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Sports Class Nationals - Day 1 at Chilhowee

Well, we finally got a day in, and it was a good one.  The day started out with fog and overcast, but the fog lifted off quickly and by grid time things were looking pretty good.  John Good did the sniffing honors and immediately reported the ridge was working (although not spectacularly so), and  he was getting decent climbs.  The only fly in the ointment was the  presence of a pretty strong wind from the  NNW - a little too norrtherly for the southern part of the ridge structure, as I found out the hard way (see below). The launch started at 12:30 and the gate was opened around 1:30.  By this time the cloud base had risen to over 5000msl, and a few pilots encountered mild wave to 8000'.  Fortunately for the rest of us, the max start height was only 4500'.

The task for the day was a 20-mile radius circle well to the south, a steering turn just southwest of the airport, and then another big circle to the north.  Most pilots had a fairly easy time going south, but there was a decision to make in the south circle.  Pressing on beyond the high ground was risky, but if you didn't, you might run out of distance before running out of time.  As it turned out, pilots reported that the next two legs were pretty slow, so turning back early was the right thing to do.

The preliminary scores show Ryszard Krolikowski in the lead with a handicapped speed of about 51mph, followed closely by a half-dozen or so other pilots - you have to look all the way down to 7th place to see a score that is less than 900.

Yours truly made the wrong decision and pressed on in the first circle past the  high ground, gambling on some clouds that didn't work out.  Then I found myself too low to get back onto the high ground on the upwind side, and wound up landing in a vacant lot associated with the Chatsworth, Ga Moore County Memorial Veterans Park (a community recreation park).  Gary Carter (HK) came to get me, and was led to the scene of the crime by local police officer Mark Phillips.  Gary told me later that he was sure he was going to get into trouble, as he had left his driver's license in his RV back at Chilhowee.  In any case, pilot and glider were undamaged, except for a major ding in the pilot's ego.  This is the second time in a row that I have landed out on the first day, and if this keeps up its going to be a loooonnnng competition season for me ;-).

TA landout location from SPOT map

TA

Posted: 5/4/2011


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