By Bill Stansbeary
The Barron Hilton Cup Soaring Camp was held June 21 through 28, at the Flying M Ranch south of Reno, Nevada. Pilots who’ve been invited there by Barron Hilton often refer to the event as “aviation heaven.”
Barron Hilton, Hilton Hotels Corporation co-chairman, was the host, in partnership with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. Eurocopter, an EADS company celebrating 100 years of vertical flight by helicopter, provided close helicopter support for the activities during the awards.
The 2005-2006 Barron Hilton Cup champions receiving medals and jackets included Hans Wiesenthal of Germany, in the open class; Hubert Just of Austria, in the 15-meter class; Jan-Ola Nordh of Sweden, in the standard class; Gerhard Heidebrecht of Germany, in the club class; and Gerrit Kurstjens of Australia, in the Australia/Africa class. Other winners included Tim Harrison of New Zealand, in the Japan/New Zealand class; Richard Kellerman of the United States, in the Americas East class; and Bill Gawthrop of the U.S., in the Americas West class.
Honored guests included astronaut Bill Anders; aviator and adventurer Steve Fossett and his wife Peggy; Ulf Merbold, research cosmonaut; Academy Award-winning actor Cliff Robertson; and Gen. Chuck Yeager, who visited the ranch with his wife Victoria. Soaring champions in attendance included Michael Sommer, Germany open class world champion, with guest Tassilo Bode; and Janusz Centka, Poland 15 meter class world champion, with guest Andrzej Makotyn.
Hannes Linke was the competition director, Annette Reichmann was the administrative director, Frank Franke was the promotions director and Patrick Barry was the managing director. C. Diane Black-Nixon and Denise Layton represented the Soaring Society of America.
Providing logistical support were Christine Franke, Carl Herold, Dennis and Molly Ivans, Becky Ivans, Sven Marquardt, Mark Marshall, Marda Najfeld, Christina Poppe, Tim Tibo, Harry Wuenstel, Christa Wifling, Andrea Winning and Carri Wooten.
Thomas Schrade, Grand Sierra Resort CEO and president, added to the excitement, making flights from the Flying M Ranch to Walker Lake nearby, with his 1929-designed and 2001-built Sikorsky S-38, Osa’s Ark, an amphibian that appeared in “The Aviator.”
A 101-foot wingspan ETA-powered sailplane was featured, as well as activities including hot air ballooning, Stearman rides, Sikorsky S-38 amphibian flights, fishing, tennis, swimming, hiking and skeet shooting.