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HSS History Page

Harbor Soaring Society History 

History of Harbor Soaring Society
       Fairview Park, City of Costa Mesa, California

A brief history of likeminded individuals who have flown on the Fairview Mesa since 1962, with Harbor Soaring Society (HSS) being founded and charted by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in 1964, now serving over 60 members and 100+ non-members, with a focus on exposing people of all ages and genders to the miracle of flight by offering perfectly safe (free) flight training. The club has always been concerned with being good stewards of the mesa environs, now Fairview Park, through many community activities and involvement in park improvements and cleanup activities.

HSS Logo

Founded in 1962

First AMA Chartered Soaring Club

Flying Fairview Park Since 1963

Silver Leader Club Since 2009

Gold Leader Club Since 2011

Early History Circa 1962
HSS Before Fairview Park

Club Founded with 10 members in 1962   

Model Flying Started at Fairview Mesa in 1963

Quote from club founder…


“From about 1963 on, we would also fly the bluff at the Fairview field, as a change of scenery and for variety of flying. There was no park there and the land belonged to the State of CA. The field was gigantic because Placentia Ave. did not cross it, so Fairview State Hospital was the east edge of the open field (hence we called it the Fairview site) and the two schools were not built yet…”

                                                                                                        -Frank Colver

Early History Circa 1974

In the early years, most flying was done off the bluff    

Man with Glider
Man throwing glider in air
Early History Circa 1980 and Beyond

 Winch Lofted “Thermal Flying” becomes Popular in the1980’s.

Launching new gliders

Quote from club founder… “We also started using the Fairview field for thermal flying when we discovered how good it could be at times. When Estancia High School was built we used the big grassy field there for thermal flying until more facilities made that unusable. By this time most competitive flying was thermal flying and not slope soaring and the club had become a mostly thermal soaring group so we dropped the word “slope” from the club name…”  - Frank Colver

Click Here

For link about Frank Colver and website on Hang Glider History

HSSS Roster 1968.jpg
Frank Photo.jpg
Early History Circa 1993 and Beyond

In 1993 Talbert Regional Park is created… great for the environs…Early 2000, trees are planted at base of the bluff.  End of slope soaring Era!

The planting of trees blocks the Westerly wind, which had created slope lift for the gliders but now only produces turbulence. That is why little slope flying activity is seen today, which is okay, but a question often asked

fairview park with kids
Updated area of fairview park
Early History Circa 2002 and Beyond

Early 2002, Harbor Soaring Society plans and develops a runway. This is the beginning of a New Era… Electric Powered Aircraft !

Airfield and gathering
Early History Circa 2005, A New Field
From the Sept 2005 Plane Rap Newsletter, A Public/Private Partnership

The City of Costa Mesa has done a magnificent job of grading a large area north of the paved pedestrian path which will be the new takeoff and landing area for gliders and power planes. The photo below shows the work being done. This was started on Thursday August 18th, with grading being finished on the 19th. The area will be compacted shortly, after which members are invited to help rake up rocks and do minor cleanup.

The city graded the are 150' wide by 470' long, parallel to the pedestrian path which gives us a North East to South West runway nicely aligned with the prevailing winds. This provides significantly improved safety since we will no longer be flying across the paved pedestrian path.  Bill Eckles and Tom Burgess will be working on a new set of field rules.  They would appreciate any inputs from members and park users that would make these rules better for both electric and gliders pilots.  We have aerial photos in Plane Rap on our website

Work on the airfield
Harbor Soaring Society at Fairview Park
Community Benefits – HSS Installation of Park Signage
New signage at the airfield
Drilling holes for new signs at airfield
Working on new signs at airfield
Harbor Soaring Society at Fairview Park
Community Benefits – HSS Park Cleanup

HSS ACTIVITIES:  And We Actually Do Real Work, No Cost To City

Many Loads Of Trash, General Director Henry, Son and VP Jesse In The Thick Of Things!

We have always maintained our field at no cost to the City. This is done a few times a year, as needed, under approval of the City

HSS Group
HSS Membes
Cleaning HSS Field
Harbor Soaring Society in the Wider Community

Aerial photo taken to assist the Orange County River Park Committee to determine degree of storm water intrusion into “Wetlands” adjacent to HB power plant. With more importance is the fact this work, done by Jim Ward, was used to support the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy as they worked to restore the important wetlands. For this effort Jim received a wonderful letter from the the HB Wetlands Conservancy, stating in part:



HB Power Plant

“The level of sophistication and versatility of your aircraft is amazing and the quality of the photographs is outstanding”… from Lena Yee Hayashi, Chair, HBWC. Sadly, Jim is no longer with us. We miss, as does the community as a whole, his wonderful humor, incredible models, highly skilled photography and genuine caring for his fellow mankind…



Respect For The Environs
RC Report

The Harbor Soaring Society has always respected its place in the park and worked to protect its environs.

Tony Bomkamp, now with Glenn Lukos Associates, the consulting biologist to the City of Costa Mesa on current conditions regarding protection on the Vernal Pools and the fairy shrimp habitat, reported this in 1995… long before the San Diego fairy shrimp was deemed to be an endangered species on February 3, 1997.



Nothing has changed… HSS continues to respect this fragile habitat and will continue to do so. 



Support from Environmental Advocates
Fairview Part Newsletter
Harbor Soaring Society Community Activities
Scarecrow and Pumpkin Festival - Here October 15/16, 2016

The Orange County Model Engineers again presented the Scarecrow and Pumpkin Festival at their Goat Hill facility in Fairview Park. The event was staged October 15 and 16, and again HSS participated by entering the scarecrow competition and staffing a booth at their train station. Joni Whitsitt reports that our entry, designed by John Anderson, won First Place in the Scary class, which resulted in a $50 award to HSS. Thanks, John. Joni Whitsitt and Rob Askegaard have provided the following pictures, mainly showing club members that participated in the event. Many thanks to our photographers, and all that contributed to the event success.



