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2017 15 Meter, Open, and Standard Class Nationals - Catching up...

We have quite a fleet here in Cordele for the Standard, 15 Meter, and Open Class National Championships. Fifty competitors are here with their sailplanes. It is worth it to be here just to see these state-of-the art machines, especially the big wing Open Class ships. The sight of Concordia flexing it’s wings (literally!) is beyond impressive.  Yet another unique ship has shown up. Francois Pin’s “Front Electric Sustainer” equipped ASW-27 is here. Actually, it’s a “Front Electric Self-Launch” and it’s the worlds first 15 Meter class FES built expressly for self-launch.

As I write this, the sun is finally starting to peak out. To say that the weather has been uncooperative here at Cordele is a massive understatement. What started as a very dry early spring in South Georgia has turned into a very wet late spring. Every day, just as the puddles start to disappear, we get another heavy rain to fill them up again.  We have not flown since the first practice day. Even when some days looked like they might have supported a nominal task, the ground was just too saturated and the storms were brewing too early to even think of sending out the fleet. Now the lows that have been stalled on top of us are starting to edge southward. With luck and a little wind, we’ll have enough drying and sun to fly tomorrow. The next four days look promising, so think positive.

It may be raining, but that’s not to say we haven’t been having fun. Gary Ittner has contributed greatly to our social enjoyment these rainy days. Gary arrived with his van full of some of the best beer that I have ever had. Even better, this is beer brewed by Gary himself. He’s definitely got major brewmaster skills.

While there has been no contest flying, that is not to say that there has been no flying. Franklin Burbank, Mike Knabe, and Tim McGowin have been instructing students during the dry times between rain showers. I don’t know how many flights they have done, but they have minted a brand new solo student: Jack Reynolds. Congratulations Jack!  Tim’s son, Shawn, might also solo before the contest ends. Franklin Burbank is instructing, towing, and brought the Citrus Soaring towplane. Mike Knabe’s operation has very generously provide a 2-33 and Husky towplane to be used for towing and instruction here. Tim McGowin is also providing towing services with his Cessna. Martin Hollatz brought the Eagle Sports Pawnee and K-21 for contest towing and rides.

Contests like this cannot get off the ground (yeah, that pun was definitely intended. Sue me) without towplanes and towpilots. I have already mentioned Franklin, Mike, Tim, and Martin.  Jane Reid of Bermuda High Soaring is towing with her Pawnee. Sarah Arnold is providing both a Pawnee and her Callair to the cause. MGSA supplied their Pawnee and tow pilots Bill Ballard, Tom West, and Dennis Linnekin.

Tonight is the famous Fish Fry, put on by the Cordele Chamber of Commerce. By itself, the Fish Fry, and the fantastic hospitality of the Cordele community that it represents, is well worth the trip.

Looking forward to a contest day tomorrow!


Posted: 6/7/2017


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