Thanks to Elliot Dickerson for organizing yesterday night's Awards Banquet.  The venue was exceptionally beautiful and the weather was perfect.  I hope everyone who attended had a great time! 


For those who could not make it, please take a look at the attached document, which lists the nominees and award winners for the 2021 season. Congratulations to all the Winners and Runner Ups!


Collectively, SSB once had a banner year placing 2nd in the U.S. Gold League, and 3rd in the OLC World League (out of 958 clubs).  We were also the 4th most active cross-country soaring club in the world (out of 1342 participating clubs).  Our pilots logged more than 218,000 kilometers, more than 5x around the globe!


At the banquet we honored not only the individuals who made that happen but also those who supported them.  That includes first and foremost our tow pilots without whom none of these awards could have been achieved.  I am proud to say that our Chief Tow Pilot, John Stewart is this year's winner of the Society's greatest annual honor: the Chi Pickett-Heaps Memorial Award.


In addition, I wish to thank all our members who continue to contribute to the workings and successes of our society.  This includes my colleagues on the BOD, especially our officers Armand Charnonneau (vp), Wiebe Gortmaker (treasurer) and Elliot Dickerson (secretary); our tow plane manager Gary Steube, our ship managers Al Godman and Dan Zimmerman (PB), Sharif Abdallah and Lyle Hatridge (EF), Alfonso Ossorio (TR), and Jack Knopinski (SG); our facilities manager Reed von Gal; our chief flight instructor Bob Faris; our camp leader Elliot Dickerson, and our new member coordinator Bob Ellstrom. In addition, our club could not function without the many volunteers who perform a myriad of important tasks behind the scenes such as maintaining our oxygen cart, organizing the shack, restocking our supplies, replenishing the fridge, mowing the grass, taking out the trash, updating our email lists, keeping up the club documents, replacing tow ropes, negotiating with the airport, the city, and the FAA, etc.  





Collective Accomplishments of Team SSB on OLC

·         2nd place in OLC U.S. Gold League behind Minden – out of 18 participating teams in the Gold League.

·         3rd place in the OLC World League out of 958 participating Soaring Clubs.

·         4th most active flying club in the world out of 1342 scoring clubs with 217,482 points behind Gelderse Zweefvliegclub in the Netherlands, Minden Nevada, and SFZ Königsdorf in Germany

·         45 Pilots contributed to SSB’s result.

·         Total XC distance flown 218,910 km (more than 5x around the world).

Recognition of Spouses and Families


The SSB pilots are most grateful for the support they receive from their spouses and families.

·         Soaring is time intensive.  Flying those 218,000 kilometers took well over 2000 hours.  Plus, for every hour in the air pilots spend at least an equal amount of hours on the ground rigging, derigging, waiting for the cu’s to pop or for the tow plane to refuel. 

·         A soaring pilot’s schedule is often dictated by the soaring weather – and when the weather is best and our families might want to make the most of it, pilots often disappear and leave their families behind.

·         Vacations and weekends often evolve around gliding.

·         Soaring can also put a strain on a family’s financial resources – after all this stuff isn’t exactly cheap.

·         Soaring is also an objectively dangerous activity – we know this; and our spouses know this as well; there is always some level of fear or at least concern in the background.

Tow Pilot of the Year

This award is given to the tow pilot who has contributed the most to SSB tow operations.

It has been said that a glider without a tow pilot is nothing but an expensive lawn ornament.


Our tow pilots are essential partners in our collective endeavors.  None of the glider pilots receiving awards would be receiving any of them without our tow pilots.  Even the motor glider owners did not start out in motor gliders…


The soaring pilots would like to thank all 25 tow pilots who came out to tow in 2021.  Not fewer than 12 tow pilots delivered at least 50 tows each! These twelve pilots are:

Rob Calkins – 154 tows

Mitchell Hoke – 152 tows

Simon Roberts – 111 tows

Gary Steube – 80 tows

Scott VanInwagen – 80 tows

Joe Brack – 66 tows

Lyle Hatridge – 66 tows

John Stewart – 62 tows

Mark Terry – 59 tows

Jeff Clayton – 56 tows

Chris Robson – 54 tows

Erik Rasmussen – 50 tows


A special thank you to those tow pilots who are also glider pilots. They gave up a soaring day each time they came out to get their fellow club members into the air.


