Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

I do not fly contests, why should I care about competition and the US World Soaring Teams?

Competitive soaring rewards excellence while providing some of the spark that keeps our sport going. Many of the astounding improvements in equipment and techniques our sport has enjoyed over the years can be traced back to a need for competitive excellence. Most of the used single place gliders in this country were imported originally by competition pilots.

Competitors tend to be among the most active participants in our sport, often shouldering key roles on a local, regional and national level. The drama of international competition is the ultimate expression of competitive excellence as the worlds best soaring pilots compete for the title of World Champion.

For many nations, including the United States, fielding soaring teams to compete internationally is a point of national pride within the countries soaring movement.

So if, fostering competitive excellence, helping to spark participation, appreciating the international competitive drama and holding our nation's place in soaring high are not enough, there is this. The simple fact is that not all competition happens in the air. Adequately funded teams are in a much better place to compete and win against the worlds best.

Do all contributions go toward sponsoring this years team?

This is an important distinction... There are two primary types of contributions critical to fielding U.S. Soaring teams, direct and perpetual. Direct contributions are fully available for use by the teams while contributions to the Robertson Trust are invested, with the income from these contributions providing perpetual support but at a lower per year return when compared with direct contributions. Both direct and perpetual contributions are critical to insuring our soaring teams can participate internationally. The challenge with the Robertson is to build the trust and restore the balance between direct and perpetual funding. Contact the SSA to make direct contributions to this years U.S. Soaring Teams. Load the full contributors report in PDF format here.

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How does US Team funding compare with our international competitors? 

Unlike many European teams the United States Soaring Teams receives no government assistance and must rely on donations and private funding to participate in the world gliding championships. This hand-to-mouth existence has allowed the US Soaring Team to participate on only the thinnest of margins in years past. The advent of new FAI sanctioned teams has stretched the funding of our teams to the breaking point. 

How much money does the Roberson Trust need to fix the US Team Funding Problem? 

Any amount helps! The 2000-01 US Soaring Teams will field five teams, in six classes, with 15 pilots, 17 crew members and 15 gliders. The typical total team cost on a per pilot basis for sending a U.S. pilot & crew to a World Championships, depending on the location, is between $8,000 and $15,000. This amount covers team airfare, entry fees, glider rental or shipping, accommodations, contest fees, tows and other team expenses. So the US Teams need between $120,000 and $225,000 for the 2000-01 season. About 25% of these funds will come from the SSA Sweepstakes. This means that the Robertson and Woods Funds, along with cash donations, fund raisers and merchandise sales will be called on to supply a large part of the remainder or between $60,000 and $112,000. Obviously the Trust is not currently funded to a level that can support this effort. Robertson Trust Performance...

What is the SSA Foundation ?

The Robertson Trust is one of several trusts and endowments administered by the SSA Foundation. In 1997, the Soaring Society of America (SSA) established the SSA Foundation as a unique entity with its own operating by-laws and officers specifically to solicit, manage and distribute endowment type funds held by the SSA. The thinking behind the SSA Foundation was that an independent foundation managed by trustees as gatekeepers would be the best way to solicit and manage the various endowments held by the Soaring Society. The clear corporate identity of the foundation structure provides long-term security and stability to contributors while bringing the internal discipline necessary to preserve and manage long term endowments. This means that the income from your contribution to the Robertson Trust will be sending US Team pilots to World Soaring Championships for generations to come. 

The SSA Foundation has six Trustees, including, Doug Jacobs, Bill Sproull, Sterling Starr, Jim Short, Dick Hall and John Seaborn. Trustees hold annual meetings at the SSA convention. More

How did the Robertson Trust develop?

The Robert Robertson Memorial Team Fund was established in 1988 to memorialize the late Robbie Robertson who was tragically killed in a sailplane accident shortly after winning the 1986 15-Meter National Championships. The Robert Robertson Memorial Team Fund, often referred to as the Robertson Trust, was established by Robbie's father, Donald Robertson and the Soaring Society of America to provide a strictly dedicated corpus of funding the income from which would be used to help fund the United States Soaring Teams participation in sanctioned World Soaring Championships.  More

Why is funding the Robertson Trust happening now?

Seeing the critical need of US Soaring Teams for long term funding strategy a group of concerned US pilots have taken on the task of helping to build the Robertson Trust. John Seaborn was appointed by the SSA Executive Committee to become the Robertson Trust Campaign Manager for 2002.  

Why are the United States World Teams important?

