| Login Help
Home header left
Give button


Sports Class Nationals - Day 5 at Chilhowee

Today's weather prognositication was for hot (in the high 80's) and mostly sunny with cloubases in the 4500-5000msl range.  Mostly light & variable winds, becoming westerly later in the day.  The CD called a 3hr TAT with three areas (north, then south, then north again).

By launch time, things were looking pretty good.  The sniffer almost immediately reported a 4kt climb to 4500'msl, and cu's were popping left and right.  The launch proceeded smoothly, and we were all set to go. Unforturnately, conditions were pretty weak in and around the start cylinder, and we were having trouble getting decent climbs, even though the clouds themselves looked very good (shades of GroundHog day!).  Eventually we got up to start altitude and most pilots were out on course by 2pm or so.

Out on course, conditions were weak but workable, with climbs in the 2-3kt range to maybe 4000-4500'msl.  Cloudbase was around 5000' but the lift died off very rapidly after about 4000'msl.  Then about 4:30 (remember its a 3-hour task and most pilots left at or after 2pm), somebody tripped the breaker on the thermal generator circuit, and if you weren't on final glide you were toast.  Only 4 lucky/good pilots made it back to Chilhowee, and the rest were scattered all over the countryside (again).  There was a Club Class convention at the McMinn county airport, only 10 mile from the finish.  

I landed at Vintage airport which features an 850' long grass runway with a notch cut in the trees at one end and a very pronounced slope on the approach end (I'm not complaining though - it was nicely cut and a lot smoother than the runway at Chilhowee!).  There was another glider on the field, and I discovered my field-mate was none other than weatherman extraordinaire Scott Fletcher (SF).  When I asked him what happened, his reply was unprintable but was something like "I have no f-------g idea!".

As the fastest pilot of the 'final four', Sarah Kelley (RK) won the day with a very respectable 41mph handicapped speed.  This pretty much clinches her slot on the U.S. team for the World Club Class championships to be held January 2013 (summer in southern hemisphere) in Argentina.  There are only 3 pilots here eligible for U.S. team slot consideration (Sarah Kelley, Robin Clark, and Sean Franke) and both Robin Clark and Sean Franke landed out today.

Dinner at the airfield was a pretty subdued affair, as many pilots and crew were still out retrieving gliders from fields.  As the evening progressed, trailer after trailer pulled into the field, and folks straggled into the pole barn/wind tunnel for dinner.

Tomorrow and Thursday promise to be more of the same weather, although I sure hope that either someone duct-tapes the breaker closed this time, or the CD calls a task that we can finish before the lights go out.  I am told that mass landouts are a regular feature at world gliding championships, so maybe the Sports Class Nationals has been secretely subverted into the "Club Class World Team Training Camp" and the rest of us schmucks are the cannon fodder.

I'm off to take a shower and drown my sorrows in beer (or is it the other way around?).  Stay tuned for more reports from the Landout Nationals tomorrow!


Posted: 5/10/2011


Search Posts

Recent Posts

Legal Notice

The SSA policy on member posting is located here