The Gordon Report
Many thanks to Kris Van Nostran who came out early to set up the winch for a great LSF day at the IRKS field at Cocoa. Thanks also to John Kennedy who came out to practice landings and assist as well. We had an extremely productive day with super conditions. Low humidity – 75 degrees at noon and a high of 84 degrees at 4:00pm 5 -7 mph wind.
Got Jody Millers Xplorer in the air around 10:15am and had his 2km goal and return completed 15 minutes later. Jody stayed up and completed his L4 one hour during the same flight while we got Kris Van Nostran airborne and specked out with his Perfect. First try saw us run into a hole before the 1km mark so Kris landed and we went back. 2nd attempt was a straight shot there and back including a 60mph sprint the last 1km home to keep up. Kris completed his in jsy over 17 minutes from launch to completion. I rode in the back of Gordys truck with Jody and Kris while Gordy drove on these two G&R’s.
Then it was my turn on the 2nd time round to do a 2km. First attempt got out to the 2km mark and failed to hook up. Fell over trying to jump off the back of the truck (while it was stationary) to finish landing the X and nearly crashed it as I took a tumble. Saved the radio, saved the plane – lost some skin on the extremeties.
2nd attempt thermalled out downwind with Jody hgelping me to clamber into the truck and Gordy drove us the 2km out and back without stopping in lift that was simply amazing as the aircraft climbed nearly all the way out and with 1/4 neg camber coming home I just kept in front of the speeding truck to beat him to the end. .
So far so good.
Jody Miller – L4 2 km Goal and return
Kris Van Nostran – L4 2km Goal and return
Gordon Buckland – L4 2 km goal and return
Jody Miller – L4 One hour TD
Steve Formanek – L2 landings
Thanks for coming out also Steve. Its great that Kris has taken you under his wing and we look forward to seeing you get through the levels.
At about 1:15pm We decided to go down the road to the John Vennerholm 10km G & R course (where I got my L5 10km last year) on SR520 and get Gordys final L5 task completed. Gordy has been talking about getiing it done for over a year and conditions were never going to be more perfect than today. He had his imPerfect Pike on board and nicely trimmed and though I had a winch we forgot the turnaround so Gordy made the statement that if he couldn’t get away off a high start it wouldn’t be happening in any case.
We arrived at the SR50 location about 1:45pm and set up the high start and had some lunch. First couple of launches were downwind as the breeze had died and most of what we had was thermal induced we swung the histart through 90 degrees so Gordy could launch crosswind and on the 4th launch to about 80 feet he was returning to land fo another go when he hit a bump and began to climb out. I called out to him when he had enough altitude to pass over the adjacent powerlines safely and within minutes the Pike was at normal winch launch height. Gordy spent 10 minutes in a couple of different thermals to get out to about 1500 feet before we got him loaded in the truck and set off down the course. Jody drove while I talked incessantly to Gordy in the back and took photos. Jody drove at around 25 to 35 mph on the way out as Gordy kept the Pike on course staying out to the right side and ahead where we had a good perspective on the plane. Jody was also able to adjust his speed constantly to match that of the aircraft because he could see it out the windscreen the whole time. The 10km out was achieved without stopping to circle once and the height varied between about 1000 feet and 1800 feet. With just 1/4 mile to the end the aircraft was lower than we had been anywhere at about 500 feet but Gordy decided to run to the end and turn around. We passed a thermalling buzzard at this point and I truly believed we could go to the end and come back to him quickly and climb back out. As is happened we reached the end of the course with the Perfect still descending and a couple of hundred feet at best. We turned around and started heading back up the road. This is the only place on this course where the trees are close and visibility is restricted to just a narrow slot but someone above saw our plight and planted some good air in the narrow window we had. Gordy felt a bump and yelled out to stop. Stop we did and as he thermalled out above and to the right – 3 buzzards appeared from the left and also began to thermal out right above the truck. Someone certainly was looking down from above as we had basically no assistance from birds on the way out until we really needed them and then there they were. Gordy had found lift without a guide but if he had not the guides were there. It was with much relief that we finally set off again at slightly slower speed into the wind on the way back. Once again we made constant progress for all of 8km before Gordy finally decided to stop and thermal out again to be sure of making the final dash home. The course was completed in 58 mins and 59 seconds as Jody parked the truck where we started. Many cheers from Jody and I as Gordy brought the Pike around for a few photos before landing it. I have never seen a guy as stoked as this man was as he finally completed an LSF journey that has seen him help a lot of flyers along the way and promote soaring and the LSF to all who would listen.
Gordy- I salute you. You can be annoying at times but you are a helluva pilot and you have the kindest heart of anyone I know in soaring. You are unorthodox in your approach, but you are a good and dedicated teacher and I owe my L5 to you as I probably would not have had the enthusiasm without your encouragement. I was honored to be part of your L5 journey also and I am reaping the rewards of great joy and satisfation also as I work with Jody helping him complete the same LSF journey.
What a great day. One that will last forever in my memory.