Neal Huffman (Pilot)
Meet the 2024 Team
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, Three -Time 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 went on to once again represent USA in 2022 in Slovakia and took home the Silver medal on his way to helping USA achieve Team Gold. Neal has enjoyed the incredible support of his wife of 21 years, Dawn, and their 12 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 Graupner and MKS gear at the World Championships in Norway this year. He is looking forward to competing with his teammates Jody Miller and David Bradley Jr at the highest level of F3J.
Jody Miller (Pilot)
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 a pilot in Norway next summer.
Jody is an LSF V achiever and is the current LSF secretary and he’s 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 is now representing USA for the third time as an F3J pilot by competing in Slovakia 2014 and taking the Silver medal at the 2018 Worlds in Brasov Romania prior to this assignment in Norway. He was also the USA Team Manager for the Gold Medal winning USA Team in Slovakia in 2022. Representing Soaring USA and Graupner Radios – Jody flies X3 Xplorers and fits them out with MKS Servos.
David Bradley Jr (Pilot)
Dave Bradley Jr. has been addicted to soaring for over half his life flying rc planes as well as an accomplished full size Soaring Pilot. Dave is 30 years old and has been flying full scale and remote-control sailplanes since he was 14 years old. At Beltzville airport, the small community taught the art of soaring and was very supportive. Chris Saunders introduced Dave to competition soaring and to the Eastern Soaring League. Over the years of the ESL is where Dave was taught how to be a complete soaring pilot with all the top notch pilots on the East Coast. He has finished 3rd at nationals twice in the last 3 years. During the summer of 2020 he taught 6 new flyers how to fly rc planes including younger brothers Joe & John. John went on to fly in the 2022 wc on the Jr team and will represent USA again on the Jr team in 2024. Dave has been a helper for the 2017 F3B team and helper for the 2018 F3J team. As team alternate Pilot for the 2024 F3J team will compete in Norway.
Amy Pool (Pilot)
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 having taken Gold in the womens category in Slovakia in 2022 and is extremely proud to represent in Norway in 2024.
Gordon Buckland (Team Manager)
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. Most recently he helped the USA Junior Team to the Gold Medal at the 2012 F3J Worlds in Levice Slovakia. 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 became the National Unlimited champion at the 2023 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, 3 grandchildren and one great-grandchild (Alex) in Australia and two sons in Florida – Nathan and Jamie with two Grandchildren Lorelei and Keigan.
Josh Glaab (Helper)
R/C soaring for Josh has been quite an adventure and a part of his life since 1970 when he was 7 and lost a balsa glider in a thermal. He started flying R/C in 1973 and in ’75 his Dad came home with a beautiful Graupner Cirrus and he thought what the heck is this? Where is the engine, bomb rack and smoke? He 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. Advances in structures, aerodynamics, and radio control systems have been amazing. In 1979 he won the ESL Jr class and then won Sportsflyer in 1980 and was promoted to Expert class. In ’81 he was 2nd in the ESL (Dwight Holley was 1st in his F3B World Champ year). He 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 are a lot of NATS “wood” on the wall from ’84 to today. He was able to win overall combined 2M/Unlimited championship in 2011 and in 1993 and the high-score award in 2010 (2M). He 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. Josh has two sons, Josh Jr (24) and Luke (23) who also fly R/C and enjoy soaring along with “other” aircraft (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 Josh is very proud of their accomplishments. Josh started working at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, in 1986 and has been there ever since. In 2000 he was selected to be a jet UAV pilot and probably has 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 much like a B757. It shot the approach at 70 kts and touched down at 55 kts. Awesome project. His current job involves Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and he is the Assistant Branch Head for the Aeronautics Systems Engineering Branch designing, assembling and flying NASA research vehicles. He is also a full-scale sailplane flight instructor and provides 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 has an Instrument Rating. Josh has flown in all but one of the US F3J Team Selection events and has come very close to making the US team several times. He currently holds the record for the most number of “alternates” at 4 (in ’97, ’03, ’09, and ’11). Josh managed to put in a significant amount of time to train during the 1.5 months leading up to the 2019 team selection contest. He leveraged his Spektrum DX-18 to play sound tracks and had a 55-second count-down that he could trigger when needed. This provided the benefit of every training flight having a timed landing. This allowed Josh to put more emphasis on soaring flights and limit exclusive landing practice. Flying late in the day provided great training for weak lift conditions and deliberately heading to the field to fly in 15-25 mph winds also helped boost soaring skills in varied and challenging conditions. Josh made the Team and contested the F3J Worlds in Slovakia in 2022. The current cycle sees Josh selected as an Assistant Team Manager and he is super excited about supporting the US team in 2024 in Norway.