LIFT was founded by Walte Fricke in the late 1970's and has grown to more than 25 members. From spring to early winter, members can be seen launching and flying their sailplanes (gliders), electric powered, and other silent aircraft at a 40-acre flying field rented from a local farmer. The field is located outside of Traverse City, MI in an area known as the "Little Finger Peninsula." Thus, the club name of "Little Finger Thermaleers" or "LIFT".
When flying gliders (soaring), pilots launch their aircraft with electric powered winches or "High Start" rubber launch systems to heights of hundreds of feet then release them from the "tow line" and search for rising columns of warm air called thermals. Upon finding a thermal, they circle their aircraft in the warm rising air that can lift an aircraft hundreds of feet higher into the sky. Flights have been recorded of more than 3000 feet with the maximum height limited only by the ability of the pilot to see and control the aircraft.
LIFT members consist of beginners to those with decades of experience and have attained the highest level of League of Silent Flight competency. Some members are actively involved in regional, national, and international contests while others prefer to simply "fun fly" on a sunny afternoon. The countryside is beautiful, thermals abound, and members enjoy meeting and flying with other enthusiasts. During winter months, members usually build new aircraft for the coming season. The club also has monthly meetings during the winter months that allow members to get together and talk about flying, building, and other facets for this hobby.
The types of aircraft flown range from traditionally built aircraft made from balsa and spruce and purchased in a kit to "Almost Ready to Fly" aircraft that come 70 - 90 percent constructed. Some build and fly more advanced aircraft that have multiple functions and are controlled by computerized radio equipment. Others design their own aircraft using computer aided design (CAD) and construct the aircraft using foam, fiberglass, kevlar, and other exotic materials as well as balsa and spruce. Aircraft range in size with wingspans of 8 inches to greater than 12 feet.
Visit our membership page for information on joining LIFT!
Board of Directors (Effective January 2019)
January 8, 2014
LIFT Constitution and By-Laws