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2019 Low Performance Contest - 2019 Low Performance Contest, Day 5, Pilots' Meeting Video Transcriptions

2019 Low Performance Contest, Day 5, Pilots' Meeting Video Transcriptions

Operations Report

We're still in day two and I kind of think it's like Ground Hog Day. We're making every effort to get to fly and to get a day in today and tomorrow and then the next couple days and get a contest in. And we made every effort yesterday, but you guys did a wonderful job getting in the air and making effort, every effort to make it work and then when it didn't work out, then you guys did a great job coming back down and getting tied down. So, very well done.

So today, we have a little bit of a, we have an interesting briefing because we have a very special, you can say this is kind of a special occasion. So, one of the folks here is a Sinead.

She has been around and she's crew and she's been taking some really beautiful pictures. So, we had some a really beautiful rainbows yesterday.

And she's been taking wonderful pictures and then helping on the line. And I wasn't too surprised when JP Stewart sent me some really wonderful news. And I would like Sinead to come up and I'd like to share the letter that was shared with me. 

“The SSA Youth and Junior Committee would like to recognize Sinead Nichols as a recipient of the 2019 Costello Insurance Primary Training Youth Scholarship. And on behalf of Pat Costello, we'll provide her $2,000 toward her glider flight training. Sinead has been a junior member of the White Sands Soaring Association for just over a year. And has already made quick progress. She has already soloed and now has nearly 40 hours and 100 flights. After helping recover the tail of her club's 1-26, she looks forward to flying it and setting New Mexico State Youth Women's and General records in the near future.

In her spare time, she volunteers with the local fire department as a first responder and as a member of her school's Junior ROTC program with aspirations of a career in aviation. The committee would like to thank her family for their inspiration and support. And WSSA President, Trever Perkins, and every club members for their mentorship. The committee commends Sinead on her excellence so far and wishes her soaring success.”

Also, I'd like to take a moment to thank the scholarship donors who made it possible to fund 10 scholarships for the 64 junior applicants. Unfortunately, many deserving juniors had to be turned away this year. If you would like to support the future of soaring through youth scholarships and activities, you can visit the SSA website and click, "Give," to contribute to the general scholarship fund or email mylegacy@ssa.org for more options such as sponsoring your own name's scholarship or endowment. 

We'll fly today. Grid time is 11:45. It's looking like it's cooking up pretty quickly, it's dry now. So, expect first launch at noon. Unless we have a reason to push it back, we're going to basically, once you get to the grid, expect to get going pretty quickly. And as it's been for the past couple days, we're still on day two on the grid sheet. 

Safety Talk

Dan Nezgoda

I had a great flight yesterday, a lot of fun, had a ball up there. Stayed about ninety-six hundred feet, and then I made the mistake, Daniel came ripping around with number four. We're on the front side of that big cell over there. I thought, “Oh, I'm going to cruise with him,” and then of course Ron was up there too. They cruise around the front, skirting the virga and I'm staying out there, and I come around the front, I come around. They're gone, and I'm in sink, and it's coming down eight thousand foot a minute. So okay, I'm heading back. 

At that point, I was about five and a half miles West. I'm coming in, I'm looking at the glide slope, looking at the glide slope, and I need six hundred feet. Okay, now I need two hundred feet. Hey, I'm gaining. No, I need eight hundred feet. No. Next thing, I'm going to put it down in a safe place. 

For your information, here's where we landed. It's the first crop circle, it's alfalfa. It's right off the end, about two and a half miles. So, if you screw up on your final glide coming in from the Northwest or the West, perfect field to land in. The alfalfa is short. So, with that being said, there's a couple other things I can share with you. The bulk of my flying is never over a hundred feet, not in an old 1-26, but in a crop duster I do about five hundred hours a year down low. 

And so we deal with low level stuff all the time, and we're also dealing with where are we going to put this thing if it quits? In the old days when we were running radials, you could blow a jug off and the thing would still keep pumping for you. You could maybe get it on up and find a place to put her down. We're flying turbines now. They're on or they're off. So, we're constantly when we're on we're thinking where are we going to go? So, with that in mind, I'll break down into landing into a few segments. 

On that crop circle. First thing is scouting the field. Please, guys, leave yourselves some time to scout out the field. Don't just kind of hope that that field is okay. The stuff will kill you. If you hit something in the air, it will kill you because of something on the ground. All right, it will kill you. With this field here there's a road here that looks okay. It has power lines along the side of it. You got an option between a field and a road, take the field, folks. Don't mess with the roads. Those will get you. The wires will get you on that thing. Scout the thing out. 

I happen land in right here. Aiming at a green field, aim for the lighter color because it will be lower. It won't be quite as tall. I set her down here. Try and stay away from the edge. I know there is a consideration for the extraction, to make it easy on the crew to be by a gate. Hey, secondary consideration. Get the thing down safe. Don't worry about getting it out of there. We'll deal with that later. Landed on the second row in. Had a crosswind, but I didn't care because I knew the minute I got into those grooves there, the landing roll is maybe ... it's going to be forty feet. Maybe less if you gage your energy right. So, don't let the wind be a consideration. Line up with the rows. 

These ruts are very, very deep and almost all these pivots. The central pump, where they're pumping the water is here and there's a big long spray bar that goes on out like this and the thing rotates on there. Those ruts on that particular field happen to been about two and a half feet deep. If you hit that, you are going to do some damage on that thing. 

Scouting the field. If there's wires, if you happen to be landing in a field that has big, the big, tall high-tension wires, the cross country wires, you're usually safe to land under those. They're high. You get under them. There's usually never any secondary lines under a big towers. Small utility lines, like we had here, don't think about coming under them because 90% of the time they're going to have secondary lines, either cables, TV cable or telephone lines up under them. 

