Standard Class / Club Class / 13.5m / 20m Class
Phil Gaisford: Standard Class
Phil learned to glide in the United Kingdom while at high school using things like abandoned WWII runways, home-made launch vehicles, piano wire, and Skylarks. When one asks Phil about flying he says "I soon got interested in competition flying, making the UK team in 1992, and was Swiss national champion in 1993. My wide-ranging contest experience includes the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Argentina, Finland, and since relocating to the US in 1994, most sections of this country. He owns a Discus 2, which he flies with Greater Boston Soaring Club, and where he also gives flight instruction. In June of 2013 he took part in the WGC practice event at Räyskälä in Finland, flying a rented Discus B. This gave him an opportunity to sample the local conditions, both in the air and on the ground, and to establish relationships with the local gliding community. Räyskälä is a large site that is home to many clubs and more than seventy gliders, so we can look forward to an excellent infrastructure at the WGC. Long flights will be possible during the Nordic midsummer period, over a landscape that is heavily forested in parts, but generally offers good land-out options. Also notable: this area of Finland has more lakes than you can shake a stick at. And, according to Phil, having recently experienced the rigors of container shipping gliders to Argentina for the previous WGC, for this event he is more attracted to the option of renting a glider locally.
Robert Fletcher: Standard Class
Bob started flying in Doncaster United Kingdom before he started university. When at university he joined Phil Gaisford on the Nottingham University committee and was instrumental in starting the annual "inter university task week" flying the first two in a K-13 with other students in the front seat. Since university, Bob has focused more on racing than instructing while flying many standard class national competitions in the US, Canada, and the UK. He won the standard class national Kubly Trophy in 2006 at Uvalde TX. Bob enjoys flying in the western US mountains, especially the area between Salt Lake City, UT and Bozeman MT. Bob says "I practice at Greater Boston Soaring club which offers a tremendous diversity of conditions and there are many skilled racers to fly with. Bob looks forward to team flying with Phil Gaisford in Finland - and the competition area appears to be very similar to southern New England with its 90% forestation. He would add that at this moment he is planning to take his glider to Finland.
Sean Franke: Club Class
Sean is a third generation glider pilot who soloed at age 14. He has accumulated over 3,000 hours in the air and has flown National soaring competitions since 1990. When you ask Sean, he will tell you that he holds eight State and two National soaring records. He was proud to be part of the US Junior soaring team in 1991, 1993, and 1995. Sean competed in Sweden, France, and Poland. In 2010 and 2012 he competed in the Club Class World Gliding Championships in Slovakia and Argentina. When not competing, he can be found flying for fun at Warner Springs, CA and mentoring local pilots.
Garret Willat: Club Class
Garret comes from a glider family. His parents have owned Sky Sailing Inc. since 1979. Growing up on an airport made it seem natural to solo on his 14th birthday in 18 different sailplanes. Two years later he soloed all of the towplanes and earned a private license. He then started instructing the day after his 18th birthday. Since then, Garret has represented the US Junior team in 2003 and 2005. He graduated from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor's degree in Professional Aeronautics. Garret attended George Lee's camp at Plain Soaring, later using that knowledge in open class to win the 2009 US Open Class Nationals, and winning the Larissa Strouekoff Trophy in 2005 and 2006 for the fastest flight during a contest. Garret represented the US Open Class team in 2008 and 2010. His last move in classes was when he left 60:1 super ships to fly in Club Class. Garret was the first US Club Class National Champion in 2013. He is a full-time glider flight instructor at Sky Sailing, contributing writer at AllThingsAero.com and assisting in technical service at the newly owned Wings and Wheels.
François Pin: 13.5M Class
François started soaring at age 13 in the French Alps. He has lived in Knoxville, TN for the past 40 years. His home field is Chilhowee Gliderport in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. He was the program chairman of the 1999 SSA Convention in Knoxville, has written several articles for Soaring magazine, and has served as CD for several regional and national contests. He has logged about 3500 hours in gliders, has flown in many U.S. Nationals, is the current US Club Class National Champion, and has been a member of the U.S. Soaring Team seven times. He is keenly interested in the new generation of all-electric self-launching sailplanes and is looking forward to competing in this first World Gliding Championship of the 13.5m Class.
