Dick & Angie Schreder
Charlie Spratt

This story was published in the April 2006 issue of Soaring magazine and is an extract from Charlie's book, "See ya at the airport." The book is available from the National Soaring Museum (www.soaringmuseum.org).

If you had the opportunity to know Dick Schreder, consider yourself fortunate. Angie and Dick Schreder's company and friendship in this sport made the golden years of soaring a treasured memory. Photo by Chuck O'Mahony.

I really began to travel from contest to contest in the mid-70s. I was in Hobbs in '74 for the first contest held there, and I was lucky enough to be invited to Bryan, Ohio in 1976 for the first 15-Meter contest ever held. I had met Dick Schreder a couple of times, but never had a chance to know him. All this was to change at Bryan. Dick has done things in racing that will never be done again. Designing, building, and winning Nationals with his famous sailplanes made Dick one of a kind. Watching him show up at a contest with the sailplane still in production, working all night before the first contest day, then going on task and winning was very impressive. Not only was he a winner at contests, he produced kits of these wonderful ships for others to build. He was the champion of the "low-ballers," and the father of the 15-Meter Class. Over 400 of his kits were built, and many are still flying today.

The contest at Bryan was a great success, and the 15-Meter Class was well established as the new class to race. Over the two weeks of the race, Dick and I became friends. When the race was over, I was invited to travel with the Schreder's to Hutchinson, Kansas as crew. On the trip out I discovered the secret of Dick's strength: Angie. She was a person with insight, and a high-caliber mind. We talked for hours at the table in the motorhome as Dick drove. We covered many subjects, but the one most important to me was soaring. Angie knew who the movers and shakers were, and she had an opinion on all of them. She gave me an overview of the racing scene that I used many times, and her instincts were all right. To this day, I consider Angie the one who opened the door for me in racing. I know Angie spoke well of me among the other crews, and this led to an acceptance that made things much easier for me.

Angie came to many gates over the years to help with the time keeping and spotting. Those long afternoons waiting for the pilots to return were spent reading and talking and our friendship grew stronger and stronger.

We were working the gate at Chester together one afternoon during the finishes. Dick flew through the gate with several others and set up to land on the main runway. The gate was located to give us all a fine view of the landings. As Dick arrived on final we noticed that his gear was not down. I called on the radio "One - check your gear." I repeated the message with more urgency as he got closer to the runway, with no results. Dick was some ten feet off the ground as he passed the gate. All of us were waving and pointing frantically as he floated by, to no avail. He landed in a shower of sparks and with a terrible noise. Now Dick was known for never drinking coffee or whiskey, and never saying a curse word. On this landing he was able to keep two of his virtues intact. Angie and I were instructed to get under each wing and raise the ship so the gear could be extended. On our hands and knees we strained and strained but could not get the ship high enough to allow the wheel to be lowered. Dick finally said, "This has never been so hard before." Angie took a deep breath and relaxed for a second, then said, "Dick, you're right, but the last time we did this you were OUT of the cockpit." With that remark we all began to laugh, and it was several minutes before we could get it together to get the gear down and the glider off the runway.

Both Dick and Angie were very powerful, positive influences on me. Dick passed away on August 2, 2002, and Angie is no longer part of the racing scene. But I will never forget the friendship they have shown me.