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Sports Class Nationals - Practice Day

The day dawned inauspiciously with a high overcast and significant winds out of the south and southeast.  Last night we had some pretty gusty winds rattling the windows (Matt McKrell opined that the gusting was actually wave rotor hitting the ground on the lee side of the Chilhowee ridge).  From where I sit in my micro-camper, I can just see the windsock on top of the pole barn (and I can hear squeak as it moves around).  However, the morning satellite loop showed that the high overcast was clearing from the south and so by about 11am we had clear skies with developing cumulus and some streeting in evidence.

The task for the practice day was a 2hr MAT with a single mandatory turn at Rostex, about 20 miles south.  Weatherman Scott Fletcher (SF) said we should get to 3000-4000msl but should expect winds from the south and southeast at 15-20kt in the working band - ouch!

Due to the brisk winds, getting started was a real challenge.  Several pilots, including me (TA), Dave Martin (BV), and the weatherman (SF) were shot down within minutes after release (my excuse for getting shot down was that I'm not smart enough to realize that ridge soaring doesn't work real well on the lee side of the ridge ;-)).  Scott Fletcher elected to put his glider back in its box, but Dave and I took relights.  At the evening meal, Scott explained that he knew he was in trouble when, circling low with several other gliders in the only lift they could find, he noticed they were circling over a visibly wet farm field (No good can result from circling over a wet field!).

On my second try I stayed away from the Chilhowee ridge until I had climbed high enough to safely get to the tops of the ridgeline, where I was able to find some pretty good climbs.  If you could get up and connected to the cloud streets, then life was good.  If you couldn't (and not very many did), then life was not so good.  Due to the very challenging conditions, less than a dozen pilots actually went out on course.  Ron Ridenour (1LB) had a very good flight of almost 200 miles to win the day, followed closely by Karl Striedeck (KS) and Frank Paynter (TA).   We had only one landout, and that trailer was seen returning to the field in time for the welcome dinner in the pole barn.

At the welcome dinner, I was snooping around for tidbits for this report, and asked Karl how his backseater had fared for the day.  Karl has been doing these dual rides for several years now, and has had all sorts of experiences with airsick and frightened passengers, so I was looking forward to another good story.  This time Karl tells me that his ride didn't get sick and did most of the flying himself, with Karl providing coaching and occasional musical accompanyment.  Also, it turned out that the guy has a doctorate in pyschology, and so they fell to discussing, on the fly so to speak, why Karl whistles out on course. The doctor seemed to think it was a symptom of a deep psychological trauma, but Karl explained that he whistled in the cockpit because Iris wouldn't let him whistle around the house, and his paying passengers were usually too sick to object (just kidding Karl).

Tomorrow the weatherman is predicting umbrella weather, and we are apparently going to find out how badly the pole barn leaks, as that is where our 0930 pilots meeting is to be held.  It occurs to me that I can actually see the  pole barn from my micro-camper, so maybe I'll just stick my hand out my side window and wave at the appropriate time, while sipping my coffee and reading the morning e-news - sounds like a plan to me! ;-)

 

TA

 

Posted: 5/2/2011


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