US Team Committee
Created in 1995 and redefined in 2003, the US Team Committee has been tasked by the SSA Board of Directors to, “oversee the affairs of the Soaring Society of America with respect to its representation at Federation Aéronautique International (FAI) approved World Gliding Championships” In the last several years the committee has been making progress toward the goals of a more competitive, accountable, transparent and sustainable US Team program. For the Committee reports and financials see the US Teams-Governance sub-menus.
Early this year, US Team Committee Chairman Rick Walters announced his wish to step down from this position, in order to be able to devote more time to his business. Committee member Pete Alexander agreed to step into this job, and was appointed as Chairman by John Good (SSA Contest Committee Chairman). Rick generously agreed to fill out the remainder of Pete’s term as a committee member.
Late June brought the tragic news of Rick’s death in a bicycle accident. Dennis Linnekin, who has been a member of several US Teams as team Captain and is admirably well qualified, has agreed to be the one who fills the remainder of Pete’s term.
Accordingly, the US Team Committee’s current structure is as follows:
Chairman: Pete Alexander (appointed)
Members: Sarah Arnold (elected – term extends through 2017)
Dennis Linnekin (appointed– term extends through 2016)
Fernando Silva (elected – term extends through 2019)
SSA Contest Committee Chairman
US Soaring Team Committee 2015
Pete Alexander (Chairperson, Appointed)
Pete Alexander - a retired Silicon Valley refugee started flying gliders at the age of 14 at Sky Sailing in Fremont, CA where he flew his first solo flight in a SGS 2-33. Since then he has accumulated about 5100 hours in gliders including a 6.5 year sting as a full time glider flight instructor at Sky Sailing while in college. He started flying competitions in 1986 and has since flown in numerous Regional and National contests on the East and West coasts. He had the privilege to be a crew member for Rick Walters (3R) on the 1995 US Team at Omarama, New Zealand. He was also a volunteer at the 2012 WGC at Uvalde, TX as a sniffer and photographer. US Team member in the 18m Class at the 2014 WGC in Leszno, Poland flying his ASG-29. His home field is the Williams Soaring Center in Williams, CA.
Sarah Kelly Arnold - (Term Expires 2017)
Sarah Kelly Arnold was raised on a farm in British Columbia. When she was 13, Sarah learned to fly in a single seat Quicksilver ultralight. Instantly she was captivated with flying. Her heart found a home in the sky, where it lives to this day. In November 2002 Sarah became enthralled with a gliderport in Tennessee named Chilhowee. She quickly became a tow pilot and soon began soaring for herself. A year and a half later, at the age of 24, Sarah found herself the youngest owner-operator of any commercial gliderport. Under her management Chilhowee Soaring Association, Inc. has grown and shared the joy of soaring with many satisfied customers and has become a vacation point of destination for glider pilots from around the country.
Mrs. Arnold has accumulated over 2200 hours of glider time and holds CFI, CFIG, A&P Mechanic with IA, and CFII Ground ratings. She runs Chilhowee with her husband and devoted crew, Jason Arnold.
Fernando Silva - (Term Expires 2018)
Fernando Silva transitioned to gliders in 1978 and started racing in 1996. He has served as Competition Director for the Georgia-Tennessee-Alabama club race series as well as Weatherman at Regional and National contests. He is the 2015 US National Champion in the 15-meter Class.
Fernando recently retired as a partner of a global management-consulting firm where he led strategic planning and corporate finance teams in North America. Since retiring, he served as Team Captain of the US Team for the 2014 World Gliding Championship in Finland, and currently serves as Team Captain for the 2016 WGC in Lithuania. He is a member of the Mid-Georgia Soaring Association
Bob Fletcher - (Term Expires 2019)
Bob started flying in Doncaster, UK before university. 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 college Bob has focused more on racing than instructing, flying many standard class national competitions in the US, Canada and the UK, winning the Standard Class Kubly Trophy in 2006 at Uvalde. He enjoys flying in the western US mountains especially the area between Salt Lake City, UT and Bozeman, MT.
Bob practices at Greater Boston Soaring which offers a tremendous diversity of conditions and many skilled racers to fly with.
When not gliding Bob is racking up the frequent flying miles leading the sales team of an Internet start-up. Earlier in his career he worked with the FAI award winning Cambridge Aero team on the first GPS flight recorders, he negotiated and co-wrote the original IGC file format with the other GPS manufacturers.
US Soaring Team Committee History
The Soaring Society of America’s Board of Directors established the United States Soaring Team Committee during the 1995 SSA Convention held in Reno, Nevada. Largely through the work of Mark Huffstutler, the SSA Board approved the formation of a committee to “oversee the affairs of the Soaring Society of America with respect to its representation at Federation Aéronautique International (FAI) approved World Gliding Championships”.
As defined in 1995, the U.S. Soaring Team Committee was an operational body primarily focused on the effective conduct of the U.S. Team at specific World Championships. The makeup of the original committee was five members, a Chairperson and four Committee members each charged with a specific area of authority. The chairperson served from the time of their election until the last day of the then current World Championships. As more FAI classes and World Championship venues were added it became obvious that the original system established in 1995 could no longer meet the needs of U.S. Teams and the soaring community.
At the February 2002 Soaring Convention held in Ontario California, the SSA Board of Directors adopted a proposal creating the U.S. Team Policy Task Force. The goal of this task force was to accomplish a fundamental review of how U.S. soaring teams operate, solicit community input, investigate areas for improvement, develop solutions, author a report and provide implementation assistance. Task Force members included Jim Payne, Tim Welles, John Seaborn, Jim Short, Ken Sorenson and Doug Jacobs.
At the January 2003 Soaring Convention held in Dayton Ohio, the U.S. Team Task Force presented its findings to the SSA Board of Directors. The Task Force defined and examined 14 areas and made recommendations based on their findings. Central among these findings was the need to modernize the U.S. Team Committee organizational structure with a broader responsibility for overall team management, subject to SSA Board oversight. A critical element was the creation on both appointed and elected positions to provide consistent long-term management of the teams rather than the previous single event focused structure.
At the 2003 Dayton meeting the SSA Board voted unanimously to adopt the Task Force recommendations and charged the appointed members of the U.S. Team Committee to form the new organization. In early April 2003 the committee election was concluded and the new U.S. Team Committee was formed. Appointed members included Doug Jacobs, Ken Sorenson and Dennis Wright with Dianne Black Nixon, Tim Welles and John Seaborn the elected representatives. The first meeting of the new U.S. Team Committee was held in September 2003 just prior to the mid-year SSA board meeting in Dallas.
US Soaring Team Committee Structure
The six-member committee includes the Contest Committee Chairman, the U.S. Team Chairman, the SSA President, plus three members elected by the members of the SSA. The procedure for selecting the three elected members is nearly identical to that used for the Rules Committee elections: nominations from SSA directors, SSA-conducted election and staggered elected terms with one position up for election each year. The establishment of this committee provides some much-needed institutional continuity to U.S. Team management as individual volunteers come and go. Operational aspects of the U.S. Team will be handled by the U.S. Team Chairman and the various team captains.
The U.S. Team Committee and the Rules Committee differ in three areas. First, the SSA or the U.S. Team Committee will appoint a designee to administer the election. This designee may be the SSA or a third party. Second, the election will utilize the Internet for much of the communications and voting, and third, the entire SSA membership is eligible to vote rather than competition ranked pilots alone as is done for the Rules Committee.