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Old Cordele write up...

I wrote this report for our, now extinct, Miami Glider Club. This was the first time I flew a contest… thankfully it was such a good experience that I am still racing and can’t get enough of flying at Cordele… looking forward to next year!

 


 

Cordele Adventure – First Contest!

 I wrote these paragraphs back in 2001 when I decided to give glider racing and X/C a try. I bought an LS-4 (great ship!) that year and got on my way…

 Well… I hope you find these amusing and somehow encourage someone to try racing… I know I got hooked… 9 years later, I have owned 3 gliders… I don’t think I can quit this now… too much fun!

 2001 – Region V South Regionals!

 Since this is my first experience I believe it is worth to write what goes on… positive and negative experiences that all of us can learn from… so here it goes:

 Day  –2:  Night before driving…

We have driven CK’s trailer for a while now without failure…  we were taking care of last minute details and Andy McQuigg’s home…  so Andy connected CK’s trailer to his brand new car… lights weren’t working… blamed on the car… however, before going back to the dealer and crucify him, we connected it to my car and guess what!… it was trailer lights that were failing… two hours of work trying to make them work again… and…nothing…  so a quick phone call to the electrical guru and our good friend Gary Fink…  and he  is on his way under a horrible thunderstorm… Gary’s diagnostic: we really messed it up trying to fix it…  two fuses blown and not to mention the mess on the wiring!...  Gary finds the problem and corrects it but we are missing fuses… Andy saves the night by finding a couple of fuses…

 DAY –1 The Drive…

Loaded the trailer, added a strap for the tail and finished CK’s tow bar and we are on our way to Cordele… Enrique Jr. drives some 200 miles and gets use pulling the trailer. We stop and switch seats close to Ocala… drive is nothing out of the ordinary… Stops here and there so our dog can go… About 45 miles before crossing Florida – Georgia state line… we hit smoke, dense… is it going to be a factor in Cordele?…  50 miles later… the answer is no!… we arrive at Cordele Airport  around 18:30…  

 

    Day 1: First day of the GTA…

Weather looks good early in the morning, however deteriorates rapidly. A high overcast moves in… the day is scrubbed… no race!. The FBO invites all pilots and crews to a barbeque lunch…. Yummie!… later we worked on putting new carpet on the trailer and waxed CK…  Enrique Jr. and Eduardo got the “Mertins Hilton” tent erected and ready to provide shadow for the next two weeks…

 

Day 2: GTA day 2…

Day breaks with a high overcast… it does not seem to be a day for a race… however a 2 hour POST is called and we grid around noon. Conditions do not look good so a 1.5 hour POST is called. Launch begins with a slow pace, since just one tow plane is operating. We get airborne and scratch around 2000 for half hour before establishing a decent climb… around 1500 I decide to start and go for Lilly, however conditions are better and I push to Montezuma… Went around the turn point, looked for new destinations… Error No 1 and Lesson 1: Charts! I didn’t bring a sectional, instead I banked on my PDA and a Georgia state airports map (later I found did not contained any of the grass strips…) I select Perry (ambitious…) so I start flying NE…  ooops… vario is dead, radio is dead, everything dead… what the hell is going on?, looked everywhere at the panel, finally flipped battery switch to “B” and everything worked again…mmmm… what happened with battery ”A”?… anyway clouds are now dissipating, lift diminishes, doesn’t look good, turn E towards Hawkinsville…  no clouds on the way and I couldn’t find any airport in reach to the south were the cloud streets were (I thought there wasn’t any… but they were on the SECTIONAL!) … Computer shows a positive arrival altitude at Hawkinsville… Lesson 2: Airplane performance: here is were you find what 40:1 means… a long smooth flight to Hawkinsville… watch your speed… best L/D… wow! this thing can fly forever… gear down… excellent landing...

 Radioed Cordele via a fellow pilot to arrange for retrieval. I rang Evelyn my wife and Enrique Jr. Within minutes and help from other pilots and friends and a stop at the FBO for directions and they are on their way… one hour later we have packed CK… on its box and we are on our way back to Cordele…   I end up 4th  out of 8 pilots on my group…  Andy had to go to Americus to retrieve his partner, Brian Stoops, who landed there due to rain on his way back… we go back to the Motel… this has been a very long day… but fun!!!

