The folllowing article was published in October, 2015 SOARING Magazine. It is a report on the use of Facebook video posts to promote the sport.
2015 US National Sports Class Contest Report Caesar Creek Soaring Club, Waynesville, OH June 22 to July 3, 2015
This year’s Sports Nats’ report is flavored by tracking the popularity of Facebook posts during the contest. This was the first time so many videos were posted relating to day-to-day activities at a National Contest. I uploaded and posted to SSA’s Facebook page during the day and then embedded them into official SSA report in the evening.
This chart shows Likes (top line), Shares (second highest line), Comments (lowest line), and 30 Second Video Views (shaded area) on the SSA Facebook page during the contest June 22 to July 3, 2015. The graph shows the big increase in Likes during the two National contests that were going on simultaneously. A photo posted from the Hobbs, NM, 18-Meter and Club Class National contests, caused the huge spike of Likes near the end. The shaded area, At least 30 Second Video Views, graph, best shows the increase in traffic caused by the Sports Class Nationals. I was the only one posting videos.
Because Facebook videos were viewable by everyone in SSA reports, you didn’t need to be a Facebook member to view. Perhaps folks got used to the posts over time. I must admit we were pretty much making up news because there wasn’t much flying going on. We didn’t even have good enough conditions to make it an official contest. It was easy to take short videos and post them to the SSA Facebook page during all the activities. Even in the cockpit ready to launch. Take some video, launch the Facebook app on your phone, input a caption, attach a video and hit post. For the formal reports on the Contest page, copy the embed code and paste it into the html code field. You’re done in a few minutes. Please give me a call or email for help. I’d like to see more live reporting. It gives us a great way to get to know the soaring community and maybe some of the videos will go viral (like the Hobbs’ photo) and we’ll attract more pilots to soaring. It’s fun and easy with advanced smartphones.
My theme for the contest logo that I designed was about the ships. The craft are roughly lined up, left to right, top to bottom, in order of handicap. The weather prediction was so poor that some contestants didn’t even show up.
489 video views – Monday, June 22, First practice day
957 video views – Tuesday, June 23, Second practice day
10:02 a.m. “Jim Lee, 1999 U.S. Hang Glider Champion, tells us what sailplane pilots can learn from hang-glider pilots.” Contestants: Jim Lee, Steve Arnst, Wally Barry and CD John Lubon come from the hang-gliding hobby. Jim shares that hang-glider pilots are immersed in the thermal and can sense subtle temperature difference and smell the thermal. That could be toxic gases from a local steel mill or the pungent smell of manure! Normally it’s the smell of dirt. Jim learned from those experiences needed to circle very tightly to stay in the thermal core, so that was his advice to sailplane pilots.
Jim Lee was US Hang Gliding Champion in 1999 and on the winning US World Team in 1993. Photo was taken at the Monte Cucco, Italy, world championships. Jim is flying a Wills Wing Fusion glider, and his harness is a carbon fiber pod that he designed and built to reduce the drag of his body. Jim won our unofficial Sports Nationals.
11:53 a.m. “Don Kroesck, DK, loves his new LAK 17bfes with a nose mounted sustainer engine.” “I like the confidence of exploring the far reaches of the task area and not being concerned about getting back home, plus the benefit of having a 50:1 glider one second to having a sustainer after three switches but always still having a great glide ratio, Don shared.”
1014 video views - June 24 Task: 2 hr MAT (distance from Caesar Creek Soaring Club) 10-Clinton (13 miles to the east)
4:50 p.m. TOP VIDEO posted after landing, “Tow plane just took off to get a down pilot at the Sports Class Nats. Gaggle of gliders from above right over Caesar Creek…” This was the most popular video viewed. Everyone must love videos of gaggles.
Jim Price provided this photo of the beautiful day June 24. In the end it wouldn’t be a contest day. We missed by the slimmest of margins, conditions just too low and soft.
654 video views - June 25, Rain today. 2:16 p.m. TOP VIDEO “Sports Class Nats launch (6/24) is half over. 2500 agl barely a knot reported. Notice the double ice crystal halo around the sun.”
2:23 p.m. Joe Jackson’s land out photos posted, 15K reach, 3.1K post clicks and 198 likes. This indicates photos are still a great thing to post.
At the pilot’s meeting, Hank Nixon, OH, ASW-28, gave Second Place Finisher Manfred Franke, HF, LS-3A, the Razors Edge Award because yesterday he finished just 50 feet above the finish cylinder and only 150 feet over minimum distance but we still didn’t make a day. Tom Holloran, TWH, Mini-Nimbus c, won the unofficial day. Here’s how he did it, “Good flight, strange start, everyone sneaked to Green County and then started for Clinton County, went over Caesar Creek Lake and hung out. Henry Retting, R, Discus 2b, took off first but we hung around until it got better, went to Clinton County, headed for the sunshine and to Lebanon, had more time so went to Harveysburg, Flea Market, Clinton County again and back to CCSC. Fun time.” But none of it mattered since 20% of the pilots that started didn’t make 40 miles.
221 video views - June 26, Sunlight just broke through the clouds at the Sports Nats' third day but there are thunderstorms to the West, which meets the criteria to call the day.
