ZanoniaText s

Ross Stephens RS-1 (1936)

by Vince Cockett

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A while ago I was approached to create a drawing of the American ‘Zanonia’ glider, a subject I had little knowledge of. Unfortunately I was not supplied with any assistive material and the subject was left dormant. Later, intrigued by this earlier request, I started researching this unusual subject and was greatly assisted by the National Soaring Museum at Elmira where the glider still exists and the BungeeCord Magazine for vintage glider enthusiasts run by the Vintage Sailplane Association. I gave the final drawing to these authorities as a thanks for their help.

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The history of the glider is better written by others and their findings are contained within several articles, which I have made available on this page, but in the meantime a couple of snippets of information not mentioned on the drawing:

The spoilers could operate independently of each other and by using a single spoiler with ailerons and rudder the Zanonia could pull an extremely tight turn.

Documented in the Bungee Cord rebuild article is the addition of several pounds of lead in each wing to increase the gliders airspeed. Look out for the photo in the article.

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Many photos can be found on Flick by searching for Zanoni

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Above 2 photos of the construction are from Aerosente

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log book hours
Harvey Stephens
In 1935/6 The glider cost Harvey Stephens $2500 to build, but in 1939 it suffered a bad accident. (See photo left). From Soaring Magazine of July 1939:-

“Harvey Stephens cut from the tow line on Thursday with Tulsa as his goal. He had the misfortune to crack his ship on a post hidden in a corn field. The post completely demolished the right wing and nose of the Zanonia. The ship was thrown over on its back and Harvey was suspended in the ship upside down and could not release his safety belt until help arrived. Harvey was besieged by a tribe of young Pawnee Indians who insisted on tearing his ship to pieces to get the bright red Plywood. Harvey, in self defence, finally tore a portion of the Plywood from the ship and handed it to the young Pawnee bucks.”

Woodbridge P. Brown
Swapped from with Harvey Stephens for his glider “Thunderbird”.
John Robinson
11/39 -8/51
Had great success over many years with the glider in competitions. It made American Soaring history by winning the 1940, 1941 and 1946 Nationals, placing third in 1947 and second in 1948 and setting National distance record of 466 km. /290 miles in 1940 and 523 km. /325 miles in 1947 and the world altitude record of 10,211 m. / 33,500 ft. in 1949. Robinson also completed the World’s first Diamond badge using the RS-1
M. Daggett
Bob Brown
James Turnbow
1/59 -8/59
Al Wyrick
8/59 -8/74
Dean McWilliams
8/74 -4/75
Carried out a full restoration. See gallery below.
Paul Gibson
4/75 -10/77
Paul was a collector of Vintage gliders, but because of it’s rarity, it was used only for static display
Dale Busque
10/77 to date
On display at the National Soaring Museum along with his Orlik.

Below are 3 sets of photos of the Zanonia:

First set are present day photos from the National Soaring Museum at Elmira

Second set are photos taken by Hans Groenhoff a celebrated aviation photographer and brother to Günter Groenhoff who is famous for flying the Fafnir glider

Third set were photos taken by Fred Loomis, a local Elmira, NY, photographer. Loomis spent the week at the hill, took photos of everyone and everything, developed the film and sold postcards from his Tent to the many visitors a few hours later. This was his summer income and entertainment.

Full restoration images below

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With Thanks for

Documentation from: Soaring Magazine / Martin Simons / Bungee Cord Magazine