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Days 3 and 4, Ephrata Contest 2011

Days 3 & 4 of the contest (the second and third flying days) were interesting, and tough!


My "Day 3" flight trace is here, and "Day 4" flight trace is here.


On both days, the weather was a bit squirrely.  15 - 30mph winds blew constantly through the area, making lift hard to find in places and the course challenging.  Both contest tasks took the Sports Class gliders up NE past Wilbur/Creston, S past Odessa (Lind/Tree Heart Ranch), and then west to Dry Falls Dam (Coulee City).


On Wednesday, the conditions got soft out to the east as some cirrus blew in, and a total of 8 gliders landed out - 6 in the Odessa area (4 at the airport, 2 in fields nearby)!  Additionally, two motorliders had to start their engines to get home.  I had an AMAZING run up past Wilbur/Creston and was running so good that I continued up to the Columbia river, to try to score some extra distance.  This turned out to be a huge mistake as the lift weakened up quite a bit and I spent the next 30+ minutes scratching down around 4000 feet.  I worked my way slowly south, eyeing every field as a potential landing zone.  I finally climbed back up and had a good run home; but the damage had been done.  I wound up in 4th place on the day; but clinging to second playce overall and with a 200-point lead on third place.  In non-flying news, the strong winds shredded my tent and I spent part of the evening with Chris (who's tent also broke), cleaning up our belongings.  Margaritas at one of the Mexican restaurants in town helped salve the day's wounds, but it was a tough one!  Some of the pilots who'd landed out didn't make it back until almost midnight; so it could have been worse!


Thursday dawned with a bit more promise in the forecast.  The wind was still blowing like hell but the lift was predicted to be stronger.  The launch went well and I climbed up rapidly; but again some cirrus blew in and things weren't quite as nice as the forecast had predicted.  My initial leg was practically a mirror of Wednesday; but I decided not to get suckered up to the river by the clouds.  This would turn out to be a mistake as the top pilots did run up there and benefitted from the good lift they found... D'oh!  I got low again in a couple of spots, although not nearly as badly as on Wednesday.  In the end I thought I'd had a good flight; but leaving early and getting home early turned out to be a bad idea as the later pilots came in with faster times.  On the bright side, new contest-pilot Chris Young had a fantastic flight and probably won the day!  And to top it off, he cooked (and I helped); and we had a great steak dinner to finish out the evening.


And the end of the 4th contest day (3rd day of flying), I'm still sitting in second place overall; but my lead over third place is shrinking and we've only got two days to go... So tomorrow I have to really go for it and hope that I can hang on!

Posted: 7/1/2011 By: Noel Wade

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