32nd FAI WGC
Adolfo Gonzales Cháves, Argentina

January 5 through January 20, 2013
Standard / Club / World Classes

Team Blog


Peter Deane: Standard Class
Peter Deane (53), has been flying sailplanes since 1986 and has approximately 2000 hours in gliders over 25 years. Learning to fly at Hummingbird Haven in California in a Blanik, he progressed on to the Ka-8 (1st cross country), Pilatus, HP-14 , ASW20 and now his Standard Class LS8-a. He has numerous Regional championship wins in regions 11 & 12, and holds 1000km diploma #265 as well as the US and UK National 750km O&R speed record of 95.4mph for all classes set in his LS8 in 2002. He has flown in 8 National championships including Standard, 15m, 18m and Sports class in his 15m LS8. Peter is based in the San Francisco Bay area and has been heavily involved in promoting cross country and fun weekend racing in Region 11, and has served on the PASCO (Pacific Soaring Council) board for over 15 yrs in a variety of roles including President. He was awarded the Les Arnold Award for service to Soaring in 2008. Peter is an Engineering Director and Technologist in the semiconductor industry, and was recently elected to the US Team Committee. This will be his second World Championships.

Phil Gaisford: Standard Class
Phil learned to glide in the UK while at high school, using things like disused wartime runways, home-made launch vehicles, piano wire and Skylarks. He soon got interested in competition flying, making the UK team in 1992 and was Swiss national champion in 1993. His wide ranging contest experience includes the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, and since 1994 of course most sections of the US. Phil owns a Discus 2 which he flies with Greater Boston Soaring Club, where he is also the chief flight instructor. When not gliding, he works for a major computer manufacturer, currently working on power and thermal (no not that sort of thermal) management solutions for data centers and servers.

Sarah Kelly Arnold: Club Class
Sarah Kelly Arnold was raised on a farm in British Columbia. When she was 13, Sarah learned to fly in a single seat Quicksilver ultralight. Instantly she was captivated with flying. Her heart found a home in the sky, where it lives to this day.

In November 2002 Sarah became enthralled with a gliderport in Tennessee named Chilhowee. She quickly became a tow pilot and soon began soaring for herself. A year and a half later, at the age of 24, Sarah found herself the youngest owner-operator of any commercial gliderport. Under her management Chilhowee Soaring Association, Inc. has grown and shared the joy of soaring with many satisfied customers and has become a vacation point of destination for glider pilots from around the country.

Mrs. Arnold has accumulated over 2200 hours of glider time and holds CFI, CFIG, A&P Mechanic with IA, and CFII Ground ratings. She runs Chilhowee with her husband and devoted crew, Jason Arnold and looks forward to representing the United States on the Soaring Team in Argentina.

Sean Franke: Club Class
Sean Franke is a third generation glider pilot who soloed at age 14.   Sean has accumulated over 3000 hours in the air and has flown National soaring competitions since 1990.  Currently he has eight State and two National soaring records.  As part of the US Junior soaring team in 1991, 1993 and 1995 Sean competed in Sweden, France and Poland.  When not competing he can be found flying for fun at Warner Springs, CA and mentoring local pilots.

Sean’s day job is CEO at Electronic Merchant Services (EMS) Inc., a registered ISO / MSP with US Bank - Minn. MN.  EMS is a leader in credit card merchant processing providing service to retail, mail order, phone order, business to business and e-commerce merchants.

Tom McKnight: World Class
Tom McKnight (65) began flying gliders in Houston, Texas, in 1964 at the age of 17. Tom was the youngest member of the then newly founded Houston Soaring Club which consisted of a few prominent Houston business men and a group of the original astronauts including Neil Armstrong.  While flying with the Houston Soaring Club, Tom set the Texas Junior Class altitude record when deployed to Marfa in 1966. The early gliding experience plus an Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Texas was a good start for a successful career in the Air Force flying the F-106. Following a lengthy absence from soaring, Tom purchased a PW-5 in 2005 and became hooked on competitive soaring. Tom’s wife of 39 years, Mimi, supports soaring and looks forward to returning to Argentina for the World Championships in 2013. Tom believes soaring is the closest experience to flying a fighter a civilian pilot can have.

Bill Snead: World Class
Bill Snead learned to fly in 1955 in a single-place Schweitzer 1-19.  Jim Turnbow taught Bill to fly using the Skimming method.  The student is pulled behind a car on a 300 foot rope while the instructor watches from the car.   Instruction is given between tows.  At first, the student is pulled fast enough to balance the wings and balance the glider on its one wheel.  The glider is, however, towed too slowly to fly.  After this phase is mastered, the glider is towed fast enough to lift off then the car is slowed, before the student can get high enough to cause damage.  The next stage is climbs to increasing heights with landings straight ahead.  Then comes ninety degree turns on to a cross runway.  Finally a solo is made with an auto tow and a 360 degree pattern.