 Ahhh… battery “A”?… don’t ask how… but it got DISCONNECTED!… no idea how, but from now on, I’ll tape all connectors to prevent this from happening again…

  Day 3: GTA day 3…

Again day break with overcast… it doesn’t look good… we go to the airport… pilots meeting starts, no task is called but grid is to begin by 12:15… I decided not to fly, so CK gets packed, Trailer secured and tied down and I start my drive back to Fort Lauderdale, leaving CK in Cordele… story will continue Friday since we’ll be back for the Regionals… before we go we stop at the FBO to pay for tows and leave some tie-down straps for Andy who will stay at Cordele helping with the Cross Country Camp and the World Class Nationals going on there… he points out to a photo published on a local paper… Evelyn and our dog are featured…. Really funny…yes I bought a copy!!!! …

 We are now back home preparing to go back early Saturday. Ove Stepphensen will join the adventure then… and we expect to meet Alfonso “Fonz” Jurado aka E9 at Cordele…  so stay tuned since there will be a lot of news…

 

Day -1: Cordele Region V South Regionals… On the road again…

Having gassed and loaded the truck last night, at 6:20 am Enrique Jr. and myself take off from home. 6:25 Ove is on board and we are on our way… a stop for breakfast at Orlando and after a smooth drive, we arrive at Cordele at around 3:30pm… We find Alfonso fighting with his van cooling fan… we’ll see tomorrow who won… Andy is flying…  by 10:30… lights  out!

 Day 0: Cordele Region V South: Practice Day

Geee Wheeezzz… it is 6:30 I guess I got Ove and Enrique Jr.out of bed a little early… anyway we are on our way to the airport to put CK together…mmm… it does not look good… total overcast and a little cold. By 7:45 CK is assembled and ready to rock and roll. We go back to the hotel for breakfast and a shower and by 9:30 we are back for pilots meeting. We get a weather briefing… mmm… it does not look good… but let’s hope for the best… task to be announced at the grid. Where is Fonz?

 By 11:00 we have all planes on the grid… Task is to be an MAT minimum of two hours and three mandatory turnpoints (about 110 miles)… We put the route on our maps so Ove and Quique will now where I’m going most of the time… we also agree that I’ll call whenever I make any turnpoint…

 It is now 15 minutes before launch… Quique tells me that Fonzi is getting ready… Ove takes a couple of nice pictures… By 12:00 noon launch of the World Class… some 15 to 20 minutes before I go and Andy right behind me…

 It is now my turn… here we go… nice roll… take off… mmmm my rudder pedals are way to far forward I’m barely touching them… I’ll adjust them…bang!… what the devil is going on?…  you @#|!>

I pulled the release instead of the pedals adjustment lever… dumb!... I am at about 500 feet directly in front of the runway… but nobody is yelling… I just hear some chatter on the radio, Andy is having some issues... but nothing that relates to me… vario is pointing up… I stay with it…before I know I am up to 2500’… time to leave the neighborhood…

About an hour later task opens, and since weather report called for cirrus in the afternoon I get on my way ASAP… It takes me about an hour to get to Hawkinsville (I know this place from somewhere… mmm) I got there quite high.. make the turnpoint and I’m on my way to Montezuma (also sounds familiar…) I get there  four thermals later and about another 65 Minutes… I’m over the minimum of two hours and I don’t think that I’ll do any other turnpoints… not just that, now a big storm is moving from the north… so I step up my pace… 

 It takes one thermal to make Americus… I get there at 4,000 and Winpilot advises and arrival altitude at Cordele at 100 feet… now I can make it direct… so I get going but head toward a cloud street just in case… 5 minutes later I’m advising Ove and Enrique Jr. that I’m on my way back and will be there in some 20 minutes… it takes me some 15 and crossed the finish line at 130Kts…  pull up….  Yeeeeehhhhaaaa… that felt good… made it back!!!!… nice landing!… Ove and Quique are right there!…. thank you guys!!!!

