By Mark La Ciura
contributing writer 

Glider rides at Mountain Valley Airport


September 2, 2023

Mark La Ciura.

Evelyn Mizell in front and instructor pilot Mike "Doc" Brooks.

When I was asked to do photography for the Flight Test Museum Foundation at our local sailplane airport, I was delighted to help out.

I grew up at Mountain Valley Airport learning to fly sailplanes. The owners, Jane and Larry Barrett, treated me like family. Larry gave me my FAA private and commercial flight tests. I was able to amass tons of glider time over 35 years of flying. I did over 1,800 commercial glider rides for the airport and had a blast doing it. I got to meet many famous people over the years, like Neil Armstrong. Armstrong loved sailplanes, aviation and was very easy to talk with.

I always see that love for aviation with all the pilots at the glider port in Tehachapi. So, on Saturday, Aug. 19, we got an early start on incentive glider rides – a great idea from Rex Moen, who is on the board of directors for the Flight Test Museum Foundation. We had to get an early start due to the storm that was on its way that weekend.

It was fantastic! We got all the rides in with good weather before the rain storm hit around 1:30 p.m. that day.

I was recently invited for a VIP tour at Edwards AFB, which was held to get the word out about funds needed to complete projects and the new museum outside the west gates of the base. Rex Moen is the force behind a new fundraising plan called the Life Friends Campaign. Moen has been on the Flight Test Museum foundation Board of Directors for over 23 years. Through the efforts of the foundation they have completed a concrete pad and some framing for the first large hangar. The total investment so far, from private donations, is about $3.5 million dollars.

The new site will include the Bob Hoover Library, Society of Test Pilots archives, STEM education center and more aircraft displays and exhibits.

Mark La Ciura.

Sailplane on final.

But back to the incentive glider rides, which was to thank people who donated to continue the work at Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Museum. We did three incentive rides. Hope Staley, Skyla Castro and Evelyn Mizell said they all had a blast. I will add, no air sick bags were used. We use to call them "seal a meals" when I was flying a lot. The thing about air sickness is to keep your eye on the horizon and most will not have issues flying. I will add Skyla Castro enjoyed her ride so much she asked for a second flight and the airport was happy to do that for her.

Mike "Doc" Brooks and David "Ponch" Lyons were the instructor pilots on the glider rides. Jimmy Dolittle III served as the tow plane pilot.

If you would like to learn more about the Life Friends Campaign, contact Rex Moen at (661) 972-4694 to find out how you can get involved with this campaign.

You can help spread the word. The Foundation is also looking for volunteers with an aircraft or aviation background. But even if you don't, there are ways you can help raise funds. For more information about the Flight Test Museum Foundation visit

You can also contact the museum at or (661) 277-8050.


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