LOFT by Frank Wren and Ray Hayes




Fort Wayne, Indiana

OFFICERS: Ray Hayes - Frank Wren
Eric Podzielinski - Bill Weesner


by Ray Hayes - LSF 803 - NSS 29
October 2006

It all started when I drove to Chicago to See the 1970 Soar contest. I took a few pictures, caught on to what they were doing and drove home completely hooked on RC Sailplanes.

I started with a scratch built design powered by an .049 gas engine, next built a small t-tail kit from California and then started a long love affair with Mark's Models Windfree kits.

November, 1974, as a member of the local power club, the Flying Circuits, the first sailplane contest in Ft Wayne was held. Flyers were very hungry for contests (great social events) and came from several states to compete. New friendships were started that have lasted a life time for me and I have been putting on sailplane contests every since. The power club is very large and it didn't take long to realize the need for a separate sailplane flying site. I asked the Ft Wayne State School for permission to fly on their open field and LOFT was born. Many wonderful memories for many people from all over the USA have sprung from LOFT field. Some forty two years later, as of this writing, and I am still flying my favorite woody sailplanes at the original LOFT field.

sign up
Ft Wayne's first RC sailplane contest, 11-02-1974 and my first time as a Contest Director. Ft. Wayne Flying Circuits sponsored this event at their present flying site. We were lucky to have good flying weather, but it was a bit chilly. All the surrounding states had enterants.

Pruss launching
Dan Pruss launching his Grand Esprit.

Pruss flying
Dan Pruss hard at work while Jerry Mrylik and Jack Hiner aid and abet.

Transmitter impound
L-R. Art Slagle, Warren Plohr and George Williams at the Flying Circuits Tx Impound rack.

Snoopy design
L-R. Otto Heitecker with his Snoopy design, Ray Vanderdonk and John Hoover.

Schwyin flying
L-R Bill Weesner timing for Tom Schwyin. Casade's piles of magnesium, etc.

Mrilk flying
L-R Warren Tiahrt timing Magic Fingers Jeff Mrilk.

Hayes flying
L-R Ray Hayes flying, Phil Geiseking timing. I never do very well when I'm the CD. Oh well, it is the fun factor that counts. Right.........

Finnkenbiener flying
L_R Keith Finnkenbiener, Dan Pruss and Jack Heiner. They are all listening to Keith's Thermal Sensor for sounds of lift.

Trophy award for Mrilk
Passing out the trophies to the winners, Jeff Mrilk and his Astro Jeff were very hard to beat and usually no one did.

Ray beat Otto
Ray Vanderdonk beat Otto this day, they dueled it out with Jeff in the unlimited class all over the Midwest contests.

Bob Steele
Bob Steele won a trophy. The FC club sponsored a few more sailplane contests, but LOFT contests became the big ones.

Barb Robinson flying
The cute one flying in this photo is Barb Robinson, with her husband Bob, they traveled the Midwest contest circuit.

The winners
Group shot of the winners on a chilly overcast November 2, 1974.

LOFT card
I signed a lot of these cards while club treasurer. Ray Hayes LSF 803

Great Lakes winners, 1977
Winners of the Great Lakes RC Soaring League, 1977, LOFT field. The League included Scale and all the size classes and Junior age class. Participating clubs: Dayton and Columbus Ohio, Chicago, LOFT, Detroit.

Great Lakes winners, LOFT field
Not sure of the year, if memory serves me, the last year for the Great Lakes RC Soaring league was 1984. It was fortunate that I moved to Michigan in 1985 and was able to compete in the very popular Michigan Soaring League. Four of the pilots in this photo are still flying in RC Sailplane contests, most active are Bob Robinson and me.

I'm now back in Fort Wayne and fly often at this field that remains the LOFT field 34 years from the club's inception. Ray, August 1, 2008.

Jerry Kay of Warsaw, Indiana got the ball rolling for RC Sailplane contests in 1973 at the famous cow patty field. Fortunately, the cows had been herded off to another pasture during the contest, but they were there the day before......

