From the Prescott Soaring Society’s by-laws: The purpose of the (non-profit) Corporation shall be to provide flying facilities for its members on a non-profit basis and to encourage their training by making available ground instruction and flight instruction in sailplanes and gliders. The club is, and always has been, a volunteer operated organization.
The PSS was founded in 1975 at Prescott Airport by Ron Reed who was also the clubs first instructor. Originally there were 25 members who bought shares in the club. Bob Sparling, Dick Blount and A.C. are the only remaining members of the original 25. A search located what was to become the club’s first glider, Schweizer 2-33 N5774S at Waverly West, a soaring site in northern Colorado. Bob Sparling and another young helper joined forces and after several minor mishaps of running out of gas and getting ticketed for no license on the trailer, managed to get it back to Prescott.
Originally, 74S was launched using aero tow at Prescott Airport (PRC). The tow plane was a Citabria piloted by Lee Vestal. Lee developed eye problems and had to quit flying so the club had to depend on fixed base operators at PRC for tows. It finally became too difficult and too expensive to get tows at the airport and the club membership fell dramatically.
A winch was located in Iowa, and a club member named Bill Woodburn went and towed it back to Prescott. What was left of the club moved to Fain Land and Cattle Co. property east of Prescott Valley where it operated for a year or so. At this time the club became exclusively a winch launch operation and has remained so ever since.
A more suitable soaring site was offered by the Fain Cattle Co. just south of Hwy. 89 near Prescott Valley where the Club operated for approximately fifteen years until April of 1994. During the first year or so of operation at the new site, the club 233 was protected from the cattle by a single-wire, battery powered electric fence. One time the fence battery went dead and cattle got inside and ripped a 10-foot long gash in the side of the fuselage. A more substantial 3-wire barbed wire enclosure solved the cattle problem.
Early in 1994 the club was asked to find a new location for its operation. The real reason for this request was never determined but liability issues are suspected. Verbal permission was received from Glenarm Land Co. to use a small portion of the Section 18 property (the club’s current location) in the Coyote Springs area. After operating at the site for approximately three months starting April 16, 1994 the State Land Commission determined that PSS trespassing on their State Trust land. Apparently the folks that gave us permission to be there didn’t really have the authority to do so. PSS applied for a special use permit from the State Land Commission and the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Since it took several months to get all the State and County bureaucracy paperwork completed the club had to find an alternate places to fly to keep the club in operation. From July 9th 1994 until October 23 1994, the club operated out of Williams Airport just north of Williams Arizona. Several interesting incidents happened while the club was at Williams. A combination of a weak-link break and a strong cross wind drifted the tow wire across some power lines and turned out the lights in the town of Williams for a brief period. Another time Dick Townsend got caught with his thermals down and made an out landing in a local school yard (school was out).
With the onset of winter, a warmer place was needed and permission was obtained to use the Orme School air strip just off I-17 north of Cordes Junction. At Orme, instead of cattle on the runway, there were a couple of curious Burros to watch out for. Usually a handful of hay tossed to the side of the runway took care of that problem. Also, school activities sometimes shut down our use of the airstrip.
The club finally received permission from the State and County and the club’s operation moved back to Coyote Springs, May 20th, 1995.
As mentioned previously, the club’s first glider was the SGS 2-33, N5774S. The next addition was the Zugevogle, N18AS purchased October 1986 from Gene Asher of California. The Zugevogle has been in various stages of repair for most of the last 10 years and has not seen much service.
The club’s third ship was Schweitzer 1-26, N3814A. It was purchased locally from Joe Vest in late 1991 or early 1992. After a year or so in service the it was completely refurbished, (fuselage and tail surfaces by Bill Nutting and wing repainting by Wayne Merchant and Wayne Willis) and returned to operation in May 1994.
At a general meeting in Jan 1993 The Club voted to purchase the L-13 Blanik (N3463) and it was first flown May 11, 1996 @ Coyote Springs after all the control surfaces were recovered by volunteer club members. In Jan. 1998 the club Blanik was damaged and put out of commission and the club purchased another L-13 Blanik N80CS, from the Northern Ariz. Soaring Association, in April of the same year. Since the Blaniks were grounded by an AD in 2010, the club has switched to Schweizer 2-33’s as a training platform.
As of 2022, Prescott Area Soaring has approximately 40 members ranging in age from 14 to 80 and varying in experience from low time students to high time glider/power pilots. The club fleet consists of the 1-26, two 2-33s, and the 1-34. Five privately owned club member gliders also operate from the field. We have 3 active CFI-Gs and do quite a bit of training as well as cross country soaring.