HSS Community Activities

Here is our award winning Scarecrow designed 

by John Anderson. Helpers include Henry Smith, Ralph Siegfeid, John, and Ryan McMinimy.



Joni Whitsitt and Mary Lou Calleros working on the paper gliders that were given away to visiting children.


Harbor Soaring Society Community Activities
City of Costa Mesa Concerts in the Park – Here 2015

Every summer, the City of Costa Mesa sponsors a series of free concerts at Fairview Park. This year they were held on July 7, 14, 21, and 28. They begin at 5 PM and end at sundown. As part of our community service, Harbor Soaring Society manages a booth there in order to introduce model aviation to local families.



HSS Community Activities
Harbor Soaring Society Community Activities
Imaginology Serving Kids at the OC Event Center for several years

At right is Ted Broberg and Ralph Sigfreid explaining transmitter controls. Below left is John Anderson about to fly class projects. Bottom right is a view of the Design/Build/Fly construction tables. John assisted over 100 students during each of the three days.

Letter of commendation from Christine Gunst ( OC Fair Grounds Event Coordinator) (Click Here)


HSS Community Activities
Harbor Soaring Society Community Activities
Radio Control and Hobby Expo – 2014 and beyond 
At OC Fairgrounds, exposing many kids to aviation

Supported by members of HSS, Ted Broberg, John Rittenhouse, John Anderson, Mike Fox, Robb Askegaard and many others all for the purpose of exposing kids to model aviation, flying simulators and explaining how airplanes fly and how they are controlled.


The kids and their parents were invited to our flying field to fly actual radio controlled airplanes, with dual controls.


Quite a few took advantage of this opportunity and have since entered the hobby… with perhaps a future in the aviation design and flying industry, a wonderful career.

HSS Community Activities
Harbor Soaring Society Community Activities
Community Benefits – Educating the Youth

A tribute to John Anderson, Ted Broberg and Dick Baxter for their years of service educating youth in a more formal setting at various schools, including Rea, Whittier, Wilson, Davis and Killeybrooke Elementary Schools, plus Te Winkle Intermediate, Irvine School Foundation, Newport Sea Base and others!

HSS Community Activities

An example of the setting is here at Rea Elementry School where John and Ted collaborated with Mr. Harmon who teaches a formal study in airplane design. This involves DBF (Design, Build, Fly) where students receive instruction and then design, build and fly their creations.

These are first small paper or foam models, then graduate to larger models to test their skills. Those who show interest are then invited to our flying field where they fly Radio Controlled aircraft with dual controls by Ted.

The sky’s the limit, perhaps leading to a career in aviation design or flying.

Harbor Soaring Society at Fairview Park
Community Benefits – Youth Participation
Harbor Soaring Society at Fairview Park
Community Benefits – Youth Participation

Construction of HSS Kiosk. A join effort between HSS members and Boy Scout Troop 711.  Team effort at it’s Best !

HSS Community Activities
HSS Community Activities

Below, Ted Broberg teaching a bunch of kids about the miracle of flight. Ted was the Secretary of the club and lead flight instructor for many years and never missed a meeting, always capturing the jist of the conversation, which was always published in our newsletter to provide information of current activities for the general membership thanks to Fred Hesse.

HSS Community Activities
HSS Community Activities

Notice if you will the absolute concentration of the kids, above, as Ted describes how to bank the aircraft to the right, thus making a turn. His hands say it all…


While a Cliché, our kids are our future, to be carefully nutured, and when done so they may become our future aircraft engineers and pilots... wonderful careers.

Community Benefits – Flight Training at The OC Fair
HSS Community Activities OC Fair
Community Benefits – Introduction to the Miracle of Flight
Introduction to flying
Introduction to flying
Introduction to flying
Introduction to flying
Community Benefits – A Hobby that Lasts a Lifetime!
Learn to fly
Learn to fly
Learn to fly
Learn to fly
Community Benefits – Educational Outreach

 During it’s 50+ years existence… the members of the Harbor Soaring Society have spent countless hours instructing the next generation of engineers and pilots…

HSS Education Outreach

HSS member John Anderson, teaching the “next generation” of  Engineers!

HSS Education Outreach

Future pilot looking skyward, success!

HSS members… Fred Hesse, John Anderson, Joni Whittsit, Dick Baxter and others spend quality time teaching local students the elements of aircraft design !

HSS Education Outreach

Davis, Whittier and Wilson schools have all benefited from HSS taught aeronautical programs.

STEM  (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics)  

HSS members are also actively pursuing the creation of STEM curricula for local High Schools.

Community Benefits – HSS Educational Outreach and Support

The UCI 2012/2013 DBF Team briefing our membership on their success, First Overall at the AIAA World Heavy Lift Competition out of 80 teams entered, kudos!

UCI Newsletter
HSS Education Outreach
HSS Education Outreach
Harbor Soaring Society at Fairview Park
Community Benefits – Respect for the Environment and the joy of soaring with our friends in the sky

Gliders sharing a thermal with White Pelicans… thanks good friends, soaring is a joy… (Fear not, they are way above the gliders, so no interference is involved)

Flying at Fairview Park

This history of the Harbor Soaring Society was compiled April, 2017 by John Rittenhouse and Dick Odle, with gratitude to major contributions from Frank Colver, Fred Hesse, John Anderson, Jim Sonnenmeier Ph.D., Rob Askegaard, and many others.


All rights reserved. Copies of all this material or portions thereof may be used with proper credit.

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