History of the TMGA
by Richard Pearl, Organizing Chair
There's an inspiration point in every organization's history. For the Touring Motor Glider Association it was two years ago at the "West Coast Fly-In." Richard Pearl (co-organizer of the event and moderator of the Grob 109 Yahoo user group) and Steve Sliwa (developer of the Ximango Owners and Pilots Association web site - XOPA) were chatting during the Saturday night Basque dinner about how to create a broad base for the very special touring motor glider class of sailplanes.
Over several beers -and you know how that goes - they decided that a new organization that encompassed all models of TMGs was needed to bring the entire 'class' together for information sharing and camaraderie. And while we were at it, why not make it a world-wide organization. The concept was that the new association would be additive to some of the model groups, but might integrate others as those memberships decided.
Steve's Ximango web site was a beautifully designed platform (note: Steve is a magician/genius in this area) and would be used as the launching platform. During the fall of 2011 Stu Ostrander (Grob driver) downloaded and stratified the entire U.S. FAA sailplane registry. Ray Buhr (Grob and Fournier) created the mapping structure to visually place each TMG by model and location within the U.S.
From the beginning we knew that this all-volunteer project would soak up lots of time as it was brought on-line, but we were WAY too optimistic in our low estimates for how much time it would take. Projects like this end up taking on a life of their own, and that was just what happened.
With Steve's creativeness now driving the website development, it was time to reach out to the TMG owners; over 600 U.S. mail letters were stamped, sealed, and sent. We also contacted the individual 'model' associations. Within 10 days we had over 100 members in the TMGA, including 18 from overseas (England, Scotland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and Australia). Everyone got a personal response back and that started a rather intensive round of internet discussions.
Without a doubt, the key to the Association's success is the web site. There is so much already built into it and available – forums, knowledgebase, classifieds, photo gallery, events - and the backbone is there for additional enhancements, i.e. surveys, OLC tracking, stories, etc., that we've only scratched the surface. As this is being written there are not only 10 members on-line, but also 56 guests. Obviously the word is getting out.
About the annual Fly-In. In 2009 we had seven ships attend; fifteen ships arrived in 2010; and 25 ships showed up in 2011. Pilots began coming from all over the country: Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, South Carolina, Tennessee, and of course California and Nevada. Last year we had ten different TMG models on the flight line. This year we fully expect 40+ ships arriving at Minden. Introductions, knowledge sharing about engines, systems, and equipment; dinners at a Basque restaurant and airport café; local flying; and a fly-out to Parowan for some to link up with the Auxiliary-powered Sailplane Association. Ron Snedecor (Ximango), who lives in Minden, has taken up the logistical challenge to make it all come together. With the new website there is already movement to set up an East coast or Midwest fly-in. Now that's progress!
In addition to the information-sharing, we believe the most important element to come out of the Association is the potential for bringing together pilots not only within each country but around the world. As someone who has had the opportunity to meet and fly with glider pilots in several countries and share flying with others coming here to my area (Sacramento, CA and Truckee, CA), the joining together of this "band of brothers" may be the most enduring experience of this venture.
Welcome to your Association!
Edited by Webmaster