The World Gliding Championships are the highest expression of competitive soaring. The possibility of world team membership encourages pilots of all levels and from around the globe to strive to be their best. This effort can only energize the overall soaring movement. Beyond the individual and the sport comes the nation. The United States and our nations ideals are held high when we field successful, fully funded teams, at World Gliding Championships.

Will my donation to the Robertson Trust amount to anything? 

The point of the Robertson Trust is to create and preserve a permanent fund that will sponsor US Soaring teams for generations to come. Any contribution amount is welcome. Every effort is made to keep administrative costs to an absolute minimum. More

Does adequate funding equal world team success?

There are hundreds of variables which effect the outcome of a World Gliding Championships. If you believe that funded, well managed US Soaring Teams are in a better position to win a World Gliding Championships than an under funded "limp-along" teams - please contribute. 

US Soaring teams have not achieved much lately, why participate in the trust?

Reliable team funding encourages competitive participation by both pilots and team management. The Robertson Trust insures that not only today's best US pilots have a chance to compete at the world level but future talented pilots as well. 

If team members are well off should they be paying their own way?

No. The team is open to all participants who, through talent, drive, hard work and no small amount of sacrifice earn the right to represent the United States at the World Gliding Championships. True, some team members have been financially successful, but selection to a US team is performance based only. Past team members have included teachers, architects, welders and many other professions. With the addition of the Club, World and Junior class, the world championship dream is available to a wide spectrum of US soaring pilots. There is little more discouraging than winning a place on a U.S. Team only to be faced with a $10,000 bill for participating. Our best pilots will loose interest if championship participation means a huge personal  bill. Meaningful team funding helps keep this dream alive.  

Can I donate equipment to the trust?

You bet! The Robertson Trust accepts equipment at fair market value. Proceeds from the sale of the equipment will in turn be donated to the trust in the name of the original donor. Contact the Trust Manager for more information.

Can I donate stock and other securities to the United States Soaring Team Trust?

YES! There are tangible tax advantages to donating stock and securities to the Trust. Contact the Trust Manager for more information.

What is the tax status of the trust?

Donations to the Robertson Trust are fully tax deductible under the 503.1B rules. See your tax professional.

Who manages the trust?

In 1997, the Soaring Society of America established the Soaring Society of America Foundation as a unique entity with its own operating by-laws and officers, specifically to facilitate the raising of endowment type funds through planned giving and other contribution mechanisms, for the various SSA Trust funds. The Foundation assumed the management of the SSA Trust Funds with the intent of mounting a strong fund-raising effort for the Foundation. More

Are there fees associated with managing the Robertson Trust?

All SSA trustees and managers are volunteers. The funds are managed in accordance with the trust's charter by an approved professional money management firm who may charge a small fee. More

Can the trustís design or purpose ever be changed?

NO! The charter of the Robertson Trust is established to prevent any change in purpose or design. When you donate to the Robertson Trust you can be assured your funds will be working for the team permanently. 

Will my donation to the trust be publicly recognized?

Yes, if that is your wish. Just check the box on the contribution form and your name will appear on this web site. More

How much has already been given to the trust?

Starting with the initial $140,000 donation of Donald Robertson in 1988. More

Can my estate donate to the trust?

Absolutely! A simple line in your will allows you to donate to the Robertson Trust from your Estate. If you wish to donate out of your estate the Trust Manager can assist you in setting this up.

Should I contribute? How much to contribute?

These are among the first questions we tend to ask when a contribution letter ends up on our desks. In the case of the Robertson Trust the first decision, to contribute, might be an easy one as the perpetual nature of the trust is a way to give a little back to the competitive international aspect of our sport. See the handy contribution form...

How much to contribute is a different question. There have been $10,000 contributions pledged to the Roberson and there have been contributions for $100. Donald Robertson put up $140,000.

A long-term strategy may be the way to look at it.

Every two years United States soaring teams travel to compete internationally. Only a mix of direct contributions and perpetual trust income will make this possible. Participating in the SSA sweepstakes, buying a raffle ticket at contest or sending a check are all examples of direct contributions so critical to fielding our soaring teams.

Perpetual trust income has become increasingly important to fielding our teams internationally. So a long term plan might incorporate comfortable direct contribution every two years and larger perpetual, trust based, contributions with less frequency. How much to contribute is determined by each of our individual circumstances. More

What are the ways I can participate?

The Robertson Trust accepts cash donations, securities, estate gifts and specific equipment all on a tax deductible basis. 

Can a business donate to the Trust?

Donations can be done in the name of a business and receive the same tax deduction as personal donations.

Soaring Society of America, US Team Robertson Trust
P.O. Box 2100, Hobbs, NM 88241-2100

Contact John Seaborn
2002 Campaign Manager - email here

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