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Sports Class Nationals - Day 6 at Chilhowee

Today's weather report was "If you liked yesterday, you'll love today!".  Hot (in the 90's) with light winds from the southwest, cloudbases to 5000'msl.  Sound familiar?  The CD gave us a break (sort of) and called a 3hr MAT with 3 assigned turns - Sugarloaf just on the south end of the Chilhowee ridge, Rostex another 10 miles south, and aptly-named "Trail of Tears" (possibly commemorating the infamous 19th century eviction of  Cherokee indians from the area).  After Trail of Tears we were free to go wherever we wanted for the rest of the 3 hours.

Out on course, conditions were a bit better than yesterday (couldn't be much worse!), and most pilots made it to all the assigned turnpoints and got home again.  The faster pilots found a way to get back into the hills east of the Chilhowee ridge, where good climbs could be found to around 5000'msl.  This area is a definite no-fly zone below about 3500'msl, as below that you stand a real good chance of converting your glider into a Christmas tree ornament.  Above 3500' though, you can safely glide out into the flatlands west of the Chilhowee ridge, so it's not quite as suicidal as it seems at first.  The main Chilhowee ridge didn't work very well with winds from the southwest, but it still tended to kick off ridge-assisted thermals, at least enough to keep most people alive.

Tim McGowin (2EZ) had a little more trouble than his comp ID might suggest (we're going to suggest he change it to "2HD"), and found himself on the ground inside the 1-mile circle at Trail of Tears.  He got out of synch with the not-very-reliable clouds and ran out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time.  He landed in a nice hayfield that had just been cut, and  where the farmers were in the process of baling the hay.  Another hour and the field would have been unusable as a landing area, as the farmers leave the haybales scattered randomly in the fields around here.  Tim showed me a picture of him with the woman driving the haybaler - she is in her 80's and still puts in a solid day during hay season!

At the end of the day, Manfred Franke took away another day win, with Frank Paynter (TA) and Sarah Kelly (RK) tied for second.

Tomorrow promises to be more of the same weather - hot and more hot, with a slightly greater chance of some blowups.  Stay tuned!


Posted: 5/11/2011


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