Speed record set in soaring competition

A glider competing in the 2024 Open Class Nationals is towed into the air on the last day of competition on Tuesday.

A glider competing in the 2024 Open Class Nationals is towed into the air on the last day of competition on Tuesday.

An all-time speed record of 111.28 mph was set by glider pilot Jim Lee in the last day of the 2024 Open Class Nationals.

But even that wasn’t sufficient to topple winner Keith Essex who took first place among a score pilots who competed at Minden-Tahoe Airport over a dozen days.

“The winner, Keith Essex, is a formidable local pilot,” organizer Kathy Lee said on Wednesday. “The pilot with the fastest speed for the contest, Jim Lee, is also a local pilot. His speed of 111 mph achieved on the last day is a worldwide all-time record in the history of sailplane racing. That is a testament to the outstanding conditions the area offers.”

Essex is the 2024 United States National Open Class Soaring Champion, having received the Richard C. du Pont Memorial Trophy at Tuesday night’s awards banquet at the Carson Vally Inn, according to the Soaring Society of America’s social media.

Lee received the Larissa Stroukoff Memorial Trophy for the fastest flight in the National Open Class Contest, according to Designated Reporter Dennis Linnekin.

Linnekin reported that nine pilots had speeds that exceeded 100 mph on the final day of the competition, observing that speeds had increased with each day.

Pilots completed a series of tasks, taking off from Minden-Tahoe around lunchtime and flying as far south as Bishop and into the central Nevada desert.

Minden-Tahoe Airport has a long history as a gliding mecca dating back to the 1950s.

“While we were only a small field of competitors (18 pilots), we hosted the top caliber in the U.S. and also had the pleasure of Canadian and German pilots competing here,” Kathy Lee said. “Our singleton female pilot from Northern California flew so well and enjoyed it so much that she wants to move here.”

During the banquet, organizers thanked the 58 volunteers and the airport staff who made the competition possible.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment