I didn't bring
enough socks with me to Florida so I took a couple of pairs in the shower with
me and washed them with shampoo. They have been hanging in the room to dry for
over a day and they are as wet as ever. The humidity in Florida is high. I put
them in the microwave to dry. 2 pairs of wool socks take 12 minutes to dry in a
microwave. We are staying at the Super 8 motel a couple of miles from Wallaby.
We got the competitors rate of $35.99 a day, which includes a refrigerator,
coffee pot and microwave. They have a free continental breakfast, so to save
money (I have been known to make a nickel cry) I have 2 or 3 bowls of cereal and
a donut for breakfast, this saves me $5 to $8 a day. One of these days I will
eat at the Ranch, but being a vegetarian, I can't see paying full price to eat
some produce. Laurie announced that they were going to have a special vegetarian
dish each night during the comp, so I will try that.
The crowd at the Ranch seems younger than I am used to seeing at Western launch sites. There are a lot more females here as well. With the warm Florida weather, there is much skin exposed (which can be good or bad depending on who is exposing their skin). As I walk around I hear several different languages spoken. Felix has several Germans with him; then there are the Italians and an English contingent (The English sound just like Leo Jones back home. Since I am used to him, I can understand most of what they say). There are probably a lot more nationalities here, but since I am eating away from the Ranch, I haven't met that many pilots. I did manage to talk to the front of Nancy's head. She is very pleasant to talk to. I realized that both she and my wife married electricians. My wife said she made a good choice.
At the pilots meeting, a 70 mile task to the northwest was called with a turn point at 40 miles to keep people from crossing some unlandable areas. The big news of the meeting was JZ our USHGA president threw his chute yesterday. He did not tell us what happened. Hopefully someone will find out and post it to the group (I just talked to JZ see below). The weather for today was for more rain with possible thunderstorms. Everyone lined up early today with most lining up before the meeting. At the meeting Malcolm said we were to line up by pilot number not sail number as we had twice as many odd numbered sails. Several pilots had to move their gliders to the other line.
Brian Porter in his Swift, in
front of me on my Atos
The wind dummies launched at 11:35 and came down right away. There was a large cell heading right toward the Ranch. All the tugs headed for the barn and many of the pilots carried their gliders back to the Ranch. It started raining at 12:00 with thunder and lightning 10 minutes later. I am sitting in the back of the truck waiting for them to either call the day or proceed. While waiting, I got a chance to talk to JZ. He had adjusted his spoilers to 100 degrees from the factory setting of 80 degrees. In doing so he adjusted past the spoiler limiter. This caused a $2 piece of hardware to fail. When this failed he could not operate his spoiler. The glider started a slow spiral dive which continued to increase in bank angle and speed. Then out came the laundry (a hang gliding term for your parachute). He landed in a bog. Both he and the glider are fine. When he hit the ground he sank deep into the bog and it took a little effort to pull himself out. The area he landed in is called the $100 field because the owner has an agreement with Malcolm that anyone from the Ranch that lands there will pay $100. I asked a couple of Ranch employees and they could not say exactly where this area is. They need Ernie to make them up some no-landing maps.
By 2:00 the sky was getting very dark, by 2:15 it was a dark purple and JC finally called the day. A few minutes later it was raining hard. Yesterday after they called the day and Malcolm started towing again, several pilots climbed past 4,000'. One made it to Quest on two thermals and had the goal at Coleman on glide, but turned around. Robin with the Swift made it to Quest and most of the way back. He landed out behind the sand pit a couple miles from the Ranch. Several people were needed to carry out his glider. The meet director wanted to make sure there was no chance of a valid day. I was hoping they could change the task to a foot race around the Ranch, at least I would have a good chance of finishing in the top 50%
We drove out to my glider, (which is tied down at the flight line) to make sure everything was OK. I don't think I have any more alkali dust from the Owens on it any more. One of the best investments I made before coming here was the Screw - an anchoring device. There is a run of the dog anchors at the local stores. Hopefully tomorrow we will get to fly.
I am no social butterfly (where is Lori when you need her) so it is difficult to find out what is really going on around here. I met a woman pilot who introduced herself as Clair. I said "Pagen", then I felt the air temperature drop about 50 degrees as she replied: "formerly". I didn't know. I looked around for a hole to climb into but was out of luck. To top it off, she carried her glider back from the tow line and looked like she never broke a sweat; I felt like a wuss. There are a lot of big egos here and it is interesting to see them clash. I know very few of the pilots by sight, so I can't say who is clashing with whom.
Since we had a rain
day Rich and I headed up to check out Quest. I met David Glover and Steve Kroop.
They have a nice operation up there. Bill Moyes was there putting together a
couple of dragonfly tugs. The most interesting thing I saw (being an A&P) was
their new turbine tug. When I was told about it I said “you mean a turbo tug” to
which Dave replied “no, turbine”. They have a turbine engine that came off an A7
Corsair. In the A7 application it is used as the starter motor. The really nice
feature is the planetary gear box, which is quite compact. One of the big
problems with turbine installations is the size of the gearbox. This engine came
with the nice small gear box. I’m real interested in seeing it fly.
After the drive to Quest and back I feel more comfortable about the LZ’s in this area. Sometimes it seems that there is nothing but trees, lakes and swamps. It looks like there are good LZ’s every 2 to 5 miles.