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IHLGF History

By Gary Fogel

The International Hand Launch Glider Festival (IHLGF) has become world-renowned as a key event in the development of international RC hand launch glider competition. The event started in 1994 from a burgeoning interest in the southern California area in competition with the various AMA Class A (60" wingspan) kits that were available at the time. These early Torrey Pines Gulls (TPG) club competitions gave rise to a concept for a larger regional event (the IHLGF) which quickly grew to international proportion. The competition was the first of its kind on such a large scale, and not only prompted increased pressure for continued development of lighter, stronger, more efficient designs, but new types of competitive rounds, helping lead to the development of the FAI F3K class. Expert pilots flying specialized designs with the goal of staying aloft for several minutes on low altitude thermals, and also enjoying the camaraderie of annual competition in the San Diego sun. The IHLGF is a historic competition in one of the most fascinating areas of RC soaring. This website helps to highlight its history and importance. If you have material to share please contact us so that we can include this in a growing tribute to TPG's involvement in hand launch RC soaring.

IHLGF 1994 - October 29-30

Brainchild of Steve Stricklett, Steve Condon and a set of local Torrey Pines Gulls (TPG) HLG fanatics. Two days, ten rounds, plus three rounds of flyoffs. First two-day HLG event ever. 26 entrants. Top three: Joe Wurts, Arthur Markiewicz, Gordon Jennings.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-1995/RCSD-1995-03.pdf (page 48-50)

Additional Resources

IHLGF 1995 - May 20-21

After the 1994 event, TPG explored new IHLGF tasks through a series of monthly club HLG contests. The club added a PA system and electronic scoring system programmed by Don Richmond. Top three: Joe Wurts, Arthur Markiewicz, George Joy.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-1996/RCSD-1996-01.pdf (Page 44)

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IHLGF 1996 - June 15-16

TPG secured contest sponsorship from Airtronics. With the help of the new "electronic mail" to help market the event, it was hoped that this would be the first truly international IHLGF. 75 pilots registered, including pilots from Japan, Austria, and Australia as well as eight U.S. states. The sponsorship and raffle worked so well that TPG donated $1600 to a local child abuse prevention center. Top three: Daryl Perkins, Joe Wurts, Steve Cameron.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-1996/RCSD-1996-04.pdf (page 31)

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IHLGF 1997 - June 7-8

TPG named Tom Clarkson as Hand Launch Coordinator for 1997. Tom instituted a series of 6 TPG monthly contests, including one where local experts were paired with new pilots and scored as teams of two in a "pro-am" sense. On occasion the locals would fly a HLG contest in the morning, go for pizza for lunch, then have a combat session at the nearby Poway slope in the afternoon. 30+ entrants at the IHLGF. Top three: Daryl Perkins, Joe Wurts, Gordon Jennings.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-1997/RCSD-1997-03.pdf (page 34)

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IHLGF 1998 - June 6-7

Ed Slegers of Slegers International was the sponsor of the 5th IHLGF in 1998. Meanwhile the TPG debuted its website for the first time. 52 pilots showed, and so did the rain on Sunday morning, but only briefly. For the first time TPG offered awards for all three age classes (Open, Junior, "Bald Eagle"). Open class had plaques through 10th'place, Junior and Eagle through 3rd place. Top three pilots in the open class: Joe Wurts, Daryl Perkins, John Roe.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-1998/RCSD-1998-03.pdf (page 27)

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IHLGF 1999 - June 5-6

Northeast Sailplanes was the official main sponsor for the 1999 event. Entrants came from England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Argentina and twelve different states a total of 81 pilots in all. It was the first year that the wingspan limit of 1.5m was rather strictly enforced. Tom Clarkson of the TPG wrote new software to create the pilots matrix to minimize frequency conflicts and randomize the placement of pilots in each heat.

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IHLGF 2000 - June 3-4

Sanyo Energy, USA became the host sponsor of the millennial IHLGF. This was also the first major international event to make use of the provisional F3K rules as modified by the US, and including some local field modifications as well. This was also the first time when discus launch was introduced to the crowd in So Cal by Dick Barker and Jim Pearson from Seattle, and it quickly became clear that this would forever change competitive HLG launching. This was reinforced when Paul Siegel won the 2000 US NATS with discus launch.

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?874659-IHLGF-time-travel-a-stroll-down-memory-lane (view trailer for Paul Naton's video about IHLGF 2000)

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IHLGF 2001 - June 2-3

The 8th annual IHLGF host sponsor was Multiplex USA. The IHLGF 2001 was the first major contest to truly show the importance of discus launching, as essentially the entire field of competitors had switched to this mode in just one year. Many competitors also made use of small electronic gyros on their rudder servo. It was a great and revolutionary contest. Top three: Joe Wurts, Oleg Golovidov, John Asplund.


