BLANIK AMERICA at the 2001 SSA Convention

This year's annual Soaring Society of America Convention was held at the cavernous Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis during the second week of February. Blanik America had two gliders on display, the popular L23 Super Blanik two-place trainer and the high performance racer LAK-17A. We had to forfeit exhibit prepayment on displaying an L33 Solo when none of the area owners we invited came forward to show off theirs. Our apologies to those delegates who came to see the L33 and were disappointed.


Our thanks go to Central Indiana Soaring Society (CISS) for displaying their L23 Super Blanik, and to Robert Williams for bringing his LAK-17A from Memphis. CISS gained new members as a result of their having the L23 at the Convention.



The Exhibition hall was very roomy allowing visitors good vistas of their favorite gliders. An important part of the Convention was lectures given by respected pilots.

Those interested in the latest hot racing glider, the LAK-17A, were treated to a very positive lecture presentation by the famous Dick Johnson. Also, Sportinė Aviacija, the LAK-17A manufacturer, sent their commercial director, Rimantas Koronkevicius, as a show of their committed factory support.


In the photo, occupying Blanik America's booth are, on the left, Mr. Koronkevicius looking into the camera, while Dick Johnson in the center is conversing with the LAK-17A owner Robert Williams.

Over 300 people attended Dick Johnson’s lecture on flight testing the LAK-17A. It was very positive for Sportinė Aviacija.



Mr. Johnson included in his evaluation also the German Idaflieg's performance figures, which showed even better results (Idaflieg tested a later production model than Dick did). Rimantas Koronkevicius also participated in the lecture and showed the latest Idaflieg and Sportinė Aviacija slides.





Altogether probably over a thousand people saw the LAK17A, and about one hundred and fifty sat in the glider. Some of them even three times or more.



One of the pilots trying out the LAK-17A for fit was Ed Byars, the respected sailplane racer and Chairman of the SSA, who in the picture is being assisted into the glider by Blanik America's Vitek Siroky.




Attending the Convention were many Blanik and LAK glider owners. It was a great opportunity for the owners, distributors, and factory representatives to exchange ideas and to meet each other in person.


Mr.Koronkevicius took many notes about the suggestions for improvements given to him by owners of the LAK gliders already delivered. Attending personally were Jeff Baird and Robert Williams from the U.S., and Jose Perreira-Pires from Portugal. Several other current owners/buyers of LAK17A gliders to be delivered also visited, and new buyers joined them right at the Convention.

It might be fitting to mention the comments we received from another LAK-17A owner, John Gonzalez from California:

"I hope this company continues to do well and I believe it is only a matter of time before the flood gates really open.  People are reluctant to change and the Germans seem to have dominated the market for quite some time but I believe they have been possibly relying on their reputations for too long and now there is a new Sheriff in town.  As you informed the factory, their timing is perfect, they are on the top of the new design and improvements in sailplanes."  

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Copyright © 2001 Blanik America, Inc.