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Sports Class Nationals - Rain Day at Chilhowee

The only thing the weatherman missed in his prediction for today was exactly when the rain would start.  When I woke up this morning, there was no rain and there was actually some sun peeking through some medium level cloud cover.  That was the good news - the bad news was the windsock was standing pretty much straight out with winds from the south (still), and one short peek at the radar loop was sufficient to ensure even the most optimistic pilot that today was going to be anything but a flying day.

The first official daily pilots meeting was held in the pole barn at 0930 - a huge structure rumored to be an old tobacco curing barn.  The center section of this barn goes up at least 30 feet like a huge open-sided atrium, and we were all wondering how leaky the roof would prove to be.  We didn't get to find out, as the rain held off until well after the meeting, but we did determine the barn's shape made it a wonderful wind tunnel - we basically had to strap ourselves into our bench seats to keep from being blown away!

CD Rick Sheppe scared us briefly by handing out a task sheet for the day, with a very ambitious task described for Task A and Task B.  In the fine print, the task sheet also showed "Task C  - day cancelled".  After applying CPR to the several pilots who went into preemptive cardiac arrest, Rick announced that all pilots were on Task C for the day!

On the way back from the pole barn with Russ Ferrel (Chief Tow Pilot) and Scott Fletcher (SF), Scott mentioned that the Paynter micro-castle looked like it was visibly tilted to the north and east.  I maintained that I had carefully levelled it when I first set it up, and that it was just an optical illusion.  About 5 minutes later I'm sitting in the camper and get a knock at the door - it's Russ and Scott with a 12-inch level, come to refute my 'optical illusion' claim!  Well, to make a long story even longer, the irrefutable evidence was that the Paynter palace was a bubble short of a full level, so immediate remedial action with my cool remote jack controller was undertaken.  Satisfied with their victory, Russ and Scott departed with smiles on their faces.

The rains came soon after, and we all disbursed to various 'Task C' activities.   Rick Sheppe, in his capacity as advisor to the SSA team selection committe, moderated a very spirited discussion on the future of Club Class in the U.S. and Club Class team selection ideas.   This is actually a very important topic for everyone, as Club Class proponents want to see a national Club Class Nationals with Club Class tasking rules take precedence over the very successful Sports Class Nationals format.  The problem with this approach is that it could jepeordize participation in the most popular and successful class (Sports Class) in the country.  On the other side of the issue are the many pilots who own gliders that fall outside the Club Class handicap range but whose participation is vital to the continued health of gliding competition in general and the Sports Class in particular.

Later on in the day I hosted an impromptu Condor race in the clubhouse.  I set up a race and hosted it on the internet, and Russ Ferrel and Ron Ridenour logged onto the race.  Russ logged on locally from the clubhouse, but Ron was able to join the race from the comfort of his hotel room in Etowah, some 8 miles away.  On the clubhouse end, a large number of pilots got to try their hand at Condor flying by stepping up to the controls of either Frank's or Russ' laptop.  In the end, we all made it around the 90-plus mile task in good order, finishing pretty close together.  After I landed I got the glider back up in the air with the 'Miracle' key (love to have this in my real glider!) and Gary Carter (HK) flew it for quite a while on his own, figuring out thermalling and landings very nicely.

The last leg of Task C was an impromptu gathering at Michael's family resturant in Etowah with good conversation, good food and good friends.

Tomorrow may or may not be flyable, depending on how fast (or if) the cloud cover associated with the cold front clears out, and how high the winds are.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's morning meeting, when the pole barn wind tunnel effect will again be explored, but this time with the flow direction reversed!


Posted: 5/3/2011


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