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Sports Class Nationals - Day 2 Evening Report

July 24, 2009 Contest Day 2    

Task: 2hr. MAT First turnpoint: Elkland Bridge # 13     Finish North

Sure did not look like there was any chance of getting a day in when we gathered for the pilots meeting at 10 am.

But the CD was unwilling to scrap the day just yet and told everyone to ‘ get ready but not really’. Gridding was set for 11.30 am and everyone was told to listen for PA announcements.

The next hour or so weatherman QV studied the radar and it was agreed upon between advisors and CD that the only way to get a day in would be by setting a MAT task. Sniffers were launched, sun came out, temperature went up, and suddenly it looked like a halfway decent soaring day.

After a 45 min. launch we had a few relights and the gate opened at 13.45pm. The first hour looked OK, but then a line of weather moved over the Harris Hill & north area, and we got worried.

Just a few notes:

·         the SPOT tracking is working and we are watching the pilots while on course.

·         TA gave an excellent safety talk this morning. Parachute procedure: only one thing you need to know: look at the rip-cord and pull it with two (2) hands------PULL IT WITH TWO HANDS. You want to see the rip cord fly away, away from your chute. The rest will be history – if you do it right.

·         At the end of the day, when things got tense, everyone pulled together. Crews, juniors, pilots: everyone helped each other and then moved on to the next pilot who just landed, making sure they got into the box or at least safe. Wet pilots checked into the flight office offering help to those still out there before leaving the field.

·          Andy Gough (44) disappeared  in front of the ridge while his crew got  ready for a retrieve from the emergency field. But then he appeared from behind the swimming-pool, made a left-turn  onto the field. Good save. That makes it 2 for 2.

Top 3 winners: 1. Sam Giltner  2. Tim Welles   3. Roy McMaster

If this day had been scripted, it could not have been more exciting.

Starting with low expectations, a pessimistic pre-meeting weather briefing, a non-convincing pep-talk at the pilots meeting, a slowly improving sky after the meeting, limbo followed by action, 'lets go for it', launch, good sky, relief on the ground, then bad sky – glued to the radar, early guys back, land-outs, darkening skies quickly turning to thunderstorms & lightning, safety finish, mass landings, everyone helping each other, rain, cold rain, taking cover under wings, hoping it won't hail, 4 guys unaccounted for and the CD calling out to them with everyone hushed, listening for an answer. Then slowly one by one they make it home. LI, the last one home, almost makes the finish line but has to peel off, down the ridge into the valley and lands in the emergency field. Everyone OK and everyone on HH hears the CD yell in relief. The rain stops, everyone is soaked but good. The sun comes out and we all meet for a pick-nick at the Hill.

Good food, good stories, good slide show, good day. 

We got a day in.

Charlie would have loved it. 

Posted: 7/24/2009


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