The Gordon Report
After what seems like an eternity since our last contest, the FL summer soaring hiatus is over with the 2M shootout resuming at the Buzzards field yesterday. It looked like is was going to be a great day for soaring too with a forecast of hot……….hot ……………and bloody hot.
An enthusiastic bunch of Buzzards were busy setting up tents and tables and winches and laning zones at 9:00am and right on time our esteemed CD Rich Kiburis was conducting a pilots meeting explaining the 2M shootout rules. The landing zones today were 5 feet graduated tapes with 25, 50 75 and 100 marked on them in irregular intervals. The launch format would be honors callup where the 4 contest leading pilots would launch first in each round to get the field away in the following round. This is a great system where the best pilots lead off every round and show the field where to find air. (Well that’s how it’s supposed to work) – but sometimes the lead guys become the “fall” guys – literally. It is certainly a great leveller and makes the leaders in the contest work hard to remain there.
Rich used the time proven technique of assigning 4 eager volunteers to start off round 1 and the contest was underway at 9:45am with the sun really starting to warm things up and lift popping here and there as a result. 1st round was 5 minutes with the remaining rounds for the day to be set with a task of 7 minutes.
12 pilots entered to fly the contest with an interesting assortment of 2M planes. Some were ancient enough to make the AMA museum proud while others looked like they were recently revived from the trashcan to fly once again – but the designs spanned some 20 years of RC soaring development. Three of the aircraft were the brand new beautifully molded Sprites from Kennedy Composites, and other molded gems like Raed’s zoom monster Ruby. But old school aircraft like Lasers were still represented as well and Tom Galloway was flying a once very popular 2m Banshee.
Leif Francisco came out to play with a well worn Spirit and his dad Costa was also there flying a scratch built Allegro Lite.
Round one saw fairly soft lift in more than one corner of the Buzzards field and half of the 12 pilots found enough air to make the 5 minutes before returning to the LZ. A couple of the exceptions were Rusty flying an Orion and Rick Eckel, and his Laser who both inexplicably missed the first task by over a minute. These pair have recently set high standards for 2M contest performances in FL with great piloting and hard to beat scores in previous rounds of Rich’s shoot-out.
Round 2 was quickly underway with Tom Galloway and his Banshee leading the honors flyers – courtesy of a great 4:50 – 75 flight in Round 1. The other honors pilots were Rich Kiburis, myself and John Kennedy. (I was later to find out I entered the scores wrong for Rd 1 and actually Jim Maclean should have joined us at the expense of John K. My bad.
The lift was really popping by now with a sky to the east peppered with buzzards in a blender attracting three of the honors pilots while I ventured North in a different thermal to make my time and shoot my only 100 pointer at the LZ for the day. One of the key things with contesting 2M is that size of the aircraft makes it more difficult to venture as far as we often do with unlimited ships to find lift. Many times I see pilots heading to where there is obvious signs of lift but then bailing out in sink before they get there to return home early and low. To get these planes up we often have to fly them closer to the limits of our vision. The rewards of flying out further is a much greater chance of finding good air. The remainder of my honors group did not make their time in round 2 and in fact even though the lift was out there -only 2 other pilots – Jody Miller and Rick Eckel flying their old school Lasers found the required 7 minutes of lively air to score full points.
Round 3 was underway in no time as Rich called out the honors pilots of myself, Jody Miller, Rick Eckel and John Kennedy. Once again the signs were there to show us the lift but it required venturing out to get to it and with conditions that were very hot and extremely humid, I for one was glad to get up, get out – get 7 minutes and get back in the shade of the tent.
8 pilots found good air this round to even up the scoring somewhat but the landing zone was still proving very tricky with less than half the field scoring landing points. It was great to see my teenage timer and flying partner for the day Leif Francisco get his max and almost score landing points as well with a “spoilerless” Spirit.
