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Region 4 North - Rig and Race...

... unfortunately without the racing part.

The day broke with cloudy with low cloud bases. The various weather products called for no rain (gasp), clearing with the promise of at least weakly soarable conditions. CD Karl Striedieck called for a 11:30 AM grid. There was no groaning or pushback otherwise from the group. With a collective sense of duty, fuselages were pulled, wings lifted, pins pushed and taping performed. Even Karl rigged his Duo in eager anticipation of a successful final day. However much as we karmaed and vibed, that low ceiling just would not abate. Reporting stations around the airport had base at about 1K AGL and this was confirmed with cloud tickling the tops of the mountains.

After this extended period of poor weather some of us wondered if the sun had actually ceased to exist. So out came the ANDROID tablet and it was pointed to the sky. SKY MAP was launched and GOOGLE, the oracle of all knowledge, was summoned.



There it was, the Sun, low in the horizon partying with Jupiter and Mars. We were relieved that the Sun still existed but we did feel a bit abandoned.


At 2:00 PM, the day was called and thus ended R4N 2017 Edition.

Parting throughts.

We had a great contingent of eager pilots and all the planning in place but unfortunatly the weather did not cooperate. Of course the 3 weeks before the contest were lovely and the upcoming week is looking great with Monday promising a ridge day. Blah. But as my Italian mother would say, “Wadda ya gonna do?” Allow me to translate; Glider pilots, optimists… no pity party! Move on and fly another day! And that’s just what we’ll do.


Signing out...


Posted: 10/15/2017

Region 4 North - Day 6 of the Hostage Crisis

We are being hostage by the forces of nature. Ops Director Rick Fuller (CL) has nothing to offer. Richard Kellerman (QV) has nothing to offer (but somehow silently slipped out the back.) John Murray (LX), Eric Mann (P3) and John Godfrey (QT) also slipped away. No soup for you. Unceremoniously the day was canceled (again.)

Tomorrow looks flyable. Sunday looks flyable. Monday looks GR8T. 

Last night's Banquet at the Hickory Bridge was well attended. Bob Jackson (RJ), the speaker du jour, provided interesting and humorous recollections of soaring luminaries and past glider contests. Long downwind dashes with reluctant (nonexistent?) crew. Creative ways to take turn point photos. Gliders with certain “advanced features”. The audience was full of smiles and laughter. Bob’s rapt remembrances made us realize that so much of this sport is about the soaring community and our shared experiences. 




Posted: 10/13/2017

Region 4 North - Clang Clang Clang...

… and the Pilot’s Meeting is called to order by contest go-to guy, Rick Fuller (CL). Rick promptly turned the floor over to weatherman Richard Kellerman (QV) who quipped “I don’t know what to say other than it’s totally hopeless. Today is toast.” With that, alternate CD John Seymour (SM) was introduced. (Karl had to take care of some things but threathen to return later in the day.) With his newly bestowed amazing powers John announced Friday’s grid time to be moved from 11:30 AM to noon Saturday.


Chief tow pilot Jim Chick offered to tow any pontoon equipped gliders but there were no takers.


As I sit in my camper (Chateau Brotto) writing this, I look out of my large picture window for more material. There it is… a cat on a taut lease with Clay Monroe (24) at the other end. Chip Bearden (JB), arms folded, looking on. The cat is doing its best to drag Clay in the opposite direction from Chip. A loosely formed squadron of confused geese fly overhead heading east.


Banquet at Hickory Bridge tonight with cocktails at 6:00 PM and dinner at 7:00 PM. There is ample time between now and then for mischievousness. Have at it but please replace your divots.


Posted: 10/12/2017

Region 4 North - Rain Likely Followed by Rain

Last night’s dinner was a “pot luck” affair, basically a reappearance of the staring foodstuff of the previous couple of days. Bratwurst; it’s the grill staple that keeps coming back. 

Of particular note last night was the great ad-hoc concert presented by David Bargainner (OO) on dobro, Shane Neitzey (XZ) on 6 string and Nirmal Mathrani on percussion. These guys sounded really good… and the price was right. 

We got a day in yesterday for both 18M and FAI class, one in the books… yea.

 At the morning pilot’s meeting FAI Class winner Shane Neitzey recounted his flight needing only 200 ft more on final to make it back into the finish with a big fat speed points reward. Unfortunately 200 ft turned into 300 ft then 400 ft  then 500 ft… “so I just out landed”. John Seymour (SM) 18M winner, recounted his strategy as being in K-6 mode turning in every scrap of lift. John found himself “getting low near Frederick and grinding around at some stupid altitude”. Collective inquisition from the pilots, “How stupid was it?”. Response, “Hand on gear lever stupid.” 

