Don Ingraham was living in Minneapolis when he was bitten by the soaring bug in 1993 at age 39. Thanks to the tutelage of Bob Wander, by age 40 he had soloed, earned a PPG certificate and purchased a Jantar Standard.
Over the next couple of years he flew the Jantar to more than a dozen MN State Soaring records and kept busy during the winters refinishing it in gelcoat (with much phone advice from George Applebay). Don started flying contests in it in 1996 and moved up to a Discus in 1999. His wife, Kathy, was always willing to track him down, trailer in tow, when he couldn’t make it home from a XC flight. He won the Hilton Cup in 1999 and got to make a dream come true – meeting top pilots and flying different gliders from the Hilton Ranch for ten days straight.
A few years later, in 2003, he asked Kathy what she thought about the idea of going into business running a commercial glider operation. He explained the six-figure salary would be gone and there was a very steep and potentially perilous learning curve. And it would take a big chunk of money. And he had no idea how to do it. And they had two toddlers, Chase (2) and Ali (4). Kathy paused for a moment, then asked how he would feel, years from now, looking back,
if he went back to the stable-yet-now-soul-crushing computer world and never tried to start his own business. Don said he’d feel like a frumpy cowardly wimpy loser. Kathy said she didn’t want to be married to that guy, so game on! Don and Kathy built a website, bought a tow plane (Socata Rallye 235E) and a glider (Grob 103 Twin II) and opened the doors of Cross Country Soaring in Faribault Minnesota in 2004. They now operate a second Grob 103 and a have a winch. He is beginning his 17th year in operation. Check it out crosscountrysoaring.com
Bob Wander was a key factor in Don’s success in pursuit of life in the sky and they have remained good friends. Bob asked Don to write a book based on a talk he delivered at the Sport’s Aviation Conference in Minneapolis in 1996.
That book is now available at bobwander.com for a song! It is called, “The Final Four Minutes – Landing Out”. Bob wrote the second half.
(57:02) Soaring Tales With Dale, Dale Masters brings us another soaring Adventure and this one is titled “Totemic Polemic”