Round 4 began with the high humidity and heavy cumulus clouds threatening to dump on us. Once again the honors contestants were called to the winches and Jody Miller, myself, Rich and John led off with a boomer developing almost over the field. As is often the case with the open winch format a scramble ensued as the remainder of the field got airborne to join the fun. Jody and I were trading punches each round to take the lead in the contest and Jody scored a great 7:00 – 75 to forge ahead of my 6:58 – 50 and become the leader. Nearly the entire flight group found the air this round except for 2 pilots (Raed and Rusty) who launched later but right into the middle of a sink cycle just before a light shower began to fall. I can tell you that Rusty Carver has been “unbeatable” all year whether he has been flying his Onyx or the Orion – but in this round that Orion dragged it’s tail for less than 2 minutes in the most horrible air you can imagine and Rusty just shook his head, smiled and went back to cooking up a great lunch on the BBQ for all of us. Good on yer mate!
Rich decided that while rain had sprinkled on us a little and was threatening, we still had enough clear air and that we would continue to fly while Rusty got lunch happening. Round 5 was in the air before lunch which is the fastest contest on record at the Buzzards I think. Jody , myself, Rich and John once again led off into air affected by the cooling rain 20 minutes earlier. I decided to drive out immediately to the North where I have found lift before in similar conditions while the others went in virtually the opposite direction. My honey hole worked and I did get slightly the better of the conditions of my honors partners though a minute short of a full max. Raed worked his Ruby zoom machine really well in this round with an excellent 6:48 and 50 landing while many of the following flyers found good air too. I enjoyed once again assisting Leif Francisco to get his max. Leif is a junior pilot and is continuing to improve and score maxes even though he has the handicap of a rather battered and very worn out Spirit.
Costa (Leif’s Dad) also scored the second of 2 consedutive maxes as he started to put his Allegro Lite through it’s paces.
After a quick luch was enjoyed by all around the Rust Carver BBQ Round 6 was called to the two winches to do battle. Rick Eckel with some consistent piloting had moved up the ranks to join myself, Jody and Rich at the starting gate. I decided to go right to an area vacated shortly before by a pair of birds. As I cruised to the right I glanced to my left and saw Jody heading rapidly in the opposite direction. Another look and I could see why. A blender of buzzards was circling a long way out in air that was clearly marked and much surer than what I was looking for. I did a 180 and hi-tailed it to the same location. Thios sort of decision needs to be made quickly if it is to come off and I only just caught the bottom of what air was available to make the trip worthwhile. Jim Maclean with his V Tailed High was also there and showed Jody and I how to make it work. As is sometimes the case, neither of us could seem to core this thermal and our thermal distance judgement was clearly not right as we both had to return early to land about 30 secs short of the max while Jim was the only flyer to get his time in this group. In fact it was only Kris Van Nostran flying his new Sprite about 5 minutes later that actually joined Jim in round 6 with the required 7 minutes.
CD Rich announced that Round 7 was to be out last as the weather really started to close in with humidity at 100% and dark clouds shading the field more and more. The same honors group as the previous round met at the winches and Round seven was underway. What difficult air this proved to be. The ground signs indicated lift to the right and back so I headed right off the winch and then flew downwind to search while Jody went further right in search of that elusive up air. I was down and out at 3:35 for my shortest flight of the day, while Rick and Rich had better fortunes upwind with flights in the 4:30′s. It was Jody that suffered the worst fate in the final round as sink took his ship to earth on the way home before he could get inbounds.
Kris Van Nostran flew the longest flight of the entire field in Round 7 with a great 6:10.
The final results saw Jody drop back to 4th with his zero in Rd 7. Mental note to Jody – stop landing out of bounds! Rick Eckel made it up to 3rd, Rich Kiburis 2nd and myself and my old wood duck took the honors. It was a fun day with lots of good soaring and a return to the landing tape which was great for a change. Thanks to CD Rich for putting on an excellent series, Rusty (for letting us back into the 2m shootout points race) and to all the helpers for setting up and running the event.
Can’t wait for the final shoot out.