Well, I'm back in Texas, Big Spring to be exact. First the bad news. Jim Yocom, one of the best class 5 pilots in the country had a motorcycle accident and broke his leg in four places. He had surgery on Tuesday to had a titanium rod installed to hold things together. I was looking forward to flying with him. Please wish him a speedy recovery. We were going to share expenses this meet. I booked a room at the motel 8 this year thinking it would be easier logistically. More on that later.
I flew my plane down from San Jose. Total flight time was 8 hours. The first leg to Saint Johns, AZ was nice except for the 20 knot head wind (flying west to east you are supposed to get a tail wind). From Saint Johns to Big Spring was a lot more interesting. As soon as I crossed the New Mexico border I had to start dodging thunderstorms. At one point I flew through rain for 20 minutes. I had to fly lower than I wanted (I like to fly above 16,000' to stay in the smooth air) so I could see the down pours and avoid the thunderstorms. I could hear the airliners above me having the same trouble. The tops were 45,000'. I heard a controller tell one plane that if he did could not make it through a hole between thunderstorms cells, he would have to divert 300 miles to the north to get around the weather. To top it off, I still had the same 20 knot head wind.
I landed in Big Spring at 3:30pm local time. There was a large rain cell about 5 miles south of the airport. All the gliders were in the hanger and three tugs were tied down outside. The weather Thursday was supposed to be nice and sunny. There is a cold from moving in and I guess it moved in faster than expected. It is supposed to rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then nicer later in the week. Sometimes the chance of rain can be good for flying hang gliders because the air is less stable. Today the cloud bases were 9,500' and the area around here looked much dryer than last year. I think the flying will be much better this year.
The Super 8 motel is right next to a major truck stop. While I was in my room I could hear their air brakes every time they stopped. I thought it would keep me awake, but luckily I had a decent night sleep. I rented a car so I could come and go and not have to try and bum a ride every time I need to go to the airport.
The hanger at the airport where the competitors store their gliders for the meet is just as screwed up as every other year I have been here. If David Glover wants to have the flex wing world championships here, he will have to work out some type of system to keep the pilots and gliders organized. Johan Posh took the bull by the horns and did a great job at trying to make some order out of the mess. Every time I bring up the subject to David he says we can always break down our gliders every day. While this is true, he does advertise the fact that there is a hanger available.
There will be about 7 Atos VR's in the meet. Not quite as many as the Flytec meet, but still more than I thought would be here. I have not talked to Glover to find out how many gliders are in the meet.
Mark Mullholand and Randy arrived from San Jose last night at 3:00 am. They have my glider on Mark's truck. After Johan cleaned up the hanger I was able to set up my glider.
This shows the hanger a little more organized. The VR's take up about 1 1/2 times the space of a flex wing. My glider is the third from the right. I did not install the tail so there is less chance of it getting damaged while in the hanger. Several of the VR pilots have been making their tip tubes shorter. This makes the sail junction at the winglet look nicer. My glider is flying so well I don't want to mess with it so I am leaving mine as it is.
The officials from the City of Big Spring look more prepared than any year previous to this. All the tables and chairs are assembled in the terminal building. The grand stands are installed. I think this will be the best run meet here in the past 4 years. I saw an ad on the local TV station for the meet. They want to put on a good show in preparation for the worlds.