Bill earned his Silver “C” in a TG-2 while participating in the 1958 US nationals at Bishop, California.  He was very active in glider competition from 1967 until 1978 flying a Ka-6BR, HP-14T, and a Standard Libelle.  In 1976, Bob Eli and Bill founded the Fault Line Flyers glider club.  Bill was inactive in soaring from 1978 until 1999.  Since 1999, he has been back in soaring flying a PW-5 in the World Class.  Bill has flown the in the last eleven USA World Class Nationals.  In 2008 and 2009, Bill won the World Class Nationals. He earned his Diamond distance and Diamond goal in the PW-5.  In addition, Bill has set five World records in the World Class, free out and return distance, and free distance, distance to a goal, free three-point distance and maximum FAI triangle distance.  In the summer of 2003, Bill flew in the World Class World Championships in Nitra, Slovakia.

Bill’s wife Nancy has supported Bill’s flying habit for over forty years.  Nancy is considered by many in the sport, if not the best all round crew, to be the world’s most accomplished trailer backer.

When not soaring, Bill serves as President of Texas Crushed Stone and Chairman of the Board of the Georgetown Railroad

Rick Sheppe: Team Captain
Rick Sheppe has been flying gliders since 1967 and is a member of the Post Mills Soaring Club in Vermont.  He is a former SSA Director and currently serves as US Delegate to IGC.  His interests include instrumentation, scoring, and very big and very small gliders.  He crews for Concordia and flies a Silent 2.

David Greenhill: Standard Class (Reserve)
David Greenhill started gliding in 1984 with the Imperial College Gliding Club at Lasham UK. Derek Piggott was chief flying instructor and Frank Irving the president of ICGC. After graduating he spent 6 years at the Bristol and Gloucester GC winch launching from Nympsfield over the beautiful Cotswold hills of SW England. At Nympsfield there were many experienced cross country pilots including 2x World Champion Andy Davis, they provided much needed support and mentor-ship of junior cross country pilots. In 1992 he moved to California to work for Sun Microsystems and spent 18 years soaring the mountains of California and Nevada. He flew from sites such as Truckee, Williams and Hollister. In 2003 the dot com boom paid for a Discus2a that he has flown in many Regional and National competitions, consistently placing in the top 3. He currently flies with TSA near Dallas TX. He was the winner of the 2009 Standard Class nationals at Montague California.

Robin Clark
: Club Class (Reserve)
Harold (Robin) Clark (59) read the Joy of Soaring before seeing a glider and thermaled successfully on his first ride. He joined the North Florida Soaring Society in 1978 and has served as secretary, president and tow pilot.

His cross country mentor, Bill Clarke, often sacrificed his own flight to help Robin get going across a region where the principal crop is pine trees. Robin built HP-18 wings for an RS-15 and campaigned annually at Cordele. He eventually bought an LS6 to match Bill’s and has flown it for 17 years.

Robin retired as Business Editor of the Florida Times-Union newspaper and then earned a Certified Financial Planner designation. He served as president of the Financial Planning Association of Northeast Florida. His wife Evelyn shares his loves of boating and photography.

Robin’s flying improved after he was able to add Perry and the Seniors to Cordele each year. A US Team Camp at Perry helped with racing strategy. The Sports Class Nationals at Parowan in 2010 was his first mountain contest. He finished fifth and was the Club Class champion. “Waiting on the grid as part of an 800 pound machine, seeing a blue sky and feeling a stiff wind, it’s hard to imagine staying aloft for more than a minute, but the task sheet is calling for three hours and maybe 200 miles and I’m going to fly it. And because it seems impossible, what’s about to happen is pure magic.”


Multi-Class Background


The Standard Class is another class that limits span to 15 meters. In addition, gliders cannot use performance increasing wing flaps, a restriction that tends to make Standard-class gliders a bit less expensive. The Club Class is the handicapped class. Gliders across a reasonably wide range of performance are allowed; each is assigned a handicap based on its performance qualities. The Club Class has its roots in the idea that gliders with mid range performance, while no longer competitive against modern designs, offer an affordable and available alternative. The World Class is the "one-design" class - all pilots must fly the PW-5 "World Class" glider. Tight equipment rules ensure that all gliders are equal in performance. The World Class is a one design class with the PW-5 as the glider of choice. The World Class concept embraces the concept of an  affordable, safe and competitive glider. The PW-5 was selected after winning the World Class Glider Competition organized by the FAI.

See how the US Teams have done over the years or view the list of World Champions.