My uncle on my mother’s side, Bob Dodgson, was born in Moroni Utah in 1941 but the family moved to a hobby farm on Camano Island, WA when he was four and 1/2 years old. When growing up on the farm, Bob flew many balsa gliders and built many rubber band powered model airplane kits where all the balsa wing ribs and bulkheads, etc., had to be carefully cut out by hand and glued together with all the balsa stringers etc. Bob was ecstatic on occasion when one of my planes would fly in a thermal and keep climbing higher in the rising air. In college he ended up getting the five year Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Washington and worked in a Seattle Architectural firm for over 4 years after graduating.
Radio Controlled Sailplanes
While working in architecture Bob developed a passion for flying and designing radio controlled sailplanes. When he ended up leaving his architectural job, his wife Sandy, daughter Heather and he took a six month tour around the US in our VW camper van. After they got home, he designed the Todi Sailplane and decided to try to sell kits of this great performing glider. The Todi immediately acquired much local acclaim in the Seattle area and he wanted to try to make a living from selling kits. So he advertised it in a leading national model airplane magazine and never looked back for twenty-five years
Bob’s gliders were the first thermal competition gliders that used flaps and ailerons or flapperons in their wings. This allowed them to be able to change the wing camber along the wing trailing edge for efficient slow thermal flying or for fast and efficient travel while searching for lift. His gliders could do all of these things even with a simple 4-channel radio way before the computer radios came out to utilize the same control systems. His gliders were also the first successful thermal competition gliders that used foam core wings and fiberglass contoured fuselages for a true scale-like appearance. The Saratoga Windsong came out in 1982 and was his most famous kit.
Sixty Acres Park
People started thermal flying at Sixty Acres Park in Redmond along the Sammamish River and soon found that it was a wonderful field to fly gliders from. Many people did fun flying there and beginning in the 1970s, huge sailplane contests with 40 or more contestants were being held there with flyers coming from all over WA state, Oregon, Canada, Alaska, Idaho and California to compete. Sixty Acres Park became the home field for the Seattle Area Soaring Society. However, eventually the soccer games came there and they tried to get the glider flyers kicked out. There were court battles and in the end glider flyers could still fly there but not during soccer times. My Uncle says, “I believe they can still fly there on Wednesdays and on non-soccer times of the year.”
In June of 2019, my uncle Bob Dodgson was officially inducted into the National Model Aviation Hall Of Fame (in Muncie, IN) by the president of the Academy Of Model Aeronautics. His induction was held at a special ceremony near Wenatchee, WA with one of his Windsong gliders being flown at the site by Jim Thomas. Many of the top flyers and Nationals winners with his designs were there for the fun gathering. I was able to attend the induction and made this video in honor of my Uncle who has done so much for sailplanes. Now when I walk by Sixty Acres Park I think of him and the other sailplane fliers and how our lives are woven together in this place. And every once in a while I will see people out there flying gliders and drone and other aerial machines.
You can watch that video on my Facebook Page here:
The Bridges of Redmond
The Bridges of Redmond is a project by presbyterian pastor and artist Jason Dorsey they tells the stories of the Sammamish River that flows through Redmond and the people who love it. Read more here.
Read the story of Jason’s Redmond Roots here
Read the story of past Redmond mayor Christine Himes here
Read the story of past Redmond mayor Rosemarie Ives here
Read the story of river poet Ken Osborne here
Read the story of culture weaver and community builder Laura Lee Bennett here
Read the story of Salmon Caretaker Roger Urbaniak here