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Logan Contest - Day 2

My flight trace is here 

So today was a tough and frustrating day, for a lot of folks!  There were at least 10 re-launches, and one or two people took 2 re-launches.  After all was said and done, several people didn't complete the task; though luckily we only had 1 land-out.

Conditions were forecasted to be slightly weaker than Monday, and a nearby fire restricted airspace near our normal tow-release point.  So a MAT task was called.  We were required to go through the start cylinder, head north about 30 miles up the ridge to Mink Creek, and then we were free to fly past up to 9 additional waypoints of our choosing. Finally, the VOR (navigation beacon) a couple of miles north of the airport was chosen as a mandatory turnpoint before finishing.  The experienced folks all pointed out the three turnpoints on the ridge, and how multiple laps could be flown to maximize speed and distance.

In the end, that's just what everyone tried to do; but few people succeeded in doing well.  Climbs up to the ridge were hard, clouds developed later in the day and their shadows cut off the heating (and thus the lift) on the ridge, and many folks had to give up or come home early...  Myself included!  I had to take a re-launch, then had a relatively straightforward climb up onto the ridge.  My first outbound leg went really well, and I began to think that the entire task could be done without circling.  Sadly, my return leg quickly devolved and after some close encounters with the trees I scooted out in front of the hills and limped home.  I finally got a climb again near the starting point, so I crawled back up on the ridge and did it a second time.  Nearing the end of this second outbound leg, I found a couple of decent thermals and I climbed in them as I started the return trip.  I got a full 1000 feet higher than I had been on the previous pass, and turned back down the ridge.  Sadly, the clouds had moved in and I immediately sunk back down to the exact same spot I'd been in before!  I turned out for the front face of the hills in the hopes of finding a climb; but it was late in the day and they, too, were shaded.

As I headed south, my altitude was slowly unwinding and my PDA was again protesting that I wasn't going to make it home.  My frustration level was high, and I'm glad there weren't any microphones in the cockpit to record some of the words that escaped my mouth.   A few bumps of lift were encountered, but all attempts to turn in them resulted in no real altitude gain; and a couple of tense moments as the hills loomed large in my vision.  Finally, I was showing a slight cushion of altitude that would enable me to return to the airfield.  I still had that final turnpoint to reach, though - a fact that I'd forgotten about during part of the voyage home!  I snuck out to it at a very slow speed, trying to conserve altitude.  Although it was only a couple of miles away and the journey only took a couple of minutes, I was skimming only a few hundred feet above houses and buildings so the progress was agonizingly slow.  I finally got close enough to it to get credit, and turned for the airport.  

I had just enough altitude to land on the main runway (not the runway we were using for the contest), but I chose the parallel taxiway instead because I knew I would roll out to a stop and I didn't want to block any other traffic from using the runway.  I squeaked across the finish line with 66 feet to spare, and marveled at how ground effect allowed me to fly just a few feet off the ground for most of the taxiway's length.  I eventually settled to the ground with a slight bounce, and immediately tensed up as I noticed the taxiway lights on tall poles zipping past near my wingtips... I thought the taxiway was wider than it was, and the marker lights were only a couple of feet away from my wings.  Luckily the rollout was straight and the ride came to an uneventful ending... I let out a big sigh and climbed out of the cockpit to begin the long process of getting my glider across the airport grounds - what a day!  In the end I landed about 30 minutes early, but it was a completed task and that itself is a victory on a day like today.  My slowness and my screw-ups will certainly hurt me in the scores; however I was spared from the depressing results as we had to leave the airport before the scoring was done tonight.  

Several of us dined out at a good Mexican restaurant here, and it was fun to chat over Margaritas and Cerveza.  I'll find out how far I've fallen in the morning; but for now I am off to get some much-needed rest!


Posted: 7/21/2010 By: Noel Wade

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