Saturday, August 6, 2011

Logan Survival Training Camp Region 9 and 15 Meter Contests

Click the pic.

by Nigel Cripps August 1, 2011

OK so that's a cheap shot at an event that took a lot of organizing by a dedicated group of individuals, although at times that's exactly what it felt like to the uninitiated, from the time we were dropped off low on the ridge for the slow grind up the hill side with 60 of our newest friends, to running at ridge top - or below - with little height to spare to reach potential landout spots in the valley, and to the inevitable late night retrieves for self or friends. It seems almost no-one was spared at least a little agony, although as usual those who really knew what they were doing seemed to (mostly...) breeze through the contest and even get back in time for some dinner in the evenings.

The Region 9 and 15 Meter contests were held concurrently at Logan in July 2011, with about 60 pilots attending. More than usual rainfall in the spring had left the contest area very green and spectacular to view from the air, with some snow still visible at ridge tops, however the damp ground seemed to kill any hope of thermals in the valleys, and for many days the fleet was not reaching the hoped-for climb heights. Even so, a couple of days late in the contest period gave the lucky survivors a taste of the promised land.

Much has already been written, commented on, censored, etc., about the organization, tasking and landout opportunities (or lack thereof), and Frank Paynter's consistently interesting and entertaining reports initially posted to the SSA site did well to catch the flavor of how pilots new to the area were responding to the challenge; a little exaggeration for entertainment could have been taken without offense, but some of the organizers must have been concerned that it might be detrimental to Logan's chances for future contests, and so they were removed.

Were the risks any greater than elsewhere? Perhaps; I didn't feel any more vulnerable flying along the ridge than usual, didn't have any close calls, and with some sensible planning it was always possible to reach a reasonable field for landing. But that's because I was flying in survival mode much of the time and not able to think much about competing, so I was making sensible rather than competitive decisions. There was some damage to a few gliders whose pilots knowingly carried on into bad weather over inhospitable terrain, but not necessarily more than would occur in a contest anywhere else. The real carnage was in the dwindling number of competitors as the contest went on. Mass landouts, late night retrieves and aggressive and inflexible tasking options relative to the actual weather conditions took their toll, and by the end of each competition a very significant proportion of the competitors had chosen to go home early, rather than risk becoming a statistic.

Otherwise, Logan was a very fine place to fly and with my new-found experience of what to expect there I will jump at the chance to return for more contests, hoping for better weather and a crew. The ground infrastructure - airport, local hotels, the town, Starbucks, restaurants (of which I can attest at least some will give you a table after 11pm) - was the best I have experienced at any contest site; the contest area is rightly challenging, with numerous ridges requiring careful transitions, and the weather was - well, it wasn't the best Logan can offer this year, but there was no adverse wind or rain (correction: but of course yes there most definitely was on day 1; the nice dry cut alfalfa field I landed in had been turned into a mud bath by more than one passing thunderstorm by the time I returned, singlehanded courtesy of my WingRigger, for the retrieve. But that's another story). Crews appeared to be enjoying the site enormously, unfortunately punctuated by the need for the occasional retrieve. The organizating team mostly met the many challenges thrown at them, and many thanks are due to Micki Minner for suffering through the pain of having to deal with a bunch of pilots, Karl Striedeck and Tim McAllister for stepping up to take on CD duties, and Barb Smith for running the launch very effectively each day. Ron Gleason handled the scoring very efficiently and will make an excellent future CM/CD. And not forgetting the many other helpers who go into running a contest.

In the regional contest, Tim McAllister strode away with the Sports class in his beautifully-prepared SZD-55, and Bif Huss took the combined FAI class with ease. In the 15 Meter Nationals, John Cochrane had to abandon the contest with a clear lead after 5 days due to back problems, leaving the field open for local pilot Tim Taylor to come through to win on the final day.

