20 August 2011

XG's trip to Uvalde

Due to internet problems I wasn't able to post my updates about
Pre-Worlds earlier.
My trip to Uvalde TX started early as I went to Logan Utah first
to fly 15 Meter US Nationals and then traveled directly to Uvalde.
Scenery of flying in Logan was great as picture shows , but
flying was very demanding and it was new experience for me .
Most of the flights were done by using ridge lift generated by
sun not wind. Thermals were broken and climbing after tow to
start altitude was taking up to one hour of hard work.
The contest was great practice of patience and centering broken
thermals. In addition very hot days in Logan prepared me and
Maria for Uvalde heat perfectly.

At the beginning of Pre-Worlds in Uvalde soaring conditions
were as I knew from 2006 US Standard Nationals, but we had
several blue days later which gave substantial advantage to
Australian pilots which are used to fly in blue and strong

Contest started very good for me as I took second place on day
one and first on day two , which put me on second position
overall for the most days of the contest .

Contest winner Bruce Taylor from Australia flew perfect
contest winning six days out of eight . American pilots Bill
Elliot and Gary Ittner worked very hard to pass me and they
succeeded on the last two days finishing ahead of me and I
finished as third loser on fourth positions after eight days of
flying. On the worst days winners had speeds of 136km/h and
average task speed of day winner was 145km to 148km/h.
In such situation one mistake and speed was down substantially,
recovery was impossible.
Lucky me as we were flying just Pre-Worlds, I hope I will be
able to do less mistakes next year.
To date this season gave me good contest practice before
Worlds as I flew total five contests, winning three of them.

Statistics from 33 days trip:
20 days of flying .
In the glider - 80 hours, 8,000 km
My personal best task speed using thermals- 153.4km/h (Uvalde)
Two land-outs ( Logan )
One flight trough thunderstorm ( never again) ( Logan)
Car travel- 9 days 12,000km trough 18 states.
Days with trace of rain- two
Days with temperture above 36C- 30

15 August 2011

On the road

We left Uvalde this morning at 10:40 am. I was a bit concerned that Sonia who had made so many friends and had reconnected with her Texas roots, would bail and stay in Uvalde.

As usual, when one drives back from a contest, we looked at good cu all day.
We expect to be in Ontario Wed mid-day.


I particularly want to thank my crew, Sonia Hildesheim. Even though Sonia is not a morning person, she was ready every morning at dawn to go out to the airfield. She helped me rig and de-rig the glider ten times. She kept JS spotless and was always there and on time when I needed her help. The one day Sonia was late getting back from running errands and arrived a few minutes after I had landed, she insisted on buying me dinner - wow!

Thanks Sonia! - JS

P.S. Sonia is also an excellent driver and will have over 3000 km trailer experience by the time we are home.

Photo: Maria Szemplinska

Uvalde at it's finest

The last day of the contest turned out to be a classic Uvalde day at its finest. The forecast called for overdevelopment and a chance of thunderstorms late in the day. Dave and I planned for a start around 14:00 to be back by 6p.

When the start gate opened at 13:48 there were already plentey of cu and we were able to climb to 6500 msl, close to the 7000ft start gate limit. I was resolved to fly higher inter-thermal speeds (95 - 105kts) than on the previous days and to not throttle back when getting lower.

Had a good start at 14:05 and made good progress on the first two short legs,pushing hard in a working band of 4500 - 6000ft and consistently finding 6-8kts lift. The third turnpoint was Leakey in the hills but with a large enough turn area, so one could touch it with a minimal transition into the hills. Before launch Dave and I had discussed to avoid the hills today and max out the turn areas in the plains. Since I wasn't able to max out the second turn area due to blue conditions, I felt it was too early in the 4hr task to start cutting short and transitioned into the hills to get deeper into the third turn. The clouds looked good but didn't work well. To make matters worse, when I finally turned, there was a long stretch of unlandable terrain ahead which I was unable to cross at my present altitude. It became clear that going into hills had been a terrible mistake as I was forced to take weak climbs and fly detours to stay over landable terrain.

Due to the lost time, there was no point maxing out the 4th turn area and I turned south toward Laredo with a dream sky ahead. Lift rates were now consistent 8kts with the occasional 10 knotter thrown in and cloud base had risen to 8000ft. It was fun.

I had just decided to break for home in the last turn area, when I ran into a boomer thermal that took me from 5000 to 7000 in two and a half minutes. Determined not to repeat past mistakes coming in under minimum time, I extended by 10km before I started the final leg. A light tail wind and another 9 kt thermal to 9000 helped me cover the 153 km of the final leg in 53 minutes. As I was cruising towards the finish on a 120 kt final glide, I paused to take in the picture of a soaring pilot's dream around me one last time : A beautiful sky filled with cu gleaming in the late afternoon sun - what a great end to a great contest!

On day 8 I achieved my personal best speed in the contest of 133 kph over 559 kms which leaves me wondering what my speed could have been without the mistake of going into the hills. Either way, it would not have changed anything in the final outcome.

Although 15th place out of 21 is not much to write home about, 85% of the winners score is o.k. for flying a Standard Class ship in 15m Class. In conditions like we had in the contest, the higher wingloading and negative flaps of the 15m ships make a significant difference.

14 August 2011

Day 8 - A Classic Uvalde Day

Today was the best and most classic Uvalde day of the contest.  My flight stats show 7% circling for the entire task of 615 km.  My last leg was 193 km in length and I made a total of 5 full circles on the glide.  When I turned at the back of the last turn area, the computer said I needed 17500 MSL to get home and I was at 7500 MSL.  Over the length of the leg, I was able to bump up the missing 10,000 ft and only stopped once for 3 turns in a crappy thermal where one of the open class gliders was circling.  I thought if it was one of the big-wingers, that he surely wouldn't be circling in crap, but he was.

My flight was good for third on the day at 143 km/hr.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to move out of 9th in the over-all standings, but with a score of around 95% vs first place, I am happy.

Tomorrow, we pack up the RV and start the 3 day trek back home.

Contest Day 8 - last day

It was a beautiful sunrise with the full moon just setting, as we rigged the glider. Coyotes were howling in the distance.

The gliders are ballasted and ready to go at the runway. Grid time is 12:00 CDT with the first launch expected at 12:20. The launch order is Open, 15m, 18m. The tasks are all area tasks. The 15m task A is a 4 hr area task 322k minimum, 771k maximum. Tasks B and C are step downs in the task time to 3:40 and 3:20. That would make a task change in the air easy.

The task setter is certainly not pulling any punches because it is the last day.

The internet at our B&B is out, so I ma not sure if I will be able to send out a post-flight digest.
Scores will be at:

Live tracking:

Day 7

Yesterday was another great Uvalde day.  At launch time it looked pretty grim as a blob of high cloud from storm systems to the north threatened to shut us down.  The weather guru said the high cloud should evaporate as it reached Uvalde, and for the most part it did.  In 15 m, we had a little better time than the 18 m class.  Our gate opened about 30 minutes later, and our first leg took us 30 km south before we turned east where most of the high cloud was during the launch.  As we were starting, the cirrus started to thin and by the time we rounded the first turn there were cu on the second leg.

We were able to run relatively fast and stop for only 5-6 kt lift, and later 6-8.  The last climb was about 80 km from home to 8000 agl, and then it was a drag race home. 

We covered the 375 km task in about 2:40, so that devalued the day as we came in under the minimum 3 hr day time.