I originally started out to try and understand the addiction we have for soaring. Where does it come from? Are the reasons for it similar among people? Is there any common ground that binds us together into a single body? The short answer is no.
I spoke to the guys at our field, visitors from other states and a few from other countries. The reasons for participating are as varied as we are. "I like to fly." "I like to build." "I like to design and build." "I like to compete." "I like to win." "I like the fresh air and exercise." "I like the challenge of keeping a plane with no motor up in God's air." "I forget the pain while I am flying." "I like the friendship." "I like big ones." "I like small ones." "I like wooden ones." "I like fast ones." "I like slope." "I like thermal." Man, it just kept going with no end in sight.
So I stopped trying to go that direction and decided to just share a story. In this story many of us will see a reflection of ourselves.
My first involvement in this story begins as I allowed my soaring addiction to be rekindled by my buddies late last century. I had made it go to sleep for 30 years as we raised a family. I actually was not even flying yet in 1997, but I went to an out of the town 2-day contest anyway. I was the fourth in a motor home to help pay for gas, learn how to be a timer and be an all around flunky for the guys. That contest had a garage sale in the barn and I bought a Soarcraft scale model of the DIAMANT "new in the box." I looked it over and quickly realized it was not a beginner model and packed it away in my shop for later.
I learned a lot at the contest and returned home to continue building a 2M woody glider. Later that summer one of the fellows taught me how to fly.
One day in early 1998, Ollie Wilson comes up and asks if I still had that scale model I bought the previous summer. Some guy from RCGroups.com was looking for it. "Yes." "Would you like to sell it, Jim? If you do, I will get a phone number and you two can talk." "OK." My direct involvement started then. I spoke to Arthur T. Babiarz, Jr. and found out he owned a full size DIAMANT and had been looking for this model of it for a long time. We did not agree on a price that day. I did promise to hold it for him and we promised to speak again a week later to settle our business. I remember how cautious we both were while talking the following week. Neither of wanted to hurt the others feelings. I accepted his first offer and shipped it off. I am happy to have helped him realize a piece of his dream since that day.
Later he asked if I would like to know more about the DIAMANT and a little history of how he came to own his. Sure. He sent me a History, a Flight and Maintenance Manual, a Repair Manual and a copy of the Modified Operating Limitations. The envelope contained over 100 pages.
I read it all, went back to my life and filed it in the shop with other papers. I learned to fly and never looked back till I pulled it out around Christmas 2008 and read it again. Man, it was all there. I realized I had a serious case of the same thing he had. Addiction and love pour out as he tells his story. I only now realize how historically important his story and this plane really are. Now more than 10 years have gone by and his story is an honest reflection of my own interest and a wonderful look into soaring.
His story is massive and impractical for publication within the pages of RC Soaring Digest. This DIAMANT archive may inspire some to learn more or to build.
He says, "For me soaring represents freedom... to be master of my own fate... There are no politics, nature chooses no sides! If that fate is to be sweating bullets at 1200' agl with no visible landing areas in sight or to have the courage of Hercules, sitting atop a 9000' thermal where everything looks insignificant and one believes they could fly forever... There simply is nothing that compares."
He also says, "Soaring, any form of it, is indeed a very serious disease! We must view it as we do a drug addiction, for it can hold us in wonder, it can steal us blind, it can take our time, it can change our life, and it can just as easily take our life, yet we worship this act as if it supported our being, as if our sole existence on the planet depended on it! We don't know why, it just is."
Art's story makes a good read for those who wish to dig deeper. This vast story and other archival material can be found within this site archive.
The tail end of this introduction to the archive struggles, I know. Sorry, but you get my drift. I just don’t know how to end it; in fact, now that I think about it, I really don’t want to end it, either.
The addiction we have for soaring... I've seen it, I've felt it, but I still don't know why. To quote Art, "It just is."