Arizona was sadly under-represented by just 3 pilots, yours truly, 1X and MM. We all left before the end - I was exhaused after a couple of late night retrives and left rather than fly in my sleep - but it was nice to see MM trying as hard as always, both for 1 week of practice before the contest started, and then for most of the contest week. He won the landout stakes with probably 7 or 8, alternately keeping the tow pilots rich with expensive retrieves, or his crew on the road for ground pickup. Good seeing you John, and looking forward to having you fly the Discus/Ventus/Arcus M etc with us again. WA and PC were also there, Mike was choosing which color hat to wear each day for the weather briefing, and PC was crewing for another pilot.

See you all next year, hopefully, at another Logan contest.

PS: In the original version of this report I forgot to mention just how useful Dave Leonard's excellent Logan scenery in Condor had been while preparing for the contest. Flying in real life at Logan for the first time, it was uncanny just how familiar things looked. The only thing missing was those comforting green and red blobs showing where the thermals are; can we have those next time please?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Logan Region 9 and 15 Meter Nationals

CD KS is going to weight to keep them boys and girls busy.

Just another bright and sunny sky.......just not here.

MM, John Weber, always has a blue hole wherever hes standing.........above him.

more Logan pictures

Mike, the weatherman and Ron, the scorer.

Hey, I am just trying to find the sun.

How to dry a Libelle wing without opening the dump valves.............

more pictures

Mike is trying again to remove the falling sky from his wings. His best flight in his 201B is 850 K without any water. Ya, thats good, really good.

Peter and Dave, and rain shafts..................
Rewal bonding going on. Well, this really shows a real passion for our obsession, ya something like that was said.

Hmmm.............task advistor filling with water, Pete #98. Tells me 3 turn MAT 2 hr 30 minute task has been called. Background comment..........was good, is good, but I dare not print it.
Can't find TA anywhere. TA where you hiding?????

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ok TA, food for thought...........

Well, TA, Frank Paynter, is at Region 6 south, and just posted about their great dinner. Well, I am sure he is right as last year we had great food and drink during the 18 Meter nationals when we were their. We also had what hes having.....rain.
But what we had today wasn't rain, but it was wind, lots of it. I have some time to blog, just for TA's sake, the dinner menu for the 18 Meter Nationals. Ha, bored is me.

Tuesday, 1st contest day, now this is really some good stuff, Lasagna, green salad, fresh hot bread sticks of course with garlic and butter, and the best banana pudding you can find in the southwest.

Now, comes Thursday, "THEE BEST" Texas Brisket you can find anywhere in New Mexico. Period. All the trimmings and its sponsored by ( yes, we have a sponsor) Lea County State Bank. They even do glider loans...hint TA for your new 18 Meter ship.

Now, if I post here what the next 3 nights are, well, just easier to say since your not here, you'll never know what you missed. But the awards banquet is being held at the Zia Park Casino, top floor and this party will be hard for anybody to out do. Maybe ties for first, but its going to be good. TA, dessert will be NEW YORK style cheesecake............large portions. Oh yum, yum.
Folks, Hobbs is coming back big time. Next time theirs a contest here try to slip it in if you can.
I plan on some picture taking tomorrow, so you all come back, ya here..........

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ouarzazate, Morocco 2011

I met Norbet Schlafke in Parowan, UT., some years back. Hes from Germany, has a lovely wife and family. As he is retired, his enjoyment is not only traveling, but soaring the world. He owns an ASW 22 ble and in his travels to the USA has also enjoyed soaring in Ely during the season.
We have sharred our flights, dinners and to my surprize he is now in Ouarzazate, Morocco. Hes their with the ASW 22 ble and these are some of the pictures he has sent me. Spectacular to say the least. I believe the one with clouds is of the Sahara convergence zone. He speaks of the mountains, valleys and terrain and of its not easy soaring this area.
Their are hotels, resturants and the airfield you can see on goggle earth. I just thought I would share these with you, as I didn't fly today in Hobbs. Last night a loud "POP" was hear from my forward ac unit. Luck is Lowes RV in Hobbs had a new unit in stock and they got it repaired. Luck also was with me as the high today is near 108 in Hobbs. Its windy, no clouds, but the new ac is doing just fine.
Maybe we fly tomorrow, as another pilot was driving in and has car trouble in Dallas. Trust me, if we see any standing water, anywhere, I will take a pic and happily post it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hobbs 18 Meter Nationals 2011