 I later found out that Andy’s chatter over the radio happened since he had to abort his take off because a power plane crossed the runway… he was loaded with water and rolled ahead of the tow plane but safely to the side of the runway… no problem… fiiiuuu…

 We have no scores yet… but I hope tomorrow I do as good as today… better yet I hope we have at least similar weather or better… will see…

 Day 1: The Storm…

Today we slacked off and got up late and got to the airport around 9:00… oh God… it is hot and humid… by 10:00 pilots meeting starts and weather briefing point to more or less the same as yesterday… hot an humid… cloud  at around 4 to 5K… Task is to be a MAT, but turnpoints will be announced at the grid…

 By 11:30 we grid and we get the turnpoints, for sports it will be Rochelle, Sylvester and 2:30 hours… mmmm… Rochelle is in the middle of nothing and no airports within 20 miles…

 I take off around 1:00pm… stayed on for the whole tow… good!… release a 2300 MSL and started to look for lift… nothing…. 2000 nothing… 1800 1.5 knots… let’s work this… back to 2300.. keep looking… aha! a gaggle let’s go!… I got up to 3000… task is open… so I’m going out…

 After some 10 miles I can’t find any decent cloud… I’m getting low… so I go back to Cordele… found a good thermal… climb to 4K … here I go again… this time I’m decided to go for it and if required I’ll land out on a good looking field…

 About 35 minutes later I reach Rochelle and fortunately another sailplane is marking a good thermal, that gets me in range for the nearest airport… good!… here I go again… we team up and start riding a line… we are now up to 5K and really going… now I’m in reach for Sylvester…

 When I get to Sylvester there is rain all around it… it does not look good… however there is a lift band that is keeping me high… I can see an opening between the rain bands… so I increased my speed to 100Kts. And went for it… got in briskly turn and got out!… great TP No.2 done!… but I still have an hour to go… I met out friend E9 on the way out and we share a thermal for a while…

 I’ll head back to Ashburn… fortunately about 12 miles from it I can see another glider climbing… so I go straight and increased speed a lot… I got to the thermal… climb a little and rushed to the TP… No problem… but that storm is getting closer… so I’m off to Veterans Park… there is a fire on the way… wow… what a climb…

 I get to Vet’s park without any problem… there is a big thermal… I climb and fumble with the idea of weather I go to Lilly or just go back to Cordele… I’m leaning towards Lilly but decide to go back and call it a day… I accelerated to 100Kts and flew over the airport at around 140Kts… “stand by… mark… CK good finish”…

 I still don’t know how I made it … but I did… we barely put CK back in the box and the storm hits us really hard… result of the day: about 12 landouts and a lot of incomplete tasks… so Tomorrow… the score!

 Day 2:Technology dies… back to the old ages…

 We didn’t slacked off today… by 6:45 we were at the airport putting CK together… a quick visit to the score shack an found that I didn’t do too bad… I was 6th, which isn’t too bad… I’m glad that I made it back home!. Andy won the day for the 15 meters and Fonzi got in 4th… not bad for the gang!

 By 11:30 we are in the grid and ready to go… same forecast as yesterday so CD decided to call a short 2 to 2.5 hours MAT for everyone… so we will avoid the mandatory afternoon T-Storm…

 I took off around 1:00 PM… it looks very good… climbed to 4K on the first thermal… gate is opening in 15 minutes… I’m ready to go… CD announces that task will open in two minutes… I decide to as soon as it opens… I start going towards Unadilla (1st mandatory TP) but made it out of the GPS cylinder 60 seconds ahead of time… so I fly back into the cylinder… 2 minutes later my Winpilot PDA goes blank…

 What the devil is this!!!… what is going on?… flipped switches here and there… nothing… so what should I do?… abort? Or go using headings and sectional method… I have done this once when flying with Gary at West Palm… weather looks good… what the hell… let’s go!…  My map and ruler go on my lap… here we go…

 I followed I-75 to the north to Unadilla and found a thermal a couple of miles south… met a couple of other gliders there… I hang on the thermal until I can get an idea of how far I am from the TP… one of the gliders takes it… so I follow… make the TP and off I go to Hawkinsville… I’m following a road… that I can see on the map and is heading in the same general direction…

 Twenty minutes later I arrive to Hawkinsville were I found the largest gaggle I’ve ever seen… at least  15 – 20  planes over the airport!… wow… stay cool just look at them and listen for the vario audible tone… great I climbed to 4500 and head back to Cordele (this is a no brainer since is the only clearly defined route I can see on my Magellan…) I fly a beeline back to Cordele and arrive 45 minutes later at about 3500…  maybe I should always fly this way… mmm…

