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Region-6 North - Day 1 at Ionia (maybe)

Today's weather forecast was for hot (near 90) temps,  12-17kt winds from the southwest, and maybe cu's in the 3000-5000' msl range.  The combination of mediocre lift values and the high wind promised to make things interesting, with Bouyancy/Shear ratio values in the 5-and-below category (generally, a value of 5 or above is required for decent soaring).

This morning's seminar topic was 'how to fly TAT and MAT tasks' and we had a pretty lively discussion.  CD Andy McQuigg told everyone to scrape the mold off their trailers and be ready to fly at 1pm.  With all the water here, we couldn't use Ionia's huge north-south grass runway - just too wet.  Also, due to some issues with the airport management, we couldn't grid directly on the hard surface runway, so we gridded on a parallel taxiway and then pushed around the corner at launch time - what a mess!  The taxiway wasn't wide enough for cars to get back past oncoming gliders being towed out, and when the cars tried to go around the gliders on the grass, they were in danger of getting stuck in the wet ground (one car actually did get stuck but we got it pushed out ok).

After what seemed like hours, we eventually did get gridded out on the runway, and as the guy in the front of the grid, I got the call to sniff.  I was able to sustain (just) at about 2000' agl for the first 30 minutes or so, and eventually conditions improved enough for me to find 1-2kt climbs to 4000' msl.  That was enough for Andy, and he started the launch.  The task was a 2hr 2-turn TAT, with both turns out to the north (downwind - oops).  The day lasted just long enough for the FAI class to get out on course, and then  it started dying and drying  up pretty rapdily.  We all found ourselves 30-40 miles downwind of the field, trying to make it back into a 15-20kt headwind in dying blue conditions.  As a result, nobody made it back.  As of this writing, I'm not sure if we got a day in for the FAI class, and I'm pretty sure the Sports class did not get a day in.  The scorer Tiffany Fidler was completely swampe with retrieve duties, and most pilots had not yet turned in their scores by 8pm, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow (at least) to find out what happened.  As far as I know at the moment, everyone is back and  I haven't heard about any damage to gliders, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will stay that way.

Tomorrow's weather forecast is for a 50% chance of thunderstorms after 2pm with high winds (15-20kt, gusts to 30kt) also predicted.  I'm thinking we aren't going anywhere tomorrow, so that might give us all a chance to recover from all the landouts today.


Posted: 5/30/2011


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