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Senior Soaring Championship - Late report

Another day of cold northerly winds and weak, severely blue soaring conditions. We awoke to sub-freezing temperatures – the full experience, including frost on windshields, trailers and wings. The morning pilot meeting was held in a hangar whose bifold door was never opened – the better to keep pilots from shivering (but something rarely seen here). Winter jackets and wool hats were the uniform of the day.

Wind died down a bit by grid time, and a good omen appeared in the form of a swallow-tailed kite soaring low over the assembled gliders. (These superb soaring birds are rarely seen higher than about 100 feet – they can fly all day at that altitude with perhaps a couple of wing beats each hour.)

The launch went well (Seminole Lake Gliderport probably takes the prize for the most efficient contest launch anywhere) and 60 gliders soon decorated the skies. In the next half hour, none got worryingly low - nor very high. Even with a task over friendly Florida terrain and multiple airports, we need something like 3500 feet to start racing, and it was a struggle to reach that. 

But it finally happened and gliders set off on a task that at least initially looked like a struggle. Conditions slowly improved, and by 5pm pilots were finishing with reports of good lift to decent altitudes and at least semi-respectable speeds. Just two pilots outlanded. Best for the day was Steve Arndt in his Silent 2A motorglider; he managed 47.5 mph in the highest-handicapped glider of the contest, good for 1000 points.

Posted: 3/16/2017


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