We could pick the tow pilot of the year simply by taking the person with the most tows.  That would once again be Rob Calkins, our tow pilot of the year in 2020. Thank you, Rob!


But when we consider who has overall contributed the most to SSB’s tow operations in the year, this person is our Tow Plane Manager, Gary Steube.


No-one has worked nearly as much as Gary to ensure that our tow pilots have tow planes to fly and tow gliders into the air.  On top of that, Gary also flew 80 tows himself and often came out at short notice when no other tow pilot was available.


We continue to be indebted to Gary for his extraordinary service to the club. 


Thank you and congratulations to our Award Winner, Gary Steube!


Instructor of the Year


This award is given to the instructor who has contributed the most to club instruction in 2021.

The Instructor of the Year Award goes to someone who completed a rare achievement for his work as instructor:  he earned the FAA Instructor Gold Seal purely through glider instruction.


Why is this such a rare accomplishment? To succeed one must train at least 10 students within a 24-month period and at least 80% of them must pass their Practical Exam on their first attempt.  In addition, the CFI must also be an Advanced or Instrument Ground Instructor.


Our award winner accomplished all this during a global pandemic.  You’ll be able to read the entire story in an upcoming edition of Soaring Magazine.


In addition, our award winner continued to develop the SSB  Ground School and SSB YouTube Channel, leaving a lasting legacy for future soaring pilots and as an aid for future club instructors.


Please join me in congratulating club vice president, Armand Charbonneau, to the Instructor of the Year Award for 2021.


Summer Soaring Series Awards

The Summer Soaring Series Awards recognize achievements in Cross Country Soaring.

·         Newcomers to XC soaring, i.e., those without a Silver Badge or comparable prior cross-country flying experience compete in the Bronze Division.

·         Those who have already earned a Silver Badge or flown comparable XC flights compete in the Silver Division.

·         And those who have earned a Gold Badge or higher, or those who have previously been a winner in the Silver Division compete in the Gold Division.


In each division, the winner’s score is determined based on the aggregate score of their top 6 XC flights that were made from Boulder or during SSB soaring camps.

Bronze Division

In 2021 we had a very tight race in the Bronze Division with two newcomers competing for the top spot.

·         Both newcomers are accomplished aviators, but with very different backgrounds, and both were new to XC glider flights.

·         Both have achieved cross country flights of over 400 km in their first year. For reference, in some years past this would have earned them the award for the longest XC flight out of Boulder! Think about it.  This is an extraordinary achievement for a newcomer!

·         Both have achieved a point score of more than 2000 points. In some years this would have been more than enough to win the Silver Division!

·         Only 18 points separate the winner from the runner up.


Without further ado,

·         The runner up, with a point score of 2156, is Jason Ely.

·         And the winner, with a point score of 2174, is Jeff Clayton.


Starting in 2022, Jason and Jeff will be competing in the Silver Division. Watch out everyone!

Silver Division

In the Silver Division the race wasn’t quite as close.

·         That’s not at all because our runner ups somehow didn’t perform well.  Quite the contrary: in some years the runner ups would have handily won the Silver Division.

·         But our winner performed so well that nothing was left to chance.

·         In fact, the winner’s score was greater than ANY of the Silver Division’s winning scores in ANY prior year!


Our Runner Ups were:

·         In 3rd place, with a point score of 1863, Elliot Dickerson.

·         In 2nd place, with a point score of 1896, Winfried Reichelt.


And the winner, with a point score of 3446, is Benjamin Pinnell.


Starting with 2022, Ben will now of course compete in the Gold Division.  There’s little doubt that he will be among the top contenders for the Gold Division win right out of the gate!


