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2019 Region 5 South - A fine day almost spoiled

The day started like any other day in Cordele with the exception of the weatherman.  Scott Fletcher was up early putting the wings on his ship and then stopping the rigging process.  Even in his mind, he could not convince himself that we would fly this day.  Soon he was at his desk in the scorer’s office, with his headphones on, pouring over all the data he has to sift though to provide the weather brief.  If you would see how much work our weathermen do to support a contest, you would buy them all the beer they want!

At the pilots meeting, the banter between the 18 Meter pilots and the 15 Meter Combined continued.  Fernando Silva had beat the 18 Meter winner and he pointed that out in his winner’s speech.  Today was going to be a different situation.  Scott told the pilots today was going to be tough.  When the meeting adjourned, Dennis Linnekin, Rob Ware and Walley Berry (our task advisors) meet to work out a safe plan to fly the day.  We had to go with a Turn Area Task due to the wide differences in weather model predictions.  The day was going to end early and there were going to be showers outside the path of our tasks. 

At grid time the task sheets were just being printed.  With What’s App help, the task got to half the pilots about 10 minutes early.  Murray Forbes (OPS) got the ground crew to put together another great launch!  Our crew was made up of young people from 14 to 22 years old.  Soon after the Sports Class got airborne it was apparent the planned start circle was not going to work.  A quick change of start circles and switch to task B got the class away from the airport area and on their way.  The 18 Meter and 15 Meter Combined Classes got their change on the ground which made the roll call and data entry much easier and safer for the pilots.  We launched the 18 Meter Class and sent the 15 Meter ships right behind them.  Unfortunately, the short winged ships got the wrong end of the stick when the weather took a turn for the worse and their task was cancelled. 

While waiting on the ground the weather around the airport would look good and then very depressing.  There was still lift but the overcast was getting thicker.  The tasks were just the right length as the ships started coming home when things were getting completely overcast.  Only one ship landed out, just 3 miles from the airport.  He had final glide on the number but elected to land.  Arriving from the south at Cordele there are very few options in the last couple of miles for an outlanding.  The pilot executed superb judgment in doing a safe landing in a good field. 

 

In Sports Class, Jason Arnold won the day traversing the 93 miles at 57.12 mph raw.  What was more impressive though was Jason took off after the 15 Meter ships, had a longer minimum time task and towed until all the ships were airborne.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t sure if he would make it back before the overcast shut down all the lift.  Joe Reeves finished second and Wally finished third.  In 18 Meter, John Murray won the day at 63.36mph over 97 miles.  John flew a great flight and expertly avoided the poor conditions around the last turnpoint.  Jim Frantz finished in second with Steve Vihlen in third.  Steve saved his flight from a climb starting at 1,400ft between the second and third turnpoints.  Great job Steve!!!!

During the recovery today we had a TV crew filming some of the landings.  Tim McGowin was landing and we set up a little demo on how our ground crew works.  Tim stopped right in front of the camera at the end of the runway while Mike Kanabe (Chief Tow Pilot) caught his wing.  Tim’s son put the tail dolly on and the ship was removed from the runway in less than 10 seconds.  Now that will be on the nightly news as a highlight reel!!  Tonight, we are heading to the community center for a cat fish dinner put on by the Chamber of Commerce.  The whole town supports this contest in a whole host of ways.  From golf carts, tents, food, and gift cards at local restaurants for the ground crew, we could not do this contest without their help.  Thank You Cordele!!!   

Tomorrow the weather will give us another challenge but we will address it safely and professionally.  See you all tomorrow.

Rich

Posted: 6/5/2019


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