Meanwhile, Wolters was active on other fronts. Fishing and dogs were his passion, and if some Eastern field-trialers were snippy, Midwesterners and Westerners were friendly and open. Wolters bought a camper truck, and he and Olive, the two children, Roger and Gretchen, and a pair of Labs would drive west on vacation, stopping to fish, visit kennels or attend field trials. Wolters spent hundreds of hours remodeling the camper. For instance, he built a special kennel compartment for the Labs above the right rear wall, installed extra lights, put in a shower, made fitted dish racks, rigged up a canopy for an outside patio and built an observation deck on the roof. He bought a climbing bike, which fitted on the back and when the family stopped to camp he would tootle off on the bike to fish. Should Olive need him, she only had to call on a walkie-talkie. The camper, named Lablubber's Landlubber II, is so self-sufficient that when they visit friends the Wolterses stay in the camper instead of the home. When the Wolterses visit a camper rally people line up at the door for a tour. To many persons, unfamiliar with Wolters' other sporting activities, he is reverentially referred to as "the guy with that camper." Wolters says, "The camper falls in with my idea of having things that are compact. I enjoy small things that are well designed."
Wolters stayed active in Labs until 1965. But by then he felt there was little more he could do with dogs, and some of the people were unpleasant. One day while walking down the street with a royalty check in his pocket, he saw a car he liked. It was an MGB GT, and he bought it at once. Why not race cars? He took driving lessons. But he was not long in finding that sports car racing was not for him. He didn't care for too many of the people ("somewhat flashy," he says), and then he really did not understand engines. He would have to rely on someone else to do the tinkering. Moreover, racing looked as if it might be expensive. One day while racing at Lime Rock in Connecticut, Wolters saw a youngster cartwheel a car. "It didn't bother me to see the accident," Wolters says. "The boy walked away without a scratch. But he totally wrecked his car. I realized one thing then. He had a wealthy father, I didn't and next week he'd be back in a new car. I wouldn't. I saw myself getting into something that was going to be over my head financially."
A year and a half ago a friend, Phil Gilbert, president of Rolls-Royce Inc. in America, suggested that Wolters try soaring. Wolters went aloft with another friend, Arthur Hurst, and he was enthralled. Soaring was convenient at the Wurtsboro, N.Y. airport, only an hour's drive from home. "It cost me $450 for lessons to get my license," he says. "And after you get your license you can rent, and the cost will come to about what it costs you to ski." In his first year of soaring Wolters set a personal goal of 100 hours in the air. "I made it," he says. "I held my wheel off from landing until the sweephand came around to the minute, and then I touched down. That's a lot of flying for a sailplane, especially since my early flights were only 20 minutes long. But I find this to be one of the most challenging sports I ever set my mind to."
After getting his license Wolters bought a German-made sailplane, a Ka-8B, and then a Libelle, a compact fiberglass ship also made in Germany. He recently sold it and got back what he had invested, because the demand for sailplanes exceeds the supply. He now owns a new model Std. Libelle. "The people in soaring are tremendous," Wolters says. "They're hot competitors, but they help one another, and they are out to help you. Some dog people wouldn't talk to you if your life depended on it. They keep their little tricks to themselves. But the people in soaring, the top people I've met, George Moffat [the 1969 national soaring champion], Gordie Lamb, Gleb Derujinsky, are out to help others. George will come up to me and say, 'That landing wasn't quite right,' and then he'll tell me what to do. When I bought my first Libelle I got a phone call from Ben Greene down in North Carolina, the 1968 champion. I had met him briefly at the Nationals and had flown with him in Pennsylvania. And he warned me I was getting into a slippery little ship and told me what to watch for. This is the camaraderie in this field and I really enjoy it."
Last year Wolters qualified for the silver badge, becoming only the 1,494th American to meet the standards set by the F�d�ration A�ronautique Internationale. To do this, he had to climb 3,280 feet above release by the tow plane, make a flight of five hours' duration and make a 32-mile cross-country flight. Olive crewed for him on the last, keeping in touch by radio (Wolters' call sign is "Old Dog") as she sped along roads in the camper truck with the 28-foot-long trailer for the glider hooked up behind. Wolters completed the flight by landing in a startled farmer's field. Having gotten his silver badge, he qualified for the Eastern regional cross-country competition and won the standard class. During the flight he got extremely low and feared that he would have to land in an apple orchard. Inasmuch as the trees were only 25 feet apart and the wing-span of the Ka-8B is 50 feet, he thought he might have what he called "a real problem of geometry." Fortunately, he hit a good lift and shot up to 6,000 feet. Upon landing, he asked about the apple orchard and was told, "That's no apple orchard—them's cherries."
"I think I can get pretty good at soaring," Wolters says, "but I'm not too sure I want to become a really hotshot competitor. My ambition is to qualify for the gold badge in 1969 and then go for diamond. There are only 109 diamonds in the history of American soaring. In diamond you have to make a 300-mile flight and climb 16,000 feet above your low point. I'll probably go out to California to do that. I hear that the lee wave off the Sierra Nevada is just sensational."
With fishing still available in season on the Amawalk, the Labs at home ready to retrieve and a book on soaring in the works, it would seem that Wolters' time is filled. (Since 1956 he also has held a full-time job as illustrations editor of Business Week.) Yet he has noticed a small chink in the calendar in January and February when the Wurtsboro airport is closed by snow. That happens to be the time of the year when the nearby Hudson is frozen over and iceboaters from a hundred miles around take to the river. "Iceboating sounds very attractive," Wolters says. "I am sure I will want to delve into it. Some of the principles I've learned in soaring apply. Iceboating might be just the sport to fill in the entire year very nicely."