By any measure, 2012 has been a banner year for the Soaring Café. We are delighted at the response of the worldwide soaring community and the overwhelmingly positive reviews and comments that we've garnered from our Soaring Café audience.
Today, Sunday, October 21st, our good friend and prolific blogger Ritz published the Café's 2000th post! When we launched the Café on January 1, 2011, that was a goal that seemed too far in the distant future to even contemplate. But...here we are, thanks to our loyal readers, authors, contributors, advertisers, and other supporters. As we have said many times, maintaining the Café is truly a labor of love. As co-founders, we derive a great deal of personal satisfaction in doing our small part to promote our wonderful sport. In the process we have made many new friends around the world and developed a renewed appreciation for the depth and diversity of talent, knowledge, and—yes—genius that abounds among those of us who remain fascinated by motorless flight.
It seems appropriate at this milestone to look back and review some of the events, posts, projects, and people that have made this venture successful.
By far the most popular posts have been the articles and photos documenting the Concordia project. We are most grateful to Dick Butler, Gerhard Waibel, Loek Boermanns, and their collaborators for giving the Soaring Café our first exclusive—and entrusting us with the responsibility of accurate and timely reporting on the progress of this monumental project in its final two years.
We have posted some of the most popular soaring videos on the Web and have interviewed many of the movers and shakers in our sport. Our coverage of the SSA Conference in 2011 and the 2012 SSA Convention in Reno helped bring the latest developments in sailplane technology, avionics, weather forecasting, and many other topics to a worldwide audience, but the response to our coverage of the World Gliding Championships in Uvalde blew the top off the charts. Before the WGC, our daily pageviews averaged about 4,000, but during the competition, that almost quadrupled on our best day and averaged around 10,000 to 12,000 throughout the contest. For this, we thank Ritz for her dedicated all-day blogging as well as the team captains and other bloggers whom we followed every day.
We are also grateful to Maria Szemplinska, Paul Remde, Leo Bennetti-Longhini, Leigh Zimmerman, Tiffany Fidler, and other photographers for sharing their beautiful photos with us. Maria's spectacular shots of the SSA 2012 exhibit hall, the 2012 U. S. 18 meter nationals, and WGC 2012 are some of the best soaring photos we've seen.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our regular contributors. In this group, Ritz de Luy and Frank Paynter top the list. Ritz' unique take on the world soaring scene and Frank's engaging and thoughtful commentary on just about every U.S. contest (and other topics) have allowed all of us to participate vicariously in contests, record flights, and other events, big and small.
Thanks also to Jim and Simine Short, Frauke Elber, Tony Condon, Leo Bennetti-Longhini, George Rowden, and a host of others for keeping us up to date on everything from vintage sailplanes to the Women Soaring Pilots Association to their clubs and sites. Gordon Boettger has shared his world record flights with us by word and pictures; Greg Cole and his crew at Windward Performance have kept us in the loop on their new gliders and the Perlan Project; and Bruno Vassal has delighted us with his exciting soaring videos. We also enjoyed a series of posts by Roy Bourgeois' about his soaring holiday in South Africa.
We very much appreciate the support we've received from the SSA staff. With their permission, we've published several articles that have appeared in Soaring magazine and have enjoyed a congenial relationship that we hope will continue through the years ahead. The OLC magazine (Segelflugszene) has been a source of fascinating news about extraordinary soaring flights and the OLC competition and we are gratified by their response to news and articles originating on the Café. The more soaring news and information we exchange between sites, the better for everyone in the sport.
As we look toward the New Year, we expect to welcome these old friends back and to add new ones. We've begun planning for coverage of the 2013 World Gliding Championship in Argentina and we hope to expand our audience in Europe, South America, and the entire Southern Hemisphere. We encourage you to submit your classified ads to the Café and we welcome new advertisers, but most of all, send us your stories, articles, reviews, and comments...and tell your friends about us! As always, we encourage you to let us know how we're doing and we welcome constructive criticism.
We wish all of you safe skies and strong thermals!
Rand and Bill