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APOLLO 8 Astronaut Bill Anders, center, tells his sailplane pilot Allan Dresner and co-owner Ernie Klimonda of the Capital Area Soaring School how it felt up there during Anders' first ride in a motorless plane.

-Democrat staff photos


A man who orbited the moon last Christmas came to Warrenton Airpark last Saturday to take his first flight in a sailplane.

When he set foot on earth again, Apollo 8 astronaut William A. Anders was asked if he felt any uneasiness or anxiety up there in a glider.

Used to the potent thrust of after-burners, Bill Anders said, "Whenever you don't hear that motor turning over, It's an emergency."

But he told Allan R. Dresner, his pilot for his maiden flight in the motorless plane, "Heh, that's great." And to his guide to Warrenton, James Elms, director of the national space agency's Electronics Research Center, Cambridge, Mass., who is a veteran sailplaner, Bill Anders repeated, "Great, isn't it?"

Anders started with Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr. the thrill of being the first to man a Saturn rocket flight and the first to orbit the moon.

From their 10 lunar orbits they returned to earth with spectacular photos, the first of the moon's surface close-up. Their 147 hour, one-minute mission was a Christmas gift of beauty, daring and adventure to all the world.

The flight tested techniques


later followed by the crew of Apollo 11, two of whom were the first to set foot on the moon.

Jim Elms, the NASA research director, said sailplaning is the best of sports. "You've got to pay attention every second," he said, "for the little bit of wind current that you don't expect."

You can't put a sailplane on autopilot and forget it, but -- unlike golf, he said -- it's the perfect sport in that you're rid of earthbound troubles every moment you're soaring. Elms, who owns his own sailplane in Boston, made a check flight of Warrenton airspace.

Bill Anders gave his autograph to eager children and adults who approached him after the flight. Chatting with them, he said he has a rating for every kind of powered flight, but not for the sailplane.

Now executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, Executive Office of The President, Bill Anders gave some strong indicators that he won't be happy until he has a sailplane pilot rating, too.

Co-owner Klimonda says soaring operations will continue Saturdays and Sundays at the Airpark through the winter, weather permitting.

Original Article
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Return to Chapter III
Foreword, Acknowledgements, Introduction & Overview Chapter I
The Beginnings
Chapter II
Capitol Area Soaring School
Chapter III
Warrenton Soaring Center
Chapter IV
Skyline Soaring Club, New Market
Chapter V
Skyline Soaring Club, Front Royal