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1-26 Championship - 1-26 PW5 contest day.

1-26 and PW5 Contest Day.  June 6, 2011.

 By Jim Sprandel

Hello everyone.  Well….the gods of weather just simply will not be kind to us.  When I got up this morning I of coarse stuck my head outside first thing and looked at the sky.  No clouds…clear blue sky.  Is it possible?  Could it be? Always the eternal optimist!   I believed we just might be able to have a contest day.

Unfortunately this was not to be.  Everyone at the ‘port watched all morning as the sky changed, and the clear sunny day we were all hoping for disappeared. At the 10:30 pilot meeting CD Jerry Steffen gave the bad news on the developing weather, and then mentioned the word….maybe.  Yes….MAYBE with great big capital letters.  It appears to me that saying “maybe” around a bunch of  contest pilots roughly translates into….”Go get all of your gliders out of the hanger as quickly as you possibly can and grid them up while there may still be a chance.”

All that from “maybe”.  Honest.  Everyone agreed to grid at 12:30 and see if the weather would push through and get enough sun on the ground to keep the ships up maybe later in the day.

Then the meeting turned to the safety talk.  Curt Lewis gave an excellent talk on his experience last year at Caesar Creek when the thunderstorm hit.  The pounding that he and his aircraft took was remarkable and I hope never to have to experience anything like that in my flying career.  When Curt says, “I am lucky to be alive” he’s not being flippant.  That was some flight.  Thanks Curt for that amazing story.

Next:  The Longest Day, Waiting.  Waiting.  This day turned into a race with time.  First it was wait until 1:00 and see.  Then 2:00, then well, let’s wait another hour, this stuff is moving out. At 3:12 we launched the sniffer and took a call that there just wasn’t anything to work.  But wait….it just might get better.  At 3:39 PW5 pilot Tom McKnight couldn’t stand it anymore and headed up in 67 to do some sniffing of his own.  At 4:40 the CD sent the contest sniffer back up for another go.  Still no good word but maybe. You see, as long as the word maybe keeps popping up, there is hope.  These fine folks will not give up.  Just maybe we can get the contest in.

At 5:12 p.m. the sun finally made an appearance and a quick meeting resulted in the CD calling a modified time and an Open MAT.  (Sorry folks, that’s all you get as I was a wing runner again and don’t understand all the technical aspects of the tasks.)

The grid started launching and immediately we were having re-lights.  We did have one rope break during the grid launch with Ken Eckerman in 160 but he returned to field without incident and got right back up.  With Jerry on the radio getting reports from the gliders aloft the day was just not going to work.  At 6:00 the CD called the task off and all gliders returned to home field.  With the close of this day we will not have enough days left in the week for the 1-26ers to complete the contest.

I am sorry for the weather.  I would have loved to have seen everyone up and competing on a good day.  When our club decided to host this event we all felt this would be the best time to do it.  This time of the spring things could really have been great, and even before all that rain had stopped, we were thinking…..”maybe”.

Tonight we finished off the evening in the big hanger with a very fine meal prepared by Gary Lipscomb. BBQ pulled port, mashed potatoes, pasta, pies and drinks really, really hit the spot after the long day.  The group decided to fly tomorrow in a friendly contest if the weather is good, but unfortunately the Championship will not be.

I hope to be able to do this again sometime.  It was a blast and I learned a lot about how these competitions work.  Thanks to all of the 1-26 PW5 folks for the good time, and hope to see you all again.  JS.

Posted: 6/6/2011


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