The Gordon Report – GL+
The lack of a real blow today was really the biggest topic with many Gentle Lady drivers adding unreal amounts of lead to their ships when it probably wasn’t warranted. The forecast had everyone worried with up to 25mph gusts predicted by some and though there were some windy periods all in all Central Florida sun gods turned on a very warmish to hot thermal day to test the best GL drivers we had. The thermalling conditions were so unpredictable that the contest was won by a pilot who only maxed 3 times from a possible 7 flown.
And it wasn’t a lack of skill on the pilots part either, because some of the wiliest young (and old) GL pilots in Florida were there trying their hearts out and no one did better than 3 maxes out of 7. Weird stuff – but these old 2M birds don’t always get a good launch and when the lift travels through our tree bound field in a matter of a minute or so, it is very difficult to get out unless the bubble is strong. Travelling from one lift cycle back upwind to another, caught out most of us multiple times today. Many of us struggled with the landings too – even though the only requirement was to get your bird into a ginormous 40 foot dia circle. Some made it look a little easier than it was. In fact landing honors were taken today with Jim MacLean (Chrysalis) and Nathan Miller (Sagitta 600) scoring 6 from 7. Raed Elazzawi and Kris Van Nostran also scored 5 from 7. Speaking of Raed – he was our esteemed CD for the contest and what a great job he did too. Not only did he run a great contest but flying an old stock GL, he was leading the show after 5 rounds as well.
The contest got under way with a pilots meeting at 10:00am and shortly after we set to work our one and only winch, launching some old school thermal 2M thermal muscle.
I had brought my old Australian Southern Sailplanes 2M T Bird out to play. I had a brain fart with my first launch though, thinking it was some hot F3B ship and tensioned the line to the point of removal of my towhook before I even let it go. I had to retire her before her first flight and bring out my trusty old Sagitta 600. This contest (a GL+) was open to all 2M ships as long as no glide path control or ailerons were in use.
At the pilot’s meeting Raed announced the sad passing of a great Florida flyer, helper and 2M contest pilot Jim Blacketer. He will be sadly missed and our hearts go out to Jim’s wife and family at this time.
The contest began with an LSF5 qualifying number of exactly 20 pilots. Once again we must thank Blaine Miller for stepping up to make number 20 but he is certainly up to the task, as he has come out of retirement and will be campaigning an Ava Pro in UNL contests this year.
The first round saw the beginning of what was to be a pattern for the entire day with just a handful of pilots finding useable lift, while everyone else sunk to early landings. In fact the only 3 maxes of 7 minutes in round one were Nathan Miller’s, Raed’s and mine.
Round 2 was much improved, with a longer lift cycle which allowed more pilots to take advantage when they saw others climbing out. This round two saw the pilots record the second highest amount of accumulated flight time in a round for the entire day.
Kris Van Nostran flying an Art Hobby Sky led the 6 maxes achieved this round with Rusty Carver sharing 1st place with his GL. Kurt Carlsen (Old Glider), Ray Alonzo (GL), Jody Miller (Sagitta 600) and Ed White (GL) also got maxes while the rest of us watched and wondered what happened to the lift. As I often do I spent some time this round catching pilots and their planes on my camera. I was in front of the landing circle trying for a good photo of Nathan bringing his Sagitta in when he tried to extract a bit too much from the clock to fall short of the circle the only time for the day and bust the Sagitta with a cartwheel landing into the bargain. Worst thing was I missed the really good “in your face” photo opportunity trying to evade being hit by his ship.
Round 3 finally got underway as the breeze came up more from the south and many large cumulus clouds hid the sun for longer periods. Once again the fickle conditions made many of us budding TD pilots look a little foolish as we launched our ships with good intentions to discover that the air was moving vertically – but all vertically down!!! My pathetic time of 3:58 was the 4th best time of the round. Only Raed flying his GL, Enrico Parades with his GL and Nathan Miller were able to eek out maxes in this round 3. It proved to be easily the toughest round of the day with the average time scored less than 3 minutes per pilot.
Before Round 4 was underway, Rusty Carver cooked up his usual storm with great dogs and burgers. One of the great things about our laid back contests in Central Florida is the low cost of entry ($10) and decent grub included. (You can’t beat that mate!)
You would think that with time to sit around and contemplate the air over a burger would bring out the best thermalling skills and good things would happen thereafter. That was definitely not the way it happened! In fact it was the worst round for the day by far with not a single 7 min max being scored. Best time for the round was Enrico Parades flying his GL masterfully to a 6:02 and a landing as well. Ray Alonzo was 2nd in the round with a 5:14 and Jim MacLean 3rd with a 4:15. Sorry times you would think – but I can vouch for the fact that this air was hard to work with these ships.
The contest leaders were pretty close after 4 rounds with Nathan, Raed and Enrico neck and neck but this was truly anybodys contest with TD hell waiting at every launch.
Round 5 was the exact opposite of Rd 4 with the best air we had all day. 7 of us achieved maxes and Raed our CD was the one to take the lead in the contest as Nathan found a sink cycle and let everyone else catch up. Ricardo Galarza scored top points for the round and we welcome him back to soaring after a forced absence due to work.
Rd 6 saw the resurgence of our skilled GL pilot Ed White with a great max and landing using an apparently weightless GL??? Ed had campaigned this contest on the need for ballast, (see earlier in this thread) but seemed to find little need for it in Round 6 and 7 when he showed us what he really can do with a light airplane after mysteriously languishing heavily in mid field all day.
Only 2 others could find 7 minutes of air this round as once again the TD hell invaded the Buzzards camp with a sink cycle you wouldn’t wish on your mother in law! And you guessed it Nathan Miller was one of the canny flyers who somehow evaded the downdrafts to score well along with Kris Van Nostran.
The last Round 7 began with Nathan seemingly only required to put in an appearance to take the gold. As it turned out Nathan only did put in a brief appearance to score his lowest round of the day with a 1:55. That meant that anybody could win it. Raed was 2nd going into Round 7 but he couldn’t capitalize on Nathan’s misfortune and I was in 3rd but I scored a horror 7th Round also to finish down the ladder. The surprise come from behind victor was Rusty Carver who once again showed all of us that a bit of consistency is all it takes. Ray Alonzo flew his pants off in Round 7 to nearly grab another LSF 5 win but missed spoiling Rusty’s party by just 26 seconds. Nathan managed to retain a place with a great 3rd place.
The “Top GL pilot” trophy was also awarded to Rusty Carver. Go Rusty Go. You are a hard man to beat this year.
Top Sportsman for the day was taken out by Ricardo Galarza after a long layoff. He just squeezed in ahead of a fast finishing Leif Francisco. Leif is improving every time out at contests and culminated a difficult day with a great max and landing in Round 7. Don Grisham was 3rd in Sportsman class. A great days flying was had but I can attest to the fact that this contest was in many ways more fun than UNL contests with the added difficulty of staying in good air in wind with these small machines. Lack of penetration, low launch height and small models contribute to tough flying but fun flying. We need more of these 2M contests and clearly going by the turn out they are popular as well.
Thanks Raed for doing a great CD job. Thanks Rick Eckel for taking the pressure of scoring off me. And finally thanks to all the Florida pilots who showed up to make this a memorable day.