Wurtsboro Airport has the distinct honor to host the Club Class Nationals for 2016 from June 9 – June 19.
What are the Club Class Nationals you ask?
While many view gliding as a fun hobby, and activity that they do when they can for the joy of it, there are some people who take advantage of the fact that gliding is a worldwide competitive activity. Glider competitions happen on the “Fun Meet”, Regional, National, and World levels. At all levels, glider pilots will bring their own gliders (what type they bring depends on the category of the competition) and will be given a task to complete. A normal sunny day in June a task will be (at it’s most basic level) “Fly for two hours and go as far as you can. If you come back too early, your distance (and hence speed) will be penalized. If you come back late, we will assume you only flew for two hours at the average speed for your entire flight. If you don’t come back at all, you will get points for how far you went, but no speed points. You must fly 15 miles north of here, and then 20 miles south-west, and then 18 miles south east, and then return home.”
Now all of the contestants (from 5 or 6 at a fun meet all the way up to 80+ at a worlds) will put their gliders together, drag them down to the takeoff grid, and when the time is right they will be launched in as rapid succession as possible. Usually there will be one towing aircraft for every 6 gliders. This ensures that everyone gets into the air in a very narrow time frame so that they can all have a fair start to race each through the sky. The course you take is up to the glider pilots, within limits assigned to them by the contest directors in the beginning. Without engines, the gliders will have to find rising air sources throughout the flight to be able to continue on. Every 200 feet of altitude they gain is another minute that they can fly straight. And so begins a massive battle against the elements, where you can see (as a contestant) how well other pilots are doing by their relative altitude, position, and speed. Spectators will be able to see where the gliders are when they are close to the field, and there will be a projection screen set up with real time live tracking so you can see the contestants struggling to go as fast as possible without going too fast and dropping out of the race entirely because they got too low.
Our regionals in Wurtsboro are held every year, but this year we have the pleasure of hosting the Club Class Nationals. Anyone hoping to compete in the Club Class Worlds in two years will come to this competiton to practice for the Nationals next year (selection years are every two years, and the Worlds competitions are staggered in the intervening years). This year the Club Class Worlds are being held in Pociunai, Lithuania from July 30 – August 13. While a selection year is far more important to those competing at the highest level, we will still have some of the finest competitive glider pilots here to show off their stuff and practice for the Worlds this year (if they are on the US team) or just to show their mettle in a competition that brings the best pilots from across the country.
For pictures of our regional competition last year – and to check out the sailplane racing tab at the Soaring Society of America’s website – click here: http://www.ssa.org/PhotoGallery.asp?category=contest&id=2307
If you would like to be a spectator or find out more, you can call us at (845) 888-2791 or just show up. Come take a ride and see what this sport is all about. And why people would travel all over the world to throw themselves across the countryside without a motor – and succeed.