In April, the US Team converged on the Chilhowee Gliderport, in Benton, Tennessee. Sarah Kelly Arnold, the gliderport operator and team member, was a gracious host. We were fortunate enough to have Brian Sprekley come to coach us for the week.
Twenty-seven years ago Doug Jacobs brought home a World Gliding Championship from Italy. In the years since, there has been a lot of speculation among US racers about why we haven’t brought home another one and what we need to do to about it.
Some say we need to fly tougher, longer “racing” tasks to be ready. Others point to a US failure to develop “team” flying. Many have envied the subsidies enjoyed by pilots in more socialist European countries.
This spring, we had an opportunity to let Brian Spreckley into the discussion. The US team used travel money it didn’t have to spend on Uvalde to bring Brian across the Atlantic to teach for a week at Chilhowee where marginal weather gave pilots plenty of opportunity to taste the benefits of pair flying.
Spreckley is a long-time coach of British soaring teams and is a former world champion having won the 15-meter World Championship two years after Jacobs. In addition to competing in multiple WGCs he has also been a competition director of one and is a referee representing the IGC of which he is currently a vice-president. He probably knows as much about world championships as anyone.
The weather actually worked out well giving us 5 days of tough flying with some wind, mostly blue thermals, and a limited operating band -- all the ingredients for encouraging pair flying.
Brian did an excellent job coaching each of the team pairs and providing daily briefings covering various aspects of team flying. We had the opportunity to learn team flying "best practices" and put them to use as we flew tasks each day pair against pair.
Thank you Brian coming to the US and giving us all an incredible week of soaring and learning.
-- The US Team