Sailplanes Claim the Turf

The Air Force Academy’s 306th Flying Training Group inaugurated a new $3.6 million sailplane landing area near Colorado Spring, Colo. Designed to reduce wear on the academy’s newly acquired TG-16 sailplanes, the smooth, 1.4 million square foot landing field is composed of artificial turf material. “Vibration from landing impact and landing roll are prime causes of material failure in our new fiberglass and carbon-fiber gliders,” said Maj. Mike Mulligan, 306th Operations Support Squadron assistant operations director. He noted that the “state-of-the-art” aviation turf would reduce “the wear and tear from vibration during landing.” The turf features permanent markings that are easier to see on landing, and will be more affordable to maintain than grass or concrete, according to group officials. “If the Air Force did not invest in an improved landing surface, the new glider fleet would be subject to a premature service-life expectancy,” explained Scott Bowshot, a 10th Civil Engineering Squadron engineer. Academy officials held the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new landing area on March 20. The academy began replacing its fleet of TG-10 gliders with TG-16s last year. (Colorado Springs report by Don Branum)