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Senior Soaring Championship - Mar 11 Report

In terms of pilot interest and participation, the 26th annual Senior Contest ranks as the most popular ever: some 90 entry applications were received for a contest that admits 55 regular entrants and 5 guests.  Many pilots and crews arrived well ahead of time, and have enjoyed a week of first-rate practice weather, which has produced a bunch of long flights including some over 500 km.

The Seminole Lake airfield looks to be in first-rate condition: plenty of winter rain has produced green grass, but a dry spell means a hard runway and good Florida thermals.  The western side of the airfield looks like a RV dealership’s parking lot (we don’t yet have evidence that there’s an upper limit to the number of hookups that pilots will sign up for).

Some of the regular visitors here are not glider pilots – though they do not lack soaring skills.  From the airfield itself you can expect to see Redtailed hawks, Red-shouldered hawks, Turkey vultures, Black vultures, Sandhill cranes, Wood storks, Bald eagles and Swallow-tailed kites.  On a task, pilots may add Anhingas, Cormorants, Ospreys and various gulls. Florida easily ranks among the best places in the world for the number and variety of soaring birds, and for the help they can provide to human aviators.

Today’s practice task had a forecast for weather as good as the best of the previous 4 days - but it didn’t turn out that way.  In contrast to days when good climbs could be found at 6pm, this day began to die around 3:30, leaving a lot of pilots unable to reach the final turn area. The best result for the day was turned in by Karl Striedieck (in his brand new Duo Discus XL), at 58.5 mph.

John Good


Posted: 3/11/2016


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