The "College arm" of the Soaring Society of America (an Affiliate organization)

Accessible, adventurous flying for young people in school

CSA chat: We are without a dedicated Collegiate server at the moment, but relevant Junior (under 26) traffic takes place intermittently at:

Mike Westbrook's USJSA Yahoo group
Al McDonald's Gliderforum

In addition we contribute to the US Team Junior eNews Bulletin.



In late 1985, CSA was formed to foster and promote the amateur sports of gliding and soaring in the context of Colleges and Universities, on a National and non-profit basis. More specifically, CSA exists to

CSA shares goals with other bodies, such as the National Inter-collegiate Flying Association (NIFA), the Soaring Society of America (SSA), and a host of University Sports Associations. Since 1989, CSA has been recognized by SSA as an Affiliate, and is thereby connected to NAA and FAI, but is otherwise independent. Perhaps unlike NIFA, CSA's end-goal activity is a sport aspect of flying (soaring) rather than a career aspect. Nonetheless, CSA encourages the use of gliders in Aviation Education, for which they offer many advantages listed in the next section.

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Sailplanes are traditionally cost-effective and motivating tools to get young people started in flying. Many of the world's military and commercial aviation bodies rely on glider programs for recruiting, evaluating, and developing pilots. Learning to fly a glider is the fastest, simplest way to become a licensed pilot of a conventional, certificated aircraft. In the bargain, students learn excellent control coordination and energy management skills. FAA regulations allow solo flight in gliders as of age 14. This stage can be achieved in as little as one week, for well under $1,000. All time logged in gliders counts towards other aircraft ratings.


Sailplanes are the purest demonstration equipment available to convey the effects of lift, drag, controls, etc. Many experimental studies are best accomplished with simple, low-cost, quickly-built, easily-analysed gliders. Students can acquire hands-on skills with real airframes without undue time spent on ancillary issues like powerplants or avionics. The German "Akaflieg" schools settled on gliders as a laboratory theme in the 1920s. They were using laminar airfoils and composites over 30 years ago. Not only do they graduate scores of capable engineers, but their group projects have consistently redefined the maximum level of aircraft efficiency.


Even for students ultimately concerned with more complex airplanes, sailplanes are unparalleled for a first basic exposure to the discipline of flying, to how aircraft work, to what the air is like. All at low cost, without complications like radio-work or navigation, yet unifying the student body with the experience of becoming a pilot. This is why the USAF Academy trains ALL its students in gliders--not just future jet pilots or engineers, much as the US Naval Academy makes use of sailboats. In regards to equipment cost, brand-new two-seat training sailplanes are available from Eastern Europe for $30,000 ready-to-fly. Engine TBO is infinite. Airframe life generally exceeds 6,000 hr. Annual inspections run $100.

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CSA recognizes groups as members, not individuals. This is like NIFA, unlike SSA. There are three categories of membership, somewhat related to the "uses" of soaring mentioned above, but mainly by relationship to a College, University, or School:

CLUBS and SCHOOLS are voting members, with a say in running the Association at each of the two annual meetings: At the SSA National Convention (late Feb.), and at the last CSA contest of the Summer.

ASSOCIATES do not have a vote, but are more than welcome to participate in all CSA efforts. "ASSOCIATE" is a catch-all category for ANY group- based youth soaring activity. Examples would include College clubs without official recognition from their school, clubs that draw from several schools, Junior-member categories of private soaring clubs, Civil Air Patrol squadrons, Explorer Posts, NIFA Chapter subgroups.

All member groups pay a very nominal $20 per year for the general support of the Association. There is no minimum size to a group, no need to own any equipment, no need to even fly: Ground schools, research programs, classes, homebuilder groups, etc. can join CSA. There is no need to be particularly "established" or active, things that CSA can HELP achieve. The growing list of benefits includes:

See Members on our MAILING LIST along with other CSA-related groups

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Competition is open to non-member groups, individuals, and guests as well as members. The requirement for being scored is "full-time enrollment in an Academic institution within the past or forthcoming year". Teams are only recognized by Academic institution (e.g. "Duke" or "UNC" team, not "Raleigh, NC" team). Two National titles go to the top College Team and the top College Student.

There is today no single National contest, rather there are regional "Inter-Collegiate Gliding and Soaring Championships", hosted through the Academic year at the instigation of local groups. Point totals as of December determine the National ranking. The ability to offer soaring competition in all regions hinges on having a dense enough network of groups, so CSA is very interested in boosting participation by CAP squadrons, Explorer Posts, NIFA Chapters, and young individuals who want to try out the excitement of soaring.

