18 August 2012

Dave's Day 13


Off to the farewell fiesta, more details later tonight!

Last day; post-briefing and tasks.

Quiet at the tiedowns this morning as the crews took the gliders out of their 'jammies and watered-up, ready for weighing.  Only Ed's cheerful "morning" to each crew...

Internet has been out at the Motel and may be up later today; we'll need it, to advise the team in the most efficient method around the thunderstorm.

Here is a distant iphone shot (so poor quality) of the inspection of the glider which was one in the mid-air yesterday being photo'd as part of the investigation.  No new info available.  Kudos to two members of the German 15m team who aborted their tasks to ensure the pilot who had bailed out was ok, passed coordinates, and stayed overhead for moral support.  Both occurrence pilots were at the briefing, and have been examined by the IGC/WGC doctor - all ok.

Trailers are loosing their wheels and being put into the sea containers for the long trip home... and the tiedown area is bustling a lot less than it was.  There is a feeling of finality; the post-competition party tickets were just handed out.  It would be a bad day to land out...

It will be a large finish gate today due to the Thunderstorm risk - 15km/3000'MSL.  This shortens tasks by 12 km from what the page says.

Weather page 1 of 3.
 Good luck with that one.  2k steps on left, time at bottom.  Iphone in dark theatre.
Dan and Walt got a standing ovation for their concise, thorough, and successful briefings in a very complex environment.  Anyone getting to hear got a thorough understanding of the weather, and unlike many met briefings, what occurred to change what was expected the day before was covered - small changes in temp and moisture make a huge difference here.

Grid's in 30 minutes.

17 August 2012

Nick's day 12.

Nick, ST - Day 12, 17 Aug

It was shaping up to be a good day, but a radio call from the team captain put an end to it. "The 15m task is cancelled. There's been a mid-air. Both pilots are OK. Return to base". It puts things in perspective as I had a glider overtake me twice only a 100' on the side at the same altitude, with the flarm beeping away and pointing backwards. You can't move up, down, right or left, until the glider overtakes and you finally have a visual, or the flarm stops beeping. When in radio contact, it's not a big deal, but with no radio contact, it's not a good situation. With a long cloud street into wind and the next turn perfectly lined up on track it was going to be a great run, and I thought I'd go further for a little while, but I just turned for home. It was good to hear both pilots are OK, and my crew was going to be happy to see me back.

Dave's Day 12

A long 653 km racing task today that the winners completed in 4:08 at 157.8 km/hr.  We started too early today at 14:11 while the others started around 14:21 and then caught us about an hour later. 

It is amazing what difference 10 minutes can make in a start time.  We had trouble finding good climbs and I was down to 3300 ft before the first turn and then ran the second leg between 4-5000 as we headed north into the hill country.  Just before the second turn I finally had a climb that took me to 6000.  As we ran along into the hills, Jerzy was about 800 ft above me and he connected with a thermal that I didn't get at my altitude and he was able to run ahead of me.  We found the thermals very disorganized down low, but once above 6000 they improved.

I rounded the northern most turnpoint and then the legs started to align with the wind and I was able to bump and run along streets.  On the way south, I was able to get ahead of the group who had caught me and by the time I reached the fifth turnpoint to the east, I had caught up with Jerzy again, but was still 1000 ft lower.  The leg to the southern turnpoint was across the wind, so I jumped from street to street and on occasion found myself lower than I would like.  Now that we were out of the hills and the day more developed, the thermals down low were much better and I was able to consistently climb away.

After rounding the last turnpoint the streets aligned well with the leg home.  I stopped once for 2 turns, gained 650 ft and then bumped the rest of the way to the finish.  The final leg today was 148 km in 44 minutes at 201.9 km/hr. 

But, the amazing stat for today is 3.5 minutes cost 10 places on the day, ouch!

15 m task for the day cancelled

Some of the other 15m pilots were involved in rescue/communications overwatch/escort for the damaged glider and in the interests of fairness the task for 15m has been cancelled for the day.  We have recalled Nick through a relay through the Belgian team.  Crew is on the way to the airport.