 After turning at Cordele… again I followed I-75, this time to the south to Ashburn (I was there yesterday so I know how it looks and where I should turn)… about 3 miles from it I hit a sink pocket that my vario got pegged to –10, wow… wild… I made the TP and head back to Cordele… oh oh… sink again… same thing… 10 knots or more of sink… it must be the cloud street ahead drawing air… so I pushed forward… gee 1800 MSL… I’m low… better climb or start looking for a field since I’m too low to make it back to Cordele or Ashburn… so I settle for a field just east of I-75… nice and brown… so no problem… relax… take it easy… breath deep… patience… you have been lower than this and recover… watch your speed and coordination… Ka-Boom!… 4 knots up!…. 6!… Yeeehhhaaa… before I can realize I’m back at 3000… a couple more turns and 4500… let’s get out of here and go back home!…  fiiiuuuu … that was close…

 Some 5 minutes later I can report to Ove and Enrique Jr. that unfortunately for them it is going to be another boring day… since I’M COMING BACK HOME!!!… and no retrieve will be required… 4 miles out I let the gate know that I’m coming… “stand by… mark…  good finish Charlie Kilo”… those words over the radio are prize enough for the day!!!… Life is sweet… another day in the bag!!!

 Later inspection revealed that for some reason my Compaq was not drawing any power from CK and got discharged… therefore it’s failure… so I’m switching to my good old Casio and will take the Compaq for backup… oh no… this won’t happen again!!!…

 After dinner at a Mexican joint in Cordele  ;-) … we went back to the scoring shack to discover that I was credited for the TPs but got a big ZERO for the flight… I hope their only problem was that they haven’t read the Volsklogger… we’ll see tomorrow! …  Even with a zero I’m still in 7th… I’ll try better tomorrow!…

Unofficial results show Fonzi in 1st place on 15 meters… closely followed by Andy… way to go guys!!!… give ’em hell!!

 Day 3:Patience pays! … my crew is getting bored!

By pilots meeting time, correct scores have been posted and I find myself hanging on for fifth place… not bad for first contest… I still believe that what I want and have to do is to come back everyday… I’ll worry about speed next time!…

 Another MAT is assigned this time: 2 hours and Ashburn and Pineview as mandatory turnpoints on that order. Weather briefing calls for more of the same pattern, but heavy cirrus are expected to move in… so watch out.

 Sports class is first on the grid and we launch around 12:30… lift is marginal and I hang around for a while around the airport… by 12:55 task opens and I go for it since I have reached 4000… so off I go to Ashburn… helped by a couple of well marked thermals I get there some 20 minutes later… make the turnpoint and headed for Pineview… I take a cloud street that looks decent… I try to go as fast as I can but final result is that I have to stop and climb for some 10 minutes… not so good for speed…

 I make Pineview under a nice looking cloud street that seem be going in the direction of Hawkinsville… since Pineview was my last mandatory TP… I go for Hawkinsville…

 That proved to be a mistake, since by the time I arrive to Hawkinsville Cirrus have moved over it and is cooling off… oh oh… I can see 4 gliders that have landed there… mmm… I got plenty of altitude for searching for some heat… I’m not finding much of it… tip toe to north west of the town where it seems to be under sunlight… find some heath… 0.8 knots on the average… so I think: “patience…”…

 I end up hanging around that town for 20 minutes until it finally cycles under sunshine and thermals crank up again… I make a decent climb… got under a cloud street and start running towards Cordele… I do not want to get under cirrus anymore…

 One more climb takes me home but my average speed has dropped to just 35MPH… it does not matter… I made it back again!…

 After landing, posting my landing card and GPS, we are disassembling CK when we get pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Scotty Bingham… he drove some 150 miles to come see Fonzi, Andy and myself… Thanks for the effort Scotty… It was very nice to see you…

 My crew however has seen no action so far… hanging around the airport is no fun… helping everyone else pack gear for retrievals is getting to their nerves… however Ove and Quique… I’ll try my best to get you bored!!!… 

 Final results for the day is: Fonzi is 1st closely followed by Andy in 2nd…  I got in 7th for the day but hang on for fourth place on the contest… moral of the day: “patience pays off!!!”…

 Day 4: She is here…

By now we are so used to wake up early and go to the airport to put CK together… by 7:15 she is ready to go. After breakfast we returned to the airport for pilots meeting… day looks really ugly… weather report does not give us any hope… Charlie Spratt announces that the fleet will be launched and we will take our chances in the air… he does not want to hear “we could have flow today…”

 Launch starts by 12:00… by 13:00 we are all in the air… struggling and watching how the sky is getting gray… and Cu’s disappearing… now we are in pretty big gaggles… the one I’m on top (2 LS-4s and a PW-5 are on top) I can count 16 gliders… pretty much 33% of the fleet…

