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Follow The US Teams At 2018 World Gliding Championships In Ostrow, Poland and Hosin, Czech Republic

Follow The US Teams At The 2018 World Gliding Championships:

Club | Standard | 15 m Classes in Ostrow, Poland from July 7 - 22

Open | 18 m | 20 m 2-place Classes at Hosin, Czech Republic July 25 - August 12

Posted: 7/17/2018

US Team Committee (USTC) Recommended Tweaks To The US Team Selection Process

This US Team Committee (USTC) Recommended Tweaks To The US Team Selection Process v1.2  describes changes to the US Team selection process recommended by the US Team Committee for implementation by the SSA Board of Directors at the March 2018 Board meeting.

These changes are the result of feedback received from US contest pilots over the course of the past year.  If you have comments, please direct them to the US Team Committee at this email address: ustcfeedback@comcast.net

Posted: 2/16/2018

Photo #12792 | 34th WGC Aus Temp2 HPhoto #12784 | 34th WGC Aust Logo





Erik Nelson - 15 Meter Class

Photo #12783 | Erik Nelson

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

Photo #13524 | Sean Murphy

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

Photo #12785 | Sean FidlerSean 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

Photo #12787 | Gary IttnerGary 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

Photo #12786 | Bill GawthropBill 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

Photo #13692 | Mike Robison BenallaMike 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

Photo #12593 | John GoodJohn 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.





Posted: 2/16/2018

Ride for the US Team with DJ and YO at the Seniors

Come fly in the back seat with Doug Jacobs in a Duo Discus or with Dave Nadler in his Arcus M during the Seniors National Championship at Seminole Lake Gliderport near Orlando, FL from 3/10 to 3/16 (Practice 3/9).

Doug and Dave are donating all proceeds to help us send 11 pilots to the 2018 World Championships.  You can help support the US Soaring Teams with a $300 minimum donation for each day you fly. In addition to the wonderful atmosphere of Seminole Lake during the Seniors, you will enjoy racing in a field of over 55 pilots including over 20 past National Champions.  

Last year these rides sold off completely so please act now if interested.  You may email Doug at soarer@cox.net   or Dave at dave.nadler@nadler.com  Please note the weight limit for riding with Doug is 220lbs and with Dave it is 200lbs.

Posted: 2/5/2018

35th FAI World Gliding Championships (club/std/15m) - Ostrow, Poland

Photo #14287 | Ostrow 2018 narrow

Boyd Willat - Club Class

Photo #14294 | Willat BoydBoyd Willat was born into soaring at Sky Sailing in Warner Springs California where his parents have been the owners since 1979. He soloed 23 different gliders on his 14th birthday and started racing on his 16th birthday. Continued in the family business and got his Commercial and Instructor ratings on his 18th birthday and flight instructed in gliders and towed full time for several years. Since has flown in 10 US nationals and 3 Junior World Championships. The Last being in Narromine Australia whe he placed 9th. Outside of soaring Boyd is an Airline Captain and skydiver.

 Mike Westbrook - Club Class

Photo #14290 | Mike Westbrook vertMike is a third generation pilot that grew up around the Texas Soaring Association and currently works as an instructor for FlightSafety International. First soloing on his fourteenth birthday, earning his Silver Badge in a 1-26 that same summer and then flying his first competition in the 1-26 Championships at sixteen, the hook was set young. With over 1,500 hours in sailplanes, Mike is a Kolstad Scholarship recipient and currently holds several Texas state records and the US National Multiplace record for Free Triangle Distance with his father, Mick Westbrook. Mike won the 2017 US Club Class Nationals and his previous experience at the international level includes the 2005 Junior Worlds in Hus Bos, England, 2007 Junior Worlds in Rieti, Italy and the 2016 Worlds flying Club Class in Pociunai, Lithuania. Mike looks forward to teaming with Boyd Willat in Ostrow, Poland where Mitch Hudson will be acting as his crew.

