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Sports Class Nationals - Contest Wrap Up

Whew, after almost 2 weeks of nonstop activity between my office and the airfield, I am finally sitting at home trying to get my thoughts together. Here are my random thoughts and contest wrap up report for another wildly successful contest at Mifflin County airport in the heart of central Pennsylvania.

We started out with practice days of low scud and no flying. Mid-day of the second practice a strong wave of colder Canadian air moved in and swept the warm clag away. This had the effect of clearing up the water shortage we had so far this spring, thus making the farmers all happy. We seem to be good at that. My neighbors went so far as to call me and ask me when the contest started, then delayed cutting their hay until half way through, to make sure it did not get drowned.  The front passed so quickly, that even though the rain only ended hours before, 11 people took “dust off the rust” tows on practice day 2.

After the practice days, we had the best variety of flying weather since probably the 1999 contest when we flew 9 days straight. The first 2 race days were pure ridge runs, the third a thermal day, the fourth was called due to weather, then the fun really began. Contest day 4 was better even than a good ridge day. Thursday started with promises of a deep boundary layer and cue to 8,000. Many people debated this, and the one quote I heard was, well the weather man said we would not get to 10,000 feet, he was right, I got to 11,300. This was not rare as at least 2\3 of the contestants reported being over 10,000 feet, with the winning speeds being in the 70’s in 2 unballasted classes. All this in a town not named Uvalde or Hobbs, priceless, simply priceless. The next day was the only clunker of the whole race, as the predicted 6,000 to 7,000 foot bases were mostly a pipe dream. This day kept the land out office, retrieve crews and tow pilot’s busy. Saturday was a backside ridge mission, it proved next to nothing, but was better than sitting on the ground wishing we had flown. Sunday was a rain out; Monday and Tuesday were weaker thermal days in warm juicy weather, but no thunderstorms.  All in all, we went from rain and warm, to cold and windy and then straight to hot as the Florida Everglades, all in the space of 1 contest period. The challenges of the different weather show the well rounded pilot in us all.

We only had one glider with damage that required them to withdraw, a few other minor gear door issues, which happen when surprises pop up in out landings, other than that, no issues.  We flew 7 out of 10 days in Club class, and 8 out of 10 in Sports.

Charlie Spratt once wrote in his wrap up that “Mifflin amazes me because they have no club operation and no club volunteers to draw help from, everyone drops what they are doing, shows up, takes their usual place and has it all down good.”  Even though we now have a very new club, this is mostly still true. I started out in 1996 as a ground operations guy, transitioned to a part time tow pilot in 2001, full time tuggy in 2004 and started helping out with more and more general management as we move along. My brother Steve sometimes runs onto the field as the first tow plane lands to run the ground operations, always in his work clothes, as he sees the sniffer tow go over his farm less than a mile away. He stops what he is doing and comes right out.  Karl and Iris run a class contest at a class flying sight and do it all with the love of soaring written all over their faces.  

The rest of the base crew includes, Butch & Becky Thompson, Fred Winter, Paul Weeden,  John Good, Joanie Yanusus, Janine Acee, Jackie Dougherty and Peppi Sare.  I am sure I will get the “rasberries” for forgetting someone along the way, but trust me, no one goes un noticed and all have an integral part in making Mifflin the great place it is. I happen to be lucky enough to call it home, to the rest of you, “Yawl come back now ya hear?”

Brian Glick




Posted: 5/22/2013


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