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2020 Senior Soaring Championship - The Final Day

Day 5

When then day started, we found out that a member of our ground crew was tragically injured in a car accident while driving home from the gliderport.  Catherine Eaglin has worked on the Seniors for 7 years.  She worked the line and became the Operations Chief for the Seniors and 18 Meter Nationals which was held at Seminole-Lake in 2018.  Catherine also worked the Region 5 South contest in Cordele GA.  Last year she traveled to Canada to assist the ground crew at the Pan American Championship.  Catherine was loved by everyone in the soaring community and we all celebrated with her when she graduated college and got hired as a dispatcher with an airline at Sanford airport.  It has been over a week since the accident but we still cannot come to grips with her loss.  The ground crew and tow pilots wanted to honor her legacy by continuing working for the last day of the Seniors.  They all did a great job; Catherine would be proud.

On the last day, the top 5 pilots were separated by fewer than 200 points.  The weather was forecasted to be excellent and it certainly was.  The task had a nominal distance of 200 miles commencing from Start A, to Wines (10mi), Streamsong (18mi), Burntwood (5mi), Inverness (24mi), Osborn (4mi), and Finish (2mi).  The day started good and was expected to stay good until after 5:30pm.  This was no banquet task!  The top 21 pilots all completed flights over 300K.  The leg to Wines was really good with climbs in the 4-5kt range to 5,000 ft.  Highway 27 is always the route south along the east side of the state.  The leg to Streamsong was a little weaker but still had good cu. The best of the day was the trip north.  Bruntwood was just a steering point to help pilots avoid the Tampa Class B airspace.  Everyone knows the area around Inverness is very wet and usually a dead zone for sailplanes.  Today the cu was very honest and there was a line all the way deep into the Inverness zone.  If you shaded to the west of Inverness, it was a nice ride out and back.  From there it was an easy trip home.  However, if you chose to go more to the center of the state, you were met with blue skies with very little lift. 

Due to the Coronavirus, we had cancelled our off-site banquet in favor of another hangar dinner.  Mexican food was on the menu with cold beer and margaritas to celebrate the conclusion of a fine contest.  We normally kept the scores under lock and key until the awards ceremony, but they were released early.  Rich Owen finished in third for the day with John Seaborn in second and Phil Gaisford in first.  The difference between these three was less than .5 mph over a 200 mile task.  The contest results were announced after the day winners.  Team Lima, composed of Karl Striedieck, Sarah Arnold, Larry (the owner of Lima), and Lee Lauderbach (owner of Stallion 51), finished in third overall.  In second place, Rich Owen, who could only gain one point on Phil during the entire contest.  Phil Gaisford flew a near perfect contest, only losing 37 points during the 5 contest days. 

The Seniors is in the record books for another year and Seminole-Lake Gliderport is returning to normal.  After the contest, the local pilots and a few die hards from up north, have been flying every day.  We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the support of our staff and volunteers.  Our ground crew complement spanned from teenagers to young adults, Americans and Japanese flight students.  Some have been with us for a long time.  Others transitioned from line crew to tow pilots.  Without them, we would not get off the ground.  Enrique Mertins laid out the RV parking plan and took care of all our visitors during their stay.  Ted Haller and Anne Mongiovi did a great job in the Retrieve Office. Anne’s husband Gene Franklin is always a person we can plug into any slot that opens up.  Anne and Gene have been with us for years and are a valuable resource.  Dewey Clawson and Don Grillo ran Operations and kept the launch/recoveries efficient yet safe.  Bill Foster, a fellow Delta retiree, was our Safety Officer and kept everyone on their toes.  Ray Smith handled the Chief Tow Pilot duties with skill and kept Izumi, Franklin, Zack and Martin in line and flying straight!   Fernando Silva provided us outstanding weather briefings, while Rick Sheppe kept us all honest with our scores.  Our Contest Director, John Good, provided us with interesting tasks that challenged the pilots and made each day fun.  We also had two wonderful ladies that made most of the magic happen.  Mihaela kept the office running, dinners handled, and bills paid while Chris ran registration during a time of social distancing.  She also ran the entire contest after flying began even though she needed a golf cart to get around due to foot surgery.  These two ladies deserve our undying gratitude for the hard work they put in during this contest.  

We hope the pilots, crews and volunteers all enjoyed their stay at Seminole-Lake and we expect to see you next year on March 12th, 2021 for the 31st edition of the Senior Soaring Championship.   



Rich Owen
Vice President
Seminole Flying and Soaring

Posted: 3/30/2020


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