Thomas Knauff

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Thomas L. Knauff (born 1938) is an American writer, glider pilot, flight instructor, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Designated Pilot Examiner, and a member of the U.S. Soaring Hall of Fame. He was an early pioneer of ridge soaring in the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians in the 1960s, ultimately setting five world records flying gliders there. He was the stunt pilot in the 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair.[1]

Knauff was the first glider pilot to fly 750 km and 1000 km triangle course flights in the United States, and was the first to fly 1000 km with a passenger. His 1,647 km (1,023 mi) out-and-return flight in 1983 was the world's longest glider flight at the time, stood as a world record for nearly 20 years, and is still a U.S. national record. He has set more than 50 other U.S. National soaring records.

His glider flight training manuals, Glider Basics from First Flight to Solo and Glider Basics from Solo to License are the most popular in the U.S., and he is one of the most respected glider flight instructors in the world. He is one of the few FAA designated pilot examiners who are authorized to issue initial flight instructor certificates.

Knauff currently lives near State College, Pennsylvania with his wife Doris Grove, another hall of fame glider pilot. They own and operate the Ridge Soaring Gliderport in Julian, Pennsylvania, which they founded in 1975.[2]

World glider records[edit]

Knauff has set the following records:[3]

Other flying accomplishments[edit]

Knauff's other accomplishments include:[4]

  • Over 50 U.S. national gliding records
  • World/National gliding competitions
  • Kronfield Challenge Cup 1991 (First American)
  • Eaton Trophy (with Doris Grove) 2000
  • du Pont Trophy 1989
  • Stroukoff Trophy 1989
  • SSA Exceptional Achievement Award 1986
  • FAI 1000K Diploma #15 (Int #31) 1980


Knauff has written the following books:[5]

  • Accident Prevention Manual for Glider Flight Instructors, with Doris Grove, 2nd edition, 1993, (No ISBN)
  • Accident Prevention Manual for Glider Pilots, with Doris Grove, 1992.
  • After Solo, 1995, ISBN 99967-728-9-6
  • Cockpit Guide for Glider CFI's
  • Glider Basics from First Flight to Solo, 5th edition, 1993, ISBN 0-9605676-3-1
  • Glider Basics from Solo to License [edited by Allan Northcut and Norm Gilmore ; drawings by Robert Fitch]. 1st ed, 1984. ISBN 0-9605676-2-3
  • Glider Emergency Procedures
  • Glider Flight Instructor Manual, 2001
  • Judgment Training Manual for Glider Pilots, with Doris Grove, 1985. OCLC 61776977
  • Judgment training manual for glider flight instructors, 1986. OCLC 61776976
  • Off Field Landings, 1993
  • Ridge Soaring the Bald Eagle Ridge, 1987
  • The Bronze Badge Book
  • Transition to Gliders : A Flight Training Handbook for Power Pilots .2nd ed., 1990, 1984, ISBN 0-9605676-2-3


  1. ^ [1] Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Grove, Doris. "About the Author" in Transition to Gliders: A Flight Training Handbook for Power Pilots
  3. ^ "FAI Record File". 
  4. ^ "The Soaring Hall of Fame Alphabetical Listing". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  5. ^ "The rec.aviation.soaring bibliography FAQ version 1.04". Retrieved 2013-10-19.