Here's a place to deposit scraps of information and observations of our US Hawks history.

Behind the Scenes ...

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:11 am

Over the past 4 years, I've sent a lot of email messages to various people about hang gliding. Some of them were published on other forums (like hanggliding.org and ozreport.com), but many were never published. I'd like to start publishing some of them here to form a more complete history of our sport. These are published in no particular order, but may often be related to current events. I hope they're helpful in not repeating past mistakes.

This first email message was sent to USHPA President Lisa Tate on January 18th, 2009. I had just defeated David Jebb as Region 3 Director, and I took office on January 1st, 2009. At that time, Brad Hall was representing USHPA on the Torrey Pines Soaring Council and he had been opposing the Torrey Hawks being added to that Council. I felt this should not be USHPA's position, and I offered Lisa my advice in a private email message ...

From: Bob Kuczewski
To: Lisa Tate
Subject: Bob's Suggestion for USHPA's Position
Date: 1/18/2009 10:58pm


Hello Lisa,

I'm not sure where you stand on this issue, but if you care to know what I'd do, here it is...

    Brad, it is USHPA's desire not to take sides in local issues. Instead, we believe that local clubs should resolve their differences in local venues whenever possible. The Soaring Council is just such a venue. It is not a governmental body, and it's purpose is to bring all views from all flight disciplines together at one table.

    The recent election in Region 3 demonstrates that Bob does represent a significant constituency in that region. The fact that the Soaring Council has 3 RC clubs indicates that it should also have 3 HG clubs and 3 PG clubs for a total of 6. It does not have 6, and instead it only has 2. If you can't give me a good concrete reason why the Hawks shouldn't be added, then I would recommend that USHPA's position is that we should support the addition of our local Chapter to a body where our sports are so clearly under-represented.
Well, that's what I would do. I hope you don't take offense to me offering my thoughts - none was intended. I am one of your Regional Directors, and I'm just offering my perspective on a good defensible solution for USHPA.

Lisa, I know you have a lot of respect for Brad, and I'm sure he's earned it. But he's wrong in this case, and I think he could use someone he values to tell him so.

Most Sincerely,
Bob Kuczewski

It's interesting to look back on all that's transpired since that time, and ask how it might have turned out differently if Lisa had heeded that sincere and non-confrontational advice. Nearly two years of USHPA's wrangling with the Torrey Pines / Soaring Council issues would have been averted. Needless time and money expended by Paul Montville (flying to San Diego, for example) would have been saved. So much of the anger, frustration, and bad press toward USHPA could have been avoided. Even the expense of the Region 3 Recall and the shameful way it was handled could have been avoided if Lisa had just taken that simple advice.

It's also interesting to note that my letter was not condemning of Brad Hall as a person, but simply focussed on a case where he was wrong. There was no goal to punish or destroy Brad, but simply a desire to have USHPA support a local Chapter and to gain fair representation for our sports on the Soaring Council. In fact, if Lisa had heeded this advice, the USHPA Board might not have felt the need to remove Brad Hall from the Soaring Council later that year.

Unfortunately, Lisa did not take a firm stand for fairness, and the Torrey issue continued to poison the USHPA Board for two years - as it does to this very day. As I've said on other topics, I'm hopeful that Rich Hass can learn from these past mistakes and avoid the pitfalls of taking sides in a local matter. USHPA does have a seat on the Soaring Council and it should be a national seat. And from a national perspective, USHPA should support and promote all of its chapters fairly just as a parent should support all of their children fairly. That's the high road for USHPA, and I hope they'll take it under their new leadership.
Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
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Every human at every point in history has an opportunity to choose courage over cowardice. Look around and you will find that opportunity in your own time.
Bob Kuczewski
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