West Michigan is set to host the first ever FAI Sailplane Grand Prix USA. The Sailplane Grand Prix is international aviation’s ultimate aerial racing competition. Fifteen of the top pilots from the United States and Canada will compete over seven days for two coveted qualification spots for the Sailplane Grand Prix (SGP) World Championships (South Africa, November, 2016).

SGP consists of daily races around a huge aerial race track (often several hundred miles in length) and concludes at a finish line over the Ionia County Airport. The first pilot to complete the assigned course and cross to the finish line is the winner! The finish line makes for an exhilarating spectator experience as the finishing gliders dump their water ballast and maneuver for landing. At the end of the SGP USA competition week, the pilot who has scored the most total points will be the overall winner and, along with the overall runner up, will qualify for the upcoming World Championships. Race fans not able to visit the airport will be able to follow the racing online via a live YouTube broadcast.

FAI SGP USA will be held at Ionia County Airport from July 25th – July 31st. July 23rd and 24th are official practice days.

 

 

The science of sailplane racing, in terms of the distance flown and speeds achieved, is nothing short of incredible. Most have difficulty ‘getting their heads around’ the performance racing gliders are capable of achieving despite being driven by nothing but the sun’s energy. Sailplane actually require the sun’s heating (cannot fly on rainy or heavily cloudy days) and therefore soaring is arguably the worlds ultimate “GREEN” sport!