Eric Mann (P3) completed the task and took second place in 18M. Eric noted that David Pixton (ex-9X) could likely claim cycling the course faster. Given the forecast the day was canceled and grid time was set 2 days out for 11:30 AM Friday. 

Wednesday’s official NOAA forecast calls for “rain likely followed by rain.” The “rain likely” part stated at 4:00 AM local. Per schedule, the “followed by rain” part is happening now at 11:00 AM local. The good news is that the grass is greening up and the trees are happy.

Amongst the denizens of R4N there is talk of going to see movies and commission of various forms of retail therapy.




Posted: 10/11/2017

Region 4 North - Attention This is not a drill

Last night M-ASA chief tow pilot John Machamer and his wife Karen hosted the pilots at their hangar adjacent to M-ASA facility serving up a great chili dinner. Thanks for the hospitality John and Karen! 

The nighttime sky was, drum roll, clear! Stars were in abundance with the Milky Way visible. It was cooling down nicely giving the air conditioners a break. Awoke to the sun peeking through some left over high clouds but there was still a lot of humidity in the warm air. That humidity rose resulting in mid-morning overcast making a gray, vague, dystopian sky scape. This is not  supposed to happen; it was looking bleak. As sniffer, I asked CD Karl Striedieck if he wanted me to fly my LS-8/18 with 15M or 18M tips. He responded “Do you happen to have 24 meters?”

During the weather briefing, to maintain optimism the pop up showers that were now appearing on the maps were reclassified as “anomalous propagations”. Grid time was proposed to be 6:00 PM local. 

Well by about 11:00 AM things did begin to improve. A noon grid was called with the task area set to the south where things looked clearer. The 18M launched first and with weak lift and 2.5K AGL cloud base, folks generally stuck. The sky brightened and some pilots got around although there were a couple of land outs and land backs. Check the results page for details. Most importantly everyone was safe no junk was made.

Its late afternoon, it’s in the 80’s and air conditioning is back in fashion. Tomorrow looks to be the start of another wet pattern.



Posted: 10/10/2017

Region 4 North - 18M Attempt...

A very nice Lasagna dinner, complements of the M-ASA club, was served on Sunday night. We dined "al fresco" in the covered pavillion with the rain having eased up for a bit. Unfortunatly it started up again with cycles of torrential downpours in the early morning hours as remnants of Hurricane Nate buzzed through. This continued in ferocity and unabated until mid-morning but there were improvements forecast and the possibility of getting in a late day.


The 9:30 am pilot’s meeting was postponed till noon to allow for a better gauge of the weather. At noon the rain was well off the map and the strong SW wind was predicted to abate. There would be progressive clearing. Given the time and predictions, CD Karl Striedieck held off attempting to get the FAI class going but the 18M was a go. Jim Hague (J6), John Murray (LX), Eric Mann (P3) and John Seymour (MS) dutifully rigged and cast themselves to the (low) overcast sky. We watch from our grounded positions as the 4 pilots mixed it up for a bit and then land within a few minutes of each other. In an optimistic frame of mind our 4 intrepid friends again conducted another round of surly bond slipping. In short order gravity gusts overpowered what broken thermals there were resulting in more landing practice for our 4 aviators. Day over.


It’s going on 5 pm and the sky is clearing and it looks to be a beautiful evening, cooler than the last few. The ground has soaked up most of the storm and there is no standing water in the fields.


Tomorrow is looking quite promising. After some morning fog we should have a sunny day with temperatures in the low 80’s, light winds, and lift to 4K MSL. Hoping to come back at yah tomorrow with stories of amazing flying so be sure to come back! 


Posted: 10/9/2017

Region 4 North - R4N, And Here We Go...

M-ASA is host to the R4N Regional contest and all (most?) of the usual suspects are here. 

Yesterday’s official Practice Day was reported to have been a lot better than it looked. While it was a beautifut sunny day, it was also pretty warm and windy out of the southwest which is not a particularly desirable soaring condition at W73. Still folks got around with no land outs. The après flying banter included those great stories of “there I was screaming along when suddenly I hit a wall of impenetrable wind and sink”. The post-flight beer and Margaritas seemed to help take the edge off of all that trauma that was suffered earlier in the day. 

The annual traditional Bratwurst dinner was well attended. There was a lot of chatter and everyone was really upbeat and happy. John Murray (LX) seemed to be particularly happy.

Contest Day 1: The rain stated at about 5:00 am local and it continued through the pilot’s meeting. Given the forecast, CD Karl Striedieck (KS) called the day. The rain continued on and off for a spell. It’s now stopped raining at 2:30 pm local but the maps show another big batch of rain coming our way. This looks like the beginning of what’s left of Hurricane Nate that will move across the area tonight and Monday bringing more rain and some thunderstorms. A cold front is expected for Tuesday and although it looks weak, it does hold promise for a contest day so stay tuned for that. 

