Meet The Team

Jeff DuVal (Pilot)

Jeff DuVal

Jeff takes an early bath after the F5J contest in Argentina

Jeff lives in Gainesville, Florida with his wife Lorena. Most of his life Jeff lived by the water. He grew up on Florida’s east coast. Jeff has been sailing competitively since he was 8 and has won championships such as “The Gold Cup” in Melges 24, One design 14, and MX Ray classes. Jeff picked up flying RC sailplanes after moving to Gainesville – starting with DLGs and moving up to Open class sailplanes when he teamed up with pilots from the Orlando Buzzards. In the relatively short amount of time that Jeff has cultivated this sport, he has been practicing consistently in different fields across Florida, but mainly in San Felasco State Park (Alachua, FL) and Kenny World (Morriston, FL). Jeff is grateful to friends across Florida that helped him improve. The key factor that has set Jeff apart with amazingly consistent results is his level head and relentless practicing of the task and landings. He is hard to beat at any contest and will be a force in Slovakia. Jeff fly’s Xplorers from Soaring USA outfitted with MKS servos. Recent wins include; 2019 US Team Selects 1st Place, 2018-2019 US F3J Championship Series 1st Place, 2018 F5J Argentina International 2nd Place, 2017 F3J in the Desert 1st Place, 2016 F3J in the Desert 1st Place, 2015 US Team Selects 1st Place.

Josh Glaab (Pilot)

Josh receives his award after qualifying for the USA Team at Horsefeathers Airport

Josh Glaab R/C soaring for me has been quite an adventure and a part of my life for a very long and wonderful time. It all started in 1970 when I was 7 and lost a balsa glider in a thermal. I started flying R/C in 1973 and in ’75 Dad came home with a beautiful Graupner Cirrus and I thought what the heck is this? Where is the engine, bomb rack and smoke? I worked a paper route for a year to earn enough money to buy a Dodgson Maestro Mk-III and joined the Eastern Soaring League in ’78 when it was first created. It is incredible to compare the Maestro to the Explorers that I fly today. Advances in structures, aerodynamics, and radio control systems have been amazing. In 1979 I won the ESL Jr class and then won Sportsflyer in 1980 and was promoted to Expert class. In ’81 I was 2nd in the ESL (Dwight Holley was 1st in his F3B World Champ year). I was able to win the ESL Expert class 14 times in ’85, ’88, ’89, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’96, ’03, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, and now again in 2019 and consider the ESL to be family. There is a lot of NATS “wood” on the wall from ’84 to today. I was able to win overall combined 2M/Unlimited championship in 2011 and in 1993 and the high-score award in 2010 (2M). I was F3J national champion in ’97 and 2012, 2M champion in 2010 and ’93. There have also been many top-3 placings in Unlimited/2M/NOS/RES along the way. My two sons, Josh Jr (20) and Luke (19) also fly R/C and enjoy soaring along with “other” aircraft as needed (EDF Jets, Multi-Rotors, FPV racers, etc). Both Josh Jr and Luke have progressed over the years and are now flying at the Expert level and I am very proud of both of their accomplishments. I started working at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, in 1986 and have been there ever since. In 2000 I got selected to be a jet UAV pilot and probably have 1,000 flights with an array of turbine aircraft ranging from BVM King Cats to BVM F-100 “Hun” and the NASA LaRC Generic Transport Model (GTM). The GTM was a dual-turbine transport model that looked a heck of lot like a B757. It shot the approach at 70 kts and touched down at 55 kts. Awesome project. My current job involves Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and I am the Assistant Branch Head for the Aeronautics Systems Engineering Branch. Designing, assembling and flying NASA research vehicles is part of my job. I am also a full-scale sailplane flight instructor and provide flight training at the Tidewater Soaring Society club, earned the Silver badge from the Soaring Society of America (5 hour thermal flight, 50 km cross-country, 3000 ft altitude gain), and also have an Instrument Rating. I have flown in all but one of the US F3J Team Selection events and have come very close to making the US team several times. I currently hold the record for the most number of “alternates” at 4 (in ’97, ’03, ’09, and ’11). However, preparations for the 2019 US F3J TS took a different tone than prior events. I managed to put in a significant amount of time to train during the 1.5 months leading up the team selection contest. Also, my Spektrum DX-18 provided a significant advantage. I was able to make use of the DX-18’s capability to play sound tracks. I had a 55-second count-down that I could trigger when needed. This provided the benefit of every training flight having a timed landing. This allowed me to put more emphasis on soaring flights and limit exclusive landing practice. Flying late in the day provided great training for weak lift conditions. Deliberately heading to the field to fly in 15-25 mph winds also helped boost soaring skills in varied and challenging conditions. The plan for WC prep will build upon this formula and add-in flight data recording and data analysis..since I work at NASA and it’s what we do. I am super excited about supporting the US team in 2022 as a pilot for the first time.

