Senior Feature: Paul Reese

After flying gliders competitively for the U18 U.S. National Team last year, Reese plans to continue in college and beyond


by AJ Flock, staff

It is pretty rare for someone to say that they were able to compete for their country on a world stage. Senior Paul Reese can say just that. Reese flies competitive gliders and in 2019 he represented the U18 U.S. National Team at the World Championships and took second place. 

Reaching that accomplishment took lots of practice for Reese. “My practice routine is mostly 10 minute long flights to help my focus and fast launches. On weekdays, I generally practice at fields close to my house, and on weekends I go to Monroe or Carnation to practice with my coach,” Reese said.

Reese has been flying gliders ever since he was 6 and started competitively in the 9th grade. The gliders he flies are 1.5 meters wide, half a pound land launched by hand. Once the glider is up in the air it is controlled by Reese with a remote control. “The controller has two gimbals, a three position switch and a momentary switch. The gimbals allow me to control the glider in the axis and also move the ailerons together, allowing me to manipulate the plane’s speed. The three position switch allows me to pick between a few different preset flight speeds. The momentary switch allows me to launch the plane level as hard as I can,” he said.

On a good throw Reese can launch the glider 200 plus feet in the air, allowing them to glide for usually a few minutes. When competing Reese is scored by his ability to complete tasks the scorers have given to him.

 “Tasks are typically a specific set of flights within a working time, where scoring is then determined as a percentage of the best pilot,” he said 

Since Reese started competing he has become one of the best pilots in his glider class in the nation. Although Reese’s biggest accomplishment is competing in the World Championships, he is proud of many other things he has accomplished while flying gliders. In 2019 Reese won the Seattle Area Soaring Society season points trophy, for winning the most competitions that year. He is also proud of his personal record of a 35 minute flight. 

Reese’s career in gliders is far from over: “I plan to fly recreationally in college, then after college I am thinking of trying for the 2025 World Championship as an adult.”