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Region 11 Soar Truckee FAI - Race Day 5 - Do those things fly when the wind quits

The forecast was for light winds ALL DAY LONG! And in fact even at the finish, winds were light and variable on runway 20 at Truckee.

Also forecast were low tops at the Pine Nuts, again making a return from the south difficult, it was also the last day with a dinner scheduled. Reluctantly, the CD called a 2 hour minimum TAT, retreading the same ground as before. Topaz International Airport with a 30 mile radius would allow the faster pilots to go to Mt Patterson, the Air Sailing with a 30 mile radius and finish. The thermal tops looked high enough at Peavine even late in the day to get back over Verdi ridge. 

Everyone was excited by the possibility of no wind, but there was so little to trigger thermals that quite a large gaggle developed over the Frog Pond in the one weak thermal that slowly lifted from 10,000 to nearly 13,000 during the launch. Eventually the gaggle migrated to the radio towers at Slide Mountain at the edge of the start cylinder. Usually there is more widespread lift thinning out the gliders but this was a good one: the voice synthesizer in L6’s Flarm actually got tongue tied a couple of times trying to keep up with announcing all the traffic. 

When the gate opened many left immediately toward Mineral Peak, some found the going a bit tough and had to bump down the Pine Nuts to Mt. Siegel, others were lucky enough to find good climbs near Mineral on this completely blue day. Most were able to get a climb at Mt Baldy just beyond Siegel, and Topaz International is in the valley just beyond that. But now strategy came into play: continue on to the the normally reliable Mt Patterson? Or turn north and go further north than Air Sailing? There were reports from recreational flyers of Mt Patterson perhaps not being great (our meteorologist Matt Gillis (A5) on the ground at Sweetwater strip was particularly discouraging). It turned out that those with the fastest speeds did go to Patterson.

Going north, lift was pretty good until near Air Sailing, then went a bit soft. A few had an easy time skirting the Reno Charley airspace, but a more northerly route left pilots scratching in the blue at Reno Stead. Persistence paid off though, as most eventually climbed high enough to try Verdi ridge, and discovered that with unusually light winds over it there was little sink and lots of buoyant air on the return trip. John Cochrane won the day with a handicapped speed of 63 mph (80 mph raw) and Luke Ashcroft (LA) took second on the preliminary score sheet. 

There were two engine starts on low motorgliders, and one landout at Air Sailing. One notable landout from the visiting Air Force cadets (who were flying as guests in the contest) was at Reno International Airport. Reno Tower allowed an air retrieve, and it seemed no trouble resulted. Everyone made the dinner - even Matt Gillis, who was retrieved from the Sweetwater gravel strip by Soaring NV out of Minden. 

It turns out that those gliders do fly when the wind quits. 

Reported by Jon Fitch (L6)

Posted: 7/24/2016


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