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Region 2 - Day 2 at Mifflin

When I woke up this morning and looked outside, I saw 100% overcast at maybe 10-15,000' and no sun at all on the ground.  And, as I write this report at 4pm I can just barely see the Jack's mountain ridge through the lowering mist and light rain, even though it is only about 3 miles away.   Yet, in between then and now we managed to get in a pleasurable and exciting back-side ridge mission on Jack's mountain to give us at least a 2-day contest.  Only at Mifflin and the beautifully shaped Jack's Mountain would this have been possible.

The trick to getting all this to work was Karl Striedieck's intimate understanding of the contest terrain and how it would be affected by the day's weather, and CD Jacquie Doherty's willingness to be guided by that knowledge.  The recipe for this 'rabbit from a hat' contest day is as follows:

  • Be gridded by 11:00
  • At 11:15,  launch the sniffer (Hank Nixon in K21), followed very shortly by Karl Striedieck (KS)
  • Based on a positive report from KS ("Maintaining 90-100kt on Jacks Mountain - Launch em!") launch the fleet starting at 1130
  • Get the gates for both classes open by 12:30 for a 1.5hr 3-turn TAT with 10 mile circles to the north, and a single 3-mile circle to the south.
  • Have everybody back and into their boxes (and into the beer) by 3:30pm
  • Watch the ridges disappear into mist and light rain by 4:00pm

A backside ridge mission on Jack's mountain is actually quite exciting, pleasurable, and relatively safe, all rolled into one.  It is exciting because you are flying in close proximity to the ridge, with the attendant requirement to keep your eyes out of the cockpit and to maintain a high level of concentration at all times.  It is pleasurable due to the thrill of flying at relatively high speeds quite close to the 'ground' (well, to the ridge anyway) while dodging vultures, hawks, small birds and other gliders.  It is relatively safe because Jack's mountain is so well shaped that soft spots are almost non-existent and because the valley on the east side is very landable for almost the entire length of the ridge (there is a short stretch at the extreme south end that is less landable).

Most pilots in the FAI class logged raw speeds in the 90's (dry!) and day winner Tim Welles (W3) turned in a 102.26mph raw speed, 87.43mph handicapped (under the new rules, the  combined FAI class uses the same dry handicap arrangement as for Sports class).  In the Sports class, Hank Nixon (K21) showed us what great piloting combined with a great handicap can do, by winning the day with a raw speed of 78mph, which then got converted to 87.48mph handicapped - wow!!  Karl Striedieck in his Duo Discus flew 95.45mph raw, but his handicap went the other way resulting in 'only' 85.37mph for second place.

The weather for the  rest of the week isn't looking terribly promising, so we could end up with a 2-day contest.  However, if that happens, we'll all remember that we went out with a bang, not a whimper! ;-)



Posted: 5/22/2011


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