The National Soaring Museum is the only comprehensive U.S. museum (and one of only four worldwide) focused on soaring and motorless flight. Our local community, Elmira, is regarded as the "Soaring Capital of America," in part because of soaring's central role for nearly 70 years in the social and economic history of the region by attracting individuals and associations from around the world for thousands of contests, lectures, symposia, and special events.
National soaring contests of the 1950s brought about the concept of a national soaring museum. Area soaring then became the predominant theme in a local history museum, created in Elmira during that decade, at the Strathmont Estates.
During July 1995, NSM and Harris Hill Soaring Corporation demonstrated the enduring preeminence of Elmira in soaring by hosting the first International Vintage Sailplane Meet (IVSM) ever held in the United States. Pilots (91) and gliders (49 ships from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s) from around the world flew off Harris Hill. Over 5,000 people participated in the ten-day event which received media coverage in the U.S, Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. The Museum once again sponsored IVSM in 2000. As a result of such events, aviation enthusiasts and historians, sailplane pilots (29,000 registered in the U.S.), and the museum and academic scholars, today recognize our Museum as the primary historical institution for motorless flight in the United States.
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