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Our Extended Family
By Larry Sanderson, President

Larry Sanderson A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend some time with the members of the Lake Elsinore Soaring Club (LESC). The occasion was a special day honoring longtime LESC supporters and activists Dick and Kareen Ensign. Together this couple has been the driving force in keeping the club active and flying at Lake Elsinore.

There were a couple of really good reasons that I could not turn down the invitation. First is because Lake Elsinore is where I learned to fly gliders. Having a chance to go back to the field, long after the water from the flood has receded (literally), was like going back to the beginning for me. I admit that I did feel just a little bit older than some of the LESC folks when I pointed west and said, "That’s where the old #1 runway used to be," and a bunch of the youngsters said, "Really, what was it doing out there?"

The other reason I had to attend was because when I was learning to fly one of my good friends was Dick Ensign. While I was stumbling through the stages of learning to solo Dick was working hard to get his instructor’s rating. Many a day we both spent at the glider field each trying to get better at what we were doing.

Members of the LESC decided that they wanted to have a special day to say thanks to Dick and Kareen for their longstanding support of the club and for Dick’s volunteer work as the club instructor. On a day when the cloud bases were high and firm not a single member of the club was flying. Each and every one of them was on the ground to say "Thanks" to Dick and Kareen.

During the course of the day I met a number of SSA members who I had not known before and had a chance to visit with several friends I have known for a long time. What struck me was that the event was not unlike a large family reunion. Have you ever gone off to a reunion and actually met family members you did not know? But even if you do not know folks, they are still family.

That is the way I felt at LESC. Whether I knew the folks well or not I was treated as a member of the family.

Later as I thought about my reaction to the event I realized that the comparison of our relationship in soaring to that of an extended family is very apt. Like a large family, we don’t all know each other. Like a large family we share connections and often kindred values. Also like a family we wrestle and fight with each other on occasion. But when the family is threatened the differences melt away and the family stands together.

In many ways that is what is happening to us in soaring. Whether you fly in the East or the West. Whether you fly glass, metal or vintage. Whether you fly local or cross country. Whether you fly at a club or a commercial operation. We are all part of the same family. And the threats to our family are very real.
We face challenges of needing to bring new faces into the sport.
We face challenges from new government regulations that threaten our access to airspace and airports.

We face the challenge of a graying sport.

As we go forward to deal with these and other issues I hope we can all keep in mind that just because we have never met our second cousins flying at other fields that the "family" needs to stick together when the going gets tough.
My day with the LESC folks was terrific. Dick and Kareen Ensign symbolize all that is good with our sport. And the willingness of their fellow clubmembers to acknowledge their work is further example of the values at work in our extended family.

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