After all the years coming to Hobbs, its the first time I have ever arrived and theirs not one glider trailer on the ramp. First thought I had was maybe I was in the wrong place @ the right time? Like Hobbs is to racing gliders as apple pie and ice cream are to America. The SSA offices are still here, but no trailers.
Good news is I found the water, so my spot is good, really good. Also, close to the hanger where the scorers office is.
Tow plane is due in tomorrow, so early practice will be available. Another 4 or 5 are showing up early. Looks like 21 over all will be here. Folks, this is Hobbs and it hasn't rained here since last year when the Nationals were flooded out. Notta a drop has fallen. Yesterday, a brush fire started southwest of us over near Carlsbad, NM and the smoke is drifting our way.
Right now we have cus starting to pop and bases look well over 8000 AGL.
Heres some pics, one of even my shadow, another of some small life. Will keep updating and will also update thru the contest, but not daily.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Todays Day 3-13-2011

Somethings for me are hard to share. But in our World of Soaring, we share the same Freedom and Joy which is what I believe are different than in many other walks of life.
Today, I feel I would like to share something with you. Just before launch, a good friend walked up and said Hi. I hadn't seen him in close to a year, as the last time was at the Seniors awards dinner in 2010. We sat at the same table and chatted over the past.
Today, I asked how a friend had been. I didn't know my friend had passed on, Dec. 15, 2010. My friend is Rick Howell. Rick and I flew for the same airline, he retired as a Line Captain and a check airman. Rick's love for soaring speaks for it self as where ever he traveled, soaring was his game, his life and love. From contests to encampments at Parowan, his accomplishments were many. He touched many lives, all good, very good.
After I learned this today before launch, I deicated this day to Rick and received a gift. Today was for you, Rick, Godspeed my friend.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

USA 2011 Seniors Practice Day 3-12-2011

DB's dog coming to say Hi. We been buddies along time.

Now the practice day report.

Well, here we are. Ray's weather was very close to being right on. Weak thermals to 3000 msl. I check the soundings and see the same thing.

KS and I rig next to each other and after the pilots meeting, we pulled out to the open grid. He choose the number one spot and I got the number 2 slot. Then it dawned on me, like what am I doing wanting to launch into a weak sky so early?

Ken Sorenson, who tells me he has a poster of me in his garage, riding my motorcycle, which he trains his dog to chase me and bite me, has pulled in right behind me in spot 3. We are one big happy family.

We then have a brief pilots meeting and CD Good anounces a noon launch. Few, and I mean few, if any birds were seen thermaling. I did make that comment, but CD Good went ahead with the launch. Well, off tow and a slow climb was made. We were at least staying up. Maybe 2500 msl. KS, myself and DB are together. Well, DB went off in one direction(he won the day), KS went in another, I made the smartest choice of all, and just kept circling and going lower.

Shortly, DB is reporting North at Grass Roots and lift is just fine, with climbs arount 3500 msl. Don't know where KS is as I am circling even lower now. But lift cycles and we, I mean the whole group who launches, climbs away in weak lift.

I take a late start, not by choice, but by sheer luck in even starting. Its a 2 1/2 hour TAT. North first, then South, then North, then home. Most left around 1:30 pm which is what I wanted to do, but ill forces caused me to start about 1:45 pm. On course near Osborne I nailed a big climb to 3500 msl and now felt alot better. Shortly thereafter met up with KS. A small group of us started digging ourselves out of a hole. Ron Clark , who was riding with KS, smiled and waved several times as we slowly climbed to 2500 msl. Then off we went again, testing low spots and having fun.

The rest of the afternoon just had weak climbs and short glides. KS later reported after landing they had several low points. One being 400 ft. over a small fire.
Looks as most had a good flight and thats what we are here for. Time jumps forward one hour tonight, so practice day went really good, tomorrow the game begins.

Best wishes for all entrants, a safe contest and a good nite to all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

USA Seniors Rules and history.

The story below is from Tom Knauff. Some is from our talks and other parts have been reprinted.

The Special Rules.