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IHLGF 2002 - June 1-2

Once again sponsored by Multiplex USA as the host sponsor, 2002 showed a clear diversity of aircraft types in the field. Most were flapped or flaperon, but there were some built-up DLGs. A clear friendly "east-west" rivalry became established by the top competitors. Top three: Joe Wurts, Craig Greening, Phil Barnes.


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IHLGF 2003 - June 7-8

The 2003 event was host sponsored by Airtronics. A special achievement award was presented to Mark Drela for his contribution in the development of XFOIL software, his educational posts, and contribution to the development of hand launch gliders. The competition was tight at the top all the way into the flyoffs when Oleg Golovidov pulled off the upset, taking first place from Joe Wurts by 13 points out of 12000. The "east-west" battle was now firmly "on". Top three: Oleg Golovidov, Joe Wurts, Paul Anderson.


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IHLGF 2004 - June 5-6

The early IHLGFs to this point were flown from a point just to the southeast of the current field. This location made it possible in windy conditions to slope soar a nearby hill to the east. The rules for the 2004 meet penalized this behavior with a zero score for the round. The host sponsor was once again Airtronics. Roughly half of the contestants flew their own designs, many others flew XP-4s or Encores. John Ericson wrote a great write-up that made it into the January issue of Model Aviation. Top three: Phil Barnes, Paul Anderson, Joe Wurts.

http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-2004/RCSD-2004-04.pdf (Announcement; page 20)
http://www.rcsoaringdigest.com/pdfs/RCSD-2004/RCSD-2004-07.pdf (page 12)
http://library.modelaviation.com/ma/2005/1/international-hand-launch-glider-festival-2004-200501 (Full Recap)

Additional Resources

IHLGF 2005 - June 4-5

A "discus style launch" clinic was held for the first time prior to the IHLGF on June 3. The official host sponsor was once again Airtronics, the conditions were challenging but the result was the same as 2004. Top three: Phil Barnes, Paul Anderson, Joe Wurts.


IHLGF 2006 - June 3-4

Temperatures were hot (high 90s/low 100s) for both days of this event. Contestants represented three countries and 18 states. Both the Japanese and Kiwis brought their best. Pilots were flying Taboo GTs, SuperGees, Vandals, Encores, and other DLG planes. Local TPGer Paul Anderson took first with his Vandal and a downwind flight for the ages. Joe Wurts placed second with Chris Tank placing third.


IHLGF 2007 - June 2-3

On the Friday before the meet, competitors had fun with the first "International Hand Launch Altitude Challenge" to see who could launch the highest using an altitude device strapped to the plane. Oleg Golovidov took top honors with a max height of 208 feet. In the IHLGF, 71 pilots from 6 countries and 13 states enjoyed typical Poway conditions. In the end, Phil Barnes reclaimed the title, with Joe Wurts and Paul Anderson not far behind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxkXoIr0TLE (2007?)

IHLGF 2008 - June 7-8

This was the 15th edition of the IHLGF and the first one to make use of FAI F3K rules. IHLGF organizers pulled together a committee of top competitors from the east and west to formulate which tasks would be best suited for the IHLGF. TPG was proud of its place in helping to generate initial tasks but the time had come to embrace F3K. Top three: Oleg Golovidov, Mike Smith, Phil Barnes.


IHLGF 2009 - April 25-26

Unfortunately during the planning of the 2009 event it became known that the Poway field owner sought to develop the property. TPG worked hard to run a contest while trying to secure a future field for IHLGF. The contest dates were moved to April to help separate DLG events and attract additional international pilots. The leaderboard also went through some considerable changes. The top three: Bruce Davidson, Jun Catacutan, Arend Borst.


IHLGF 2010 - May 1-2

Top three: Jun Catacutan, Mike Smith, Phil Barnes


IHLGF 2011 - Apr 30-May 1

Top three: Mike Smith, Oleg Golovidov, Nick ?


IHLGF 2012 - April 28-29

Local Poway company Hitec was the platinum sponsor for the event. Gold sponsors Horizon Hobby, Soaring USA, Airtronics. After all was said and done, TPG donated $800 to the USA F3K team fund. Top three: Joe Wurts, Michael Stern, Donnie Langdon


IHLGF 2013 - April 26-28

The 20th anniversary of the IHLGF brought back great memories and fierce competition. Top three: George Morris, Reto Fiolka, Mike Smith


IHLGF 2014 - May 3-4

72 pilots including competitors from Brazil, China, Germany, and New Zealand Top three: Joe Wurts, Toby Herrera, Oleg Golovidov

http://www.modelaviation.com/IHLGF2014 (recap and IHLGF history)

IHLGF 2015 - May 2-3

Top three: Michael Seid, Oleg Golovidov, Mike Smith


IHLGF 2016 - May 14-15

Top three: Toby Herrera, Reto Fiolka, Mike Smith


IHLGF 2017 - April 29-30

Joe Wurts' 10th victory at the IHLGF. Top three: Joe Wurts, Gavin Trussell, Oleg Golovidov


IHLGF 2018 - April 28-29 - History in the making!!!!

Additional IHLGF related history