French Team Unlimited Glider Champion (CORRECTED)
Laurent Aboulin, of France, won the unlimited class in the World Gliding Championships in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday. Dozens of teams competing in three classes flew prescribed courses with a minimum of three waypoints in closed loop over more than 200 miles over 13 days of competition. First place in the 18-meter wingspan (about 60 feet) class was Zbigniew Nieradka, of Poland, and the top pilot in the 15-meter class (which flew 12 flights) was Sebastian Kawa, of Poland. Full results here. The top U.S. entrant in the unlimited class was Dick Butler, who came in seventh. It was his aircraft, Concordia, with its 92-foot wingspan, that was the talk of the meet, nicknamed the Olympics of Gliding, however.
Concordia was designed from the belly wheel up to race and it attempts to discover the sweet spot between strength, speed and flyability. The group that built the aircraft decided to eliminate any marketability concerns (accommodating a second seat, incorporating an engine) and design a pure competition aircraft. With pilot Dick Butler, it won two of the races and was in a logjam of top-place finishers.