Quest: day 1

First, the "guardian angel" award goes to Bruce Barmakian. During today’s task, he heard and felt a pop and his control frame got a lot of slop in it. He looked up at the apex of the control frame and saw a bolt had come out and the right downtube was hanging loose. What would you do? The obvious, climb in the control frame, steer with your feet, remove your shoelaces and use them to tie the downtube in place. At least that’s what Bruce did, and he still made it back to goal.

Since I am using Mark’s phone line, I try and limit my time on-line. I am trying to download my email and the messages from the list. I won’t be able to reply individually. I was asked about how many class 5 gliders are flying with tails. Two, if I am not mistaken: Davis and the Top Secret. There are also two class 1 gliders flying with tails.

The pilots meeting went smoothly. An 80 mile out and return with two turn points was called. The task would take us up north and slightly west and on the return we would fly over Coleman. There would be only one start time, 1:30. Launch opened at 12:00. By 12:00 there were no clouds. Some pilots towed up and sank out. By 12:20 a lot of pilots were lining up.

I had my face shield up while on the cart; I should have had it closed. As the tug accelerated, I got a face full of dried grass. Some stuck in my left eye. I was blinking my left eye, trying to clear it. As soon as I released, I was able to wipe my eye. I guess I will have to start the tow with my shield down from now on. I towed up at 12:50 and got to 2000’ for the first time. I worked with a gaggle and slowly climbed up. Just before the 1:30 start time I was still a little low (3000’) and ½ mile short of the outer edge of the start circle. The Flex wings had a start 3 miles ahead. The lift was good when you could find it. I stayed above 3,000’ most of the way to the first turnpoint, several times getting to above 5,000’.

Two miles from the first turn point (almost half way through the task) Davis and Christian passed me below. I was 4 miles behind them. I had caught and passed a couple of flex wing gaggles. I made a slight tactical error on the way to the second turnpoint. The turnpoint was out in the blue and I did not think I could glide to it and make it back under the lift, so I flew a mile away from it and gained a thousand feet. Then I flew to it and back to the lift. I saw several gliders go straight to the turn point and then to the lift.

I lost the gaggle I was flying with (mostly rigids). I had to find my way back to Quest on my own. I really had to slow down and work what I could find, since I could not tell what was ahead of me. The haze was thick enough that I could not see any gliders ahead of me.

The sea breeze had kicked in and the lift was shutting down. I was 14 miles out and at over 4,000’ when I went on final glide. I stopped twice and gained only 300’ each time. Six miles out my vario was still telling me I had Quest. Then I hit some 600 down and no up. There was a lot of unlandable terrain for the last 2 miles before goal so I tried to work some small bubbles of lift and only got lower. At 400’ I joined some buzzards circling. Five 360’s later I was at 350’.

I now had only one field to land in. It was surrounded on 3 sides by orange grove and the fourth side had a forest with tall trees. My landing went fine, but I had to carry my glider a ¼ mile through the orange grove to the road. I was 1.8 miles short of goal!

A friend from the Bay Area, Adrian, drove for us today. He moved to Florida last year and came up to watch the comp. Tonight my wife flies in and will drive for the rest of the comp. At least now I will have my own private masseuse!

Rich landed before the second turnpoint. He had a low save earlier, from 900’ to 6000’. Rich is always well ahead of me, but today his game was off. I was surprised to hear that he was behind me.

I thought I was transmitting my position in flight, but when I landed my GPS was off. I don’t know if the batteries went dead, or if somehow it turned off in flight. I will put new batteries in it tonight and try again tomorrow. Rich was transmitting his position today, but kept getting beeps in his earphone. If he can’t shut that off, he will not use his APRS. Ernie, could you post Rich’s call sign so people can try to follow him as well?

The weather is supposed to be more of the same tomorrow.

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


PS I am still using Mark’s phone line to post this. Thanks' Mark.