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Region 4 North - Contest Day 2 Report

Region 4 North - Fairfield PA
Tuesday 13 October 2009
Contest Day 2

What a day! An elephant walk followed by a challenging ridge day and some awesome lift (most of the time)…

Today we tried the Fairfield version of the elephant walk. The layout of the airport is such that on a good ridge day, it is often problematic and downright unsafe to launch. We typically tow out of 15, which would be downhill and downwind, and towing out of 33 is not possible due to rotor off the ski hill. In the past, we have had to cancel the day due to the inability to have a safe launch. So we wanted to try a modified version of the classic elephant walk and see if that would be a way around the problem. We gridded the first class as far back as possible on 15 and the rest of the classes on the taxiway, compressed. As each class took off, we moved the next into place on the runway and pushed up those on the taxiway. So each class was able to use as much runway as possible. It seemed to work pretty well. Needs a few tweaks, but proved that it could be done.

The weather cycled a lot in the morning and early afternoon. No sooner did we get some sun/warmth then it overdeveloped and cooled off again. The launch got interesting when almost all of the Standards - first class launched - and some of the 15m and 18m relighted. The line crew and pilots/crews had three things to manage at one time: the launch of the current class, pushing up the next class on the taxiway, and handling the relights. But the Navy came to the rescue! providing lots of young legs and power. We couldn’t have done it without them.

The task was an unrestricted 3 hr MAT (2 1/2 for Sports). There was awesome lift in cloud streets on the way to the ridge - “elevator” and “vacuum sucking machine” were a couple of descriptions I heard - and pilots were shooting out of the start right off of tow. But not everyone found the good stuff and our first group of landouts were early when pilots could not make the transition from Fairfield to the ridge.

Cloud base was around 5000’ and lift could be great; I heard some reports of 6-7 kts. Peter Scarpelli [CA] worked a 9.5 knotter from pattern altitude to cloud base! Once on the ridge it was typically a run up to Thompsontown, and then back and forth between Burnt Cabins, McConnellsburg, and Lockings, some with speeds well over 100mph. Everyone was taking a beating - no one was using water - and some slowed down or cruised higher to take a break.

We had more landouts of pilots coming back from the ridge, especially later in the day. About 40% of the contestants landed out in total. Mary Nelson [5E crew] did an excellent job in the retrieve office!

Baude Litt [LBL] in the Standards had a perfect flight/timing and smoked everyone at 92.08mph over 347 mi. Erik Nelson had a great run of 85.31mph over 264 mi. in the 15m. John Lubon [JL] took the 18m with 67.93mph/230mi and John Godfrey [QT] the Sports with 37.03mph/91mi (hdcp).

At the morning Pilot’s Meeting, the CD [SM] advised not to stay out on the ridge past 4pm, but he didn’t listen to his own advice: He was having too much fun on the ridge, took an extra pass, and left to come home too late. Not having quite enough altitude to make it over High Rocks, he landed near Greencastle, the last man down. But he had a good time and I got to make my first night retrieve! (By the way, ClearNav works really well as a cockpit nightlight!)

Tonight we had another dinner at the airport - more of Pat Buckley’s delicious appetizers and Chicken-on-a-Beer, and the Antietam Dairy ice cream truck paid a visit.

Janine Acee
SM Ground

Posted: 10/13/2009


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