Gold Division

From 2011-2019 the Gold Division was dominated by the exceptional Boulder pilot Pedja Bogdanovich who made a name for himself as Colorado’s most prolific 1000 km pilot with no fewer than 21 flights longer than 1000 km.  Unfortunately, Pedja left the club three years ago.


However, Pedja’s inspirational achievements continue to live on and this is reflected in the scores of the 2021 Gold Division contenders.


Here are the winning scores in the prestigious Gold Division:

·         In 3rd place, with a score of 3846 points, long-time Boulder XC pilot, and Gold Division Winner of 2020, Bob Caldwell.

·         In 2nd place, with a score of 4085 points, Silver Division winner of 2014, and the only pilot to complete the 14er Challenge flying exclusively from Boulder, Tom Zoellner.

·         And the winner, with a point score of 5196 points, is someone who only returned to soaring 4 years ago, Silver Division winner of 2018, Clemens Ceipek.


Clemens’ winning score also places him at rank #72 in the OLC Plus World Champions League out of 10,857 competing pilots globally.

Longest Flight of the Year from Boulder

Winning the Summer Soaring Series requires consistent performance at a high level throughout the season.  The top six flights of each pilot count.


Flying the longest flight of the year only takes one flight.  But it must be exceptional.  The pilot with the longest flight of the year may or may not be the same as a Summer Soaring series winner.  E.g., in 2020 different individuals won these awards.


So, who achieved the longest flight of the year from Boulder in 2021?  This year the results are consistent with the overall Gold Division results:


·         In 3rd place, with a longest flight of 677 km, was Bob Caldwell.

·         In 2nd place, with a longest flight of 758 km, was Tom Zoellner.

·         And in 1st place, with a longest flight of 1034 km, was Clemens Ceipek.


With all the talented pilots at the SSB, pilots will likely continue to have to break the 1000 km barrier to win the longest flight from Boulder…


Most Improved Pilot

2021 was a great year when it comes to rising talent in our club. I’m excited to say that we have four nominees this year for the Most Improved Pilot Award.


The nominees are: Elliot Dickerson, Jason Ely, Benjamin Pinnell, and Jeff Clayton.


·         Elliot Dickerson earned his license in 2018 and moved up from flying club gliders in 2020 to flying his own high-performance Ventus 2 in 2021.  Elliot’s point score in the OLC Champion’s League improved from 1680 in 2020 to 1863 in 2021.

·         Jason Ely joined the club as recently as January of 2021.   By April, he had his first 3-hour solo flight in the DG 505, and by May he started to fly 200km flights in our club Disci.  By August, he flew a 425km flight between Lookout Mountain and Cheeseman Lake.  A week later he reached the Wyoming Border.  A very impressive progression!

·         Benjamin Pinnell.  Ben has been a soaring pilot since 2004, and even a CFIG for many years.  However, his cross-country progression catapulted forward in 2021 when he completed the 14er Challenge in a single season, becoming only the second pilot at the SSB to do so.  Ben has also only really begun to fly OLC flights in 2021 and this was recognized by the OLC where Ben was officially ranked #2 for the year worldwide in the Rookie Champion Category.

·         Jeff Clayton joined the club in October of 2020, only 3 months earlier than Jason.  After two days, Jeff was flying solo and two weeks later, he had earned his license.  In March of 2021 he started to fly our club Disci, immediately flying multi-hour flights.  By June, he made it not only to the Wyoming Border but also to the top of Pikes Peak.  By August he flew a 460km O&R all the way to Elk Mountain in Wyoming – one of the most impressive flights ever made in a club Discus and the longest flight in a club glider in 2021. Over the summer he competed in the Region 9 contest in Nephi together with Bill Kaewert in Bill’s AS32Mi.  And to top things off, by October, within only 1 year of joining SSB, Jeff had earned his CFIG.  In 2021 Jeff flew 158 hours in SSB club gliders, more than any other pilot.