The style of CSA Contests is designed to be accessible to the levels of soaring skill most found on campus, and to bridge the gap between a "club contest" and an SSA contest in both a supportive and a competitive way. Talks and workshops are given, and Tasks are a progression of Non-flying, Gliding, Local soaring, and Cross-country soaring categories pitched to the A,B,C, & Bronze levels defined by SSA. Sample tasks are: Glider-recognition (pre-A), Spot-landing (A), Duration (B), 30km "Tiny" triangle race (C), and 50km Out-and-return race (Bronze). Speed and distance are handicapped to accomodate widely varying equipment. Points in various events are added so as to encourage large multi-level teams. This better justifies the use of a precious club sailplane, provides for a crew, and just plain makes for more fun. CSA rules deliberately mimic the SSA contest rules in format and introduce pilots to concepts of CD, Start Gate, etc. A concept borrowed from NIFA is safety judging, wherein a low pattern or rough landing can mean the forfeit of half the points earned. On rarer occasions, collegiate pilots with at least an FAI Silver Badge and access to their own sailplane can compete for Individual honors.

Past National Inter-Collegiate Soaring Champions: Teams

1986 Princeton U.   1992 Ohio State U.   1998 Penn State U. 2004 UTSI
1987 (no contests)   1993 U. of Colorado   1999 Penn State U. 2005 US Air Force Academy
1988 Ohio State U.   1994 U. of Colorado   2000 US Air Force Academy 2006 US Air Force Academy
1989 Penn State U.   1995 US Air Force Academy   2001 US Air Force Academy
1990 Michigan State U.   1996 US Air Force Academy   2002 US Air Force Academy
1991 Indiana State U.   1997 US Air Force Academy   2003 Colorado State U.

Past National Inter-Collegiate Soaring Champions: Individuals

1990 Sean Franke, MSU, LS-3a   1994 (no award)
1991 Sean Franke, MSU, LS-3a   1995 Murray Holland, CU, Mini-Nimbus
1992 (no award)   1996 Alison Grimsdell, CU, Mini-Nimbus
1993 (no award)   1997 (no award)

The National Team Trophy (102K) is named in honor of Robert B. Evans, President of the Glider Club at the University of Michigan, 1929-1931. He is considered the "Father of American College Soaring".

CSA competition is the latest in a long history of intercollegiate gliding & soaring meets dating to the 1950s, 1930s and even 1910s, involving landmark gliders and pilots.

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CSA is a tax-exempt "Non-profit Amateur Sports Organization" under Internal Revenue Code 501(C)3, so that donations are tax-deductible. All CSA assets are permanently dedicated to youth soaring and may not inure to any Directors or private persons. Your gift in cash or in kind would be very welcome. Please contact:

Collegiate Soaring Association, Inc.
POB 337081
Greeley, CO  80633

CSA is governed by a Board of 6 elected Directors, chosen from voting (CLUB and SCHOOL) members. Of the present CSA Board, 4 are University Professors, 4 are CFI-Gs, and all started soaring in high school or college.

CSA also supports more advanced soaring by collegians and youth, in contests sanctioned by SSA. Sailplanes and other items owned by CSA are leased to its members (for $1/year) on the condition that such use be given priority. One CSA glider has flown in 3 SSA Regional contests and has been used to earn several advanced soaring badges.

While establishing a CSA SCHOOL requires coordination with many college offices, a CSA CLUB is very easily set up as a student organization or campus sport club. It generally takes a handful of student signatures and perhaps a review by a campus risk assessor (usually successful by reference to CSA, especially if the club delegates flight training). Universities love acquiring new student clubs, and outdoor-adventure sports like soaring are often well-received. Existing soaring clubs or operators nearby are often happy to make a deal that will bring them a steady supply of young, active pilots. More tips on starting a soaring effort at your favorite school are on the web, or contact:

Questions about glider Engineering programs are best addressed to:

Dr. Mark D. Maughmer
233 Hammond Bldg.
University Park, PA 16802

[CSA president. (814)863-4485(W)]
Past member of Soaring Clubs at Princeton, Illinois. Low-speed
Airfoil researcher. Principal on EXCEL-plane design/construction
project at Penn. State. Familiar with german Akaflieg system.

Program and Development

Mr. Frank Whiteley, UMUC, Aims CC
1629 37th Ave
Greeley, CO  80634

SSA State Governor, Colorado
Chair, SSA State Governors & Record Keepers Committee
SSA Clubs & Chapters Committee
SSA Growth & Development Committee
SSA Growth Task Force
SSA Youth Committee, Grants

Other recent CSA Directors include:

Dr. John H. Campbell, U.Michigan, (CFI-G, Mile High Gliding and CAP)
Dr. R. John Hansman, Jr., MIT (Aerospace Engineering)
Lt.Col. James M. Payne, USAF (Flight Testing)
Mr. John Rollins, ERAU-Daytona Beach (Aviation Management)
Mr. Garrett P. Calhoun, UCSD
Mr. Robert D. Hildebrand, UCSD
Mr. Erik H. Mann, Princeton

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LINKS: Youth, Collegiate, Soaring, Aviation

| Soaring Society of America | National Intercollegiate Flying Assoc. | SSA Youth Committee
| A Soaring Fact Sheet | Idaflieg |

Latest update: 05/08/2010