• 79°

Annual Regional Gliders Competition

Sailplanes lined up for takeoff two years ago at the Cordele-Crisp County Airport.

Submitted by Kathy Odom

Program Manager at Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce

CORDELE– Beginning Saturday, June 2 the Cordele-Crisp County Airport will host the week-long 48th annual Soaring Society of America sanctioned Region 5 South Glider Competition. The most helpful Chamber of Commerce and congenial City of Cordele and Crisp County roll out the carpet to offer a venue for glider pilots from all over the country to race over the beautiful fields and woods of Middle and South Georgia where the thermals are plenty and the mostly motorless gliders can fly far.

Glider pilots race high-performance fiberglass gliders, also known as sailplanes, covering distances over 200 miles, by studying the sky and determining where the best lift (rising air currents) will be found to keep them aloft. Normally the warm rising air in high cumulus clouds provides the best indicators of lift for glider flight, however days that are blue also provide many lift opportunities. The racing course, known as the “race task” differs every day based upon the predicted weather conditions. Pilots will be required to race around specified turn GPS validated points within a set period of time with the fastest competitor winning the day. Occasionally, a pilot will be unable to return to the starting airport when lift is lost due to changing weather during a flight. In this case, the pilot will seek a landable site (most often another airport) or sometimes safe fields as gliders are light and can land in short distances. When this happens, Middle and South Georgia’s residents show their real hospitality in assisting the pilot and their crew. Often landowners and pilots become new friends in sharing the adventure of cross country soaring.

The public is invited to watch the take-off (launch) and return of gliders at the airport. Depending upon weather conditions, the launch starts daily between 12-1 p.m. and gliders return between 3-5:30 p.m. The launch starts with all of the gliders lined up on the runway (launch grid). In the course of one hour very powerful airplanes will tow each glider to an altitude of 2,000 feet above the airport where the glider then releases from the tow plane to loiter in a designated start area awaiting the opening of the “start gate.” The launch is exciting to watch as tow planes are departing and returning to the airport to pick up the next glider. Please park cars outside the fence line. Contest and airport staff will guide you to the best spots to watch the launch.

In addition to being an enjoyable event for soaring, the event is also beneficial to the city and county as businesses and residents receive an influx of additional revenue and tax dollars when pilots spend their vacation dollars in many of the local establishments. Each year Cordele with assistance and coordination from the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, provides a friendly soaring site, local activities and demonstrates to the contestants the meaning of Southern hospitality. The Soaring Society of America, the Region 5 South Contest Managers, the Cordele Racing LLC wish to thank the City of Cordele, Crisp County, Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, the FBO of Crisp County Airport and the many congenial citizens of Middle and South Georgia for their warm hospitality and continued support of the annual glider competition. As pilots often say, “When Cordele is working and the soaring is good, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

Event Information:

Location at Cordele-Crisp County Airport in Cordele

Dates are June 2 to June 9, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

For more information regarding this event or to schedule an interview with any of the pilots, please contact Chris Carter at 770-843-4099 or by email at flycordele@yahoo.com.