Tasks for 18m and Open continue.

midair at WGC - Cdns not involved

We have heard reports of a midair at the WGC. One pilot bailed out and is ok; the other recovered back to Uvalde and is ok. 

I believe it was in 15m; Nick, ST, not involved.

More as reliable info develops.


Post-briefing 17 Aug, and FLARM performance

There has been a lot of interest in FLARM generally, and PowerFLARM in particular.  The ranges that the team are getting, in some cases with very new installations, varies.  Dave is getting 10 miles/16 km with his new antenna and PowerFLARM Brick.  The data feeds into the LX9000, which is useful.

Nick is getting about 7 miles/11 km with his Brick.  Tactical data is on the rectangular FLARM display, and can be displayed on XC Soar, however, you have to go to specific FLARM pages to do this, and you lose some situational awareness as a result; so, he stays on the moving map mode.  He says that better integration of FLARM into XC Soar navigation displays would be a good thing, and expects that in time, it will happen.  One competitor's EuroFLARM is consistently setting off warnings when it shouldn't, probably a settings problem with that person, and this is a bit irritating.

Jerzy had integration problems with the EuroFLARM and his Clearnav; as a result, he's running it stand-alone.  The range he gets - "Enough".

All agree that the contest is much safer with FLARM, and that tactical data - others altitude and climb rate, contest numbers - is useful, particularly on blue days.

 We haven't had much General Aviation traffic, and we're some distance from San Antonio (90 min drive), so airliners do not present the same threat as at SOSA or Gatineau, since the airport is closed from 1130-1530 daily for the launch and pre-start.

Lastly, when qualified as IGC loggers, a lot of extra GPS pucks and wiring of back-up loggers can go away, and this will be great.  What with all the various gizmos, and small panels, less clutter will be a plus.

Dusty.  That's the word for the grid.  The ropes - 97 of them - are laid out on the left side of the grid. As covers come off, one of the wonderful recovery crew (wearing bright orange T-shirts; I see today they have bright green - "The Lime Crew" - play on line crew) comes by and places the end of the rope by the glider.  About 10 mins later, you launch.  Here's a pic of the amount of dust blowing between the time it was placed, and the time the wing dolly comes off, with 2 gliders ahead of you:
 Yup.  A "dust shadow" when you move the rope.  Vis was zero/zero when I tried to drive back down the line after Jerzy's launch... had to stop for a few minutes.  I pity the folks at the back of the grid. 18m is at the front tomorrow, so a little longer task, I expect. We're gridded 13/14.  ST, with 15m, further back.

Tasks and weather.

If the day is slow to develop, a "B" task, which will be a variant of these, except a bit shorter, will be called on the grid.

Outlook for tomorrow - a trough going through Texas, with a 40% chance of rain - which they need.  So, today is more critical than other days, since it may be the final flying day.  It looks, according to Metman Dan, like a typical Uvalde day, which we haven't seen yet...

16 August 2012

Nick's Day 11.

Nick, ST - Day 11, 16 Aug

A late starting day with slowly rising cloudbase is the prediction. 2-3 knots to 5500' in the blue is what I find after release.

I sample lift in a few gaggles, but find nothing much, and gliders are milling around waiting for the gate to open. I eventually climb to 6500' and decide not to delay and start alone. It's 2:45PM, with a 3:45 hour task. I catch up to some earlier starters but I lose them in the haze, and then 5 gliders come from behind. The first two legs are in the blue, but with the promise of clouds on the fourth and fifth leg that I can see far in the haze, I cut the second area short. F1 relays a message form the team captain, that there'll be CUs along highway I35. We get to the CUs near the third area. The gliders are continuing further into the area, but I decide to turn north and extend into the last area where cloudbase should be higher, and lift stronger in the hills. The wind doesn't line up with the track, so it's a zigzag to follow short stretches of cloudstreets and I end up detouring inside the track. Halfway up the leg, I see four gliders converging on the same Cu I'm headed for, and they're a little higher. We continue north, but there are fewer and fewer clouds. At the centre of the area, we get a bit of a climb and it's decision time. Keep going in the blue and hope to find some lift or head for home, and probably come in early?  I decide not to take a chance and conserve the speed I've achieved and head for home. I need to find an extra 3000' or so along the way. A couple of climbs with a group of gliders and it's a straight-forward final glide, and 2 minutes over minimum time. 462 km at 122 km/H.