In a normal year each of our nominees could have handily won the Most Improved Pilot Award.  But considering these remarkable achievements by all nominees, those by Jeff Clayton stand out above all the rest.


Congratulations to our 2021 Award Winner, Jeff Clayton.


Longest Retrieve

If the Retrieve award would be given to the pilot with the most frequent landouts, there is no question who the winner would be.  It seems one must land out a lot to become the Most Improved Pilot of the Year ;-)


After all, only one SSB pilot managed to land out three times in 2021.  Twice at Owl Canyon and once at Saguache airport southwest of Salida.  That pilot is of course Jeff Clayton.


However, for this award distance counts more than frequency.  Sorry, Jeff.


Our next contender is once again Ben Pinnell who landed on July 28, 2021 at the airport in Leadville when overdevelopment late in the day blocked his return route to Boulder.  From there he was rescued by two good Samaritans in a Mooney who happened to be flying back to Boulder and gave Ben a ride so he could return with his trailer and save on steak dinners…  Btw, rumor has it that one of the pilots in the Mooney was Eli Green who has since joined the SSB as a tow pilot!  Thanks Ben, that was a productive land-out!


But then we have yet one additional contender who took off in Boulder on May 1, 2021 with the goal to reach Moriarty, NM.  When storms blocked his way near the Spanish Peaks he decided to divert towards the plains where he eventually had to land at the Perry Stokes airport near the town of Trinidad, Colorado.  For those who don’t know, Trinidad is 232 road miles (or 3 ½ hours) south of Boulder.  That even beats Leadville, which is a 117-mile drive and just a little more than 2 hours away.  The pilot was retrieved by his wife Saskia and the pilot’s name is of course Alfonso Ossorio.


So, the Longest Retrieve Award of the year goes to Saskia and Alfonso Ossorio.  Congratulations!


The Airmanship Award is only given when warranted.  It is awarded to the pilot or pilots who display exceptional airmanship when it really counts.


This year’s winner took off with a self-launching motorglider into the hills.  There the engine seized, and the propeller could not be retracted.  The pilot had to fly back to Boulder where he was able to land safely with the propeller extended.


The pilot on this flight was SSB’s Chief Flight Instructor, Bob Faris. Congratulations to the Airmanship Award of 2021!



Chi Pickett-Heaps

The Board of Directors has awarded this Award annually since 1973 to the member or members who have contributed to the operation of the society or to the sport of soaring.

We have deliberately saved the most significant award for last.


·         The Chi Pickett-Heaps Memorial Award is the most significant recognition that the club awards annually.  It is not given out lightly.

·         This year the trophy is awarded to someone who has been a club member for over 25 years and who has been instrumental in practically every single aerotow takeoff for decades.

·         This individual has negotiated with many airport managers and other aviators at the Boulder airport; played a leading role in flight safety and noise abatement; and served on SSB’s board of directors for most of his membership.

·         In addition, this person was tow plane manager for many years, never avoiding getting his hands dirty.  Refusing to send a dirty plane to the shop, he even degreased tow plane bellies and engine compartments before annual condition inspections.

·         This person’s most significant and lasting impact, of course, is that he has trained well over 100 tow pilots.

·         He also developed a recurrent training program, including spring checks and consistent tow pilot reminders on Recurring Operational Topics.  The training also included an introduction to flying in margins of the flight envelope that are unfamiliar to most GA pilots.

·         He mentored young aspiring pilots on pursuing their careers as pilots. Many of them are now working as professional pilots. These include airline pilots, CFIs, military pilots, aerial applicator pilots (crop dusters) and Alaskan bush pilots.

·         He even provided housing to numerous young tow pilots at his residences in Boulder and Erie.

·         As anyone who has experienced his wrath can attest, Colonel Stewart has vigorously defended and supported his tow pilots!

·         In recognition of more than two decades of outstanding service for the club, this year’s winner of the Chi Pickett-Heaps Award is of course our very own Chief Tow Pilot, John Stewart.