Neal Huffman (Pilot)

Neal Huffman

Neal and his wife Dawn at the 2018 F3J Worlds in Romania.

Neal Huffman has always thrived on competition and is honored to represent the United States at the World Championships this year. From competitive bike racing sponsored by the likes of Trek, Gary Fisher and VW. To r/c soaring, his hallmark has been practice, preparation and persistence. All along the way, Neal has been fascinated by soaring. His first model glider came from plans in RC magazine launched with a high start made with rubber bands from his paper route. Then it was on to an Aquila with Skip Miller’s image on the box and finally soloing in a full-scale Schweizer 2-36 followed by high performance time in ASW and ASK sailplanes. After a string of injuries sidelined his professional riding career, Neal filled that competitive void with r/c soaring. He showed up at an Eastern Soaring League (ESL) competition with an Olympic II and never looked back: 1st Place ESL Expert, Three-Time US F3J National Champion, US Open Champion, 4 top-3 finishes in the US F3J Tour Championship and 2nd place prelims 5th place overall 2018 F3J World Championships Romania. Neal has enjoyed the incredible support of his wife of 17 years, Dawn, and their 8 year old son, Nicholas. It is also safe to say that 5- time world r/c soaring champion, Daryl Perkins, has helped Neal reach this level since they are good friends and flying companions; a potent formula for success. Neal will be flying Xplorers outfitted with Spektrum and MKS gear at the World Championships in Slovakia this year and is looking forward to competing with his teammates Jeff Duval, Josh Glaab and Team Manager Jody Miller at the highest level of F3J.

Amy Pool (Pilot)

Amy with the spoils of success after the 2019 National Championships in Muncie.

Amy Pool is the first female pilot to compete in F3J at the first Worlds to include female pilots as an extra Team Member. Amy grew up in Colorado and moved to Portland, Oregon in 1986. While living in Portland she pursued her passion for math, eventually becoming a math teacher, first at Portland State University, then at a small private high school. She then lived in Spokane, Washington for a year before moving to Texas about 6 years ago. She now teaches at a private all-boys school in Dallas. Amy began flying sailplanes in 1997. She had actually been an active member of the r/c soaring community in the Pacific Northwest for several years, timing, scorekeeping, helping with equipment, and running contests. She knew the contest rules better than most of the pilots, could call air, and understood the basics of how the planes flew. She loved the competition but just didn’t have the bug to fly. Then one day she was watching a friend fly his hand launch on a little slope and realized that he and the plane were communicating in a way that felt almost as if they were speaking with each other. The switch turned on for her at that moment and she went home and started building a plane. Amy said “I think soaring is magic. I never tire of the challenge of finding low level lift and working the plane back to altitude. I’m also pretty competitive and the tasks associated with r/c soaring, whether they be LSF tasks or contest tasks, never fail to motivate me. I am also very fond of the people in the soaring community; they form my extended family. Had my exposure to r/c flying been power, I don’t know that it would have held my interest or if I would have ever even started flying. Who knows?”
Amy is a huge asset to the USA Team and is extremely proud to represent in Slovaki in 2022.

Jody Miller (Team Manager)

Jody Miller F3J

Jody holds his trophy returning from the podium after placing 2nd at the 2018 F3J Worlds in Brasov, Romania.