Soaring and LOFT were huge benefactors of Jerry's early and on going involvement of promoting LOFT club activites. I personally thank Jerry for helping me get started and all the great things we did together including our non stop drive to Pensacola, FL to help me compete in the 1978 F3B USA Team Selection finals.

Jerry is the fellow in the yellow Jacket in the two above photos. Jerry moved to Florida, Frank Wren moved to North.Carolina and I moved to Michigan, an end to an era. The three of us have many great memories of our years of LOFT.

Flier from 1973
Contest in 1973
Jerry Kay's highly successful Warsaw contest.

LOFT - The First Years
Fran Wren on the field

In the beginning... one autumn evening in 1974, my telephone rang:


"Hi Frank, its Ray."

"Hey, what's happening Ray?"

"Well, we are going to form an R/C Sailplane club"

"Uh, ok. When?"

"Can you come over to my house Sunday afternoon about three O'clock? I'm going to ask Eric and Bill to be a part of this also."

"Sure can. See you Sunday at three."

Frank Wren on a windy contest day waiting his turn to fly.

Sunday afternoon...

The four of us met at Ray's house and took over his den and discussed the pros and cons of our endeavor. Eric and Bill consented to be interim officers in the new club with the understanding that since they really had very little time to apply to the position they should be replaced as soon as possible. Ray and I nodded accord and the AMA club paperwork was completed, with Ray as Treasurer, myself as President and Bill and Eric taking the positions of Secretary and Vice President. Bill and Eric left shortly afterward and that's when Ray and I got down to the 'nuts and bolts' of building a club.

Nuts and Bolts...

We knew we wanted a "flying" club, not a 'social' club like the many kinds he and I had seen or been in before. I suggested we set the clubs operations up on the corporate type set-up whereby the elected officers had a wide range of powers and could transact club business without going to the members for votes on every little issue as meetings of the general membership were to be minimal. A draft of the clubs by-laws stipulated that there would be one general sit-down meeting annually where the previous year's annual report would be given out in hard copy to each member (and one mailed to each member prior to the meeting). This was the place and time where members could actively engage in the administrative operations of the club, just like the annual meetings of stock corporations. Officers held office for 2 year periods with 1/2 of the club positions up for re-election each year after the first year. This worked well as it didn't burn out the officers and each year there were 2 'experienced' officers to mentor the newly elected ones. This assured a seamless continuity to the club leadership. Any controversial items of business were discussed at meetings of the officers in the usual planning meetings and opinion polls of the membership were taken at the scheduled club contests and through the newsletter. Most of the members were pleased to have the club being operated this way and had great trust in the officers. The officers honored that trust with hard work and honest, ethical stewardship.

Labor of love...

Then we moved to the real motive for the club's structure...a club for flying, be it 'fun fly' or competition. In order to assure that members would be flyers and not just club members, we devised a plan where a new member, whether beginner, novice or experienced flyer would 'earn' his membership. Besides paying the nominal annual dues, the new member had to complete level 1 of the LSF soaring proficiency program. This one program was foremost in making sure the members became proficient glider guiders. When completed, they knew how to fly gliders and could wear the LSF patch on their LOFT club shirt. It was always a wonderful sight to see the face of a new member when he wore his (or her) LSF patch to the flying field the first time...such a look of pride!

Winners on the field

Look Ma, I can fly...

Within the first year LOFT became a club of proficient flyers. The monthly club contests were well attended and the competition was fierce. Many of LOFT's members began entering competition contests put on by other clubs in the surrounding states and the LOFT shirts were an 'expected' sight at the contests. A lot of hardware (trophies) was awarded to LOFT members, including our junior members. The photo at the left tells it better than words. Three LOFT competitors (Bud Palmer, Ray Holzheuer and Frank Wren) at an out of town contest...3 pilots, 4 trophies!

And the membership grew...

