Review by Dick Johnson
This fascinating book was written and contributed to by many authors who
know him, and Richard's daughter Karen, who as a youngster accompanied
him during his later gliding adventure years, and carefully compiled it.
For those who do not know this modest aviator, it is a real inspiration
to read about his trying real life childhood days, how he went on to
support himself at an unusually young age, and then to earn an
engineering degree. After that he joined the pre-war U.S. Navy where he
flourished as a young pilot and was awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross for sinking a German submarine during WW-II.
After the war years, Dick became enamored with sailplaning. He flew
sailplanes exceptionally well, and with his previous experience with
Navy metal aircraft structures, he started to design modern all metal,
high performance sailplanes of remarkable quality. His first sailplane
design was his sleek high performance HP-7 design which he flew during
1957. It exhibited outstanding speed performance and its design was well
ahead of its time. He placed well in the U.S. National Championships
that year. After that there was no stopping him in his pursuit of
gliding perfection, both in design and pilotage.
He went on to win 3 National Contests in sailplanes of his own
design; and more importantly, he produced a long series of modestly
priced sailplane kits so that everyone could enjoy the sport of flying
high performance sailplanes (I built one myself, and enjoyed it
immensely). I personally believe that Dick's gentlemanly flying,
brilliant ideas, and low cost kit production for the U.S. Gliding
movement were for 20 some years, the single most significant
contribution to the American sport of soaring.
This book is well endowed with many interesting photographs and
flying accounts from the past, often told humorously by those who were
Unfortunately, Dick's flying days are now over. He is tied more
closely than he wants to be to medical devices, but he does that
gracefully at his home in Bryan, Ohio, where his wife Angie and family
assist him. He still plans to develop his patented pulse jet propeller
design, which he first planned to use for a self-launching device for
his sailplanes many years ago!