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Region 4 South - Afternoon report

For what is reckoned to be the 31st year in a row, pilots have gathered at New Castle International airport (tucked among the ridges of southwestern Virginia) for the Region 4 South soaring contest. 

The airfield  – easily among the most scenic anywhere – is looking its best, thanks to a summer of weather much better for growing grass than for soaring.  Fortunately, Fall has arrived.  A cold front brought in a good airmass for the practice period: Friday saw some 500-km flights in ridge and thermal lift, Saturday had mostly blue thermals to good altitudes, and yesterday saw plenty of cumulus that yielded some decent speeds (most notably 70 mph by Jerzy Szemplinski) on a practice task.  Also welcome are nighttime temperatures in the 50s that have the many folks camping on the field well wrapped in blankets.

Unfortunately, our good air has marched away out to sea, and we sit under another approaching cold front.  It is predicted to bring us good flying tomorrow, but today we have low cloud and occasional light rain.  Accordingly, CD Paul Cordell (imported every year from his home in sunny Arizona) has decided to cancel today’s tasks.  If rain doesn’t persist, a few bold pilots may launch to see if predicted 12-mph westerly breezes are enough to make local ridges flyable.

New Castle has many features that tend to bring contest pilots back year after year.  One tradition is a large bonfire that burns continuously for the entire week.  Nearby is the dining pavilion, where dinner is served most evenings (and there are folks here whose skill at such delicacies as roast pig, chicken on a beer, and low-country boil is not of yesterday). The Towplane Tavern hosts pilot meetings, and serves breakfast and lunch.  Craig Creek, which flows by the airfield, is now a bit less significant than in the “old days” before the bridge was built, when it had to be forded (with considerable care when in spate) – but it remains conspicuously scenic and one of the best stone-skipping venues anywhere. It also gives its name to the Craig Creek Yacht Club, which hosts an annual Commodore’s Reception where Commodore-for-Life Glen Maxwell presides over an event featuring shrimp, beer and margaritas.


Posted: 9/16/2013


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