My Soaring Goals for 2021

Soaring above Mount of the Holy Cross – one of the more intimidating 14ers in Colorado

Having reviewed my progress against the Soaring Goals that I had set for 2020, the last day of the year feels like a good time to publish new goals for 2021.

So here’s what I’m aiming for:

1. Stay Safe by always heeding my own advice.

2. Improve Specific Flying Skills, based on this analysis of a race day in Nephi, this analysis of the Speed League Season, and the advice from soaring GOAT Sebastian Kawa, who emphasized that we must learn to fly very precisely if we want to be fast.

      • Netto in cruise.  Sharpen focus on following energy lines, measured by consistently achieving above-average netto values in cruise flight, a much better metric than circling percentage and effective glide ratio.
      • Altitude band.  Use more of the available altitude band to become more selective in thermal acceptance.  This will require an adjustment of my flying style.
      • Precision thermalling. Focus on quick centering, maintaining optimal coordination, circling speed, and 45 degree bank angles.  As a result, achieve above average climb rates when compared to other pilots flying in the same area on the same day.

3. Speed Goals. Apply these skills to achieve the following:

      • When flying on Speed League Weekends aim to score among the top 3 Boulder pilots 66% of the time (up from 50% in 2020).
      • Try to break one of the Open Class Colorado Speed Records (stretch goal).

4. Distance Goals.  Weather permitting, I would like to achieve two of the following in 2021:

      • Reach one additional U.S. State flying from Boulder: New Mexico, Utah, or Nebraska.  An aspirational stretch goal is a “border to border” flight from Boulder to New Mexico, then to Wyoming, and back to Boulder.
      • Complete a 1000 km flight per OLC plus rules.
      • Complete a 750 km FAI triangle or a 1000 km Diplome.
      • Add to my 14er bag with a flight to the southern-most peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range or a flight into the San Juan Mountains.

5. Contest Goals.  I plan to fly at least three or the following four contests:

      • Region 7 in Albert Lea, MN (May 17-22)
      • 20m 2-seater Nationals in Montague , CA (Jun 14-22)
      • Region 9 or 18m Nationals in Nephi, UT (Jun 29 – Jul 8)
      • Region 10 in Uvalde, TX (Aug 15-21)

Since these are my first contests, I want to focus mainly on skill development, flying consistently, and completing as many tasks as safely possible.  Stretch Goal: place in the top 33% at one of the Regional Contests or in the top 50% at a Nationals Contest.

6. Giving Back.  I will continue to put energy towards inspiring others worldwide to join our sport, to develop, excel, and stay safe.  I will do this through:

      • Writing – follow me on and on Facebook
      • Presentations and Podcast Contributions – to local, national, and international audiences
      • Videos – subscribe to my ChessInTheAir YouTubeChannel, and
      • Serving for soaring organizations such as the Soaring Society of Boulder

I wish everyone a Very Happy New Year!

Stay safe, and may your soaring goals come to fruition.


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