1. The emphasis of this unique contest is having a good time, enjoying the companionship, and the good soaring conditions. Nothing serious should be implied about the "competition."

2. Minimum age 55. When Tom Knauff first wrote the rules he was 51 so couldn't get in.

3. Mandatory crew day. The trip is to be fun for everyone, and with all the very special things to do in the area, it would be a shame for the crew not to have fun too.

4. 2 1/2 hour optimal task length. Senior seniors don't need or want to maximize the soaring day.

In order to enforce the low key competition, special penalties would be applied to anyone caught making speacial performance enhancing modifications or preparation to their gliders. Penalties would be assessed for special sealing, cleaning, or waxing.

Penalties would be assessed for winning any contest day, or placing in the top half of the score sheet.

Evening gatherings are encouraged, so an attempt is made to have a social event every other day.

The Seniors future.

Tom Knauff and all others agree that since 1990 this contest has been outstandingly successful. In 2010 their were 77 pilots hoping to get on the list of contestants. The late Charlie Spratt had become the premier soaring contest director. Along with his skills, Knut and Ingrid's Seminole-Lakes gliderport, "The Seniors", found a home, which lasted 20 years.

Now the new owners are showing they are enthusiastic about "The Seniors", and are hosting the 21st Seniors which starts this Sunday, March 13, 2011.

Their is good reason to be comfortable that "The Seniors" will be around in the future.

Seniors Pre-practice Friday 3-11-2011

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Butler, with their ASG 29. Dick will be flying the 2011 Seniors in the 18 Meter version. Today, he headed down to the South, first turning Chalet Suzanne. Then heading North to Montgomery. Dick reported 2.2 kts on the overall day getting up to 4,000 msl. No low spots and had a fun day.

Towing the ASG 29 back to its trailer. DB has a great rig and even has a relaxing sofa inside the van.

KS reported a good day and flew up to Ocala, which is North. Ron Clark went along for the ride.
2-3 kts and up to around 3,000 msl for the day.

Karl and Ron cleaning bugs off before boxing the Duo.

Now, the important stuff. Beer contest. Yep, first person gets a 6 pack when they see me when they email me who these four guys are.
Contest starts now. 3-11-2011 5:15 pm EST.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Seniors Thursday mornin news 3-11-2011

Wednesday evening and everyone is back in the box or tied down and covered. Day was reported as maybe 3500 msl alitudes and 2-3 kts lift. Seems most headed South to the Lake Wales area and then home.

Then around 6:30 pm, thunder was heard, lighting, then the sky just came unglued. This was from a smaller convergence zone passing thru the area. The big front wasn't here...yet, as it came later in the night. Thursday morning still raining and now its around 12 noon and the rain has let up and sky is slowly getting lighter.

These pictures are from last night.

Friday looks flyable, lift will be weak and might be windy. Not to many entrants have pulled in today.Saturday looks better and next week shows a improving trend all week long.
Will get some more pictures when folks start to move around.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 Seniors Seminole-Lake Gliderport FL.

Tom and Doris getting their Duo out for a days flight. Click the pic to enlarge.

Shortly, this group will launch into todays skys. Winds are 20 plus kts. @ 2000 msl.

Looking south sky cover is fairly heavy, but its opening up as the day warms.

Sky looking North.

John Good, the CD, has brought his Duo Discus X, as Doug Jacobs will fly it. We have quite a few Duos here, so it going be a great battle for top honors.

Brief wrap.
We had a good day Tuesday, March 8th. Lift was 3-5 kts to a cloud base of 6300 msl in the late afternoon. Today is windy with winds @ 2000 msl around 25 plus knots. Cloud bases are slowly rising and some are hoping they can get in alittle practice. A front is marching down towards us for tomorrow. But sometimes they fall apart, so maybe we can fly tomorrow. Weather for the contest period is looking pretty good. More shortly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mifflin USA new club house 2011.

Building is on far left, upper picture, right side lower picture. Click pic to enlarge.

I just recieved these pictures from Brian Glick. They are of the new club house being built in Mifflin. Brian said it should be done by mid May in time for the Region 2 contest.

Will be used for contest headquarters, retrieves and pilots meetings.