This summer in southwest Texas, from the 28th of July to the 19th of August, the sky will be full of sailplanes, and the airwaves filled with the languages of more than 23 different countries, as 120 pilots from around the world compete at the 32nd FAI World Gliding Championships.
Hosted by the Soaring Society of America and sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the Championships will be held at Garner Field, a city owned public airport located three miles east of the central business district of Uvalde, Texas. The facility is named for John Nance Garner, the 32nd Vice president of the United States.
Gliders, or sailplanes, are motorless craft that use only the power of the sun, terrain and weather to stay aloft. Towed aloft by powered craft, gliders are hand made to exacting specifications, utilizing high tech materials and computer analysis for optimum performance. In the hands of skilled pilots, racing gliders can fly hundreds of miles at speeds reaching 130 mph.
The World Gliding Championships are the Olympics of glider racing and bring teams from around the world to Uvalde for only the second time, 21 years apart, to compete in three classes; 15 meter (49.2 feet in length), 18 meter (59 feet) and Open Class (unlimited wing length) for the title of world champion, awarded in each class. The current world champion, Michael Sommer of Germany, flying in the unlimited class, will be challenged to keep his crown by a unique new glider, pilot, and design team.
U.S. Team member Dick Butler, an aerodynamicist by profession and sailplane designer extraordinaire and Gerhard Waibel, have teamed up to build a one-off Open Class ship to challenge the best the world has to offer. This glider has been designed for competition only, not production, where design compromises need to be made in order to fill multiple roles. Similar to a Formula 1 racecar, the design is only for racing, not for any other use. The glider is the result of a dream begun 10 years ago. It’s called Concordia, and it’s now ready to challenge the best the world has to offer.
Visitors are welcome to come to Uvalde to see all of the action up close and witness the power and drama of high competition soaring. Watch as the entire field of more than 120 gliders launch into the air to challenge each other in daily tasks, covering hundreds of miles over the 14 day contest. Witness the thrilling finishes of the sailplanes as they return to cross the finish line at high speed.
For spectators there is much to do, as the City of Uvalde will host the event with vendor booths, food and merchandise, and the SSA booth, where one can discover the sport of gliding for themselves. For more information about the event, please go to www.wgc2012uvalde.com. (provided by Andrew McKittrick from the Event Organising Team)