Erik Nelson - 15 Meter Class
Family legend has it that Erik’s father, Rick, took him for his first glider ride at nine weeks of age. Certainly the hook was set early, childhood vacations spent campaigning dad’s “DQ” in races from Adrian to Cordele. Eventually, interest turned to lessons, and lessons to solo, in a 2-33 at Cypress Bay in Little River, SC. Erik won his first regional contest at Chester at age 16, and represented the United States in the 1989 European Junior Gliding Championships in Cambrai, France. He then teamed with Sean Franke in the 1991 junior championships in Sweden and the 1993 championships in France. After a hiatus from contest flying during medical school and residency, Erik returned to the sport in his thirties. He has enjoyed racing his Ventus 2ax ever since, winning several regional contests and achieving podium finishes in the Sports and Standard Nationals in 2013. In 2015, he participated in the first Pan-American Gliding Championships in Chilhowee, Tennessee, placing second in 15-meter. He currently works as a musculoskeletal radiologist in Virginia, and flies with the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.
Sean Murphy - 15m Class
Sean’s parents became intrigued by motorless flight when they took his Cub Scout troop on a field trip to Harris Hill in 1976. They both joined the soaring club that year and began flying. When old enough, both Sean and his sister joined as junior members. Sis earned a private license and Sean, currently living in Elmira, is still involved and instructs at the club. He is a pilot for FedEx. Over time he participated in several regionals and nationals as a line crew and found he was eager to race cross country. Early non-mentored attempts at cross country flights resulted in fun stories, but little actual distance. After taking several years off from soaring to concentrate on his career as a professional pilot, he returned to Harris Hill and the sport with a serious intention to improve. With the help of several great pilots, his cross country miles began to pile up. During his first contest, Sean landed out every day! He was undeterred, however, and entered a contest the very next week and won the Sports Class division flying the Harris Hill Discus CS. He continued to work and improve, resulting in several regional wins and top places in national events in his Ventus 2b. In 2015 he was honored to be selected to the US Team at the 1st Pan American Gliding Competiton at Chilhowee, Tn., where he partnered with Erik Nelson. He looks forward to representing the US with Erik and the rest of the team at the 34th WGC in Benalla.
Sean Fidler - 18 Meter Class
Sean Fidler began competing in sailplane competitions in 2011 after spending several years learning cross-country in Ionia, Michigan. In Ionia, Sean was mentored by his father, Robert, and several other experienced pilots. As a former U.S. Sailing Team member, Sean was able to utilize some of that experience to understand and adapt to the complex strategy and tactics required in sailplane competition. By 2015, Sean qualified for the US Soaring Team in the 15-meter class at the FAI Pan American Gliding Championship (Chilhowee, TN), placing third in difficult conditions. At most contests, Sean is extremely fortunate and thankful to have his wife, Tiffany, as crew. Sean and Tiffany have organized several SSA contests and fun-fly events and are organizing the first ever FAI Sailplane Grand Prix USA Qualifier in July of 2016. Over the last several years, Sean has competed in 17 regional, national and Canadian contests with the goal of reaching the 2017 FAI World Championship (Australia) in the 18-meter class. Sean and Tiffany are extremely excited to have the opportunity to represent the USA at their first ever FAI World Gliding Championship.
Gary Ittner - 18 Meter Class
Gary Ittner is an engineer and part owner of a small company that specializes in welding services for the aerospace industry. He resides in Los Angeles and splits his glider flying among several Southern California gliderports, including Inyokern, Santa Ynez, and Warner Springs. Gary's passion for soaring began in 1975 and was initially satisfied by flying radio controlled model gliders. His switch to full size gliders started with flying lessons in 1983, buying his first glider in 1984, flying his first Regional contest in 1985, followed by his first National contest in 1986. Eventually pulling himself up from the bottom half of the score sheet, he has won 9 Nationals and flown in 8 Worlds, with a best finish of 4th in 15-meter at Mafikeng, South Africa. In his 7100 hours of glider flying, Gary has learned that glider racing is, by far, the most effective way to improve XC soaring skills. And he has found that improving his skills has always resulted in increased enjoyment of soaring.
Bill Gawthrop - Open Class
Bill has been flying sailplanes since 2001, after too many bumps and bruises flying hang gliders. He has won 7 regional competitions, and recently the Open Class Nationals last year in Montague, California. He won the Barron Hilton Cup western region in 2007 and has enjoyed competing in the OLC for several years.
Mike Robison - Open Class
Mike Robison soloed in gliders in 1997 from Ridge Soaring Gliderport at the age of 18. A Kolstad award winner, he holds a Gold badge with two Diamonds. Mike began competition soaring in 1999, in the Penn State Soaring Club's Blanik L-13. In 2001 he competed in the Club Class at the Junior World Gliding Championships in Issodun, France. Mike placed second in the US Open Class Nationals in 2012 and 2014, flying a Nimbus 3DM with copilot Tom Stepleton. Mike also competed in the 2015 Open Class Nationals, flying an Arcus M with Larry Timpson. Mike most recently competed in the 20 Meter 2-Seater class at the 2016 World Gliding Championships in Pociunai, Lithuania, with Larry. Mike will be flying solo in the cockpit this time in N1K, a JS1-C, in Australia. He is employed as an instructor at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, and teaches FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic courses. He lives in State College, PA, with his wife, Becky, and children, Lucas and Eva.
John Good - US Team Captain
John has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director / Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.