Dave's Day 11

Today, it was expected that convection would start late and finish somewhat early so we had a relatively short 3:30 area task.  The 18 m class was second on the grid, and our gate opened around 3 pm.  With an expected end of convection before 7 pm, there was not much time to waste before the start.

Unfortunately, we had a bad day today.  Looking at the baro trace shows part of the reason.  Around 1720, we got into a hole and it took a long time to get out of it.  We were running, what looked like, a good line of clouds, but nothing was working.  We wasted many turns trying to find something and took a weak 2.9 knot climb so we could move on.  Fortunately we were not alone as there was a mixed group of 15 and 18 meter gliders as we had a common leg at this point.  Finally, 20 minutes and 40 km later we connected with a 6 kt climb that got us up and running again.

We also wasted time on final glide trying to center a last thermal, but eventaully gave up on it and headed for home on a slim final glide.  Fortunately, there were still a few clouds we could bump on the way in and we were able to stay on glide slope.

As typically happens, the fast guys don't find the holes and that was no exception today as they smoked us.

Comp Day 11 - 16 August. Quiz answer... and task sheets.

Quiz answer:  You can see the Exxon sticker on the... quiz thing if you look closely.  It is intended to be flown from car aerials, "you have a tiger in your tank" - Exxon advert.

Others thought it might be an ambitious yawstring, and other uses were suggested (shame on you all!!!).  We did find a use, though...  thanks to Christine for her sense of humour!

The crews do work hard; here are the 18m primary crews attempting to keep the prodigious dust off their ASG-29's before launch yesterday:

We grid together by class and country, so F1 and XG are together.  ST is usually some distance away...

OX is close by; here is Swiss team captain Willem ambushing Jerzy with "Swiss Karate" on the grid two days ago; Jerzy still went on to win the day...

Finally, a pic of F1's new PowerFLARM antenna fit.  There is a ground plane under the glare shield, and the antenna is fed from the bottom.  Range seems acceptable.

Tasks and weather:

So, a later start to convection; grid at 1245. If the day is even shorter to develop, the "B" task - shorter in all cases - may be called.

15 August 2012

Nick's day 10.

Nick, ST - Day 10, 15 Aug

The weatherman predicts a blue day, but the sky is full of CUs. Mind you they are not working very well. I usually go exploring between release and the start gate opening to figure out what conditions are like and today I find myself back down to release height in sink wondering if I'll be going for a relight. Not a good start.Lift is weak and cloudbase is at 5500'. Our team captain, Ed, is looking at the visual satellite picture and reports that the CUs are localised within a 60 mile radius and it's blue to the south.

Seeing a good cloud alignment for the first turn, and the start of thinning of the clouds, I start early. The first two legs are slow, and just when I hear the Belgiums starting, lift improves and cloudbase has increased to 6500'. Started too early again... I go down the third leg until I see a good cloud street aligned for the fourth leg, but this cloudstreet is short lived and it turns blue with a few wisps. I meet up with some gliders near the fourth turn and get near an 18m gaggle going south too. There's surprisingly good lift in the blue with a few wisps and haze domes to chase. A 6 kt thermal to 8600' allows me to get the last turn and I just need to bump to final glide height on the way home with a tailwind. A 100 km from home, and a few bumps and slowly get onto glide path. Overall a slow day for me, just touching each zone for 386 Km, at 109.5 Km/H.

Dave's Day 10

The weather today was a mix of cu and blue conditions on different parts of the course.  The first three and a half legs were in the cu, then we transitioned into the blue, and then on the final glide back into the cu again.  Jerzy and I flew together for the entire task today and it worked really well with each of us taking the lead at various times throughout the flight.

We had a great final glide, with our last thermal 118 km from the finish line and then a scorching run home with a 20 kt tail wind to give a speed of 199.9 km/hr on the final leg.

We tried to maximize the second and third turn areas as we expected the conditions to be worse going into the east and south turnpoints, and they were - mainly because of the blue. We were able to run cloud streets on the second and third legs and catch up with and then pass the group that left before us.

