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VW Supports Soaring

This summer Rick Walters and I represented the USA at the Pre World's Soaring Competition (Viking Glide) in Eskilstuna, Sweden. A more detailed report on the contest is being prepared by Rick's crew - Dick and Diane Horn - and will be reported in an upcoming issue of Soaring. Rick represented the USA in the 18m Class while I flew the Open Class. This was an important contest for both Rick, myself, and the future US team which will be competing in the 2006 World Championship in Eskilstuna. Our mission was clear - to learn all possible about soaring in this part of the world and use this advance knowledge to better position the US team for winning in 2006.

For a soaring team to be successful in a foreign country the team must not only have to understand and feel comfortable with the local soaring conditions but there is an enormous amount of ground support logistics which accompany a winning team. We were fortunate to have good crews and equipment at the Viking Glide which allowed Rick and me to concentrate on better understanding the soaring conditions and hopefully pass this along to fellow team members for 2006 World's.

Through the support of my crew, Gerhard and Tilly Waibel, I was able to borrow a well prepared ASW 22BL belonging to Karl Klossok of Germany. Karl has supported the US team in at least two other international contests by loaning his beautiful sailplane to US pilots. Another prime supporter of our team was the Volkswagen Company. Since we had to pick up the ASW 22BL in Germany, it resulted in a long two-day drive from southern Germany to Eskilstuna pulling a large open class sailplane with a full load of gear plus three people. Volkswagen came to the rescue with their finest - a new Touareg V10 SUV. To say the least we went in class. The Touareg did a great job pulling the open class trailer on both the autobahn and off road.

Flying in Sweden was tricky - a lot different soaring conditions from what we experience in most areas in the US. As you know, the terrain is mostly wooded with many lakes both large and small. The weather can go from very good to survival conditions over the course of a typical flight. With this said, the name of the game is no different than in the US - "knowing when to go and when to slow." Patience will be key to winning in Sweden. Eskilstuna is particularly tricky since it has a large lake both to the north and south of town, often producing the typical undesirable lake effect on soaring conditions. In addition, the town is in a rather low (30m) swampy area, so extreme caution must be taken on starting a task and on the final glide home. The closest conditions in the US which would emulate the contest site, may be central Florida with its many lakes and swampy areas. Members of the US team from the eastern part of the country plan to spend time practicing at Seminole Lake this winter in preparation for the contest.

The organizers of Viking Glide and people of Eskilstuna did an outstanding job of organizing and running the contest and I know it will be even better for 2006. Thanks again to VW, Karl Klossok, and all the people who supported the US team to Viking Glide and we look forward to representing the US in the World's in 2006.

Posted: 9/29/2005


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