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15 Meter Nationals - Aug 7 Report

2010 15-Meter National Soaring Championships – Uvalde, TX

Report for 7 August


We’ve been having some trouble with weather forecasting here at Uvalde.  The “coarse” forecast has been accurate: each day we learn that it will be uncomfortably hot (above 100 degrees F), which heat will produce good thermals.  (That’s what you want to hear at a Uvalde soaring contest – anything approaching comfortable conditions on the ground is sure to lead to pain and discomfort in the air, and vice versa.)


The problem has been with the fine-scale forecasting: deciding just where in our large task area the best conditions will be found.  This morning, various weather-prediction models seemed to agreed on only one point: south and west of Uvalde was the place to find good cumulus clouds and strong lift.  That’s where we set today’s task, and that’s the one part of the sky that was pretty much devoid of cumulus clouds as the task (a sort of double triangle) opened.


It wasn’t hopeless.  Despite what you may have heard, it’s actually possible to fly at Uvalde and even to achieve good speeds without endless carpets of cumulus clouds curving down to the horizon. Most pilots worked hard over the first half of the course, but no one got into desperate trouble. 


By mid-afternoon, weather sources seemed to agree that the day would shut down early, implying a hard struggle to get home and perhaps landouts for the late starters.  At this point, the southwest sky cycled into beautiful conditions: pilots reported 8- and 9-knot lift to as much as 9000’.  Those who correctly “shifted gears” into full-on racing mode did well.  Llate starters were included, and everyone finished.


Best for the day was Dave Leonard (ZL) with 84 mph over 339 miles.  Six pilots exceeded 80 mph.


This evening’s event was a US Team fundraiser at the “Warbird Hangar” where Mark and Conrad Huffstutler keep various aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, a T-28 Trojan, a T-6 Texan, a Waco, a Cub, and assorted other flying machines.  Dave Martin (BV) was among the first finishers today, possibly because he was the lucky winner of a morning drawing whose prize was a ride in the P-51.  (His attempt to keep a large smile off his face at the end of the flight failed badly.)


Our headquarters during this contest is a former hangar, now converted to classrooms, generously made available by the Southwest Texas Junior College.  SWTJC offers classes in wildlife management, and our offices here have all sorts of antlers and mounted heads from moose, deer, elk, sheep and other interesting critters.  You probably want to be a bit careful of your food sources in a place like this -  I recently checked the freezer in a storage room for ice, and came across a whole frozen red squirrel. 


Posted: 8/7/2010


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