For our efforts today, WE netted 3rd place - I'm not counting the one point difference!

This moved both Jerzy and me up a couple of places in the overall standings.

15 Aug post-briefing (Comp Day 10); panel pic LAK17bfes

 LAK17bfes panel.  PowerFLARM portable on RAM mount. V7 Vario/computer. ASI, mechanical vario, Samsung android phone running one of the many soaring programs.  Second row - Base for the RAM mount, Becker radio, altimeter.  Third row - Colibri II logger, motor/battery controller. On the left canopy rail, looks like a Nano flight recorder (everyone has a back-up).
The LAK 17B has different wings than the -a, same fuselage, and in one of the two flying here, a different horizontal stab/elevator (the other has the older type, and a new one in the trailer - the older went through tech inspection, so it's the one that must be used). There are also new winglets that are taller than the -a's.  Note the narrow tip wheel to reduce drag.  I want a pair of those!  See how the winglets are faired - very different than in other gliders.
The gliders - one going to Vancouver, one to the US (I think New Mexico) - both have the front electric sustainer engines.  Very interesting...  They are always just behind us on the grid - nice guys!

Congratulations to Jerzy on his day win yesterday, at a smokin' average speed of 153.5 kph over 581.7 km (he said he was redline limited on final glide when an energy line headed straight for the field)!  A speed of 148.0 kph would have got you 16th in 18 metre!   15m winning speed was 143.2 kph over 598 km.  Open, 157.0 kph over 663 km... one landout in Open class, a little under 10 km from the finish ring... late to International Night!

Another load of dusty, sweaty clothes go to the cleaner - and will be washed and folded by 4 pm at a buck a pound.  One less thing to think about...

And of course, a big shout-out to the International teams who put on a such a nice spread of their countries' famous snacks and drinks.  Pity the pilots had to leave so early, to rest.  Poor them!

Tasks du jour:

There is a change to Open's start gate, which is normally different than the others (keeps them apart, as the spot trackers show).  The new gate will decrease Open task distance by about eight klicks.

And, a quiz; this was the morning gift on each pilot's place.  It is furry.  It is round.  It is not sticky, happily.  What is it?  Nano flight recorder gives scale...

14 August 2012

Nick's Day 9.

Nick, ST - Day 9, 14 Aug

Another long and challenging day. Few Cus to start and slow at improving. Very few Cus on the first leg, with the first turn under cirrus. It was best to wait a while for the area to fill in.  When I got good height, 7000', in a gaggle I went back to the corner of the start and was on my way at 14:00.

I went along the leg on the upwind side for two reasons: first, the CU alignment seemed better, and a no go zone to the west could prove a problem if you got too close, and of course the wind blows you back on the course line when thermalling.  Went into the turn low as I couldn't find good lift, and found good short streets of clouds on the second leg. The second point was in the blue and I pushed in low, to thermal after the upwind turn. This leg and the next proved quite frustrating, as I was caught up and passed by 4 groups of gliders. The cruise speed was between 100 to 110 kts. after the third point, we headed up into the hills and it looked like the density of CU diminished the further north you went. There were still enough CUs marking good lift to the fourth turn, but after that there were long stretches of blue. It was best to get high! Because of the sun angle, I could see quite a few flashes of wings on the horizon ahead. I didn't really want to go downwind of the track, but that's where the few CUs were. I took climbs to cloudbase, which was now over 9000' because the turnpoint was under heavy cirrus, with no clouds. After the turn, It looked bleak under the cirrus. I went for some dark grey clouds which proved useless. There was one cloud way to the south west, but I thought it might be too close to the zone. I saw a wisp to the east and turned 90 degrees for it. I got 1000' out of it and headed towards the sun to the south east. I saw a Diana ahead below, but there wasn't much there, so I moved a bit to the side and found some reasonable lift to 7500', almost good enough for final glide. I found another 500' and was home free. It turns out the wind had diminished significantly and I didn't need that 500' and should have skipped it! 598 km at 122km/H.