Jodys modeling career started at his local Orlando Buzzards flying field tossing Guillows gliders and shagging chutes while his father Blayne flew RC sailplanes during the late 80’s. He dabbled in indoor and outdoor free flight models, some R/C gliders and had fun aerotowing gliders with his brother Nathan. As a teenager F1A (Tow line glider) became his main focus and his thermal reading skills were developed sufficiently to make the USA junior team in 1992 in Lucenec where he almost made the podium with a 4th place finish. In 1994 he once again represented USA as an F1A junior and attended the Worlds in Kiev. He took a break from the hobby for a few years before being reintroduced to R/C gliders by his brother Nathan in 2007 and he was hooked again.
Initially he dusted off an old Sailaire he had built and began practicing for competition. Flying the Sailaire in Unlimited duration contests, he soon found “the bus” more than a handful to land so he graduated to an Xplorer 3.5 and won his first unlimited sailplane event at the Florida Soaring Society #5 in 2010. This was to be the first of many wins as he was first place sportsman at the Gator F3B in 2011, Mid South Grand Champion in 2011 and 2013, FSS Champion 2011 and 2012 and recently completed his Level V LSF with his 10km cross country. Over the years He has worked hard with local pilots and gained knowledge from pilots across the country landing him places on multiple US teams.
Jody currently works with a NASA contractor in VA in UAV development. Other interests include Bass guitar, photography, and traveling with his wife Courtney.
Hard work on the practice field is common place for this pilot and he looks forward to representing the US as the Team manager next summer in Slovakia.
Jody is the current LSF secretary and is also interested in Cross country, F3B, F3K and encouraging other R/C pilots to become soaring pilots. After representing his country as a junior in the early 90’s he has now represented USA twice as an F3J pilot in Slovakia 2014 and taking the Silver medal at the 2018 Worlds in Brasov Romania. Representing Soaring USA and Graupner Radios – Jody flies X3 Xplorers and fits them out with MKS Servos.

Charleston Thomas (Junior Pilot)

Charleston Thomas

Charleston flew his Xplorers with great skill in thermals getting nearly all his times and helped the USA Junior Team to score well even though he had only a few weeks practice before the 2018 Worlds in Brasov Romania.

Charleston is 16 years old and has been flying sailplanes for 6 years. His Dad Charles has taken him to the LSF Nats in Muncie IN twice where he has competed successfully in F3K and TD winning the National Championship for Junior F3K twice. Charleston was introduced to F3J soaring only in the last few weeks before the 2018 Worlds in Romania. With two trips to Florida for a total of 5 days training with Gordon and Jody and some afternoons with Jim McCarthy in Knoxville TN Charleston learned enough new skills to perform with distinction in Brasov finishing well up the field and helping the US Junior Team with great scores. He is an excellent pilot, loves beating his Dad Charles in contests and as his landings improves he will score well for USA in Slovakia. Charleston is flying 4M Xplorers. We are very proud to have Charleston representing USA at this Worlds. He has a great future in soaring.

John Bradley (Junior Pilot)

John Bradley

John is an accomplished pilot and flies the Xplorer 2

John Bradley is the quintessential 13 year old Junior F3J pilot. His long hair, bare feet, and classic soaring bucket hat combine with his complete connection to his X3. This man and his machine flys in sync with mother nature. After school, John can be found coring late day lift here in the Northeast US, or slope soaring the Blue Mountain with his brother, David. Artists in motion, quote a sight to see. In 2021, John won the junior nationals in Muncie, IN offering some nice competition to the adults. The junior field was sparse to non-existent, a reality John hopes to correct. John has fun flying, and his enthusiasm is contagious. John and David have taught several of John’s friends to fly RC as well. The F3J World Competition is a big step for John and he is eager to help team USA bring home the team championship. John is honored to represent the USA in Slovakia this year and hopes his enthusiastic participation encourages more young pilots to pick up a bucket hat, join an F3J team, and connect with mother nature.

Sean Summers (Junior Pilot)

Sean Summers

Sean flys Xplorers and has been improving his skills immensley under the tutelage of Mike Verzuh.

Sean is a 17 year old Senior at Riverside Stem Academy. 6 years ago, he decided that he wanted to build and fly his own model aircraft, and when Sean received his first plane for Christmas, he was ecstatic. Luck was with him when he went to the local flying field and met Mike Lee. Mike Lee became Sean’s first coach and gave Sean his foundational flying skills. He competed in his first competition the following year, and soon enough went from foamie to woody. Finally, after 2 years of flying Thermal Duration, Sean bought his first competition F3J aircraft, an Xplorer 1. Unfortunately, the same year, Mike Lee’s health got in the way of his flying, and Sean was left without a coach. It wasn’t until late 2020 that Sean met up with Mike Verzuh while competing in F5J. Verzuh took Sean under his wing, and improved his flying skills immensely. With his coach’s help, Sean became a true competitor, and started competing more often, trying to get as much practice as he could to get to the world team. When Sean isn’t flying sailplanes, he’s out playing roller hockey, teaching Taekwondo at his local dojang, playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, singing, or simply relaxing after a hard day of school. He’s extremely excited to be competing with the rest of Team USA, and cannot wait for the World Championship.

