Inducted: October 28, 2017
Sarah Arnold was born in Wisconsin and raised on a farm near Lumby, British Columbia. A special family friend, “Uncle” LeRoy, taught her to fly ultralights at age 13. She earned her Canadian private pilot certificate on her 17th birthday. Working in a bakery throughout her teen years, Sarah earned enough to buy her first car, pay for flying lessons, and purchase her share in a 1948 Piper Vagabond.
She moved to Tennessee in 2001, bought the Chilhowee glider business in Benton, Tennessee in 2004, and at age 24, became the youngest commercial gliderport operator in the country. At that time, the Chilhowee runway was in rough condition. Sarah applied for a TDOT grant which was used to grade, install a drainage system, and sprig new Bermuda grass.
As of 2017, Sarah has logged around 6,400 hours of flight time, including 3,700 hours in gliders. She holds a Commercial Pilot certificate with airplane single engine land, instrument, and glider ratings. She is a Certified Flight Instructor with airplane single engine land and glider ratings; a Ground Instructor with advanced and instrument ratings, and an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic with Inspection Authorization. She maintains the gliderport’s aircraft, including overhauling engines for the towplanes. Students from across the country travel to Chilhowee Gliderport for training, and Sarah has endorsed more than 180 students for their FAA glider checkrides.
Sarah has brought many soaring events to Tennessee, including the first FAI Pan American Gliding Championship, a world class biennial competition for pilots from North and South America.
Sarah has received global recognition for her competitive soaring achievements. She has won six regional soaring competitions and one U.S. national competition. During one flight in 2011 she set three U.S. records and 11 Tennessee state gliding records. In January 2013, Sarah became the first woman glider pilot to represent the U.S., when she competed at the 32nd World Gliding Championships in Argentina. That summer, she won a bronze medal at the 7th FAI Women’s World Gliding Championships in France. In 2017, at the 9th FAI Women’s World Gliding Championships in Czechoslovakia, Sarah won a silver medal for team USA; the first since 1987.