 Half-hour after launch we received notice that is raining south… TD Allison has arrived… she is here!!!… CD cancels the task… and here is were it gets scary (at least for me…) now you have to sequence 51 gliders for landing…  I leaned toward the downwind leg and as soon as I can see an opening I get into the line… downwind, turn to base, final and landed without problems with 2 gliders in front of me and a whole lot behind…

 Tomorrows weather is pretty much clear now… more of the same thanks to Allison…  so it will be museum day!…

 The Motel where we are staying invited us for a burger and beer cookout… we share stories and some of the Florida group start discussing possibilities of starting something like the GTA, taking turns for fun races in different places so we all drive similar distances… we’ll see…

 Day 5:Rig and De-rig Practice …

6:30 in the morning… day has dawned totally overcastted… not a piece of blue sky… we decide not to go early and rig CK… instead we sleep a little longer, have a decent omelet breakfast and go to the pilots meeting to get the “scrub day” news… however… it does not happen that way… against everyone wishes we are asked to grid by 11:30… so CK goes together… to my mind I’m thinking…this is a total waste of time and I could be somewhere else…  11:45 it starts to rain… exactly what I thought…  we have to put CK and EA back in their boxes in a hurry… by 12:45 we are gone to the Warner-Robins Air Force Museum…  at least I got my crew entertained… and that museum is worth visiting…

 We get back to the cocktail and banquet… nice food!… nice chats and some of the Floridians  (me included) agree to meet every now and then to race… This could be something in the lines of the GTA (Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama) races that give those boys a lot of practice…

 Day 6: Adventure is over…

It is 6:30 and it is already raining so this is it… we had 4 nice days for soaring and 3 wet… pity we could not get another… but I guess that is the way it was meant to be… so maybe next year…

 At around 9:30 after breakfast and checkout… we load the car and go to the airport to get CK and go back…  by 10:15 we are on I-75 heading back home… we are in for a little road surprise… it is raining… about 3 miles from Adel (south of Cordele) traffic suddenly stops… it seems that an accident has happened ahead… so I stop… but I check my rear view mirror and see a big Motor home dragging a car coming at me real quick… I lean towards the left side (I’m on the right side of the road…)  and the motor home dashes by my side… but another look at the mirror and I can see a big 18 wheeler jack knifing some 6 cars behind us… two cars have collided and the truck missed them by a couple of inches… or maybe it didn’t… we take next exit and drive through a lateral road… we saw EZ buried in the traffic… they couldn’t take the exit… we made it to West Palm without any other problems after that… we tied down CK’s box at the airport jumped in the car and headed home with about 2 minutes to spare before a big storm hits F45… we arrived around 8:50pm… 

 I end up in 4th place… not bad for (I guess..) my first contest… anyway… I learned a lot of things… 1st: do not rely 100% on technology… 2nd always… and I mean ALWAYS have a backup plan… 3rd: do not pull anything on tow!!!… Remember releasing 700… and last but not least Practice… Practice and Practice… those among other things… ahh… Before I forget… Fonzi won the 15 meters class followed by Andy!… good show guys!!!…

 As conclusion of this adventure: I would like to thank Andy McQuigg for his help, coaching and mentoring way before and during the contest… we sure had a lot of fun!… Gary Fink for his help, friendship and team flying at F45 (we can do X/C now and we are getting good at it!!!.. thanks!), Ove Steffensen and Enrique Jr. , Thanks guys for crewing for me and not getting bored in the process…I do appreciate it!!!… Fonzi for his help and example on multiple things (specially fixing things in my glider)…Charlie Fink for helping with CK’s annual… Thanks very much guys!

 Also thanks to Scotty Bingham for visiting us at Cordele (that was really nice Scotty! Thanks…); David Russell, Bob Albury; John Margolis for their encouraging messages and calls… yes guys… we have to share this maybe over a barbeque or dinner!… this is a lot of fun!… Adnan Mirza and Frankie Arzu… thanks guys for your messages also!…

 Last but not least… my wife Evelyn for putting up with my flying and allowing me to “go out and play with the guys!”… (I did burn some… if not all of my brownie points…. So I guess I’ll have to do some honey do’s for a while in order to get some more…).

 I hope you all enjoyed reading about this adventure as much as I did writing it… hopefully… if I did it right… there will be some more adventures in the future… bye for now…

 Best Regards

Enrique…

now KO instead of CK… and that my friends…  is another story!…

Posted: 8/11/2010 By: Enrique Mertins


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