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Senior Soaring Championship - Final report

Today central Florida returned to something resembling normal early Spring conditions. To be sure, it was cold overnight (but with no frost) and skies were severely blue (no scrap of cumulus clouds was seen anywhere). But high temperatures reached into the low 70s, thermal climbs reached 5000 feet, and pilots felt the world was once again spinning on its normal axis.

For the third time in four tries, Fernando Silva did things best. He was one of just two pilots who exceeded 60 mph (in his case, on a task of 141 miles), which gave him 1000 points for the day, and first place for the contest. Karl Striedieck was second for both the day and the contest. Robin Clark managed 15th for the day, but this was enough to hang onto third place overall.

The 27th Senior Contest is now in the books. Weather presented many challenges, but yielded 4 (of 6 possible) valid contest days in a variety of conditions. We had a damage-free week (the worst casualty was a flagpole temporarily flattened by a stray pickup truck). And Seminole Lake Gliderport renewed its reputation as the best place in North America for a March soaring contest.


Posted: 3/17/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Late report

Another day of cold northerly winds and weak, severely blue soaring conditions. We awoke to sub-freezing temperatures – the full experience, including frost on windshields, trailers and wings. The morning pilot meeting was held in a hangar whose bifold door was never opened – the better to keep pilots from shivering (but something rarely seen here). Winter jackets and wool hats were the uniform of the day.

Wind died down a bit by grid time, and a good omen appeared in the form of a swallow-tailed kite soaring low over the assembled gliders. (These superb soaring birds are rarely seen higher than about 100 feet – they can fly all day at that altitude with perhaps a couple of wing beats each hour.)

The launch went well (Seminole Lake Gliderport probably takes the prize for the most efficient contest launch anywhere) and 60 gliders soon decorated the skies. In the next half hour, none got worryingly low - nor very high. Even with a task over friendly Florida terrain and multiple airports, we need something like 3500 feet to start racing, and it was a struggle to reach that. 

But it finally happened and gliders set off on a task that at least initially looked like a struggle. Conditions slowly improved, and by 5pm pilots were finishing with reports of good lift to decent altitudes and at least semi-respectable speeds. Just two pilots outlanded. Best for the day was Steve Arndt in his Silent 2A motorglider; he managed 47.5 mph in the highest-handicapped glider of the contest, good for 1000 points.

Posted: 3/16/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - 345pm report

Seniors report: The task just opened at 14:48, a 1:45 TAT (initially 2 hrs, but changed in the air) Gore(10radius)GreenSwamp(9radius)SeminoleLake(5radius)
Montgomery(23radius) Launched commenced at 13:05 and took about an hour, but start was delayed because of lowish altitudes.
Min. distance 41.2 Max distance 206.4 posted by Leigh

Posted: 3/16/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Mar 15 Report

After 3 days of sitting around enduring cloudy, then rainy, then windy conditions unsuitable for contest soaring, today at last gave us a chance at a second contest task. The weather was not what we hope for on a March day in Florida: we awoke to temperatures below 40 and a cold north wind. Morning cloud departed as the temperature slowly climbed to near 50 by launch time. (Folks recovering from recent northern blizzard conditions will have to understand that these temperatures are about 25 degrees below normal and make both Florida residents and visitors feel rather hard done by.)

We ended with a blue day featuring moderate lift to unspectacular altitudes, but which supported a short task that most pilots were able to complete. The north wind continued to pump in cold air, but moderated enough to allow civilized takeoffs and landings.

Once again, weatherman Fernando Silva was best for the day, with a speed of 55 mph over 112 miles. Fernando just recently received his ASW-27 back from Germany, where it spent several months being comprehensively overhauled - some would say remanufactured. Everything about it was painstakingly brought to better-than-new specs, and the finish has received many compliments.

Second was Karl Striedieck, flying with Sarah Arnold in his nearly new DuoDiscus XL. Sarah is taking a few days off from running Chilhowee Gliderport in eastern Tennessee to start tuning up for the Women’s World Gliding Contest in Zbraslavice Czech Republic, which begins in May.

Posted: 3/15/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - No contest day

The front that brought us rain for the last day and half has finally moved out of our area.

Our new airmass is not yet settled, and the combination of blustery winds and low cloudbases caused our CD, John Good, to cancel the day at the second pilot's meeting.

About half a dozen gliders flew anyway, and they confirmed that it wouldn't have been very wise to put 56 more in the low, chopped up thermals they encountered.

Posted: 3/14/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Fly a contest day at this year's Seniors

To benefit the US Junior Soaring Team, 3 of whom hope to fly in the Worlds this summer in Lithuania, Dave Nadler (YO) and Roger Buchanan (R9) are offering their second seats for a day at Seminole Lake Glider Port this week.  For a $300 donation to the team, Dave has Tues. and Wed. available; Roger Wed. through Friday.  You can email me your information and I'll get it to the pilots or Fernando Silva (US Team Capt) and someone will contact you. My email can be found in the members section of this SSA website. LeighZimmerman for the US Team 


Photo #13725 | Want to fly a contes

Dave Nadler in flight

Posted: 3/13/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Rest day

Contest Manager Jim Price declared a rest day for today, based on a hopeless soaring forecast.

Posted: 3/13/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - No contest day

Overcast skies, intermittent rain, scoring anomalies, handicap issues, etc.  Let's call the whole thing off.

Posted: 3/12/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Mar 11 Report

“If you liked yesterday [we didn’t], you’ll love today.” That was the introduction to today’s weather report from ace weatherman Fernando Silva. His point was that we’d have much the same airmass (so weak, blue thermals) with less wind (meaning those weak thermals might actually allow semi-decent progress). It seemed likely the day would die early – perhaps by 4:30. In the face of this, a fairly wimpy task was set

It didn’t work out as the forecast predicted – and (for once) in a good way. An area of cumulus clouds, predicted to stay tantalizingly out of reach to the northeast, instead developed nicely and overran the gliderport, giving good pre-start climbs to over 5000 feet. Task areas to the south stayed blue, but gave some pilots good lift to 6000 feet and above. Heading north, pilots connected with the clouds for (mostly) problem-free flying. Lift was available at least until 5 pm. In sharp contrast to yesterday, all pilots landed at home.

Fernando has talents that extend beyond weather prediction. In this case he grasped the real weather better than any other pilot and flew 133 miles at a speed over 72 mph, good for first place. A total of 7 pilots had raw speeds above 70 mph, on a day when before launch most would probably have settled for 50.

Posted: 3/11/2017

Senior Soaring Championship - Mar 10 Report

It’s the end of the practice period for the 27th Senior Contest. With the exception of today (the only semi-official practice day, with a scored task) the weather has been unusually good. We had three days in a row of fine cross-country soaring under beautiful cumulus clouds, occasionally with bases reaching 6000 feet (over ground that’s rarely above 150 feet). Task speeds near 75 mph and distances above 500 km have been recorded – Florida soaring rarely gets much better than that.

Today was different – and a struggle for most pilots: Winds were stronger, cumulus clouds much scarcer and lift much harder to find and work. On the day before a big competition, most pilots tend to take things a bit easy, which makes 14 outlandings an unusual result today. There were still smiles around the airfield this evening, but the faces of towpilots responsible for a dozen aero retrieves bore a disproportionate number.

Seminole Lake Gliderport is looking sharp and fully ready to host some 62 pilots, making this yet again a strong candidate for best-attended US soaring contest. The number of formidable RVs connected to electrical hookups here should be some sort of record (the collective electrical bill on a hot day surely has to be).

Posted: 3/10/2017


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