2012-11-08 / Community

Westlake family soaring past the competition

By Sylvie Belmond


SLOPE RACERS—Kyler Paulson, 17, prepares to launch a remote-controlled glider at the edge of a hill as his dad, Kyle, mans the controls. The pair travel the world to compete in sailplane competitions. 
SYLVIE BELMOND/Acorn Newspapers SLOPE RACERS—Kyler Paulson, 17, prepares to launch a remote-controlled glider at the edge of a hill as his dad, Kyle, mans the controls. The pair travel the world to compete in sailplane competitions. SYLVIE BELMOND/Acorn Newspapers Flying remote controlled gliders is a team-building endeavor for Kyle and Kyler Paulson of Westlake Village.

Recently the father and son were part of a team representing the USA in a slope racing world championship in Germany hosted by the International Air Sports Federation.

Slope racing, classified as F3F, is a timed event for sailplanes (remote controlled gliders) which are flown on a sloping site that provides lift and a predictable wind. Competitions usually take place along coastal cliffs where reliable onshore sea breezes provide the necessary lift.

The United States F3F slope racing team’s senior pilots were Paulson, Brandon Monte and Warren Day.

Kyler, 17, who was the sole teenager on the U.S. team, won the gold medal and first-place trophy in the junior pilot category. He also placed seventh overall against adult competitors.


TEAMMATES—Kyler and Kyle Paulson have been competing on sailplane teams for years. Paulson took up the hobby 12 years ago, and Kyler, 17, has beenflying the planes since he was 9. 
SYLVIE BELMOND/Acorn Newspapers TEAMMATES—Kyler and Kyle Paulson have been competing on sailplane teams for years. Paulson took up the hobby 12 years ago, and Kyler, 17, has beenflying the planes since he was 9. SYLVIE BELMOND/Acorn Newspapers “I just enjoy competing and getting better,” said Kyler, who began flying gliders at age 9.

Kyle Paulson and his wife, Mary Pat, have four children: Courtney, Christian, Kyler and Koby.

The family enjoys camping and traveling, often taking trips to soaring competitions and sites. Koby, 9, is taking up the hobby.

“It’s a great family activity, a clean sport with nice people,” said Paulson, adding that he and Kyler enjoy spending time outdoors flying sailplanes along cliffs near Kanan Road.

Because gliders don’t have a motor, pilots must develop a good understanding of wind patterns and thermodynamics. During competitions, participants take turns flying their planes between 10 and 15 times so everyone has a chance to catch good air.

“Everything is constantly new,” Kyle Paulson said. “It’s definitely exhilarating when you see how effi cient the models are. They catch the thermos like the birds.”

Competition is the big draw for the Paulsons, who take part in all types of soaring events.

Kyle Paulson has been flying remote-controlled sailplanes for 12 years and has competed around the world, including in Scotland and Slovakia. He is the Southern California F3F Point Series Champion.

“Since I was a little kid I always loved paper airplanes, plane kits and watching planes fly. Now I just love it because of the way it looks when it flies,” said Paulson, who has held multiple world records for dynamic soaring.

David Klein, a fellow team pilot, said Paulson and Kyler are a fantastic duo.

“They are the top two pilots in the country for F3F, and by far,” Klein said, adding that Paulson has good work ethics.

“He’s not only the most talented but he’s trained the hardest,” Klein said. “That to me is what defines how special he is.”

Klein is a San Diego resident who won a silver medal in a slope gliding championship with Paulson in China last year.

According to Klein, flying remote controlled gliders is a “great outlet for energy.” The sport is better known in Europe than the states, he said.

Paulson, who owns two bicycles shops in the San Fernando Valley, is branching out, flying a variety of gliders over flat terrain, classifed as F3B.

Two weeks ago he qualified first in the team selection in the F3B world championships for the U.S. team.

“F3B combines all disciplines of soaring into one and is the most difficult to master because of it,” said Paulson.

Paulson and Kyler do most of their flying together. They plan to compete in the next slope racing world championship in 2014.

“I think it’s wonderful because they have something to do together, especially now that Kyler is in his teen years,” Mary Pat Paulson said. “It’s like an adventure. They get to fly and get to visit other countries.”

In 2006, before he started flying gliders competitively, Kyler accompanied his dad to a race in Scotland. Because Kyler was so interested in the competition, the contest organizer gave him an award for best spectator.

The boy returned home eager to start competing. Two years later, he placed third in the junior pilot group, representing the U.S. in Slovakia, and fifth among the senior pilots in the SoCal Slope Racing F3F Points Series.

In 2010, Kyler, now a junior at Agoura High School, took first place racing against the best pilots in Southern California.

The Paulsons fly a variety of state-of-the-art carbon fiber gliders, which cost between $1,000 and $2,500 each. Due to their achievements, the fatherand son team are sponsored by Airtronics, a manufacturer of transmitters and servos which pilots use to control gliders from the ground.

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