Yesterday, Bruce landed out just as I was finishing my post. He was only 7 miles away. I went and picked him up. All the other American pilots made it back to the hotel LZ. I don't think anyone flew the practice task.
Jim Yocom is also keeping and online log of the events here as he sees them. You can read his thoughts at:
While waiting for the pilots to set up yesterday, I had a chance to talk to Alex Ploner. He lives about two hours away from Greifenberg. A few weeks ago, Felix was demonstrating some gliders here and asked if Alex could come by. Alex launched from his home site, flew 70 miles across the Alps and landed here. The next day he flew back. He is a really good pilot.
The opening ceremonies last night were a bigger event than I had thought. I was worried that the USA would be booed because of the anti American sentiment here in Europe, but that was not the case. We got the second loudest applause after the Austrians and most of the children were chanting "oo ahs ah" as we walked by. The host had a wide variety of performers for us and they did a great job.
Today the sky was clear for the first time since we arrived in Greifenberg. We are supposed to have good weather for the next 2 days then there is a chance of rain. There is no restriction on when we can go up to launch and set up. We are hoping to leave for launch at 9:00am and get a good spot. There are nice facilities at launch that include a restaurant and clean bathrooms. We and nap for an hour or two after we get set up.
When we arrived at launch the parking lot was already full. The larger class 5 set up lane was half full. There is talk of driving up to launch at 8:00am tomorrow to try and beat the crowd. With the great weather today there was talk of a big task. They came through with a 132 mile task around the area. We were first sent to the west, then northeast, then southeast and finally back to goal in Berg. The task had us fly over several valleys and mountain ranges. It was a race start (all the rigids start at the same time) with a start time of 1:45. The launch window opened at 12:30. When it opened there was already someone in line.
The swifts were supposed to launch first, but they let the class 5 pilot launch. The swifts were soon off and by 1:00 most of the class 5 pilots were trying to get in line to launch. I was about 15th to launch and the third American. Right away I had a problem. Somehow, the stall alarm on my vario changed to 156 mph. This meant for the entire flight, it was going off. The audio portion of my climb indicator was muted. So, the entire flight my vario sounded like a fire truck, changing in pitch with changes in airspeed. It drove me nuts. The only way I could be sure I was climbing was to look at the display of my vario.
We (the American team) played follow the leader for most of the task. We were curious which sides of the valleys the local pilots would fly. They did not follow course line but jumped back and forth between valleys. The lift was good to and from the first turnpoint. A couple of times I was above 11,500', which is rare for this area. Jim and Bruce took a different route to the first turnpoint and fell behind. Ron, Davis and myself were doing a little better. After the first turn point, Davis had a problem with his harness and had to land. Ron pulled one thermal ahead on the way to the second turnpoint.
I was able to stay between 9,000' and 11,000' on the way to the second turnpoint. Ron crossed the valley in a different location than I, and we ended up together 19 miles toward the third turnpoint. We were in a weak thermal and he headed off to find something better. I stayed with the thermal we had. My thermal turned and by that time he was to far away for it to do him some good. I climbed 1000' above the clouds, out in the blue. When I went on glide I flew over some clouds, which is a first for me in a hang glider. I was able to glide most of the way to the third turnpoint.
I could hear Ron, Jim and Bruce struggling behind me. That one thermal got me past a tough spot. The lift on the way back from the last turnpoint was weaker and climbs were lower, but it was mostly down hill toward goal. I crossed goal with 600' to spare. This was my longest flight in both distance and duration. Bruce, Jim and Ron all ended up landing close to the third turnpoint. From the number of rigids on the ground when I landed, it looked like there were 20 to 25 gliders ahead of me at goal. Kari was the first woman to goal by almost 1/2 hour. Brian porter made goal in his swift, so we had one American in each class at goal.
My track log for today's flight.
The turnpoints here are harder to get than in Texas and Florida as they can be on the tops of mountains. You have to climb up over them to get them.
The opening ceremonies.