LSF - League of Silent Flight
A slim, graceful, long-winged craft arcs upward smoothly and steeply into the summer sky, accompanied only by the faint whistle of air accelerating past its gleaming surfaces. All eyes focus on the machine as it dwindles with each passing second - a surging aerial trout playing out yards of taut singing line. A tiny parachute blossoms and gently returns the shining nylon filament to earth. Someone hurries to pluck the blossom before it touches the ground and soon other sailplanes are on their way in a quest to find lift.
Perhaps some of those sailplanes, accompanied by the quiet whirr of an electrically driven propeller, will leave their launcher’s hands bound for a pre-determined altitude at which the motor will stop and the propeller fold snug against the fuselage and where their pilots, too, will join the hunt for the oft elusive lift.
After the launch, little sound or movement is evident among the small group of pilots whose gazes pierce the sky. Yet there is tension and keen anticipation: all are alert for the subtle lift of a wing that signals a bubble of warm, rising air. Now, a turn begins and then, at a tightening sweep into the lift, the pilot curves his obedient ship upward, betraying his or her satisfaction by just a hint of a smile and a noticeable relaxation. Minutes, or perhaps more than an hour later, the sailplane reappears at a lower altitude and is electronically grooved to a perfect landing on the grass at the feet of its once-remote master. Such a scene is repeated and recreated thousands of times during the soaring season all over the world by men and women of all ages and talents.
Who are these people? What are they doing - and why?
They are R/C Soaring Enthusiasts: imaginative individuals who prefer to do their thing by piloting radio-controlled model sailplanes. Why? They know the close fellowship, the companionship with birds and the wind, and the unique challenge of every flight, long or short, being completely different from the one before.
In these frantic times which seem, more than ever, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, there is an oasis; cool, clean, quiet and very personal. The serenity of R/C soaring is available to each of us just for the asking. Those who pause to refresh themselves at the spring always return to it, or, having found it never depart.
The League of Silent Flight was formed to accommodate pilots of like mind and interest, to codify and give voice to that soaring spirit; to promote a framework within which each soaring pilot may share an easy camaraderie with another while sharpening their soaring skills in a world-wide-accepted discipline of growth and achievement. Members of the League, or LSF, as it is known "have been there", have tasted silent fight and the sense of belonging. But to know is not always to say - for fear that speech and proclamation of one's innermost feelings may sever the tenuous bonds. So, the LSF prefers a quiet program through which its members, at their own pace, may acquire soaring skills through self imposed discipline, perseverance and a search for understanding. We seek to know our environment and to probe its secrets by attempting increasingly difficult tasks. By so doing, we also begin to discover ourselves.
Do you fly? Imagine launching a sailplane and keeping it aloft for an hour or more by seeking out lift --wherever it may be. That's LSF. Try landing unerringly, ten times, within five feet of a spot chosen by someone else? That, too, is LSF. Have you the patience and the stamina to brave hours of wind, squinting into the blistering sun while trying to navigate a tricky slope in turbulence? You have? Then you should be LSF. Is there a competitive spirit in your veins? Can you accumulate several thousand points in flight competition with your peers in six contests against others of your kind who try as hard - or even harder - to win? You're really LSF. Does the mention of the NATS at Muncie or events like Visalia, Mid-South, or the South West Classic stir up great memories? Aha! You must already be LSF. Yes, you can achieve these skills, and LSF will lead you to your new flying adventures. There are great memories and wonderful new friends to be made through the LEAGUE of SILENT FLIGHT.
And how shall you be known, one to another? By your deeds and sportsmanship - and by a small, white, soaring gull intertwined with the sky-blue or gold letters "LSF. " proudly worn over your heart and displayed on your sailplane .
Main Image: Ken-by-Geppetto Bassetto, Jojo Grini and friends, Lee Achison, Cliff Browneye's Super V, Kurt Zimmerman