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Logan Contest - Day 3 (b)

My flight trace is here

I have to get going on my Day 4 preparations, so quickly: Day 3 started off with scattered rain and lightning around the area.  We were dry at the airport, but lightning was striking as close as 4 miles away when we started launching.  Needless to say, myself and several other people were more than a bit concerned as we waited for our tow!  Luckily, the storm drifted off to the E and we were able to get underway without a problem.

The task was basically a big tour of the Cache valley, heading north up the ridge, west across the valley to Sedgewick peak, then down the broken line of ridges towards Willard peak and Ogden.  The rain and "bad air" was pretty concentrated up near the north end of the task, where we had to jump across the valley - and everyone agreed that would probably be the hardest part of the task.  The winds were also somewhat southerly so we weren't guaranteed to have working ridges.

For the first time all contest, I got a great climb right off tow, and worked up to 10,000 feet.  The smart money said that the best thing to do was to start early, in case the day fell apart (this would later turn out to be incorrect; but hindsight is 20-20).  So I blitzed out down the ridge and made great time in the turbulent lift that it was providing.  The first turn (at Mink Creek) was covered by rain and I tried to climb up just south of the clouds.  The thermal didn't turn out to work very well, so I punched to the west of the rain and tried to climb up under the shelf of the clouds.  The day's winner, Bruno Vassel, was 3 minutes ahead of me and took a great climb.  I got caught in some of the rain and made a shorter climb, to about 800 feet lower in altitude than him for the big valley-crossing.  This would later prove to be my downfall, as Bruno crossed the valley and was able to smoke along running south, making several really good decisions and finding really good air.  I, however, got low before I got to the west side of Sedgewick, and I spent 15 minutes digging up from 8500 feet in weak "survival" lift (dropping below 8000 feet would have meant landing out for sure).

From there the flight was relatively straightforward, although I did have an interesting experience near Oxford - I caught a HUGE thermal and took it up over 13000' (the highest I'd been all day); but then when I tried to run the ridge I ran into 11 knot sink and lost all of the altitude I'd gained in just a couple of miles.  It was absolutely horrible to be flying at 80 knots and heading almost straight for the ground...  (It appears there was some wave or wave-suppression going on in this area.  Pilots who deviated out about 2 - 3 miles to the west of the ridge found much better air... d'oh!).  Because of my slowness at the north end of the course, I just touched the southern turnpoint circle and then ran back to Gunsight Peak and home at high speed.

Unfortunately I only got 7th place for the day, and am clinging to 5th place overall.  Fortunately, the top finishers on the day included Bruno in first and Adam in second place (in his first contest, no less)!  Its fun to see some "young guns" rocking the course and doing well.  Now I just need to step up my game and try to make up some ground in the final 3 days of flying...

--Noel

Posted: 7/22/2010 By: Noel Wade


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