Gordon Buckland (Team Manager)

Gordon Buckland F3J

Gordon scores a hunskie with his Xplorer 3.8 at the Team Selects in 2019

Gordon has loved all aspects of flying since building rubber powered stick models and paper planes when in Grade 1. Growing up in rural Australia, he began flying free flight and control-line models and graduated to RC at 15 YO with a Cox .049 powered Honker. Having also flown full size gliders and developing a love of soaring, Gordon built an 80″ AeroFlyte Trident and a 60″ Silent Squire sailplane from RCM plans and a life long love of thermals ensued. A Dodgson Maestro Mk III soon followed and at 22 YO Gordon entered in his first thermal duration contest – the Central Queensland Championships and placed 3rd. This instant success saw him join the Brisbane Model Soaring Club and enjoying the thrill of competition, Gordon was active in RC F3B sailplane competition from 1982 through 1987, winning a Qld F3B Championship along the way. As his 2 sons were born and parental responsibilities grew, model aircraft took a back seat for 23 years though Gordon pursued his love of aviation in Australia, obtaining his Private Pilots License in 1999 before immigrating to USA.
After 9 years in USA his long forgotten passion for RC soaring was re-ignited when he came across the flying field of the Orlando Buzzards. Since Feb 2009 Gordon has returned to TD soaring with a purpose. Continuing with the LSF program he began in 1982, Gordon completed his LSF V in May of 2010 with a final Level V win at the Midsouth MoM event in Tullahoma TN. He has since completed the LSF program again and is currently working on the Level V tasks for the 3rd time around. Since his return to soaring Gordon has been a very active contributor to the RC Soaring community with a passion for writing including the Nats News in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Gordon is the Model Aviation Soaring Columnist and also maintains many soaring websites e.g. Orlando Buzzards, the Gator F3B contest site, the USA F3B Team website and this USA F3J Team Website.
Gordon attended the F3B Worlds in China 2011 as a helper, TM at the F3B worlds in Germany 2013 and assistant TM for the F3B worlds in the Czech Republic in 2017. Gordon also was Junior Team manager for Team USA F3J in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and USA Team Manager in Brasov, Romania in 2018. Gordon has been very active in TD soaring in Florida, encouraging juniors and others to fly in events and LSF participation. He has won Grand Champion awards at the Tangerine in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and recently finished 2nd in Unlimited at the 2019 NATS. Gordon flies Xplorers in F3J and F5J, an Ava in RES and “Lawicki” Ducks in 2M.
Gordon’s wife Sheralyn supports him in his soaring endeavors attending many contests and they have a daughter Tanya and 3 grandchildren and one great-grandchild (Alex) in Australia and two sons in Florida – Nathan and Jamie with two Grandchildren Lorelei and Kiegan.

Steve Lucke (Helper)

Steve Lucke Tower

Steve is an extremely talented soaring pilot and can often be seen hand tossing his F3J model into thermals.

Steve started with an Ace High foam wing glider with a balsa fuselage and a screaming little .049 about 30 years ago. It flew really well until it met its doom with a spectacular crash with a construction crane at an unfinished office building site. To this day he can still see the shower of balsa and foam raining down from the sky. Steve got serious with an Olympic 2, which he learned to fly straight by standing on a 10 foot hill and throwing it as hard as he could to see how far it would glide. From there he went on to a hi-start and one day he discovered thermals! He still vividly remembers the first one where the plane continued to go up in this slow lazy circle and didn’t have to chase the hi-start for a full 6 minutes! From there it was a short trip to a Sagitta 900, Quesoar, flaps, ailerons, an Infinity 600 radio, Supras, Explorers and a very well used SD-10G. Steve has spent 20 years as president of the North Jersey Soaring Society and also many years as an active participant with the Eastern Soaring League. And to top it all off he is excited to be a helper on the USA F3J team! Steve says “Life is good!” .

Chris Burns (Helper)

Chris receives his 3rd place trophy from Jim McCarthy at the 2019 Nats

Chris Burns started flying R/C sailplanes in the late 1980s when his dad got him hooked with a Gentle Lady. Together, he and his dad designed and built model sailplanes throughout the 1990s, beginning with a modified version of the Weston Magic. Chris spent many summer days in the 90s practicing with the Lift Club of York and competing in thermal duration contests in the Eastern Soaring League (ESL). After several trips to the Nats, Chris eventually graduated from Sportsman to Expert sometime around 1997. After a long hiatus from model planes, including several years of full-scale soaring, Chris returned to R/C soaring in 2017. Chris participated in his first F3J contest in the Spring of 2018 at Horsefeathers, VA. The next year he placed third in F3J at the Nats and followed that with a fifth place finish at the USA Team Selects that October. Chris is excited to join the USA F3J team in Slovakia as a helper. He looks forward to helping the team get the overall top prize and to be part of this amazing group of people.

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