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15m Class / 18m Class / Open Class

Mark Keene: 15m Class

Photo #10717 | Mark Keene

Mark Keene started his flying career by flying gliders at age 11 and soloing oh his 14th birthday at a small airport near Dallas, Texas.  He currently flies the Airbus 330 for US Airways.  In his 3000 plus glider hours, and while flying the Schweizer 1-26, he won the 1-26 Nationals and had numerous top three finishes, earned the Barringer Trophy for distance flights, a Gold badge with 2 diamonds and several state records.  After acquiring a Discus 2, he flew the Standard Class Nationals, winning in 2004 and placing in the top 5 several times.  In the 15m class, he's placed in the top 5 several times.  Mark is a member of the Texas Soaring Association (TSA) and currently flies at Ridge Soaring in Pennsylvania.  He lives in State College, PA with his wife Rosalie (who also soloed on her 14th birthday.  He has served on the Board at TSA and is past Chairman of the SSA Club and Chapter committee.

David Mockler: 15m Class

Photo #10722 | David Mockler

David got an early start in soaring with a solo on his fourteenth birthday.  Fifteen years of racing 1-26's ("007") netted 5 Championship victories and the feel that can only be developed from several thousand hours flying at 3.5 lbs/sf.  Since switching to plastic in 1992, he has raced in Standard, 15m, and more recently 18m class Nationals, accumulating 3 national titles, and many podium spots.  Dave has competed in 3 prior international competitions, including the 2003 WGC, also held in Leszno, Poland.  Last years' 15 meter win in Hobbs earns Dave a position on the US Team to again compete in the 15 Meter Class in Leszno, Poland. David has a long history of givin back to the sport with service as editor, director and officer for the great Texas Soaring Association glider club.  He has also served on the US Rules Committee.  Dave is very excited to be part of such a strong US Team traveling to Poland and looks forwrd to a highly successful race with his 15m team mate Mark Keene.

Gary Ittner: 18m Class

Photo #10718 | Gary Ittner

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 Ynes, 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 7 Worlds with a best finish of 4th in 15 meter at Mafikeng, South Africa. In his 6600 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.

Peter Alexander: 18m Class

Photo #10721 | Peter Alexander

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 4900 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.  His home field is the Williams Soaring Center in Williams, CA. He is looking forward to representing the US Team at the WGC in Leszno, Poland and will be flying his ASG-29.

Dick Butler: Open Class

Photo #10719 | Dick Butler

Growing up in the 1950's aviation was a highly visible and romantic thing, most little boys were fascinated with flight and Dick was no exception.  This romance with aviation led to obtaining a degree in aeronautical engineering and accepting his first job as a wind tunnel test engineer for the Sverdrup Corporation.  It was not until 1967 that he was able to experience the joy of soaring and obtain a glider pilot license.  In 1968 Dick says he ordered and took delivery of his first sailplane, a K6E and shortly thereafter entered competitive soaring.  His first time to represent the USA as a team member was in the open class in Finland 1975.  Subsequently he represented the USA in the next three internationals with the last being in Hobbs, NM in 1983.  At this point in his life he had to drop out of soaring to focus on his career and did not reenter soaring until 1999 when he retired from Sverdrup.  It was not until 2006 that he was able to again make the USA team flying in Sweden and again in 2012 in Uvalde.  It has been a long dry spell since an open class USA team member has been on the podium at a WGC.  Dick says his team mate Ron Tabery and he are committed to breaking that spell in Poland with a goal of one or both of them being on the podium when all the dust settles.  Ron and I were able to fly as a team in Uvalde with some success doing some things good and others not so good.  We practiced together for a week this fall with the sole intent of improving our team flying skills.  Our practice continued to uncover our strengths and weaneesses in team flying and we hope to build on these experiences this spring when we will again get together for additional team practice before going to Poland.  Dick will be flying the Concordia sailplane, which was designed and built in the USA.  It would be personally very rewarding to place well in the championship in an American built sailplane, something that has not been accomplished for decades.

 Ron Tabery: Open Class

Photo #10720 | Ron Tabery

Ron Tabery's first glider ride at age eight was with Neil Armstrong, but he had to wait until age 14 to solo in a SGS 1-26.  His principle instructor was his father, George Tabery, who is remembered for having demonstrated the concept of water ballast in 1947.  Ron entered competition soaring in 1979, winning eight consecutive contest days flying an ASW-12 in a regional championship - a feat he has not since repeated.  His more than 5,000 soaring hours include competition and record flying.  Tabery is eight time US National Champion, ten time winner of the Larissa Stroukoff Memorial award, and has won the Hatcher "Top Gun" Trophy four times.   Internationally, Ron has competed in seven World Championships and a Hitachi Master's.  His performance at the world level includes two 5th place finishes - in St. Auban, France and Leszno, Poland - and six top 10 placements.  As a life-long advocate for competition soaring, Ron introduced and developed several contest sites including Uvalde, Brady, and most recently Fredericksburg, where he serves as competition director.  Tabery is a life member of the SSA, a 30-year member of Fault Line Flyers in Austin, participates in the OLC, and holds most of the Texas Open Class speed and distance records.  Based in Austin and Houston, Ron is a chemical engineer and enjoys soaring whenever Central and South Texas weather permits.

Dennis Linnekin: Team Captain

Photo #10726 | dennis linnekin

Employed as a towpilot, Dennis soloed in gliders in 1973 at Bud Murphy's SkySailing Gliderport in California, and enjoys competing in regional and national soaring contests across the U.S.  The 2014 WGC in Leszno, Poland will be his third as Team Captain for the United States, having served in that capacity recently in Szeged, Hungary and Uvalde, Texas.  He's a member of Mid-Georgia Soaring Association and currently flies Boeing 777's for Delta Air Lines.

Posted: 6/1/2010

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