388 video views - June 27, 6:31 p.m., TOP VIDEO, “We did do some flying around the Sports Nats today. It was my, radio-controlled glider at the Caesar Creek Lake dam.”
786 video views - June 28, Posted 13 videos today, that may have been the reason this day got the third highest video view day for the contest, besides the fact that we finally got a contest day in. Henry Retting, R, Discus 2b, won the day. Task: 3hr TAT (distances from Caesar Creek Soaring Club) 43-Richmond, 20 mi radius, (40 miles to the northwest) 09-Clarksville, 10 mi radius, (16 miles to the west) 29-McIntosh, 10 mi radius, (8 miles to the southeast) Distance: 146.68 min, 86.72, 206.6 max
464 video views - June 29, Rainy and cold at the Sports Nats Day 6. Better luck tomorrow.
10:29 a.m. Henry Retting, R, Discus 2b, gave his success report, “Yesterday I had to say the whole day was a perfect day. I had a choice of two folks to help me put my wings together, all done, had a golf cart ready, towed out to the grid and someone was there to mark the spot, it went on from there. 7th to take off and had time to prepare, unfortunately didn’t connect right away, got down to 900 agl, did a jog to avoid a tow plane and hit a three knoter, climbed right back up, then things started to pop, conditions got stronger as the wind died down, clouds streeting, took them to back of first turn point Richmond, fast 80 miles back to Clarksville, hit the steel mill and got really good thermal to cloudbase, a few people there, down wind dash, second one back to McIntosh , went soft, cycling, shift to the north which developed into another cloud street, went to back of third cylinder, came home 6 minutes over. Advice, dialed in 4 knots to the MacCready and followed it.
8:03 pm, TOP VIDEO, “We can only remember yesterday at the Sports Nats. For me it was one of the greatest soaring adventures ever. It might not look like it from my scores but it's evidence that my goals aren't the same as the others. Sure I like to go cross country but at a much more relaxed and conservative pace. If I had to do it again I would have tried to go a bit faster with a higher MacCready and explore the lift band some more but it wouldn't have been that much different. I had a ball!”
231 video views - June 30. The day was called. It looks better tomorrow. 10:32 a.m. Admiral Hank Nixon, OH, ASW-28, gave an interesting safety report about post stress decision effects and water landings. Always land with the gear down. And John Lubon, JL, ASG 29, mentioned to turn the master switch off if you think about it.
377 video views - July 1, Tom Holloran, TWH, Mini-Nimbus, won the day. Task: 2hr MAT (distances from Caesar Creek Soaring Club) 32-Moraine (17 miles to the northwest) 25-Lebanon (9 miles to the west) 19-Haines Rd. (7 miles to the north)
475 video views - July 2, the fourth highest video view day 8:36 a.m. TOP VIDEO, “360 view at cloud base Wednesday at the Sports Nats…”
10:44 am, “Day 9 Sports Nats - yesterday's winner, Tom Holloran, TWH, Mini-Nimbus, his report of his win July 1 and the prognosis for today.” Tom Holloran, TWH, with his new to him Mini-Nimbus C, tells us how he won the day yesterday at the Sports Nats. Pretty good for the seventh flight in your new ship! Tom hit a beauty right off launch, started out the northeast side, headed to Moraine, went to east over Dayton Wright on the way to Lebanon, went to next turnpoint then to Dayton Wright and Moraine again, then Green, then Clinton, then to Haines Rd. and back to CCSC.
355 video views - July 3 12:32 a.m. Frank Whiteley posts, Landout at Hobbs, 32.7 K reach 12:10 p.m. “Sports Nats is in the bag for this year. Thanks to everyone for participating and we look forward to seeing you on the grid next year. My article for Soaring Magazine will cover the few days we did fly but I'd like to also report on the new members of the soaring community. I met a lot of new pilots to the sport both coming back and transitioning. I think the sport has a great future and we'll help spread the word.” As for the final standings for the two day: 4th place Tom Holloran, 3rd Mark Culpepper, 2nd place Henry Retting, 1st place Jim Lee. It was sad that those beautiful trophies couldn’t be handed out and the contestants got no ranking points.
12:21 pm, last post by Chuck Lohre, “Ending on a pleasant note at the Sports Nats, here's a video of the great conditions last Sunday.”
I hope you enjoyed the new way of reporting. I got many compliments and inquiries on how I did it. Soaring is such a visual sport and easy to record. Our new unlimited bandwidth smartphones are bound to help us promote the sport to the small screen. Our 3,357 fans come from United States 2,421, Brazil 83, Germany 66, Argentina 52, Italy 49, Japan 47, France 41, United Kingdom 41, Canada 38 and so on. In conclusion 86 percent of the “Likers” on the SSA’s Facebook page are men, 20 percent are in the 45-54 age group.
Contributor Chuck Lohre. Jim Price photo. Chuck is 4th Saturday Crew Chief at the Caesar Creek Soaring Club and his day job is running Lohre & Associates Marketing Communications. He lives with his wife, Janet Groeber, in Cincinnati, Ohio.