Bif Huss - Standard Class

Photo #14291 | Bif HussMarvin ‘Bif’ Huss began his flying career in 1974 flying hang gliders. In 1978 he was a member of the US Hang Gliding Team at the American Cup. In 1979, he joined the US Navy attending flight school in south Texas. While in flight school, he obtained his commercial glider rating at Refugio, TX. In 1982, he reported to Fighter Squadron Two, based at Naval Air Station Miramar, CA, where he served as a fleet F-14 ‘Tomcat’ aircraft carrier pilot attached to the USS Kitty Hawk. After his active duty tour, he spent 10 years serving in the US Navy Reserve as an air combat instructor pilot flying the A-4F and F/A-18. While at Miramar, he graduated from the US Navy’s Fighter Weapon School, ‘Topgun’, Adversary program. After his retirement from the Navy, Bif returned to his first love, gliding. Racing sailplanes was a natural progression from his hang glider and fighter pilot experience. He flew his first sailplane competition in 2000 and in 2002, he purchased his Discus 2b. Bif flew out of the Philadelphia Glider Council glider club until 2005 when he moved back to Colorado and now flies with the Black Forest Soaring Society.  In 2015 he won the US Seniors Contest in Seminole, FL and in 2016, won the US Standard Class Nationals in Nephi, UT with his exceptionally supportive wife and crew Ceil. In 2017, he placed 2nd in the Sports Class Nationals in Mifflin, PA. Bif currently is a 787 international Captain for American Airlines based in Los Angeles. He also is an elected member of the SSA’s Competition Rules Committee.

Jim Lee - Standard Class

Photo #14292 | Jim Lee

Jim soloed a Cessna 150 on his 16th birthday and received a private SEL rating on his 17th birthday. Flying light planes became boring, but fortunately hanggliding came along and competition provided the excitement and challenge of soaring flight for 30 years.  Then the ole landing gear got worn out. So he went to work for Knut and Ingrid at Seminole Lake Gliderport, where Knut taught him everything he needed to know about sailplanes. The Seniors was his first contest in 2012 and when he placed 6th in a Cirrus on the first day, the hook was set.  His wife Kathy loves the comp scene too, and it gradually became possible to fly in several comps each summer.  He loves gaggle flying, and can’t wait to mix it up in Poland with his teammate Bif. Jim is the importer/dealer for the Phoenix motorglider from the Czech Republic and the Jonker Sailplanes JS1 and JS3 from South Africa.  He and Kathy live in Minden, NV. 

Fernando Silva - 15 Meter Class

Photo #14262 | Fernando SilvaFernando Silva recently retired as a partner of a global management-consulting firm where he led the strategic planning and corporate finance teams for North America.  He transitioned to gliders in 1978 and started racing in 1996. Fernando has served as the US Team Captain at the 2014 WGC in Finland and the 2016 WGC in Lithuania and the 2017 Junior WGC in Lithuania. As a US Team pilot, he flew in the 1st PanAmerican Gliding Championship in 2015 and will fly as a 15 meter team pilot in the 2nd PanAmerican in Argentina in December 2017 and at the 2018 World Gliding Championship in Poland. He organized and led the 2017 US Team Camp and he serves as a member of the US Team Committee. In the past, he has served as Competition Director for the Georgia-Tennessee-Alabama club race series and as the weatherman at many Regional and National contests.

Tim Taylor - 15 Meter Class

Photo #14288 | Tim TaylorTim began flying gliders in 1988 at Lagoon Valley Soaring near Vacaville, California. His early years were spent flying a Std. Cirrus from Lagoon Valley, Truckee, and Minden. He has lived in California, the Mid-West and currently lives in Logan, Utah. He has become one of the most experienced mountain soaring pilots in the US and has taught cross-country and mountain soaring courses. He entered his first soaring contest in 1990. Tim has over 2100 hours in gliders and flown in many regional and national championship contests. He has won numerous regional contests and at the national level has been the US National Champion in the 15M class (2011) and second place (2014). In addition he was the recipient of the Joe Giltner Memorial Trophy for the fastest task speed during a 15M nationals (2014). He and his wife, Denise, have two children, Elaine and Clark. Tim is a Professor of Biological Engineering at Utah State University.

