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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SSA Conference Report

Leah and I had a really good time at the SSA Conference in Philly.  We arrived late Thursday and met up with our "Flying Turtle" friends. We spent most of the daytime sampling the presentations available and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  Lunch with the WSPA on Saturday was a lot of fun.  Highlights for me was the presentation by Penn State students about their human powered airplane project.  Incredible!  I also enjoyed Dan Armstrong's talk about Low Cost Soaring, mainly focusing on low cost launch methods, primarily auto tow.  Had a really nice chat with Dan later about his various airplane projects.

I managed to snag two awards at the membership meeting on Friday.  One was for being the most active SSA Instructor in Region 10.  The other was for being the 3rd most active SSA Instructor nationwide.  I am really proud of that and proud of the students in my club who put in the effort to earn their badges.

The banquet on Saturday was, as always, a blast.  Good food and good friends.  The keynote speaker talked about the history of glider flight attempts, leading up to the Wright's glider and powered flight and continuing on as sailplane design developed to a point where true soaring was regularly possible.  The videos he showed of early glider replicas flying (and sometimes crashing) and the shots from his flights in a Wright 1902 glider and the 1903 flyer were fantastic.

The awards given on Saturday night are always a highlight for me.  Francois Pin won the Hatcher Trophy.  The Barringer Trophy went (again) to Mike Koerner.  I'm going to have to start giving Mike a run for his money!  I think this is the 10th year Mike has won it, good job!  There were several certificates handed out for exceptional achievement.  I don't think there were too many dry eyes in the house when Chris O'Callaghan received a standing ovation for his posthumous award.

The finale of the evening was the presentation of the Warren Eaton trophy.  This is the SSA's highest award and this year went to Burt Compton.  We were all really proud of Burt.  He's been around gliders since he was an infant and his dad won the Eaton trophy in 1948.

We had a bit of a SNAFU on our flight back which resulted in spending the evening with friends in Cincinnati.  But we made it home on Monday just in time for the winter storm to hit.  Today we closed on our house (yippee!).  Hopefully next week we can start getting the garage ready to work in.  So we might have a short break from direct progress on 53T but once it's ready hopefully we can make a lot of progress quickly.

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