships for a second time flying at Caesar Creek. To date he has won the Cruce Championship Trophy six
times; Dave Mockler five times; and Harry Baldwin four.
In 1991 Lew Neyland oversaw production of the SPN (Shaw-Pardue-Neyland) Glide
Calculator. The Old Toad trophy for contestants 70 years and older was first awarded to Bob Fitch. There have been
several trophies over the years for junior contestants at the Championships, but they frequently were not awarded for
lack of “younger” pilots competing. Distance tasks were dropped from the Championships.
There was some really good soaring in 1-26s in 1992. Irn Jousma flew 317 miles
from Michigan. Mark Keene won both the Barringer and Claybourn trophies for a 333.9 flight from Refugio, TX. Goal
Strike III hosted 10 1-26s and Garry Dickson’s name first appears earning his 5 hour and Gold altitude gain there.
1993 ushered in Mike Havener as Association Secretary/Treasurer. Kevin Ford
earned his Diamond climb at Peterburg. And there were 142 Paid LIFE members at $126 and 27 family LIFE members.
Discussions pro and con about the 1-26 contest usages of GPS technology began.
1994 saw dues raised to $15 in hopes of staying fiscally afloat.
REGULAR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES HAVE NOT BEEN RAISED SINCE! Credit for a really comfortable current balance
sheet lies in the many SUSTAINING members who voluntarily pay $10 more. The Association thanks you! Credit
goes too to the fiscal stewardship of Trust custodian, Bob Hurni.
In 1995 when it had become painfully obvious income and earnings no longer
covered expenses, LIFE membership was increased to $300.00 and many members who originally paid $126 donated an
additional payment. Bob von Hellens donated #700 to NSM. It first flew Oct. 30, 1975. Its first owner, Wil Schuemann,
never flew it. At the time of the donation, its total time was 2 hr & 10 min. Special mention needs to be made
of Caesar Creek Soaring Club and Pat DeNaples’ annual membership roundup. For the last fifteen years Pat, LIFE#40
has assessed Association membership dues from CCSC members who fly 1-26s then added SUSTAINING donations from himself
and his wife and presented a check for the total to our secretary/treasurer annually.
In 1995 the Association lost is its guiding light with the passing of Marion Cruce.
His red suit and green and yellow VW Beetle are missed. His foresight and guidance in the early years placed the Association
solidly on the path to success.
A new chapter began in 1996 with the advent of the Association on the Web.
Ken Kochanski started the ball rolling then handed it off to Mike Havener, who has been Association Webmaster ever since.
Mike has been a miracle worker, and his website earned a much-deserved award in 1999. The secretary/treasurer job used
to be a nightmare requiring in-depth computer knowledge. No more. Since 2009 Mike has simplified and automated both
membership and 1-26 ownerships on the Association website. The Document Archives has all Newsletters since 1964.
Sweepstakes competition is kept current, “Care and Feeding” sports almost everything written ever written about 1-26s.
A picture gallery, classified section, and a host of other 1-26-related information are available to all.
In 1996, under president Bob Hurni, memberships surpassed 500. 1-26s were in
serious demand. 17 ships attended Goal Strike VII. Garry Dickson became the thirtieth Three Diamond 1-26 pilot.
#483, Bull Dog’s masters, Judy and Pete Vredenburg inaugurated winning the “Spiffy Award” at the Ionia Championships.
Harry Baldwin had set forth criteria by which Spiffy entrants would be evaluated. GPS documentation for Championships
was proposed but purchasing secure loggers seemed prohibitively expensive.
1997’s reality was that some spare 1-26 parts were becoming scarce. Bill Vickland
stepped in to help with his “Trading Post.”
Kathleen Winters Hard won the Claybourn distance trophy in 1999. SSA Registration
for the Championships was now available with a link from the Association website. George Powell, Newsletter editor,
continued to produce outstanding issues, hand folding, addressing, and stamping them each month on his kitchen table.
In 2001 the Association took the plunge into the twenty-first century and
began GPS scoring at the Championships at Ionia, MI with the expert assistance of Dr. Tom Pressley.
2006 Team 144 – Del Blomquist and Harry
Baldwin at Parowan
President, Del Blomquist, worked his magic on Air Force Academy Brass to hold the Championships at Bullseye, Colorado in
2002. Finding willing Championship sponsors had become increasingly harder.
The traditional frugality of 1-26 competitors meant a minimum of profit for organizers…. GPS was here to stay. Thus
was born OLC (On Line Contest,) the stroke of genius by German glider pilot computer experts which energized XC soaring
around the world.
Doug Levy won the U.S. division of OLC for 2003 in his 1-26! He placed an
astounding 35 in the world! He thoughtfully created a "1-26 Club" for OLC and urged that all 1-26 XC flights be posted.
Over the years the 1-26 Club has acquitted itself nobly, thanks to supporters like the Blairstown Ridge Runners, Bob
Spielmann, Garry Dickson, George Powell and many others. 2003 also saw the opening
of the Schweizer Gallery at NSM. #700 was there, but not #001.
2005 was another low point for the Association, due mainly from the problems
of finding a dedicated Newsletter editor. Prayers were answered when Craig Loomiller agreed to take on the job.
2005’s Championships at Moriarty also pointed up another problem: conditions
were good enough to soar above 18,000 feet (controlled airspace). And GPS could detect incursion. The scorer didn’t
catch it, and not all contestants had flight recorders that logged altitude, but the Rules Committee took note.
The Rules Committee had been busy incorporating turn-area task rules. What a great adjunct GPS provided. Pilots no
longer had to go to a specific turn point. They could choose their own within a prescribed circle, making legs longer
or shorter for maximum points depending on weather conditions. It did require pilots to think independently and not
just become part of Charlie Spratt’s famous “fur ball”. (All flying together in one large gaggle.)
2012 Our illustrious and very hardworking
Webmaster and new President
with his wife Lisa and #113.
The World Class (PW-5s) Nationals combined with the 1-26 Championships in 2007
at Chilhowee and subsequent Championships. There really weren’t enough PW-5s to be economically feasible to hold a
In 2009 Bob Spielmann began an award, The Hangman Award in honor of Doug Levy,
for the longest 1-26 flight in accordance with Sweepstakes rules. Ron Schwartz was its first winner with his 615 mile
ridge flight. Efforts for the Association to obtain tax-exempt status failed.
Total membership at the end of 2011 was 339: 99 Regular, 76 Sustaining,
138 LIFE, 21 honorary, and five complementary.