Associate Director of C-stores, Warehouse, Purchasing and Concessions
San Diego State University
Hometown: Riverside, Calif.
Education: Attended Riverside Community College
Married: Wife, Cathy, works for Hasbro toys. Has two grown sons and four grandchildren.
Rick Barber, associate director of c-stores, warehouse, purchasing and concessions at 36,000-student San Diego State University, had to wait a long time for a real chance to pursue his passion for flight. After a few lessons at 18, life got in the way for 20 years until he could get back to flying glider planes. Now, Barber is making up for lost time by soaring every chance he gets.
“I was always interested in soaring and birds, and I used to train hawks and falcons when I was young. I used to watch the birds soar so that kind of interested me in it. For my first time, I went over to Lake Elsinore’s glider port and I took about five lessons when I was 18. I thought it was really great, but I ended up getting married and joining the National Guard so I gave up flying gliders.
I stopped for about 20 years, but I knew I wanted to start flying again once the kids started leaving the nest and I started to have some discretionary funds, In 1988, I joined a glider club. It was great because they had instructors and training planes. So I went through the whole process to learn how to fly. Once I flew enough solo hours, I went and took my pilot’s test, which is just like getting a driver’s license with a written test and a flight test with an instructor. Once you pass you actually get a pilot’s license with a glider rating, which allowed me to give passenger rides and fly cross country.
Most gliders have no engine, so you have to either get towed up in the air by another plane (aero tow), get towed by a car or you can do a winch tow where they hook you up to winch and pull you up like a kite. All my flying have been aero tows so I release when I reach lift or a predetermined altitude. The whole idea of being a glider pilot is to stay up as long as you can. I’m a cross-country pilot so my intention is to leave the airport and fly as far as I possibly can and get back to that same airport. The farthest flight I’ve done was 437 miles and I’ve flown more than 4,100 miles this year.
Gliding is such an awesome thing. Being able to be up in the air and view everything is just amazing. It’s a beautiful, quiet type of sport—you’re up there by yourself with just the view. But the real thing about it is that it’s such a thinking man’s sport. You always have to know how high you are, where your next landing area is, how you’re going to get there, where and what type of lift you have. You also always have to make sure you have enough time to land before you lose light.
One crazy thing that happened was when I wasn’t actually the pilot. I was crewing for one of my buddies on a cross-country flight, which means I was following in a car with his trailer, ready to pick him up when he landed. He realized he wasn’t going to make it as far as he wanted so he was going to go back to the nearest landing area, which was in the middle of the desert. There was supposed to be a runway behind this general store, but I couldn’t find it from the ground. He could see it from the air, but it was getting more difficult because he was in sunlight and the ground was getting dark So he decided he should land on the asphalt in front of the general store. He was supposed to land at one end of the asphalt and roll to the other end and he would have had enough room to land. I was in the middle, ready to catch his wing when he landed, but he was still in the air when he went past me. His tail got caught on the phone wire, which snapped and then wrapped around me and dragged me about 100 feet. He damaged his glider and I had wire burns all around my midsection from the wire, but we survived and lived to fly again. When you have no engine, you only have one chance to land correctly. It’s always an adventure.”