If you happen to put yourself in a crack and you have to go under a wire, do not look at the wire. Don't stare at the wire. Keep your fixation on the ground and keep your distance from the ground. Most of the time folks that go under a wire end up bouncing into the ground, they bounce up into the wire. So, that being said, if you're trying to find a wire. Don't look for the wire when you're scouting out the field. Look for the poles. You won't see the wire, you'll see the poles. Also, on those big cross-country lines, those big tower lines, they have a smaller line across the top. You'll see the big cross-country lines down, swooping down below. You probably will not see the smaller line, which is about one-inch steel, that runs across the top. So, if you got to clear one, watch the towers, the top of the towers, or the top the poles will tell you where that ... where those wires are.

So, that's scouting the field. Next thing, we talked about the landing. I call it the extraction. You got the thing down, it's safe, you got to get it out of there. Number one, don't worry about the putting it down close to a gate. Just get it on the ground. Number two, have some tow out gear with you. If you land in one of these alfalfa fields and it's just you and one other person, you're going to play Hell trying to pull that glider out, all right? Secondly, the farmer, the grower that's there would be very, very happy to have you not disassemble it on the field, in the field, mashing his crops. Have some tow out cables. I've got about three hundred foot of line that I can connect up and I can wench or I can pull that glider out. Thirdly, when I landed someone called and said it was crash landing, so here comes all the cops.

If you have the chance and the airplane is safe, get to the edge of field and stop all those people from coming into the field. I landed here. There actually was a gate right here. The cops drove in up here, parked there. Two of the guys walked all the way across the field, tromping that alfalfa, the third cop with the car and he drives across the field.

Okay. I couldn't get to them. They were there before I could get there. So, if you can get to the ... where you think the entranceway is and stop them and say, “Hey, everything is cool. You don't need to come out here, you know. We're fine.”

Now, last part, PR, public relations. The best thing I can tell you to do is try and come off not like rich city slicker. Okay. Go down to tractor supply or in your local feed store. Get yourself a John Deer hat. I'm serious. Or a crop duster hat. I can talk the lingo most of ya'll can't. But wear a John Deer hat or what will work also is an American Cattleman's Association hat or you could put on, you know.

You wear that hat that grower is going to come out, kind of, a little bit steamed, but he's going to see that. It changes everything. I wear a soaring hat, but I stick this under my hat, under my seat. When I get out of the airplane, I take the soaring hat off, I put this hat on, I'm ready to negotiate with the guy. Nine times out of ten, they are aviation friendly. Almost all these growers have seen their fields from the air They're not adverse to us using, utilizing their fields as long as we respect, you know their concerns on that.

Weather Report


This is the 12:00 AM height above, the height of the thermals, and it says 15.5. I find that a little optimistic. I think it's probably going to be closer to around 13.5 for cloud bases. But, you can see that things are looking pretty, pretty promising here. But, let's jump down here and look at storms just to see what might be happening.


Right now, I think we're going to be okay. The storms will be all around us, but I think we're going to be able to get in a decent day. If we move things up to, say, two o'clock, you can see where, this is obviously where a storm is going to be. This is that one that seems to like to live there, and we've got one that's to the north of us. But, if we get that leg up and out of the way to the north, we should be all right, but we can double-check that for storms. So far, we're looking pretty good, but if we look at over-development, you can see where, the darker the color obviously the more the over-development.


The winds aloft at cloud base are still out of the southwest at about 15 knots. That seems to be a fairly good constant. I think, today, we won't have any problems staging on Runway 26 for departure, just based on what the winds are doing.


Let's go back to points of shear ratio. I see a little bit of stippling in there. Some of it's heavier than the rest, which says the thermals may not be as organized as you would like.


Okay, by four o'clock, yeah, things are looking a little more challenging, to say the least. But, down in the task area, we still should be able to get home okay. Again, cloud base is favoring in the direction that we're tasking today.



For both classes there will be a turner grade task, along with attached to reserve. We'll get to that in one second. 

For the low performance folks task A is 2.5 hours. Task B is two hours. Task C is 1.5. We're currently on task A. As a reminder there's a maximum start height and that's going to be 13,000 feet. Minimum finish is 8,000 feet. The minimum distance for the low performance contest is 40 miles. Even though you can ... If you nip the sectors it will not get speed points at the end of the day. You have to go 40 miles in order to get speed points. 

Because of the uncertainty with the storms, there's a possibility that the task will not be possible. We have a task in reserve that we'll call task delta. That's going to be a modified assigned task. The minimum time is 2.5 hours. Maximum of five turn points. Again, minimum distance of 40 miles. This is for the low performance contest. 

For the 1-26 championships, same task as the low performance folks except that you do not have a maximum start height and you do not have a minimum finish height. Your minimum distance is the edges of the sectors which is 31 miles. 

Task delta, for the 1-26 folks, is going to be the new task. The distance finish bonus task. You'll have a maximum time of 2.5 hours and a maximum of five turn points just like day one, except with a maximum time of 2.5 hours. 

The primary task is this turn area task. We will start at 006 start, head up to Zorro Ranch for the mid sector. This will ... From what we can see this will get us away from the storms early and get us on task.

This valley's very landable. Zorro Ranch is very land-able. Then the second turn point will get you close to the airport but then if the conditions allow pilots to go deeper, if the pilots want to earn a better score they might ... This is going to be the thing of point where they can extend on their task. 

The second turn point is Tajique and that's going to be in the task sheet. 


Chuck Lohre



Google Drive for task and info tinyurl.com/126Champs

SSA Facebook page for videos of meetings and grid interviews


Posted: 6/4/2019


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