XG Day 9 -Canadian Day

Today we had very fast task, any waste of time was very expensive.
I was able to start late and pass early starters and win a day,
finishing first with the highest speed of 153.5 km/h.
Jerzy XG

Dave's Day 9

Today we had a 581 km racing task.  Our task was changed on the grid because the initial task ran too far south and would have been under the influence of a deck of high cloud, and then ran too far north where we would have been in an area that received about 1.5 in of rain yesterday.

We had a short leg east, then went south and then up north a little ways into the hill country.  There was about 25% sky coverage with cu and some nice streeting.  Going into the second turnpoint I caught up with a group who had started a few minutes earlier and then stayed with them for the rest of the flight.  At times we went out own ways, but eventually met up again further along the course.

One mistake I made that cost me about 2 minutes - and 10 places on the day - was on the westbound leg to the north.  I was out ahead of the gaggle a little ways and elected to go right of course over the town of Kerrville where I expected a good climb.  It wasn't there, but the group that went left of course, found a good climb and then made it to the last turnpoint 1500 ft higher and 30 secs earlier.

The barograph trace shows the streeting action during the flight with lots of little bumps and only a few climbs.  It took 13 climbs to cover the 581 km distance and I averaged 5.4 kt for 12 % of the flight.   I had three nice long runs 134 km, 100 km and 91 km.

The final glide was spectacular, as a cloud street ran from just south of the last turn all the way back to Uvalde.  I climbed with the gaggle in a great thermal (7.2 kt) to 8600 ft and then ran home at 110-140 kts all the way, covering the final 83 km in 25 minutes !

My speed today was 148.3 km/hr - good for 13th on the day and only 2 minutes behind 3rd!

Post-briefing 14 August and panel pic o' the day

 Today's panel pic is OX - Antares 18S, flown by Werner Danz (owned by Willem Langelaan).  Winter ASI, SAGE vario, EuroFLARM with a glareshield compass peeking out from on top, Clearnav, CAI 302, Winter Altimeter, Becker radio, and a transponder at the bottom. Nice leather grey/blue handgrip...
 Since panel space is at a premium, there is a back-up logger on the headrest... attachment perhaps a bit flimsy for my taste, given its prime location about 2 inches from the pilot's brain (time for "the universal adapter?").  Your mileage may vary... Note also, the SPOT tracker on the parachute.

There are a lot of SPOTs out there - all the Canadian team use them - and many are attached to chutes, so your position (rather than the glider) is known. Having done SAR, having a better position to start from is a great thing. Low data rate, but low battery draw too, all for a hunded bucks or so.

Tomorrow - panel pic of the LAK 17bfes (front electric sustainer), and its winglet detail that is interesting to me.  It's tough to get to very many other gliders, and crews understandably don't want a bunch of people nosing around their cockpits in the busy time between gridding and launch - particularly with a camera wielded by an opposing crewman!

I'm trying to get pics of PowerFLARM antenna installations to help those wrestling with placement (my Brick goes in to my SZD-55 when I get home - here as a team spare right now).  You've seen Nick's, and I will get another pic of Dave's new antenna (FLARM) - he's buried the ADS B/Transponder antenna under the glareshield (FLARM is 10 milliwatts, transponders 175-250 watt transmit, so a bit more forgiving in receive).  Both are Bricks.

Here are the tasks of the day:

There was a change on the grid in 18m to a B task:

Pretty well the same distance, but doesn't run down the edge of restricted airspace, and stays out of the wettest part of the hill country.

 We were across from the Open class today; here are 3, and you can see how the wings, full of water, droop.  An ASW 22, modified, Concordia, and a Nimbus 4T...  Probably the worst picture of the century.


Aug 13 weather pics

Looking north, just waiting for F1 to finish.  Wind is still from the south; it will switch to north halfway through landings - always fun for those with low energy.  Lots of quite impressive lightning, particularly to the left of the picture. It's much darker and more menacing than the picture looks...
 Turn 180 degrees - and it's a different sky! These photos were 10 seconds apart.  If the thunderstorms had slid a bit south, it would have been a totally different day for the late starters.

We had gust fronts from the CBs to the north come through on occasion while waiting - 10 crew cars are waiting for their gliders to return just in the middle of this.