Since "LOFT Field" (as it quickly became called) was located in a populated, high traffic suburb, many passers-by would stop and watch the flying. Many were past radio controlled power flyers looking to re-enter the hobby/sport and found the concept of glider flying intriguing and it sparked a new desire to get airborne again. For these prospective members we made it a point to answer their questions, offer advice and information and gave them a copy of the clubs latest newsletter containing the club's contact people with their names and phone numbers. Many of these people actually joined the club and went on to be ardent 'glider guiders'. In 6 short months the clubs membership roster grew from the original 4 founding members to almost 20 members...and it kept growing. Many of the new members were out-of-towners and some were from out of state. This created a dynamic atmosphere within the club and gave the beginner a deep pool of experience he could draw from for building tips, flying techniques and in some cases the loan of building equipment and even some one-on-one building and flying help. Many new and lasting friendships developed from the camaraderie.

The 'Bottom line'...

Not only did the membership grow but the clubs treasury also grew. LOFT's income was based primarily on the proceeds from the contests it sponsored. LOFT Weekend in June and "Cash Bash" in October were very well attended. We drew contestants from as far as Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee in addition to the nearby areas of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. The word had gotten out that LOFT put on a real 'class act' contest not to be missed! Those contests were hard work for the clubs membership and leadership but proved to be worth the effort when viewed as bottom line numbers in the club's treasury report.

Four rewarding years...

Serving 4 years as the first President of LOFT I can say without reservation that it was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences I ever had. I also doubled as the editor of the clubs newsletter and also as its publisher. Remember, this was before 'desk top' publishing and PC's, so all of it was done manually. Fortunately, the company I worked for at the time also had its own print shop and I was allowed to use their facilities (after hours) at cost of materials. I even ran the offset press. I learned a lot about printing thanks to producing the newsletter. It was almost as much fun creating the quarterly newsletter as it was building a new sailplane (almost!).

Well, after serving 4 action packed years, I was ready for a break and relinquished the presidency. It was gratifying to see the club continue on for years after that as a viable flying club, thanks in part to the innovative organizational format that I was honored to be a part of and to the continued hard work of the clubs elected leaders and its unselfish members with their "Can Do!" attitude and love of sailplane flying!

Ray Holzheuer Whirlwinds 1975, 1st Place
Ray Holzheuer, Whirlwinds, 1975. First Place

Frank Wren's LOFT mosaic

Frank Wren put this Photo page together of LOFT club members and used it in his 1975 annual LOFT newsletter report. The clubs first year and it was a very good year.

A huge Thank you to Frank for all the hard and long hours he spent creating the clubs newsletter and his duties as Club President. Frank and I are very fortunate to have shared the experience of putting a new club together. It is very rewarding and the great memories we share will last for ever. The opposition to a new club in Ft Wayne was shared by several that soon saw the light and became members.

The new club offered activity promotion opportunities such as the three skill classes for club contest flyers, a Pyramid Challenge ( about six levels of flyers challenging someone in the level above them in an effort to climb there way to the top of the Pyramid. I remember guys calling and setting up a time and date for their challenge ). We had cross country, the club contest CD was allowed to call any type of contest and Chet Goliembuski called a club contest Cross Country set up that stationed a caller at a turn around point located on the IU campus. Maybe the best was becoming an LSF aspirant. The LSF program truly improved the flying skills of those that got into it and also simply made flying more interesting. Flying by yourself with out a time goal is one form of fun flying, but, if flying by yourself, having a time goal and measured landing tape is only the only way to improve flying skills. When Bob Steele and I were pursuing LSF Level one, we would meet at the field after work and fly till dark trying to hit the LSF Level one landing tape. Swatting mosquitoes and flying is great sport. I was showing how two sailplanes could be launched from one winch and one tow line that had a 50 foot Y line with a launch ring on each end. Bob was the only one I could get to try it with me, he had a 140 " Legionaire, I had a 100 " Osprey, the crowd smelled disaster. I found good lift, Bob landed, thru me in his Corvair convertible with me holding on to the Tx and away we went to the LSF Level four cross country turn around point and back to the field and the crowd of on lookers. My LSF Level four Cross Country Task was accomplished and it made the day for both of us a very memorable day. Ray Hayes LSF 803


Frank Wren and Ray Hayes

from Sailplane Magazine

LOFT, Page 1
LOFT, Page 2


LOFT Cash Bash 1978

For several years in the fall, during the Seventies, LOFT featured a CASH BASH contest, dividing up a portion of the entry fees among the top places.

