Sarah is heading to the Czech Republic next week with her Captain AND Crew, John Good, to compete in the 9th FAI Women’s WGC.
Born in Wisconsin, Sarah was raised on a farm near Lumby, British Columbia. Surrounded by the freshness of nature she grew up splashing in creeks, climbing trees, and camping under the limitless night sky. Special family friend “Uncle” LeRoy took a mentoring interest in Sarah. He taught her how to make a whistle, deliver calves, and care for machinery. At age 13, Uncle Leroy began teaching her to fly. Sarah was instantly hooked. Just as she had learned to operate farm machinery, Sarah quickly mastered the basics of flight and soloed in an ultralight aircraft. Working in a bakery throughout her teen years, Sarah earned enough to buy her first car, pay for flying lessons, and purchase her share in a 1948 Piper Vagabond. Sarah went on to obtain her Canadian private pilot certificate on her 17th birthday. An instrument rating, Airframe & Powerplant mechanic, and commercial pilot certificate soon followed.
In 2001, Sarah accepted an accounting position with a Tennessee-based non-profit for troubled boys. In 2003, this intrepid young woman returned home to Canada and retrieved her beloved Vagabond. She climbed into the small 65 hp two-place airplane, and flew solo across the United States, all the way back to southeastern Tennessee. Sarah wasn’t in the South long before she found nearby Chilhowee Gliderport. She began towing gliders aloft and was quickly hooked on this silent form of free flight. After negotiating a trade of towing services for glider time, Sarah was able to add glider category and an instructor certificate to her growing list of pilot qualifications. The gliderport owners asked her to become manager and then a few months later financed the assets to her. At age 24, Sarah found herself the youngest gliderport owner/operator in the country. She eventually met and married her husband Jason. Together they’ve worked to improve the airport, train a new generation of pilots, and host soaring camps, seminars, and contests. Sarah organized the 1st FAI Pan American Gliding Championships in 2015, and serves as treasurer on the US Team Committee. She will be a 2017 inductee into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame.
Sarah’s passion for sailplane racing began with her first long distance soaring flights in April & May of 2005. A few weeks later, on June 16th she flew 296 miles over an out and return course in New Mexico setting multiple state and National feminine distance records. In February 2008 she soared to 30,829 feet over Boulder, Colorado completing Fédération Aéronautique Internationale diamond badge #985. March 24, 2011, Sarah and student Dianna Fleming set 11 state and 3 national feminine soaring records flying a training glider over 200 miles along mountain ridges. Through her own determination and tenacity, Sarah successfully cultivated her soaring skills, and has earned her position on the US Soaring Team.
In May 2011, Sarah became the US Sports Class National Champion, and secured her place on the US Team. She was the first woman to represent the United States at a WGC event in Argentina 2013. Later that year she flew the Women’s World Gliding Championships in Issoudin, France and took home a bronze medal.
At the 2017 WWGC in the Czech Republic, John Good will serve as Sarah’s team captain and crew. With his experience and knowledge of WGC events and rules, team USA will be well represented. From John: “We depart May 14 and arrive in Prague on the 15th. We’ll be met there by Ondrej Dvora, the owner of the our competition glider and towcar. We’ll drive to Zbraslavice (the contest site – and where the Std. Cirrus is located) that evening.”
Practice days are May 16 – 19; Opening Ceremony is the 20th. Competition days are May 21 – June 3. Closing Ceremony is June 5.
follow along here, the US Team website, www.ussoaringteams.org and the official WWGC site, https://www.wwgc2017.cz
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.