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Region V West - Practice Day 1 Report

Southwest Tennessee is washed in the dark greens of late summer, and Chilhowee Gliderport  is perfectly neat and tidy with acres of just-cut grass carpeting the runway and  side yards.  Hurricane Earl brushed by North Carolina last night without stirring a leaf here. And we’re looking for some great weather behind the mild cold front that helped steer Earl away. The weather service is expecting the first taste of fall. Morning temperatures will dip into the 60s, breaking a long hot streak.

Sarah Kelly Arnold is hosting this split-weekend contest that gives GTA racing pilots a chance to spend their usual Labor Day outing at a sanctioned contest.  After Labor Day, there is a four-day break allowing pilots to go back to work before returning for the final weekend. GTA is the Georgia Tennessee & Alabama Race Series. Soaring clubs in all three states gather under the GTA banner to put on races with separate classes for experienced and novice cross-country pilots. For a few pilots the GTA points they’ll earn here will more important than the sanctioned competition.

Some pilots have come to Chilhowee for a preview of the 2011 Sports Class Nationals that will be here in early May.

Today, four competition pilots went up under multiple cloud decks as the front approached. No worries. Just east of the field is a 17-mile long ridge that worked fine in the west-southwest flow. Frank Paynter reported one 130-knot run. Those who ventured away found an occasional 5 knots to 6,000 and where sunlight reached the ground. No task was assigned.  Frontal passage and a light rain came just as the last glider was going back in its trailer.

The news today is that Jason Arnold got his commercial glider rating. Next summer Jason may be taking the tourists for glider rides while Sarah rides the mower.

Posted: 9/3/2010


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