Colin Mead - US Team Captain

Photo #14293 | Colin MeadeColin grew up in Vermont ski racing in the winter and racing sailboats in the summer.  He began soaring in Stowe, Vermont during his freshman year in college in 1980.  After graduation from college and a six year hitch in the US Navy joined a small telecom startup which was successful enough to allow him to earn his power rating.  He returned to soaring in 2000. In 2004 he purchased his first glider and began racing in 2006. He regularly competes in SSA Regional and the GTA Racing Series in the eastern USA. He currently is a member of North Florida Soaring Society flying out of Herlong Airport in Jacksonville, Florda. In 2015 he Colin served as assistant to Team Captain Dennis Linnekin for the 2015 WGC in Leszno, Poland. A year later was appointed as Team Captain for the 1st Pan American World Championships at Chilhowee, Tennessee.  He currently is a member of North Florida Soaring Society flying out of Herlong Airport in Jacksonville, Florida.



Posted: 1/18/2018

Updated US Team Selection Process Summary

Congratulations to the pilots selected to the US Team for the 2018 World Gliding Championships in Ostrow Wielkopolski, Poland and Pribram, Czech Republic.

Club, Standard and 15-Meter classes: July 8 - 21, 2018 in Ostrow Wielkopolski, Poland (http://wgc2018.pl/pl/)

Club Class: Boyd Willat and Mike Westbrook
Standard Class: Bif Huss and Jim Lee
15m Class: Fernando Silva and Tim Taylor

18-Meter, Open, and 20-Meter 2-place classes: July 28 - August 11, 2018 in Pribram, Czech Republic (https://www.wgc2018.cz/)

18m Class: Bob Fletcher and Erik Nelson
Open Class: Mike Robison and Dave Coggins
20m 2-place: Heinz Weissenbuehler

A description of the updated US Team selection process and an outline of current efforts to improve US Team performance at the World Gliding Championships can be found here.

Posted: 11/21/2017

2018 US Team Selection Results - Club, Standard, 15m, 18m, Open, and 20m 2-place

The US Team Committee (USTC) is charged with selecting US Team pilots who can achieve good results at World Gliding Championships (WGC) events.  This year for the first time the process included a poll seeking evaluations from elite pilots.  In every competition class, poll responses were received from a high percentage of those eligible, and it was clear that pilots were consistently careful and thoughtful in crafting their responses.

Click here to read the full report.

Posted: 11/6/2017

US Team Committee (USTC) Election Results

Bob Fletcher has been elected to the US Team Committee. Bob will be replacing Dennis Linnekin on the committee and his term will expire on December 2019. A huge thanks to Dennis for his work on the committee and contributions to the US Team over the past 7 years. Thanks to Sean Fidler for running for a position on the committee.

Pete Alexander

US Team Committee Chair

Posted: 2/23/2017

P-51 Raffle Winner

The winning ticket for the P-51 Raffle Announcement was selected in Uvalde, TX.  Mike Westbrook from Mansfield, TX was the lucky winner.

However, Mike was one of the US Soaring Teams pilots at the World Gliding Championships in Pociuni, Lithuania at the time.

Mike decided to re-donate the ticket so that someone not on the US Soaring Team could benefit from the raffle.  Thanks Mike for the ‘re-donation’ of the P-51 Mustang ride.

So, Pete Alexander drew another winner from the raffle tickets.  The lucky winner is Eric Finley from Poway, CA.

Eric’s response, “Holy Cow!  Awesome!”  And that he was “just happy to support the US Teams.”

Congrats Eric!    Thank you for your support!

And thank everyone for participating in the raffle to support the US Soaring Teams!

Thanks to Stallion 51 (www.Stallion51.com, (407) 846-4400 or mustang@stallion51.com) for their continued support of the US Soaring Teams!

Posted: 9/8/2016

World Gliding Championships - Pociunai, Lithuania

Stay tuned to the US Soaring Teams web site: www.ussoaringteams.org for the latest news and photos at the World Gliding Championships in Pociunai, Lithuania with competition starting on July 31. We also have up to the minute US Teams Facebook posts via our FaceBook Feed at the bottom of the Home Page.

Good Luck to the US Team!

Pete Alexander
US Team Committee ~ Chairman

Posted: 8/1/2016

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