History of the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California
Since our glider club has been in existence for nearly eighty years, we certainly could not be labeled a “fly-by-night” phenomenon. However, we do enjoy our daylight flights, especially when the sun shines and thus provides us with good lift for our motorless aircraft.
The Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California, Ltd. (AGCSC) was established in late 1929, during a time when human flight was still in its infancy, and when the romance of all kinds of flying was in its heyday. Following Charles Lindbergh’s flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, Americans looked to the sky with increasing interest. However, the Great Depression made powered flight rather expensive. Getting into the air with gliders was a less expensive solution. High school woodshop classes began building their own primary gliders and many locations in San Diego were used for gliding including Mt. Soledad, Point Loma, Bonita, Pacific Beach, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and the beach below Torrey Pines. The AGCSC originally flew at Mt. Soledad, but over time, migrated to Torrey Pines as its central hub of operation.
Our glider club, the oldest continuously existing glider club in the nation, suspended operations during World War II, but resumed flying at Torrey Pines not long after the war.
As the name suggests, the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California was originally formed as an umbrella organization consisting of more than twenty glider clubs in San Diego region extending all the way into the Los Angeles and San Bernardino area. It was designed to give a unified political voice representing glider activities throughout the region.
Following the extensive publicity of glider flights by Charles and Anne Lindbergh in sailplanes designed and built by Hawley Bowlus in San Diego in 1930, interest in gliding increased dramatically.
Charles Lindbergh first used the cliffs at Torrey Pines for soaring on Feb 24, 1930, on his flight from Mt. Soledad to Del Mar in a Bowlus sailplane. High school students used the beach below the cliffs for primary glider training. By the mid-1930s, operations were moved to the top of the cliffs with more advanced sailplane designs. Membership in the AGCSC waxed during the pre-war period, waned during the war and recovered very well during the post-war period when the club flew from both Torrey Pines and other locations like Lake Elsinore.
The flooding of Lake Elsinore’s gliderport in 1978 resulted in a move of the club to Jacumba and also to Warner Springs. Today the club regularly flies out of Jacumba, Torrey Pines, Ocotillo Wells and other venues in the southwest.
The club owns three sailplanes, a modern winch and miscellaneous equipment to allow us to operate relatively inexpensively and with minimal impact to the environment at our favorite soaring sites. In addition we have a tow plane available for air tows.
Our membership is composed of both highly experienced pilots and student pilots. Club instructors help our newer pilots hone their flying skills while our commercially rated pilots give introductory rides to novices and visitors at the historic Torrey Pines gliderport as well as other venues used by the club.
Some of our members own their own sailplanes or airplanes, but choose to fly with the club as well. The camaraderie and the exchange of knowledge and skills benefit all club members. One of our best assets is the contribution made by club members towards the welfare and flying skills of other club members. For example, one of our members is the designer and builder of the most advanced winches currently available. The combined knowledge and the diverse skills of our members result in lower cost and more enjoyable flying for all.