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Elmer Udd- Glider Instructor

Beware of soft-spoken pilots wearing baseball caps. They may not be what they appear.

Take Elmer Udd, for example. From the grin on his face, you know this guy loves to fly. He's a regular fixture at Dillingham Airfield, demonstrating the art of flight to those who wish to learn. Surely he's fairly new to the flying business, there's just no traces of burn-out in his manners. Too bad he got such a late start in flying.

Ask a few questions, and you're in for a surprise. Elmer first ascended above Hawaii as a Navy P2V pilot back in the mid fifties, traversing the Pacific looking for submarines.

Fast forward to the mid sixties. Elmer is back in Hawaii, employed by Northwest Airlines and flying a DC-7 on military contracts to Johnson, Midway, and other Pacific Islands. By 1969 Elmer moved to the captain's seat of a Boeing 720 (similar to a B-707). From here on, Hawaii was home.

As the airline career wound down, Dillingham attracted this individual, and his new-found interest in glider flying led to a part interest in Soar Hawaii in the mid eighties. A decade later Elmer sold the business, now three times larger than when he bought in, to his chief instructor, Mark Griffin, and another individual. Elmer agreed to help out a little in the transition to new ownership, and that was half a decade ago.

Not all of Elmer's flights hug the reliable ridge lift next to the airfield. He's been to 28,500 ft. in one of the Grobs (although no barograph on board), and he holds the record for highest altitude (23,500 ft.) for a two-person flight in Hawaii (he could have gone higher, but his partner wasn't dressed to withstand the cold).

So, next time you see a low-keyed, baseball-capped pilot hanging around the airfield, be wary.