LOFT Cash Bash 1975-1976 buttons
Frank Wren designed these commemorative buttons and had them produced for a hand out to all the contestants.

LOFT Cash Bash 1978 Promo Flyer
1978 Promo Flyer

LOFT Cash Bash 1984 Score Sheet
1984 Score Sheet

LOFT in the fall of 1984
The photo was taken in the Fall of 1984.
L-R, Ray Hayes, Walt Golembiewski, Jack Smith, Frank Wren, Ray Holzheuer.

Phil and his new Oly II
Phil G. with his OLY ll pruchased from me ready to fly, it was my first OLY ll build and Phil's first sailplane.

Check out the Parking Lot

Jerry Merlik's Wagon

Full Parking Lot

1978 Cash Bash, note the Porta John.

Toledo Weak Signals Show

Circa 1998

Bob and Ray at Toledo
The Sky Bench booth at the Toledo Weak Signals show. Bob Steele worked the booth this year, mostly because Sky Bench was producing his WILDst Cat profile design. A gas powered RC aerobatic design that could do any maneuver the pilot was capable of performing. Woodys Forever ...

Bob's blue WILDest Cat
WILDest Cat ... build and flown extensively by Bob.
He really enjoyed flying this plane to the extremes.

Stan's yellow and green WILDest CAT
One of Bob's WILDest Cats built by Stan ?

LOFT Newsletter

Vol. 1, NO. 3

FALL 1975

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

LOFT Newsletter

Vol. 1, NO. 4

WINTER 1975/76

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

LOFT Newsletter

Vol. 2, NO. 1


Page 1
Page 2

LOFT Newsletter

Vol. 2, NO. 4

SPRING 1976/77

Page 1
Page 2

LOFT Introduction to R/C Soaring

Circa 1977

Page 1
Page 2

Dale's LSF achievement with Pierce 970

Photo by Jack Smith

Dale Harber completed all the required LSF Achievment tasks with his Pierce 970 except this Goal and Return flight.

LOFT in S.O.A.R. subjects

Circa 1977

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

Windfree on ground 1 Windfree shadow Windfree on ground 2

I learned how to thermal fly and compete in contests with Windfrees back in the day, starting about 41 years ago. I can remember building seven of them, maybe more. This one was expertly built and covered by Frank Wren, I still enjoy flying them.

I took these photos November, 2012 at AMA's flying field, the lift was good, it looks great specked out down wind. I acquired this one from Frank when he got out of the hobby. I think he last competed with this Windfree at the 1995 AMA Nats.

Building and flying a Woody offers a special and very satisfying experience. It becomes YOUR treasure, something you can feel while watching it soar.

Ray Hayes LSF 803, NSS 29

LOFT MOM trophy base... 11-17-76

LOFT trophy base

July, 12, 1993
LR .. Jack Smith, Ray Hayes, Ray Holzheuer
Lansing, MI. contest

Jack and Holzy are wearing their LOFT caps, I moved to MI and wearing my Greater Detroit Soaring and Hiking Society cap

LOFT people in MI

Hayes, Podzielinski, Golembiewski

L-R, Ray Hayes, Eric Podzielinski, Walter Golembiewski, Great flying buddies.
We Loved Flying Contest

Ray Holzheuer and Chet Golembiewski Chet Golembiewski and Jack Smith

LOFT Field
LR .. Holzy _ Chet Golembiewski - Jack Smith


Ray Holzheuer and wife Bev.

A Long time flying buddy and fellow LOFT club member out Celebrating Veterans Day, Nov, 2016

Woodys Forever



Sky Bench Aerotech 

Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804