In late February, Stefan Göldner – our head of sales & marketing – attended the Soaring Society of America’s annual convention in Little Rock, Arkansas. His trip was a good opportunity to also stop by at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which since 2010 is home of the world’s largest DG-1001Club two-seater training fleet.
Even 10 years after their delivery, all our 19 sailplanes are still in a very good condition. Even though they do almost 17,000 take-offs and landings annualy and thus have to balance a pretty high work load, you do not find any signs of stress. Every year, some 1,300 cadets participate in the USAFA’s gliding program next to Colorado’s easternmost 14,000er, majestic Pikes Peak, in Colorado Springs. In the course of a year about 250 Air Force instructors take care of smooth training procedures. The USAFA’s instruction program is really unique: after no more than 8 to 14 launches a new student is already taking off for his first solo flight. Does this sound like a good strength test for the airframe? While the DG-1001Club two-seaters have been exposed to a huge number of flights and first solos, they have proven to be very robust and thus an ideal choice for the program. We are pleased to hear, that the Air Force likes to emphasize how happy they are with their DG-ships.
From initial training to solo flights to aerobatics the DG-1001Club covers any important discipline in soaring at the Academy. Every year, a small number of lucky cadets who do really well during their instruction are invited to participate in a special support program. After an additional training they may either become part of the USAFA’s aerobatic or of their cross-country team. Both teams travel to contests all over the US where they get a chance to compete against civil glider pilots.
Of course, for glider operations of this size, a well running maintenance is indispensable. The Air Force is therefore cooperating with AKIMA, a reliable aviation company close to the airfield which takes care of all technical issues. Some 20 people work there on the airplanes, to provide a highly professional maintenance and inspections for gliders and tow planes as well as for several different powered planes. For many years, DG Flugzeugbau has been cooperating with AKIMA. We make available spare parts and help with professional advice in order to ensure only short maintenance stops.
It’s really nice to look at all 19 DG-1001Club decorated in a corporate design, accurately lined up in a gigantic hangar. Many streamers taken home from various cross-country soaring and aerobatic competitions or events are hanging down under the giant hangar’s roof, so you may get an idea how important the soaring program is at the Academy. It is in fact a great and unique program, and we at DG feel really proud to be able to do our bit to its success.