Mike Smith has been hooked on model airplanes since he was born. His father was a life-long modeler and provided a ton of hands-on glider building and flying even if just from balsa scraps off Dad's building board. Born in Anchorage Alaska just before the big earthquake, Mike is 59 years old now. He has never really been away from the RC Soaring hobby. He has been competing in RC Soaring competitions since he was 12 and he has no intention to slow down.
His US Soaring team experience started when he was a helper on the 2003 US F3B team. Then he won a pilot spot on the 2005, 2007, and 2009 US F3B teams. Stepping away from F3B, and having been active in F3K, he made the US F3K team in 2013.
F5J was not an obvious progression for Mike. He always considered himself a purist and didn't like the idea of a motor on the front of a glider. But he came to love F5J and the challenge of launching low to reduce the penalty to one's score and still catch the thermal that will achieve a full flight time. It's a pretty fun game in RC Soaring competitions.
He is also active in RC GPS Triangle Racing and has taken home 2 US GPS Nationals wins.
Tom is a 52 year old Mechanical Engineer living in San Diego. Tom has been modeling for over 40 years. Tom has lived in San Diego for 15 years with his wife, Betty and their many cats.
Tom was a member of the 2004, 2006 and 2012 US F3J teams. Tom has also represented the USA as a pilot for the 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2019 US F3B teams, recently made the 2023 US F3B team, and was an alternate for 2001, 2003, and 2015 teams. He was the second alternate for the 2011 US F3K team. He has been a multi-time National Champion in F3J, F3B, Unlimited, and Two meter classes. Last but not least he has been a multi time Eastern Soaring League Season Champion. The Eastern Soaring League is where Tom got his start in competitive soaring and owes much of the foundation of his soaring journey to the ESL.
While relatively new to F5J with 2022 being his first competition year in the class, Tom went all in. He designed and built his own molded models based on Mark Drela's Supra Airfoils. He placed 6th in the US F5J tour and earned a spot on the US F5J team. He is looking forward to representing the US in Bulgaria this summer and seeing old and making new friends.
Jim's Dad, a lifelong modeler had taken a break to start and raise a family. His brother discovered some old free flight kits in the attic and they were up and running. Jim began RC soaring in the early 80's with an OLY II and Futaba 3CH radio.
Soon after he joined the Chicago based SOAR club and has been competing ever since. Some thermal duration and F3B in the late 80's and early 90's and then migrated to F3J in the late 90's. Jim was TM for the first F3J team that competed in England in 1998. The team won gold and Joe Wurts won the individual world championship.
Jim is an LSF Level V and has served on the LSF board in some capacity for the past 8 years. Jim's level V voucher features 6 wins in the contest portion. Jim credit's his recent success in F5J to the group here in Knoxville. They have a group of very dedicated F5J pilots that all work to improve everyone's performance. Jim has won the F5J Tour Championship 2 years in a row. Jim is honored to be flying for the US.
Steve has been actively building and flying model airplanes for over 50 years. His primary focus has always been sailplanes, but he has also had a lot of fun with electrics since the early 90's. Steve moved back to San Diego in '88 and joined the Torrey Pines Gulls in 1990 and has had great fun soaring with fellow club members since that time - a core group of which still fly together regularly.
Always fascinated with high performance sailplanes, Steve splurged on the first all-molded USA-Made F3B sailplane in 1990 and started seriously flying F3B in 1992. He was the team helper on the 1993 US F3B team and represented the USA in the first F5D World Championships as a pilot. In 1999 he was a pilot on the US F3B team that traveled to South Africa for their first World Championship hosting since the end of apartheid.
For the last four years he has enjoyed learning something new in the form of GPS Triangle Racing in the 1/3 Scale Class and Light Class and just finished his first Sport Class airplane. It is very challenging (even frustrating at times) and also a whole lot of fun. The most popular local thermal soaring competition is now F5J and Steve is an active participant with local and regional events and is honored to be the Team Manager to travel to the 2023 Worlds with his longtime friends Mike, Jim and Tom.