2012-08-30 / Local & State

Lynch Fulfills 71st Birthday Wish

Flies in glider aircraft
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz


Aviation enthusiast Marlin Lynch (front) of Warfordsburg took a ride in a glider aircraft earlier in the month for his 71st birthday. Thomas Knauff, coowner of Ridge Soaring Gliderport served as pilot during the flight. Aviation enthusiast Marlin Lynch (front) of Warfordsburg took a ride in a glider aircraft earlier in the month for his 71st birthday. Thomas Knauff, coowner of Ridge Soaring Gliderport served as pilot during the flight. NEWS EDITOR

Warfordsburg area resident Marlin Lynch’s bucket list just got a little bit shorter.

Having been born with a passion for aviation and flying, Lynch recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of flying in a glider aircraft. On Sunday, August 12, Lynch celebrated his 71st birthday on the runway of Ridge Soaring Gliderport located in Julian, Pa.

Unlike a jet or even a single-engine plane, a glider is solely supported in flight by the reaction of the wind against the craft’s wings. Flight does not require an engine, which lends the process to the names sail planing or gliding.

Lynch’s flight was under the tutelage and direction of longtime pilot Thomas Knauff, who operates the gliderport business with business partner Doris Grove. Grove, coincidentally, possesses the world record for the first woman to fly a glider over 1,000 kilometers.

Lynch, who is certainly no stranger to flying, said he was not nervous about the flight even though the Bald Eagle Valley could easily lend itself to a collision with a tree or other accident.

“Once it’s in the air, it’s either going to work or you face the consequences,” Lynch said.

After a smooth takeoff with help from the tow plane, Lynch said the glider’s tow rope was released at 3,500 feet. As the airport is located in a little valley with mountains on both sides, the glider’s wingtips were often around 50 feet from the trees.

He said he got the opportunity to fly the glider quite a bit. In fact, he kept his camera in his right hand and the glider’s joystick in the left.

After a two-mile flight from the airport, the glider made its return trip home, leaving Lynch wanting even more.

“Absolutely, I’d do it again in a heart beat,” said Lynch, who as a child spent many an afternoon taping and pinning together cracker boxes into homemade airplanes. In 1955, as a teenager he saw a 707 flying jet, in its commercial debut, pass over and was “mesmerized.”

He would eventually spend 18 months studying aviation maintenance at the Pittsburgh School of Aeronautics. He spent a time refurbishing DC4s and DC3s for General Electric before serving United States Air Force as a Fighter Squadron member for four years.

He first obtained his pilot license for single-engine aircrafts in 1998. He gave up flying about 10 years ago after 9/11 and the vast changes in flying regulations.

Looking ahead to the future, his tentative plans are to do a tandem jump for his 72nd birthday next August. He said the inspiration of doing a jump came to him after reading a story in last week’s edition of the “News” about a woman in her late 80s doing a birthday tandem jump.

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