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15m Class / 18m Class / Open Class
31st FAI WGC - Szeged, Hungary
Ron Tabery: Open Class
Ron Tabery’s first glider ride at age eight was with Neil Armstrong, but he had to wait until age 14 to solo in a SGS 1-26. His principle instructor was his father, George Tabery, who is remembered for having demonstrated the concept of water ballast in 1947. Ron entered competition soaring in 1979 winning 8 consecutive contest days flying an ASW-12 in a regional championship—a feat he has not since repeated. Many of his 5,000 soaring hours include competition and record flying. Tabery is five-time U.S. National Champion and has won the Hatcher ‘Top Gun’ Trophy twice.
Internationally, Ron has competed in five World Championships and a Hitachi Master’s. His performance at the world level includes two 5th place finishes — in St. Auban, France and Leszno, Poland — and four top-10 placements. As a life-long advocate for competition soaring, Ron introduced and developed several contest sites including Uvalde, Brady, and most recently Fredericksburg, where he served as competition director. Tabery is a life member of the SSA, a 28-year member of Fault Line Flyers in Austin, participates in the OLC, holds most of the Texas Open Class speed and distance records and also serves as a member of the U.S. Team Committee. Based in San Antonio, Ron is vice-president of an energy company and enjoys soaring whenever Central and South Texas weather permits.
Garret Willat: Open Class
Garret Willat (28) grew up on Sky Sailing, formerly in Fremont CA, but his parents packed up and moved the entire flight school to Warner Springs CA when he was 8 years old. Currently a full-time glider flight instructor at Sky Sailing in Warner Springs, he can honestly say he is a professional glider pilot. A graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, accumulating over 5000 hours in gliders, he plans on staying in the business of soaring. Garret met his wife Renee at the airport and have a 3 year old daughter Leena, with one more on the way. Garret was persuaded into flying his first Open Class contest, which lead to selling his “kiddy” glider and buying the late Dick Johnson’s Nimbus 3, and despite the rigging difficulties has never looked back. Garret’s first time with big wings was his open class training with 3-time World Champion George Lee at one of his Junior Camps at Plain Soaring in Australia. Garret has flown in two Junior World Gliding Championships, one World Gliding Championships, 12 Nationals and the 2009 Pribina Cup in Slovakia. Garret claimed the 2005 Rudolf Mozer Trophy for the highest Junior pilot in any US Nationals, the 2005 and 2006 Larissa Stroukoff Memorial trophy for the fastest speed during the US Open Class Nationals. The 2009 Richard C. duPont Award for winning the US Open Class Nationals. As a Junior pilot he also won a regional contest. Garret was the CD for the Region 12 regional contest for three years while Sky Sailing was hosting it. He has served one term on the US Rules Committee. Ant Bilsev will be crewing for Garret in Szeged, Hungary.
Bill Elliott: 18-Meter Class
Bill (WE) is a 52 year old pilot and rocket scientist (really!) who hails from Huntsville, Alabama. Bill parlayed degrees in finance and engineering into a 25-year career in the defense industry. As vice-president of a small company, he leads a team of scientists and engineers that helped the U.S. Army manage and test high power laser systems for missile defense. Bill is now a Vice President for another missile defense company, PeopleTec, where he is growing a diverse group of engineers providing missile defense simulation, missile lethality modeling, and helicopter maintenance support.
While in college, Bill earned an airplane rating, but by 1989, he was looking for a new challenge, and the lure of motorless flight induced him to join the Huntsville Soaring Club, where he soloed in a Blanik L-13. He began soaring cross country in the club 1-26, then bought a Duster and, a few years later, an HP-18, with which he won the Region 5 South Sports Class Championship in 1995. After this win, Bill took a 5 year hiatus from soaring to spend time with his kids. By 2001, he had moved up to a DG-300, followed by an ASW-27 in 2002. With the acquisition of the ASW-27, Bill’s competition soaring career moved into high gear. The past several years has seen Bill regularly as the Region 5 North and South 15 meter champion. His 4th place finish at the 2007 15 meter nationals earned him a slot as reserve pilot for the 2008 U.S. Team. After a win in the 18 meter Nationals in 2008 followed by a 3rd place finish in 2009, Bill is now headed for Hungary to fly 18 meter in the WGC.
Bill has served in various roles on the Huntsville Soaring Club Board of Directors and was recently appointed Alabama SSA Governor after a five-year stint as SSA State Recordkeeper. He was a founding member of the Georgia-Tennessee-Alabama (GTA) race series, and has begun development of a Wiki-based Web site, www.GliderPilot.org, that he hopes will become a one-stop shop of soaring information serving the global soaring community. Bill holds many Alabama, Tennessee, and New Mexico State soaring records and recently awarded a U.S. national multiplace record in a Blanik with Rand Baldwin!
When asked what fuels his passion for competition soaring, Bill replied, “I love the challenge that racing offers; focus, preparation, practice, and competition all come together to enhance your soaring skills like no other kind of flying can. It is amazing to race on days when, not long ago, I would not have even assembled the glider. Every time I soar, I return to the ground both amazed and in awe of what it is we soaring pilots do."
Tom Kelley: 18-Meter Class
Working started at an early age for Tom Kelley. Flipping hamburgers @ 14 years old, for 95 cents an hour, he came across a Flying magazine ad showing an Airline Captain, with several pretty flight attendants, saying "How to make 1 million dollars in your career as an Airline pilot". Well, shortly after, Tom's flying career took off.