Tony Condon: 13.5M Class
Tony Condon learned to soar with the Silent Knights Glider Club in Ames, IA while attending Iowa State University in Aerospace Engineering. He began flying cross country in his Cherokee II, eventually making flights of 100 miles accompanied by many many off airport landings. After moving to Wichita, KS he joined the Kansas Soaring Association and flew Gold Distance in the Cherokee II as well as a Region 10 Contest which set the hook for contest flying. With a step up in performance to a Standard Cirrus the flights became longer, with Diamond Goal and Distance now achieved as well as a 525 mile free distance flight in 2014. In the 2014 Sports Class Nationals he flew a borrowed Apis to qualify for the US Team in the 13.5 Meter Class and in 2015 looks forward to flying the Pan American Gliding Championships and the 13.5 Meter World Championships. Tony is an active CFIG, Towpilot, and President of the Kansas Soaring Association.
Heinz Weissenbuehler: 20M Multiplace Class
Heinz started flying gliders at the age of 14 as a Junior on Harris Hill, Elmira, NY. Since then, he has accumulated more than 4000 hours in gliders and has flown many contests, including 21 Nationals. In 2008 he represented the US in the Open Class during the 30th FAI World Championship in Luesse, Germany. Heinz works as a 767 pilot for American Airlines, and lives, flies and instructs on Harris Hill where he has been a member of the Harris Hill Soaring Corporation (HHSC) for 38 years. In an earlier life, he flew the most amazing Open Class glider ever (U-2), and is currently entrusted with caring for and flying Dick Butler's Eta Biter. In Finland, Heinz will be flying in the 20 meter class competition with his wife Karin Schlösser, also a glider and power pilot. Both come from backgrounds where aviation is a family affair. Karin started flying in the Netherlands as a teenager, then put her flying on hold while she lived and practiced law in New York City for 18 years. Heinz and Karin met on Harris Hill, where they now both live and fly.
Fernando Silva is a management consultant focusing on business strategy for consumer product companies. He speaks four languages and has worked with clients in the Americas and Japan. He transitioned to gliders in 1978 and started racing in 1996. He has won multiple Regionals including repeat wins at Perry and Cordele flying his ASW-27. He has placed in the top 10 in four different US Nationals. He has served as Competition Director for the Georgia-Tennessee-Alabama club race series and as weatherman at Regional and National contests.
Mika Ganszauge: Team Advisor
Mika Ganszauge is a Finnish glider pilot from Tampere, Finland. He took his first glider ride at Dunstable in the United Kingdom in 1991, but started soaring in Finland in the late 1990's and has flown in national and international competitions since 2003. He is a glider flight instructor in Finland and has always been keen on introducing new faces to the sport. He has also been mentoring less experienced local pilots on cross-country flights and taken some of them to their first contests on a double-seater to give them a taste of sailplane racing. Between 2004 and 2008 Mika worked and lived in Atlanta, GA and was an active member of Mid-Georgia Soaring Association. During his stay in the US, he took part in the SSA sanctioned regional contests and the local GTA races both as a pilot and crew. Mika has long been an avid aviation photographer focusing on gliders trying to combine the passion of flying to capture the perfect shot with the sport he enjoys. You may have seen his photos on the cover of Soaring, as well as on the pages of British, German, and Finnish aviation and soaring magazines over the years.
The Standard Class is another class that limits span to 15 meters. In addition, gliders cannot use performance increasing wing flaps, a restriction that tends to make Standard-class gliders a bit less expensive. The Club Class is the handicapped class. Gliders across a reasonably wide range of performance are allowed; each is assigned a handicap based on its performance qualities. The Club Class has its roots in the idea that gliders with mid range performance, while no longer competitive against modern designs, offer an affordable and available alternative.