Family legend has it that Erik’s Erik Nelson father, Rick, took him for his first glider ride at nine weeks of age.
Certainly the hook was set early, childhood vacations spent campaigning dad’s “DQ” in races from Adrian to Cordele. Eventually, interest turned to lessons, and lessons to solo, in a 2-33 at Cypress Bay in Little River, SC. Erik won his first regional contest at Chester at age 16, and represented the United States in the 1989 European Junior Gliding Championships in Cambrai, France. He then teamed with Sean Franke in the 1991 junior championships in Sweden and the 1993 championships in France. After a hiatus from contest flying during medical school and residency, Erik returned to the sport in his thirties.
He has enjoyed racing his Ventus 2ax ever since, winning several regional contests and achieving podium finishes in the Sports and Standard Nationals in 2013. In 2015, he participated in the first Pan-American Gliding Championships in Chilhowee, Tennessee, placing second in 15-meter. He currently works as a musculoskeletal radiologist in Virginia, and flies with the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.
Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 42 years. She’s a passionate supporter of the US Teams and loves contest reporting. She currently resides in both Steamboat Springs, Co. and Greenville, SC.