Sorry this is a day late.
I feel strongly that David Glover made the correct decision to cancel all the tasks on Saturday. Sure, one lone flex wing pilot made it to goal (he did not hear the task was cancelled), but there was not enough towing resources to get everyone into the air and get a chance at going on course. The line of thunderstorms were approaching fast. It is nice to see a decision being made based on safety and fairness, rather some pilots ego to prove they can fly through anything.
Sunday was a very long day. I went to the dinner last night, but the awards ceremony was at a private residence after the dinner. It was not going to start until after 9:00 pm. I needed to get to bed early and get plenty of sleep because of a long flight home, so I did not make it to the ceremony.
I was up by 5:30 am checking the weather with the flight service and loading up the car. I had breakfast at 6:00, then picked up Randy who was going to fly with me back to California. I was hoping for a 6:30 am departure but that was not to be. It was raining with embedded thunderstorms. The lines of thunderstorms were heading toward my route of flight.
I filed an IFR clearance and watched the radar returns. The line of thunderstorms was moving at 20 mph across my proposed route of flight. Finally at 9:30am they moved out of the way. We jumped in my plane and made a departure into the rain. We were in 'hard" IFR for almost two hours, constant rain and turbulence. The controller kept me informed of any "significant" radar returns (embedded thunderstorms). We came out of the rain in western New Mexico. There were still plenty of thunderstorms, but we could fly around the cells as long as we kept below them.
The thunderstorms continued after our stop at St. Johns, AZ. It was not until after we crossed the sierra that we were in the clear. We flew directly over Walt's point. It looked like the best day I have ever seen in the Owens. The cloud base was 16,000' with a continuous cloud street that went on for over 200 miles. The wind was out of the south at 10 mph. The clouds went up the sierra, crossed at Big Pine, up the whites and beyond as far as I could see. There was not the usually break in the clouds as they crossed the valley. I was getting a very smooth 500+ fpm in my plane under the clouds.
I probably made over 100 radio transmission on this flight home. Anyone who has flown IFR, single pilot, single engine will tell you how important proper radio transmissions are. If there is any chance that you may not have heard the controller you ask for a repeat of the instructions. This makes me even more convinced that I heard that my task was canceled and the person on the radio misspoke. Lauren Tjaden came up to me and told me that she was told the task was canceled not "only the flex wing task". So I was not the only pilot who was given incomplete information.
I am more convinced that the great Texas flying weather that we had three years ago was a fluke. All the local residents I talked to told of strong winds every day. This year we had only two task with goal back at the airport. The conditions this year were even weaker than last year. I thought conditions were bad last year when we were "only" getting to 7,000' (4,500 agl). This year on some days we were lucky to get 5,500' at the start. My highest this year was 8,200', compared to 10,000' last year and 12,800' the year before.
I feel strongly that aerobatics and "reckless flying" should be banned during a comp. From the time the first competitor shows up, until the last leaves. Failed aerobatics are one of the greatest causes of the need to deploy a parachute. We are there for a race to goal competition, not a aerobatic competition. This year Kevin Carter was doing loops when he screwed up and had to deploy, not one, but both his parachutes (and he was on the safety committee). His first parachute got stuck on the rigging. His second parachute initially failed to inflate. He had to tug on the bridal several times to get it to inflate. The wind on the ground was blowing 15 mph. He was lucky he did not get drug after he landed.
Here is a contingent of pilots from California.