24 July 2010

The 31st World Gliding Championships for 15m/18m and Open Class are officially open!

The complete Canadian Team from left to right: Pim from Holland, OX crew; George Eckschmiedt from Vancouver, our Hungarian voice; yours truly; Diane from Mississauga, OX crew; Willem from SOSA, OX; Dave from SOSA, PS; Virginia from Waterloo, crewing for Dave, Jerzy from SOSA, XG and Maria his wife and devoted crew.

Looks like everyone had good fun at the opening ceremony in Szeged. The teams assembled in a lovely historic downtown square with their national flags and team uniforms. It provided a great opportunity to get to know the other teams.

I believe we looked pretty sharp in our white shirts featuring the timeless winged maple leaf team logo, Jim Carpenter designed so many years ago.

Eventually, the procession got underway, cheered on by local members of the public who had come out in great numbers to welcome the teams of 35 nations to Szeged.

We marched about a kilometer through the downtown and assembled at a park where we were welcomed by local dignitaries and the president of the FAI declared the championships officially open.

Photos by Maria Szemplinska

Saturday - Official Opening of the 31st World Gliding Championships

Today at 10am was the mandatory pilots' briefing for the Worlds. All teams are now in Szeged. Milan, the deputy CD is explaining once more the local procedures and safety issues. We have seen some pretty hairy flying during the practice days. One guy landed on one of the active runways in opposite direction. It turned out, he had not attended a single briefing yet.

The Canadian Team at full attention. From left to right: Dave Springford (PS); Jerzy Szemplinski (XG); Willem Langelaan (OX) and myself as team manager or team captain as they call it here.

During the briefing and official start of the 31st Worlds, the long awaited cold front moved through with a big bang. For a short time it rained so hard that it was impossible to understand anything in the briefing hangar. The conditions for the next few days will be cooler, with highs in the low 20s but very unstable with overdevelopment and rain showers.

The Canadian Team is now getting ready for the official opening ceremony. Which will be held downtown Szeged. The teams will be marching to the main square where each team will be introduced and its the national anthem will be played. Stay tuned for pix from the opening ceremony...

23 July 2010

Last Practice Day

Practice is behind us . I flew all three practice days to check the area and kind of condition in which we will be flying. Because of haze very often we don't see cloud ahead of us and it is a little guessing where to go next. I decided to buy Flarm because of poor visibility and 150 gliders flying in the same area . Today was my first day with Flarm and I was able to see gliders which I would not see without warning from Flarm.

I hope we will have Flarm in North America soon. I had problem with airspace file as Winpilot file had errors. I heard that new published file is clean , I hope it will work as should.

Willem helped me to set Clear Nav today and all works perfect.

Airspace is big issue here as every day different airspace is activated and it takes a lot of energy to set up all as should be. Tomorrow is non flying day which gives us time to make final adjustments to our gliders and instruments.

Serious racing starts on Sunday.


Dave's Practice Day 3

Today was another interesting day.  The launch started at 1155 and I was first in line for the second day in a row.

Immediately off tow I was able to climb to cloudbase at 4500 (42 AGL) and then went and hung out in a quiet part of the sky while I ate a couple of sandwiches before the start.

I started earlier than I wanted to because a group flew past me and started while I was waiting and it was too hot to wait another hour for a more optimal 2 pm start.  According to the LX, the temperature was 36 C at 3000 ft today.

I had a reasonable run along the first leg and averaged about 115 km/hr into the first turn area.  With that speed I decided I needed to go to the center of the first zone since the second zone jammed up against the Romanian border and would only allow to shorten the task, not lengthen it.

As it turns out, I went about 10 km too far in the first zone as the lift became weaker and I got lower and had to stop for weaker thermals and then cut short the second turn as I was now in an overtime position.

The thermals today were a little bit tricky and hard to find and center.  I flew a search pattern under many clouds and just couldn't find the lift and other clouds you could pull right into 5 kts.  There were also large areas with ragged cu and no workable lift and several people landed out today.  My task speed was 97 km/hr a long drop from my first leg speed of 115!

I had a good final glide of about 74 km with an average speed around 125 km/hr for the last leg and that made up for some of the slow bits on the second leg.

Tomorrow we have the Official Opening, so there is no flying and we get a chance to rest after the last 4 days of flying before it starts for real on Sunday!

Practice Day 3 - Update

It was a pretty weak day and we saw quite a number of trailers go out on retrieve.
Both our pilots made it back with reasonable speeds. Jerzy clocked about 105 kph, Dave about 95 kph.

We will be meeting up with OX and crew for dinner tonight.

On the weekend the heat is supposed to break and daytime temperatures will be in the low twenties which is very welcome. However, the weather will also be unsettled. The first contest day on Sunday may be a rain day.

There will be the usual Team Captains / Pilots Meeting at 9:30 / 10 am tomorrow but since we don't have to get gliders ready and watered, everyone is looking forward to the opportunity to sleep in.

