Quest Day 4

I did OK yesterday. I placed 7th in the rigid wing class. I flew the 42 mile task in one hour and thirteen minutes. My average speed was a little over 35 mph. Christian was first, and is well ahead of everyone else.

During the towing yesterday, I saw one of the tugs almost run into a dolly and the guy on the ATV retrieving it. Some said it was the ATVs fault, but from my view, the guy on the ATV saved the day. The tug landed long, the ATV was just about to grab the dolly with his hook. The wing was so close he had to duck his head to keep from being hit. He kept his cool and at the last second, hooked the dolly and pulled it out of the way. The guys on the ATVs remind me of rodeo calf ropers. As soon as the tug starts to pull the pilot, they are right behind. A couple of seconds after the pilots leave the cart, the guy grabs it with a hook and brings it back, at incredible speed.

Nancy saw her first alligator today. There is a state park in Groveland that has a lake (Im sure every park in Florida has a lake), and she spotted a four footer. It made her day, almost as much as me making goal yesterday ;-)

The pilots meeting today was a lot of fun. Dave played a song called I Got VG sung to Sonny Bonos I Got You Babe. Whoever performed it was great. I would love to get a copy of it. We received a live weather update from Gary Osoba. The lift could be good today if it does not get overcast. The winds are strong at the time of the meeting out of the east, northeast. The task for today is 67.6 miles to the northwest and ends near the Willis airport.

The wind was still a little strong at the 12:30 tow start. The first start time was 1:45. Several people towed up right at 12:30 and came back down. Some more towed up and stayed up, but drifted down wind quite a bit. Pilots started seriously towing up by 1:00. I got right up to 4,400. I could not hear anyone on the radio. Checking my helmet connection, I found it had come unplugged. I could not find the end in my harness. I had to take my glove off to feel around for it. It felt like it took 5 minutes to find it. All the while I was trying to stay clear of the gaggle but still stay up. I found the other end, but needed to use both hands to plug it together, so I had to put my glove back on. Then I could not find the two ends again. I did manage to get them together and make radio contact, but I was almost to the edge of the start circle and down to 3,300

There were no gliders back up wind that I thought I could reach, so I was stuck with taking the first start gate, 1:45, low. Six miles out I was at 1,400. I found a thermal back to 4,400, but I could see no other gliders. I was on my own again. The clouds were a good indicator of lift and I was working along fast, staying above 4,000. 20 miles out I started to get into trouble.

I got low again, down to 1,500. I spotted a glider circling and came in under them. They climbed out much faster than me and left. I lost the lift at 3,300. I tried to follow from below but had no luck. I was in the blue. I stumbled into a real screamer, over 1000fpm up. I saw another glider above me. At 3,000 I completely lost it. I searched all over. The pilot above me continued to go up, probably past 5,000. They left high and made it to the clouds on the other side of the hole. I was drifting over forest and really bad landing areas. I played it safe and headed out to the turnpike (75). I found nothing on the way there. I landed next to the turn pike, 30 miles from Quest and 35 miles from goal. One word: Shit!

As I was breaking down, the blue hole started to fill in with clouds and I watched a large gaggle of fast gliders pass overhead.

Rich landed 8 miles short of goal at the Crosswind Landings Airport. The place lived up to its name. It is 50 wide X 2000 long, lined with 80 tall trees. When he landed, the wind was indeed cross. We talked about the thermals today. We both agreed that instead of the usual columns, they were bubbles. If you came low, you did not have much chance of getting up in one.

Rich believes part of his problems is tuning his glider. He is going to take out the carbon leading edges he put in the other day. He swears 30 gliders passed him today. I am going to play around with my flap setting in thermals. I cant find any other reason I cant climb as well as all the other gliders with which I have been flying.

As far as the set-up-of-shame, it wont be so bad tonight because everyone will have to set up, since the task did not return to Quest, if we ever get back to Quest. As I am typing this, Rich and I have been giving our driver directions back to Quest. But we got to talking and we missed our exit. Twenty miles later we are back on track, 10 miles to go. As Richs wife Linda says dont tell the driver how to drive. Words to live by.

I just got back to Quest. It sounds like a lot of pilots made goal. Alex in an Atos-C made goal in a little over two hours. And there is talk of an Atos landing in the swamp. I would rather land short than take the risk and land in the swamp.

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