Concordia: An Interview with Dick Butler

During our visit to Dick Butler’s workshop on February 19th, Dick graciously accepted our request for an interview. He talks about the status of the project and the many remaining items that have to be tackled before Concordia debuts on the world stage in July.

A few of Dick's international contest awards and medals

When Dick flies Concordia in Uvalde this summer, it will be the seventh time he has represented the United States World Soaring Team at the World Gliding Championships. His first WGC was the 1976 contest in Finland, when he flew his highly modified Glasflugel 604. The photo above shows a collection of medals and awards that Dick has received in his 3-1/2 decades of competition soaring at the world level.

Gerhard and Prof. Loek Boermanns are Dick’s principal collaborators in the Concordia Project. Dick and former Schleicher Chief Designer Gerhard Waibel became good friends decades ago and have remained so ever since. Here’s a photo from the early days. We hope it doesn’t embarrass Dick or Gerhard too much. Oh well, it’s too late now!

Two young glider pilots--guess who!

Article on Dick's extended wing ASW-17 that he flew in the 1981 WGC in Paderborn, Germany

Dick has a long history of modifying and improving sailplanes to squeeze out the last ounce of performance. Here’s an article about the borrowed ASW-17 that Dick modified to extend the span by three meters and that he flew in the 1981 World Championships in Paderborn, Germany.

When Dick re-entered competitive soaring in the late ‘Nineties, after a ~15 year hiatus, he purchased an ASW-22B and began yet another program of extensive modifications and flight testing. During the past decade, Dick has flown the modified ASW-22DB at several U. S. nationals and in the world championships.

The "Eta Biter" in flight (Click to enlarge)

We are pleased to announce that the Soaring Café will soon publish an account of the ASW-22DB project, the so-called “Eta Biter,” based on a presentation that Dick gave at the 2003 SSA convention in Atlanta. Stay tuned!

Click here for an introduction to the Soaring Café series on Concordia, which began in January, 2011. In that post, we provide a chronologically ordered series of links to Soaring Café articles that comprise a complete history of the project.

 

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Rand Baldwin

Rand is a Soaring Cafe Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief.Fascinated by soaring since early childhood, Rand learned to fly sailplanes while in graduate school (at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics), and earned his private glider rating at Yankee Soaring in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He joined the M.I.T. Soaring Association in 1974, where he completed his Silver Badge and became a flight instructor. After moving to Huntsville in 1977, Rand flew and instructed on weekends at Eagleville Sailplanes south of Nashville, Tennessee. In 1985, he and a handful of other soaring enthusiasts organized the Huntsville Soaring Club at Moontown Airport. Rand chaired the 1996 SSA National Convention and has served as an SSA Director-at-Large, SSA Governor and State Record Keeper for Alabama. He has set two U.S. national soaring records and many AL and TN state records.
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