It is uncharacteristically warm and humid here for this time of year. In previous years for R4N, the sound of campers running propane heaters was the norm. This year however it’s the sound of air conditioners. We hadn’t had a drop of rain in the 4 weeks prior to this R4N Day 1 but here we are; you know we’ll just make the best of what Mother Nature throws our way. 

Tonight is the Welcome Dinner with Lasagna complements of M-ASA being served under the pavilion. 

More later…

Posted: 10/8/2017

Region 4 South - Wrap up

A total of 25 pilots few 160 flights over 8 days (6 contest and 2 practice days) for a total of 15,397 x-c miles. The longest flight was 165 miles and the fastest was at a speed of 68 mph (over 147 miles) by Karl Striedieck. No junk was made and there were a total of two off field landings.

The final social event Friday evening started with a pre-Halloween costume party with appearances by Cher, Elvis and a group of "usual suspects (actually inmates)." Hors devoured (including jalepeno poppers made up as little mummys) were courtesy of Pat Buckley followed by the annual pig roast.  The evening finished with the music of Virginia Blue, prompting a large crowd on the dance floor. The bonfire blazed with stories to match.

This just reconfirms the status of NCI as a premier mountain racing site not only for the conditions and environs (being held during the fall raptor / monarch butterfly migration) but also for the outstanding social scene created through the efforts and hospitality of the club members.

A HUGE wad of thanks to all the club volunteers that donated their time and help to make this event possible once again.

See you next year.

Posted: 9/23/2017

Region 4 South - An Equinox Special - 10.1 Kt Total Thermal

Another day with blue sky and cu by noon.  The forecast was similar to the previous days with 5000 ft bases at 1:00 and about 6,000 by mid-PM. This turned out to be what was reported post flight with climbs in the 2-4 knot range.  There were some screamers reported but they were few and far between.

The task was another TAT going from alt start A to Wits End, Riverwood, Maggie, Eagle Rock and the finish cylinder.  Minimum distance 54.33 and max distance 261.04 with a minimum time of 2:00 hrs. The CD reported that after the fact he wished he had called 2:30 hrs because the day turned out be longer than forecast but at launce time that was still uncertain.  No worries though, the day turned out to be a really good one and after 4 solid days of soaring we are looking forward to two more.

The leader in the 18-meter class (and overall leader) was Dave Welles with a speed of 67.20 mph over 129.35 miles.  In FAI class it was Karl Striedieck (also the overall leader) with a speed of 67.67 over 147.32 miles (handicapped to 59.42/129.35)

Tonight it is the Craig Creek Yacht Club Commodores Reception.   Lots of great hor d'oeuvres including leftover shrimp from the Low Country Boil and beer on tap.


UH was the lucky pilot who found a 10.1 kt thermal (overall average). Lots of smiles on pilot faces this evening. Tonight's meal was to be a "pot luck" plus leftovers.  Hmmm, the amount of delicious food seems to increase each evening.  The bonfire is blazing and the music is starting.

We have flown every day so far, including the practice days.

Miss all y'all who aren't here to partake.

Posted: 9/21/2017

Region 4 South - And the hits just keep on coming

The sky in the morning was blue with only scattered high clouds so it looked like we were in business for another day.  There was some concern with scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon which turned out to be correct but there was little influence in the task area

Without the benefit of sniffers we launched at 12:40 into a nice looking sky with well-formed cu to the north.  Some areas of pending overdevelopment were noted but it was occurring well south of the gliderport so even the sound of thunder did not deter us.

The task was a TAT with Alt start B, Covington, Wits End, Eagle Rock, Maggie and New Castle finish as the turn points.  The minimum distance was 60.75 miles with a maximum of 219.63.  The Minimum time was 2:00

Conditions were a little better than forecast with cu at 6,000 and lift at 4+ knots.  Speeds were respectable with All Tyler averaging 66.62 mph for 132 miles in the 18 meter class.  In the FAI class it was Evan Ledeman with a 57.27 mph average for 116 miles.   I wonder how well he would have done if that wasp had stayed in the cockpit?

Tonight its Low Country Boil for dinner at the pavilion.  Wish you were here.


KS reported while circling with a kettle of hawks a loud thump - no evidence of contact anywhere on the glider. Didn't konw hawks knew about bump drafting...

The always excellent Glen and posse once again concocted an awesome low country boil, preceded by Sandra's handmade grape leaves, artichoke dip, hummus, and pita chips.

As of now, the bonfire is blazing, fed by the hot air of the pilots telling each other about their flights (appropriately lubricated). Music from an impromput jam fills the air and all is right with this little piece of the world.

So goes the New Castle experience.

Posted: 9/20/2017


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