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Logan Contest - Day 1

&n

My flight trace is here

This will be a short blog post, as I'm running behind this morning and need to get ready to fly...  The first day of competition was great.  I was one of the first to launch, so I sat up in the start area for quite awhile.  I waited until most everyone in the Sports class had started, and then I headed out on-course.  The task was to head due north up the ridges, to an airport named "Allen"-something (I don't have my maps in front of me).  Then we were tasked to go back down the ridge to the south, turning at "Powder Mountain" (not surprisingly, its a ski-resort).

I was able to make the first part of the flight fairly uneventfully, cruising at 70 - 80 knots along the ridge, with an occasional climb.  I pushed up as far north as I could without having to do much thermalling.  I was worried about pressing far enough, but the ridges dropped away and I was going to have to climb in order to jump out over the flats... So instead I turned around and headed south, banking on the possibility of diving deep into the second turnpoint.

The run south was faster than expected, and relatively uneventful.  I took a few turns that I shouldn't have - but that's what I get for seeing other gliders turning and trying to copy them (only to find the lift weaker than I wanted to use).  Soon enough, I was back near the starting point on the ridge, and a fire was preventing us from crossing a canyon out to the front side of the mountains.  Instead I dived around the back side of the Logan peak and cruised on south, hoping to find lift on the peaks.  The ridges weren't really running in the right direction to catch the wind, and this was my first time in this area so I was a little bit nervous!  I drifted lower and lower, but kept pressing on, confident that one of these high-ground spots was going to work for me.  The day was mostly blue, but a line of Cu formed just over the top of a mountain and I sailed in about 100 feet over the treetops, right into a nice thermal.  It was tough to stay in it, but I worked it up for several thousand feet and ended up with enough height to glide down to Powder Mountain.  This again was an easy trip, although I was finding less and less puffs of lift.  I arrived at Powder and buzzed the ski-resort, hoping to find something.  But there was nothing, and there continued to be nothing all the way around the whole mountain - I circled the entire darned thing over the course of about 5 or 6 minutes, and the "grand tour" netted me nothing.  I was now about 1000 feet too low to make it home.  Also, to the south was the Ogden valley and with no high ground I was not about to push out that direction.  I scored the trifecta when I looked down at my PDA and realized that I would return home in less than the minimum time if I turned for home.  But there was nothing I could do... my only hope was to bump along low on the front face of the ridge coming home, and hope that there was enough thermal or wind activity on the lower slopes to at least maintain altitude.  

So I turned north and started hugging the rocks.  As the miles slowly clicked off, my altimeter stayed relatively constant (as I alternately pulled up in lift and pushed the nose over in sink).  My computer kept updating me on my ability to make it home - showing a deficit of 1000 feet, then 900 feet, then 800, then back to 900 (as I ran through some sink)...  For 20+ miles I sweated and kept stealing glances as my instruments.  The defecit was down to 400 feet, then 300... this might work! bsp;Of course, anytime I started to feel relieved, I would hit a puff of sink or my PDA would squawk at me about being under the minimum time - bringing me back down to a nervous state.  Finally, I worked my way up close enough to Logan airport that I had the altitude to swing out away from the ridge and coast across the finish-line.  I was seven minutes early, but I was home and my average speed (according to my computer) was good.  The question is - would it be good enough?

Conditions were slightly stronger than forecast, and everyone made it home.  After getting my log turned in (a bit of an ordeal as my logger overheated and crashed on launch, due to the hot sun), Patrick, Richard, Bruno, and myself went over to an Indian restaurant and stuffed ourselves on Masala, Vindaloo, Naan, and other goodness.

Once the scoring was completed, I found myself sitting in 3rd place - much to my surprise!  The first several places are packed close together on the scoresheet, so hopefully we're going to have a great week of tight racing!  Today is a little cooler, and the conditions are supposed to be weaker.  There's also a small forest-fire that's right in the area we normall tow to - so things are going to be a challenge; but hopefully we can get up and have a good flight!

--Noel

Posted: 7/20/2010 By: Noel Wade


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