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Uvalde Glide 18M / 15M Contest - Aug 7 Report

Thus far we've enjoyed excellent soaring weather here at Uvalde – but it hasn’t really been “classic”.  For that, you need some low stratus in the morning that by noon becomes a carpet of cumulus clouds, whose bases continue to rise and flatten.  What we’ve had is first-rate lift to good altitudes, but rather a shortage of cu.

That ended today.  We had a respectable dose of low cloud this morning, and the launch began just on time (12:30) into a fine sky that by 2pm had matured into something from a soaring pilot’s dream.  It looked like a pretty good case of “If you can’t be happy with this, there may not be much hope for you.”  We assumed we’d see a lot of smiling pilots come evening.

Continuing the theme of interesting south Texas species, it’s worth noting some unusual birds found in this area.  So far this year I’ve spotted a couple of Roadrunners, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a pair of Harris Hawks hunting cooperatively (as these elegant raptors tend to do) and a Crested Caracara.  This final bird is a large raptor, said to have a bad disposition, that makes a living scavenging carrion and stealing food from others – including Harris Harks.  It’s a bit west of its normal range here, and a worthwhile sighting anywhere.  (A diet of sun-blasted carrion would probably be enough to make any creature disagreeable.)

Rattlesnakes are definitely found in this area, but seem not to be common this year.  The City of Uvalde has done a commendable job nurturing a large grass glider parking area at the southwest corner of the airfield (an especially praiseworthy effort given the persistent drought).  One theory had it that snakes would find the green grass irresistible, and glider pilots could thus expect to find their trailers full of rattlers.  So far, this has not come to pass.

Pilot reports made it clear that today’s actual weather was every bit as good as our views of the sky indicated. Adjectives like “amazing”, “stunning”, “superb” were normal. Baude Litt (flying an unflapped LS-8 in 15-Meter class) reported turning for home 50 miles out, 2000’ below final glide altitude – and finishing 22 minutes later.  Frank Paynter said he was 500’ above final glide some 30 miles out and found it impossible to get down – he finished 2000’ high. Sunset here is about 8:15; at 8pm cumulus clouds to the south looked as if they could still get a pilot home.

Winning speeds were something impressive:  In 15-Meter class, Peter Trotter of Australia sits at the top of the scoresheet with 142.5 kph (88.5 mph) over 570 km.  Canada’s Jerzy Szemplinski was best in 18-Meter class at 152.9 kph (95.0 mph) over 561 km.  And Ron Tabery managed 101.2 mph (162.8 kph) over 378 miles.  Ron ranked it among the best Uvalde days he’s seen, and his extensive experience here goes back to the early 1980s.

Weather forecasts suggest we should expect more of these conditions tomorrow – so stay tuned.


- John Good

Posted: 8/7/2011


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