Practice Day 3

Good Morning Canada!

This is the last official practice day. There won't be any flying tomorrow since the official opening will be in the late afternoon. Two years ago in Luesse, the official opening was a major production, involving dignitaries at the state level. No word yet what will happen tomorrow.

Yesterday evening George Eckschmiedt from BC joined us. George is a great addition to the team since he grew up in Hungary and speaks the language. He is in the center in the photo above.

The weather is hot, hazy and humid (what else is new) with 36 degrees in the moment (3:20p local). A weak cold front is approaching from the west which is forecast to reach us tomorrow. So far, the contest area is clear of showers and t-storms.

The task today for 15m and 18m is a 3hr turn area task with the first turn area 150 k to the north east. The second leg is running south to almost the Romanian border, followed by a 70k easterly run home to a control point north of Szeged. So all finishes will be from the north.

Our Open Class pilot Willem elected not to fly today.

Dave started at 12:48 and Jerzy at 14:13 local time. In other words, they are more than an hour apart. The Spot shows Dave getting close to the second turn area as of 3:25p local time.
By the way, when the competition is on for real, we won't be able to publish these details in order not to give any secrets away to spies who may be reading our blog.

Stay tuned for the next update.

22 July 2010

Dave's Practice Day 2

The weather was a mixed bag today with pretty good conditions along the first leg and part of the second leg into Serbia.  Jerzy was ahead of me and advised that it was getting weaker as you went further south into the Serbian turnpoint so I elected to nick the zone and push north east to the last zone.  With its 28 km cylinder it would give plenty of options to trim the task distance to get back on time.

As I moved north on the third leg out of the blue hole around the second turn I could see the tops of some TCU's along the course line and about 25 km NE of Szeged I ran into a wall of rain.  It looked like it would be possible to go around it to the south, but that might put you into Romanian airspace and it was closed tocday.  I tried to go north, but quickly dropped that idea as I hit 7 kts down on the north side of the cloud and saw more rain and lots of high cloud ahead shading the ground.

Jerzy who was about 20 km ahead of me was able to sneak around the storms, only to find dead air behind.  I stayed airborne for another hour or so to relay for Jerzy while he struggled to climb away, but eventually gravity won.  Up until the point I aborted the task I was averaging 105 km/hr but on a practice day I didn't want to land out in the rain.

Official Training Day 2 - Update

Both Jerzy and Dave made the turn area SIVAC (30k radius) in Serbia but ran into a line of showers and thunderstorms on the third leg back in Hungary, east of Szeged. Dave broke it off and is circling overhead Szeged relaying for Jerzy who pushed on and landed about 65 km north east of Szeged on his way to the third turn area 018BEKES. Fortunately he landed at an airfield (Turnpoint 133) and will be retrieved by aerotow.

The good news is, since we don't have to go on a retrieve, we can attend the German/Austrian team party which will start at 8p tonight. I saw several kegs being wheeled into the large hangar, so this promises to be a good party.

Official Training Day 2

Good Morning Canada

It's another hot and humid day here in Szeged.

Dave and Jerzy are on task. They started within 9 minutes of each other shortly before 2p local time (EDT +6). Willem decided to take a rest day since there were already TCU visible at 10 am.

The task for all classes is a 3:30 AAT which for the first time goes across the border into Serbia. Apparently this is a historic first that Serbian airspace can be accessed. We hope none of our guys will land out there because apparently the border formalities are not trivial.

Tomorrow is forcast to be even hotter, then the weather will turn. Unfortunately, this might also mean rainy weather for the start of the Worlds on Sunday.

21 July 2010

Dave's Practice Day 1

This morning we went through the technical inspections and then stood in line for about an hour waiting to register.  By the time we got through this and onto the grid it was almost 2 pm before we were able to launch.

I started late around 2:20 and had some trouble with rain in the 1st turn area, so I had to cut it short and planned to make up the distance in the 3rd area (with its 28 km radius and the 2nd area was only 10 km).  By the time I got to the edge of the third area some large cells were filling in the sky and moving northwards.  I was able to skirt the north edge of the storms and make it into the 3rd area, but only just in.  I turned and followed the same line out, but it was about 70 degrees off course to the 4th turn.  At the end of the line of storms I headed south across a large blue hole that was left in the wake of the storm.  A smooth glide at best L/D for about 45 km got me to the 4th turn at about 2000 AGL where the first clouds were to be found.  A quick 5 kt climb to cloudbase and I was on final glide for home.

I arrived home 15 minutes early, devaluing my speed to 94 from a raw speed of 102.  Considering the delay getting airborne and my later than optimal start it was a good practice day.

Official Training Day 1

Good Morning Canada!
It's another hot day here in Szeged. Thunderstorms are forecast for the afternoon. So far, at 3:30p local, we are seeing some TCUs but no CBs. Hopefully it stays that way. All pilots of the Canadian Team are on task.