Now, as a 61 year old retired Airline Captain, with well over 20,000 hours in many assorted airplanes and another 6,000 plus hours in gliders, making the US Team has come more as a surprise than planned. Retiring early from the Airlines in 2003, he returned to contest flying, as a way to see old friends and make new ones. Traveling many times over this great country have brought him to many great soaring sites. With that, came meeting many soaring enthusiasts, from World champions and World record holders, to new pilots and old ones. Tom has always been grateful, to all, for the time they share and have given to our sport of soaring. He also has been given many memories from many folks and is sure he has left some memories of his own, including towing out his glider to the grid behind his motorcycle.
Tom is presently the 18 Meter National Champion and current holder of the "Hatcher Top gun" trophy. In making the US Team, his plans for 2010, are to head over "early" to fly the Flatlands Cup before the Worlds in Szeged, Hungary. This will help gather information for his US Team mates, as none were present at last years pre Worlds practice in Szeged. This new adventure will bring many new and welcome memories which, when over, will leave Tom with a priceless smile.
As on his blog, he wishes to leave you with......."Thermal tight, Soar high, Fly safe, #711 reporting"
John Cochrane: 15-Meter Class
Bitten by the bug by a ride at age 7, John Cochrane soloed at 14 at the Windy City glider operation in Chicago. After a brief detour to hang-gliders during graduate school in California, John returned to flying sailplanes in 1988 when he moved back to Chicago and discovered a serious lack of mountains. He soon started flying cross-country. His first contest was in Uvalde in 1995, and he's been flying regionals and nationals ever since. John is known to many pilots as the author of numerous articles on contest flying strategy, rules, and safety, and currently writes the Soaring Magazine "contest corner" column. Some of the articles don't have too many equations or greek letters in them either. John serves as a member of the US Rules committee. He helps to organize and scores the Northern Illinois Soaring Championships, a great venue for practicing, and he recently became a CFIG to help the next generation at his home in the Chicago Glider Club. In "real life" John is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, whose dean has not yet figured out why John never seems to teach classes in the spring or summer quarter.
Allison (Al) Tyler: 15-Meter Class
Al is a 58 year old third generation retail merchant from Wagener, SC. From childhood he has loved airplanes and started building models at the age of five. Free flight led to control line and the early 70’s were spent competing at the national level in R/C pattern. Models led to a power rating in 1978 and a glider rating in 1982. Al entered competition in 1984, flying in the regional contest at Chester, SC. He was smitten not only by the racing bug, but the interesting people involved. He has been competing ever since in regional and national competitions.
Al, with the strong support of his wife Rhonda, decided in 2000 to continue the spring tradition of a race in SC by hosting a regional (R5N) at their home airstrip in Perry, SC. This meet continues in the tradition of the famous spring races previously held in Chester, SC.
A SSA member for 26 years, Al presently serves on the Executive Committee as First Vice-Chair and is a member of the SSA Foundation. Also, he is the Region 5 Director.
Dennis Linnekin: Team Captain
Dennis became interested in soaring when he helped crew for Bob Klemmedson at the Standard Class Nationals at Minden in the early 1970's. As a student in the Aeronautics Department at San Jose State University, Dennis was hired to tow gliders by Bud Murphy at Sky Sailing Gliderport in Fremont, California. Soloed in gliders, but without a rating, Dennis left soaring until 1989 when he joined the Atlanta Soaring Club. Dennis is now the President of the Mid-Georgia Soaring Association and a member of the Blue Ridge Soaring Society. He has competed in many regional soaring contests and two Nationals. Dennis currently flies the Boeing 777 for Delta Air Lines.
Dick Butler: Open Class (Reserve)
Residing in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Dick Butler, (62) is a five time Open Class National Champion, and is highly respected by his fellow competitors. As a retired aeronautical engineer, Dick is that rare competitor who can blend the theoretical with the practical. Some will remember Dick's very successfully modified Glasflügel 604 in which he flew to several national championships in the 1970s. More recently his extensively modified ASW-22 rolled out of the hanger after an intensive development program. Dick won the 2003 Open Class Nationals flying this glider. One would be hard pressed to find a more intensely completive and focused pilot than Dick. Like some in the sport, Dick has had two soaring careers. He was on the U.S. Soaring team four times from 1976 to 1983 but did not participate in completive soaring from 1984 to 1999. He is now back flying in both the 15-meter (ASW-27) and Open (ASW-22) classes. After his solo flight at age 25 in a TG3, Dick has an estimated 1500 gliding hours and participated in eighteen national championships and four World Championships. While a rated power pilot, its soaring that appeals to Dick's competitive nature. "The competitive side and being able to blend this with my life long love affair with aviation and aerodynamics makes soaring a special part of my life" he says.
Chris Woods: 18-Meter Class (Reserve)
Bio and picture pending.
This event started it all. The first World Soaring Championships was held on Germany's Wasserkuppe in 1937 making this event the official grandfather of all World Soaring Championships. Up until 1950 all competitors flew in the open class regardless of glider type. In 1950 the two place class was added. In 1958 the two place class was replaced with the Standard class. In 1978 the 15-Meter class was added to this event creating what most pilots think of as the three traditional FAI classes. The 18-Meter Class was added in 2001. Recently new FAI classes have been added including Junior, World (PW-5), Women's and 18-Meter championships.
There are currently three classes making up the Multi-Class including the Open, 18-Meter and 15-Meter. The Open Class is the "unlimited" class, home to the world's highest- performing and most expensive gliders. There are no design restrictions placed on the open class so wingspans range up to 100 feet in length. In the 15-Meter Class the wingspans are limited to 15 meters (49.2 feet) with no other design restrictions. This is the class that, worldwide, includes the greatest number of gliders. The 18-Meter Class grew out of interest in sailplanes that fit between the Open class and the 15-Meter class and could easily carry a motor and is the newest FAI class. The only important restriction is on span, which must not exceed 18 meters (59 ft). This class is the only one to admit motorized gliders; some models include an engine that can be extended to launch and retrieve the glider or stowed away for pure soaring flight.