Women Soaring Pilots Association

Promoting all aspects of soaring for women glider pilots.

WSPA Election Results December 2021

Congratulations – Kristin Farry was elected as our new board member!

Challenging times continue for the New Year!  The SSA Convention is postponed until fall 2022 or early 2023.  The winter weather swings to extremes and seems unpredictable.  My club continues to fly when weather permits, but the Omicron COVID variant has convinced me to stop all my dual flights.  Most student training in gliders is probably on hold across the country and world.  In a few weeks, the board will be discussing how to proceed with the WSPA 2022 seminar.  We will keep you posted. We hope that by spring and summer flying will resume, and the 2022 seminar will proceed, either in Germany or at an alternate site in the USA.

WSPA business continues.  Thank you to all the members who voted in the December election and to the candidates who generously agreed to run.  Welcome to Kristin Farry who was elected as our new board member. Ute Kaden and Cathy Williams were elected to continue on the board.  All three will serve two-year terms.  The remaining four board seats will be up for election in December 2022.

A big Thank You to Connie Buenafe and Terry Duncan for their willingness to support WSPA by running for the board! Thanks also to our nominating committee (Lucy McKosky, Anne Mongiovi, and Charlotte Taylor) and to Dani Cerni who is leaving the board.  We all appreciate Dani’s work as scholarship director, and we look forward to working with her as a scholarship mentor.

Please remember that WSPA scholarship applications are due in March.  Information on the scholarships and how to apply is on the website. Awards are offered for women of all ages and soaring levels.  There are scholarships for working on glider ratings (private, commercial, instructor), tow pilot certification, cross country, and competition.   It is not unusual for some of the scholarships to have no applicants!  Please let us give you financial and mentor support as you work toward your soaring goals.

Stay safe and dream of the soaring to come.

Cathy Williams



Sarah Kelly Arnold – United States Soaring Hall of Fame

Sarah Arnold will be inducted into the United States Soaring Hall of Fame (for 2020) at the National Soaring Museum on Wednesday evening, November 3, 2021. Sarah has kindly requested that Roy McMaster, 2019 Hall of Fame inductee, also be recognized on this occasion.

Sarah learned to fly as a teen while growing up in Lumby, Canada, and soon became part owner in a 1948 Piper Vagabond, which she still owns and flies today. Her mother instilled a conscientious work ethic in her at an early age – and a few years after she relocated to Tennessee, that work ethic helped her when she became the youngest gliderport owner/operator in the United States at 24.

Now a longtime owner and operator of Chilhowee Gliderport at Benton, Tennessee, Sarah transcends her full-time duties – flight instructing; towing gliders; using her A&P/IA to overhaul engines and maintain the fleet; organizing and hosting national and regional soaring contests, and giving check rides as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner – and successfully makes the time to keep honing her competitive cross-country skills.

Sarah became hooked on cross-country soaring when she flew her first long-distance flights in April and May 2005. She went to New Mexico in June, where she flew 296 miles over an out-and-return course, setting multiple states and National Feminine Distance records. In February 2008, she completed her diamond badge (#985) when she soared to 30,829 feet over Boulder, Colorado.

In March 2011, Sarah and Dianna Fleming set 11 records in the Feminine Category – Open Class Multiplace Glider for Tennessee and 3 National Feminine Soaring records while flying a Schweizer 2-33A more than 200 miles above the Sequatchie Valley.

That May, Sarah won the Sports Class Nationals, which enabled her to join the United States Soaring Team. In January 2013, she competed at the World Gliding Championships (WGC) in Argentina. Later that year she became the first American pilot to compete in the FAI Women’s World Gliding Championships (WWGC) in Issoudun, France, and won the Bronze. In 2017, Sarah won the Silver at the WWGC in the Czech Republic. In 2018, she and Karl Striedieck won the 20 Meter Multi-Seat Nationals.

“There’s an intuition that you have to have to find your angles, hit the thermals and gain energy to fly.”

Sarah’s persistent practice, as well as her diligent efforts to learn from setbacks she’d encountered, enabled her to achieve a lofty goal in January 2020. She won the Gold and became the Standard Class World Champion at the 10th FAI Women’s World Gliding Championships (WWGC) at Lake Keepit Soaring Club, New South Wales, Australia. Notably, it was the sixth time in the history of the United States’ participation in world gliding competitions that an American has claimed the Gold.


Sarah, reflecting upon her experience, shares: “It’s a huge privilege to represent the USA at an elite level, and a special experience to fly with such highly-respected pilots who share this same passion. I try to bring home a sense of the ‘how large and yet small’ the world of soaring truly is, to inspire others who make sacrifices for their own dreams, and more than anything, to bring honor to my country.”

Throughout all of her practice and achievements, Sarah credits numerous mentors and supporters who have shared their knowledge, resources, and equipment, and especially her husband, Jason.


WSPA is a division of the SSA