The Online Contest (OLC)

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For anybody seriously interested in cross-country (XC) soaring the OLC has become a standard tool for comparison and analysis of what is happening in the worldwide scene of soaring.  Over a few years this method of posting XC flights to document, analyze, scrutinize, compare, and – not to forget – brag about has become almost universally accepted and has provided a major stimulus for XC soaring.  It is simple, timely, reasonably fair, and free (even though donations are encouraged).  The following statistics give some indication of the acceptance of the OLC as well as the average XC achievements worldwide.


Year        participants       total flights        total km

2007         9,211                 63,557              16,959,990


2013        14,182               112,377              29,796,011

2014        14,934               115,159              32,221,565

2015        15,008               117,504              32,082,995

2016        14,631               116,510              31,101,044


The indications are, that the worldwide participation has reached somewhat of a plateau with about 15,000 pilots posting an average of 8 flights of about 267 km (or 166 miles) each.  Actually, 2016 shows a slight decrease in participation; let’s hope this is a ,for any number of comparisons– clubwise, regional, countrywise, and of course worldwide – and allow nice visualizations such as the charts provided by Thomas van de Velde.  At the end of each OLC year there is a general meeting and symposium in Gersfeld, Germany, next to the Wasserkuppe with a recognition of the winners in the various disciplines (which includes hang gliding, paragliding and model gliding).  For glider pilots the highest honor is the OLC champion based on the best 6 flights of any pilot (worldwide).  During the last 10 years Jim Payne has been the OLC champion of the year 6 times and Klaus Ohlmann 4 times.  For the OLC year 2017 Klaus Ohlmann has already attained a nearly unassailable lead while Jim Payne is pre-occupied with the high altitude Parlan project.  For his part, Klaus Ohlmann has just completed some high altitude chamber training with a space suit in Moscow – we may be watching some competition for new altitude records…

Considering that the idea of the OLC started only in 2000 in earnest, the growth of this decentralized competition is truly amazing, and it has increased the popularity of XC flying enormously.  It was the logical combination of GPS based flight loggers, high speed computer optimization, and the internet and was instigated mostly by Reiner Rose (who still reigns as the benign dictator of the OLC).  It was (and still is) supported by the soaring-friendly staff of the AEROKURIER magazine and has since been officially sanctioned by the FAI.  Let’s keep this wonderful tool alive and growing!