West Michigan Soaring Society


The West Michigan Soaring Society is a low key group of RC pilots with a passion for all forms of RC soaring. Whether your interests lie in winch, high start, electric launch, hand launch or aerotow, have never flown, or are an experienced contest flier, WMSS has a spot for you. Our members come from all walks of life and ages. We all enjoy the challenge of finding lift and soaring. Come join us to fly, learn, or just watch. We are open to anyone with an interest in soaring.

If you find yourself daydreaming under the clouds and marvel at hawks and eagles mastering the rising air currents, come join us at WMSS. Spread your wings and soar!

The appeal of RC glider flying is plenty of fun even if you are a new pilot to soaring. Imagine learning about the "river of air" Dave Thornburg writes about in his classic and difficult to find book, "The Old Buzzard's book on soaring". Dave begins to shed light on the more difficult nuances to RC gliding - recognizing the tale tale signs of finding rising warm air, sinking cool air and the way thermals form, travel in the wind and dissipate. This is just one intriguing aspect of the hobby. Understanding the characteristics of good performing gliders for different purposes is a continual subject of education.

To some, recognizing the well sought after signs of thermals (lift) is much like fishing but without the smell of bait and fish. Good fishermen know to read the environment and the conditions in which fish may be caught but generally the fish remain allusive.

Now imagine yourself soaring an RC sailplane for 10, 15, 30 minutes to an hour and longer after a short launch time lasting maybe 20 – 30 seconds.

Flying Today


Francois and I got out for a bit of flying in Coopersville today. There was lots of sunshine and very little wind, but not much lift to be had. Francois had the long flight of the day with 7 minutes on his Radian. I was close behind with 6 minutes on my Laser 2m. Francois also flew his Olympic II. I was going to fly my Duck but was having electrical connection issues on the left wing that was preventing the flap from working correctly. Flying season is officially open. 🙂

I love it when I stick the landing…

I love it when I stick the landing...

The Radian and the Laser 2m…

The Radian and the Laser 2m

Snow Fly 2014

For the 9th year in a row the WMSS has braved the weather to get in some winter flying. This year it was particularly difficult this year with 10 degree temps and 15 mph winds. Tim Gess generously held the event at his home in Clarksville. It was a great time for all and the Chili was excellent and well appreciated. We had a great time and even with the bad weather there was lift was to be found. Here’s who attended from Tim’s email:

Carolyn, Cliff, Kathy, John, Tom, Ben, Nate, Dennis, Richard Alban (from Lansing), and Paul (Tim’s dad) all made for a warm time on a very cold day.

Here’s a video John Winstanley put together (will need Quick Time):






New Years Day flying

Our place will be open for flying New Years Day starting at 11:00. Maybe John will do his 15 minute flight while the rest of us hide out in the shop…
Our address is
9774 Hastings Rd
Clarksville, MI  48815
42° 50.857′, -85° 17.530′

Home phone 616-693-2480 cell 616-558-0007

We have some ideas for friendly competition if actual soaring is out of the question.
Again, just let us know if you’re coming and how many. Feel free to bring family.
So far we have on the list:
Tom Sheets (confirming by phone)
Francois (if granted kitchen pass)
Paul Gess (My Dad – treasurer now for Walter’s RC club in Saranac. We might be able to discuss with him the ideas for competitions during the year.)
Cliff Browneye and his friend Carolyn.

Fall Flying at WMSS

Saturday was a better than expected day for flying. Temps warm, few clouds, modest wind at 5-10 mph (we expected 10 – 15 mph). We started at 10:30 AM and found some ridge lift from the trees early, then the wind calmed down and thermals started popping. They seemed to be moving pretty fast so you had to stick with them downwind. Naturally John Winstanley did well downwind and got a 1/2 hr. flight with his Xantipa. Katie, Larry Jeffery, Cliff and Francois all got in some great flying. I flew my Shadow and the Cross Tail Duck. It was a great day to fly.


Katie with sailplane in the distance.



A Great First RC Glider

This is a great video put together by John Winstanley a WMSS. Thank you John!

Great Flying Last Saturday

Here’s a photo of some of us out at the AAA Sod Farm last Saturday. Ed Whyte was also there but left earlier.

The weather was the best all year with temps in the 70’s, 4 mph winds, lots of sun and monster lift.


Breaking News:

Many glider pilots would agree that in Western Michigan at least, this season’s winds have been far higher than many of us care to sport fly.

Couple the weather with the Covid-19 pandemic and it has been a better building opportunity for some members than flying season. There now seems to be a shift in more favorable wind conditions toward the end of July and beginning of August 2020.

This past Saturday our Woody Contest which, was postponed earlier in the summer, had between 3-5 mph light winds for most of the event. We have been lucky with really decent weather three out of the four recent contests. Only one was a bit on the windy side but it still was a good day.

It pains me to admit that our site has not been kept current. I recently retired and will do my best to bring it up to date in the next several months and keep it fresh when there is more West Michigan Soaring Society news to report.

Visitors are always welcome to watch us fly at either of our flying fields. However, between the sporadic weather and the shifting “stay at home orders” many times we make decisions very quickly and communicate those more effectively by means of our WMSS Club email forum. I will post information about flying when I am pretty confident we will be at one field or the other in a certain time frame.

If you have questions please email me – Larry Weller – larry.weller2@gmail.com and I will try to get back to you quickly.