The task for all classes is a 3hr area task, 245 km minimum, 354 km nominal and 471 km max. The first turn area is to the north west, the second and third turn areas are in the north east, skirting the Budapest airspace on the second leg. You can follow Dave's SPOT track on: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=01I0trCibC0Wfl2rDl9K8ZLFfb81HHqt9
The crews are resting in what is labeled as the "pub" on the webcam. It is really more like an outdoors restaurant (beer garden) with fairly good food and pretty much the only shade around. We are planning to sneak Canadian flag into the webcam picture, so watch out for it.

Evening update:

It proved to be a pretty good day. Dave and Jerzy went on task, Willem stayed local and to experiment with different speeds at thermaling in order to get get the best climb performance out of his brand new Antares.

Everyone made it back to the field. In 15m Dave achieved a speed of 94.4 kph over 283 km, while in 18m Jerzy raced around a 339 km task with 113 kph.
At the end of the day, we were all majorly exhausted from the heat. We had dinner at the airport and then went back to the hotel to turn in early.

20 July 2010

Unofficial Practice Day 1

We flew for the first time today, the weather was not great and I spent a lot of time low for the first hour.  The forecast provided by the weatherman called for 2-3 kts up to about 4000 AGL and that is pretty much what we had and it made me feel right at home!  He also forecast that the convection would be over by 6 pm and that thunderstorms would pop up along the Romanian border.  After I landed and we were putting the glider away for the night, I looked at the sky around 6 pm and the cu had all dissipated except for a few large TCU's/ CB's along the border.  It seems like this guy knows something about the weather around here!

The flight today was primarily to check out the instruments and get accustomed to the glider.  The PDA and Seeyou mobile connected to the EW recorder are working great and the LX7000 is now set up to my liking.

Tomorrow Jerzy and I are scheduled for the technical inspection at 1115 and 1130 with our resident Canadian Art Grant.


More preparations

Good Morning Canada!

Dave and Jerzy took off and are on a training task.

We set up the antenna for the ground station and tested it.

Willem put OX through the mandatory technical inspection and placed his trailer in his official spot. Since he is flying open class, his trailer position is on the other side of the airfield from Dave and Jerzy which complicates things a bit.

So far, the weather has been hot and sunny. The forecast calls for steadily increasing temperatures, up to 36 degrees on Friday. Maria and Virginia are enjoying a break from the heat while their pilots are flying.

The official opening will be on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, the long-term forecast for next week doesn't look good at all. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that it will improve.

Technical Inspection

Today I will try to put the glider through the technical inspection process.  Our Canadian compatriot, Art Grant, from Winnipeg is on the inspection team.  The inspection is used to confirm that the glider conforms to the Class specification, so wing span will be measured and all-up weight with full water ballast and pilot will be measured.  The glider will also be inspected for instrumentation to verify no cloud flying instruments. 

They will also measure a tow-out weight with the glider full of water, with tail dolly and wing dolly in place and the tow bar attached to the car. This is done so that each day every glider can be quickly weighed enroute to the grid.  The car drives over (straddles) the scale and places the glider main wheel on the scale and the tow-out weight is checked to ensure it does not exceed the weight measured in this configuration during the technical inspection.  Using this system allows each glider to be weighed in about 20 seconds.

The weather looks OK for the next few days, so I should also be able to get in some practise flights.


19 July 2010

The Team is now fully assembled

We connected with Willem Langelaan and his crew Diane and Pim today.

Jerzy and Maria arrived later in the evening.

Tomorrow, at the 10 am briefing, the Canadian Team will be present in full strength for the first time. We still need to place Jerzy's and Willem's gliders in their assigned positions. The parking positions are sorted alphabetically, which puts us between our colleagues from the Americas, Brasil and Chile.

Getting ready

Dave preparing his glider for the competition.
Part of our preparation is also to load airspace files and turnpoints into the on-board computers. A concern is the very complex airspace north of Szeged around Budapest. Fortunately, Serbia and Romania have opened part of their airspace for the Worlds, so meaningful tasks can be set to the SW and SE

18 July 2010

Glider Preparations

After our arrival in Szeged today, I spent the afternoon working on the glider.  It now has the PDA mount installed and wired, an altimeter in feet (can't fly in meters - its just wierd) and Canadian Flags stuck on the tail.  Next on the list of things to do are:

setup the LX7000 preferences to my liking
upload the airspace, turnpoint and airport databases
setup the cockpit seating,
prepare maps
prepare a chart for flap speed changes, and


Arrived in Szeged

After 800km on the Autobahn from Germany, across Austria with an overnight stop there and deep into Hungary, we arrived in Szeged today at 1:30p. The VW Van Dave rented through a Schleicher connection performed flawlessly, burning an average of 7.8 liters diesel per 100 km.
Our first stop was the airport where we got a warm reception and met members of the US and South African teams. We dropped the glider off and had lunch before proceeding to Hotel Bella in town.

It is hot here, so it comes as a welcome relief that the a/c in the hotel is working.