Frustration!

By the time the pilots meeting started, there were very few clouds in the sky. At the pilots meeting they gave Gerolf (Zippy) a special weenie award.

The weather report was for a good day with lift of 4 to 5 hundred fpm and cloud base at 6,500’. An 80 mile polygon task was called. First turn point to the north, then back southeast, then west and north back to the Ranch.

Wallaby flight line; Kari is seen working on her glider.

By 10:45 when the tow opened there were still very few clouds. The wind dummies that towed up soon came down. The first competitor towed up shortly after 11:00. I think they had to re-tow. At 11:30 pilots started lining up in earnest. I towed at 11:45. I made a mistake on tow again. I was not keeping real close tabs on my altitude. The tug pilot waved me off at 1100’. I was in 400 fpm up, great, but I could find it for only one turn, boo. I wanted to take the 12:15 start time but was only at 1400 by then. Pilots were still being towed up above me.

I finally found a good thermal and was at 3800’ by the 12:30 start time so I took that. The lift was working good. I could dolphin fly under the clouds. Very few pilots were catching me and I led a gaggle for 3 thermals, staying above 4000’ most of the time. I made the first turn point pretty fast (for me), but then things started to fall apart. I made a low save from 1100’ back to 3600’ which cost me a lot of time. I lost sight of all the gliders I was flying with. I was back on my own.

I had another low save from 1400’ up to 3200’. In each successive thermal I was topping out lower. I could see some gliders at 4000’+ above me but just could not get up. A couple miles north of the Ranch I circled at 900’ for 14 minutes then at 600’ for another 5. Bob was on the ground giving me wind direction: out of the southeast at 5. I finally came in for a landing. 50’ above the ground Bob reported the wind was out of the northwest at 5. For some reason, every time he is there, I get a down-wind landing. The base bar slid along the ground for about 4’, but nothing was damaged.

I drove back to the Ranch in time to see 15 or more gliders making goal. Rich was still in the air and reported being at 5600’. There were two rigids on the ground when I arrived, Christian was one of them. Manfred was here as well. Rich landed at 4:30, completing the task.

I talked to some of the pilots who completed the task today. They said the lift was under the darker parts of the clouds. I was mostly looking for new, forming clouds, though I tried just about everything to find lift (if I'd really tried everything I would have made goal). I need to work on my thermaling, that is where I seem to lose it the most. The best pilots can come in under me and thermal right up through me, even though it looks like we are taking the same path around. And, obviously, I need to be able to find the damn things.

I talked a lot with the pilot of the Top Secret, Andy Hollidge from Great Britain. The glider still needs a lot of refinement. Of the few gliders I was easily able to out glide, that was one of them. It seems to climb well. He has the thick plastic coated wires and the control frame looks like it has a lot of drag. If he is able to clean it up like the Atos or Atos-C it could be a contender. He is flying with a T-Tail. He says that it thermals better with the tail. I asked if maybe it was the “T” part of the tail and he said no, he had tried it with the vertical section only and it did not make a difference.

There is a party at Wallaby tonight, free food, beer and margaritas (I can’t seem to find anything for us non-drinkers). As soon as I post this I am heading back. Tomorrow we head up to Quest to register and have the first pilots meeting.

I just did a quick read of the Yahoo group list, but did not have time to post. I completed about 40 miles of the 80 mile task. I tried to transmit my position more often with the APRS and it seems to have worked better. I will continue to do so for the Quest comp. I hope to do better there, now that I have some experience.

My vario trace, click on it for a larger version.

For the first time in three years, Manfred did not take first place; Oleg did, with Manfred second and Paris third (another first to have an American in the top 3). Paris was also the U.S. National Champion for the second year. The Italians took one and two in class 5: Alex Ploner (Atos-C), and Christian Ciech (Icaro Stratus), with Davis Straub in 5th place. This was Alex' first flatland comp. The margaritas, beer and tequila shots were flowing freely tonight.

Quote of the day: Several pilots have the ability to adjust their sprogs in flight. Paris and some other pilots were discussing this. Rich told of negative bar pressure at high speeds. Paris said that on final glide he had to raise his sprogs to keep this from happening. Another pilot chimed in, "doesn't that hurt your glide?", to which Paris replied, "NOT AS MUCH AS TUMBLING".

Rich brought his APRS to Florida as well. We are trying to get him hooked up so you can watch both of us during the Quest comp. More details later.

The latest Zippy rumor is that it took two stitches to sew him back together.

Vince