South Dakota Slopin’ Safari – July 2001

South Dakota Slopin’ Safari – July 2001
by Ed Berris

Walt Huemmer, Dave Engleson, Dave Fisher, Lee Berris (my son) and I drove to Central South Dakota for the 2001 slope expedition. We met Mirko Bodul and South Dakota slope guide and all around good guy, Rob Hurd waiting for us on the side of the road off interstate 90.  Mirko had left Milwaukee on the 18th so he already had plenty of flying time completed by the time we arrived early Friday afternoon.

Walt, Ed, Dave E. and Dave F. at the ranch in South Dakoa


We wasted no time heading to what turned out to be the most fantastic slope site I’ve visited and that includes Torrey Pines in San Diego. The hill was over 500 feet tall and the bowl shaped area we flew in extended all the way down to the river/lake below. It was not only beautiful but also a fantastic place to fly from.

The farmer that owned the land came up each day we were there to watch us fly and to visit. He and his son couldn’t have been friendlier and we also enjoyed their company. On Saturday night he (the land owner) suggested that we visit one of the restaurants that he was familiar with. He told us to be sure to tell the hostess that we were flying on his land and to treat us right.  Actually, we didn’t have to do that because while we were waiting to be seated for dinner, he called the restaurant himself to tell the owner that we were guests of his and to make sure they took good care of us.

What a change from the usual greetings we get when we ask land owners to use their land to fly our models.

Each of us had more than enough stick time and we flew everything we brought with us. I had several flying wings that I had finished a few years ago that never saw the air. My Zipper proved to be a fantastic flying airplane.

There was talk of a club purchase so if you are interested in this quick building fiberglass and foam flying wing let me know. I’ll see if we can get a club purchase. You can check it out at:

Walt flew his P40 foamie in combat against Rob Hurd’s wings and Schweitzer 1-26. Both of them put on a demonstration of great flying. Walt even got some air time with his Sagitta 900 which looked great in the air.

Dave Engleson’s Mustang (his own design and construction) spent a lot of time in the air and I seem to recall some very close formation flying and an unanticipated combat hit from a much heavier Schweitzer 1-26. It lived to fly again. Dave’s Fun One also looked great in the air and like all of us he had more time on the controls this weekend than he probably did all last year. (Hope I’m not exaggerating Dave)

Even Walt’s P40 needed some emergency surgery after the nose was nearly severed. That might have been some bad karma brought his way after chasing the vultures that seemed interested in what was flying the their airspace. The P40 returned to the air to put on some great flying demonstrations.

Dave Fisher also had a great time flying this Hillbilly, Zagi, and Highlander. Towards the end of Saturday it seemed that every time I looked, Dave was standing at the edge of the hill, radio in hand, smile on face and Zagi in the air. I’d guess his last flight was over an hour long. Dave rated himself as a novice when he arrived but I think with all the stick time he enjoyed he is well past that level. I saw loops, rolls and other stunts so I’d say he not only learned plenty he also had a lot of fun.

My son, Lee got plenty of help from Walt, Dave and Rob. By the end of the trip I think he could easily handle the slope by himself. His big grin at the end of the day told me all I needed to know about what he thought of the trip.

For me, this trip was more fun than I could have hoped for. Just being with my son and the other club members was terrific. I got to fly a bunch of airplanes that were just begging for some action. My favorite model other than the Zipper was my 2 meter Super Dragonfly. It not only looked great in the air but it flew beautifully. I did a little damage to the tail during a 12 G unintentional dive test but nothing that I couldn’t fix at night in my motel room. I think I’ll rebuild the tail and polish up the fuselage so that it looks like new again.

Mirko brought a 3 meter Multiplex wing. It’s a Cortina,  beautiful swept wing with flaps and spoilers. I actually bought this wing from Mirko over two years ago but after sending the check, Mirko had second thoughts about selling it. He finally agreed that it was time to make room in his house for another new model so I finally did get this monster from him on our trip. I got a chance to test fly it and was glad to see that it was really quite docile and also beautiful in the air. I’ll clean it up a bit and perhaps repaint the fuselage pod this winter. (or maybe I won’t)

I can’t say enough about how gracious Rob Hurd was. He really went out of his way to make sure we saw what his state had to offer.  I know we will be seeing Rob again soon because all of us want to do a fall trip back to the same area that we visited this time. There are many other spots to try. Our host asked that we treat these slopes as a fisherman does his best fishing spots. For that reason we are not being specific about exactly where we were but if you want to find out just come with us when we go back at the end of September or beginning of October. You won’t be sorry.

Roger and Becky, Jason and Mike, this message is specifically for you. Get some slope kits. Build them and come with us. You already know how much fun electrics are and you’ve had a taste of gliders but this will be an experience you’ll love.

Over and out for now.


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