We couldn’t have asked for better soaring weather although it was bloody hot. – Not quite as hot as the last contest here – but still bloody hot. Makes for great thermal soaring though and the humidity was pretty well non existent.
11 pilots registered for Unlimited and 7 for RES and new CD Steve Formanek began the pilots meeting just after 9:30am. Todays event was to honor Jim Blacketer who recently passed and Steve announced that the first launch would tak place at 10:00am with the Big Smoothie Genie that Jim was building when he left us. John Vennerholm would be piloting the model in honor of a guy who was very enthusiastic about soaring and is certainly missed by all the Central Florida Soaring community. Jims wife and family also attended the event to watch the soaring and remember Jim. John launched the big Genie right on time and round one was underway with a 5 min max set . John brought the Big Genie home to the LZ a little early with a 4:45 but it was fitting to see Jim’s beautiful big bird get close to a max on her maiden contest flight.
It was a landing points smorgasbord in Rd 1 with almost the entire field scoring points (except me) and Rusty Carver, Rick Eckel and Rich Kiburis setting a high standard with 100’s first up. The landing zone chosen for the contest was an L5 strip with scoring in increments of 100, 75, 50 and 25. Nearly everyone managed to find 5 minutes of good air too, so CD Steve set the max to 7 minutes for thr remainder of the rounds.
Round 2 caught some pilots out with launches into a sink cycle and those that didn’t venture far enough out past the down to find the good stuff had rather short flights. The usual blender of buzzards were congregated over the dump area in the distance but the most interesting lift indicators on this day were masses of small birds feeding on insects lifted by the up air. All day these small birds flitted and turned in large groups sometimes low and at other times very high to show us landlubbers where to fly.
Rich Kiburis kept the pressure on in the 1st position with another 100 landing to go with his 6:58 and Al Parsons partnered up to also post a great 6:59 – 50 to hold down 2nd place with Rick in third. Rich was also flying RES and was holding down 1st place in that class with his old Frankenthing due to his scoring landings.
Round 3 air was all good with pilots launching and finding lift in many parts of the field. The IRKS is a big field with vision unrestricted in all directions allowing sorties much futher afield than any other soaring paddock I have flown on. This allows pilots to search much further away than is normally possible and vision on the airplane itself can be a problem. I personally had an issue with a more agressive hook position and flap setting on my X and broke the winch line twice in Rd 2 and 3. I decided to fly both these flights out as the air was good and it paid off with some nice scores even though it was more stressful than the usual high launch start to a TD flight. If there is one thing that I have learned about thermal soaring – it is the importance of committment to a plan. If you believe there is good air at a certain location you must go far enough to get to it and not “chicken out” in the horrid stuff on the way there – just to turn around and fly back through the same horrid stuff and finish up with nothing.
At the conclusion of Round 3 Rich Kiburis was still clinging to his lead. Jody Miller flew a fine flight with a 7:00 -75 to move into 2nd and with 2 consecutive 100 point landings I had moved from 3rd last after 1 round to be in 3rd.
Lee Royer was battling our big RES TD ships with a smaller Art Hobby style ship and was flying very well to be holding 3rd. Rich and his Frankenthing was 2nd and I had just passed him by 2 points with the Super Ava to be leading.
After a half hour lunch break during which Rich showed off his new electric Pulsar from Esprit models we began Round 4 in very hot conditions. The little birds feeding on insects were still there and groups of Buzzards were marking lift in many areas. The wind had been about 5mph all day so launches were great and the landing zone was really pretty smooth. Jody Miller showed he meant business with a 7:01 – 100 and moved in the top position on the scoresheet while Rich couldn’t find the runway to slip back to 2nd with my 75 landing holding 3rd. It was really tight though with Rick Eckel lurking in 4th just 42 points behind the leader Jody and with one round to go – could be anyones contest.
Res was most interesting with Enrico Parades flying a Gentle Lady and getting maxes and landing it like it was on rails to move into 3rd place just ahead of Al Parsons. I had slipped back to 2nd with a very poor landing while Rich grabbed the top spot with a 6:54 – 50.
Steve announced that the 5th round would be our last. The air was still fantastic and it was great fun to fly from one thermal to another and spend a few minutes during a flight just having fun without worrying about the clock. I was timing for Jody and had a perfect flight going but hit “the wall” on his landing base turn to drop in before he reached the LZ. Sort of a combination of too low, too slow and sinky air, but the sort of thing we can all learn from. When we have plenty of height always keep some in hand until we are on final. I overflew the line with my X for a 50 while Rich took another strange zero landing. (It’s usually his strong point.) It was up to the wily and experienced Rick Eckel piloting his old Perfect to hit the 100 point landing to take the contest win. I filled 2nd place while Rich was in 3rd with Jody a couple of points further back in 4th place. Like I said it was anybodies contest until the last few seconds and landing. Really don’t know what happened to Rusty today but he was lurking back in 5th place at the end.
RES saw Lee Royer finish in 5th. Great to see you out again Lee. Enrico flew great to bring the GL in to 4th place. Al Parsons came 3rd with Rich Kiburis in 2nd and I held onto 1st place with some very ugly but effective landings of the S/Ava.
It was a great days soaring with good friends and in the spirit of friendly competition that Jim Blacketer would have enjoyed also. I hope this contest is a yearly event so Jims memory can be kept alive over the soaring site at Cocoa.
A special mention must be made for the fine effort put in by the IRKS members for organizing and running their events with such a small membership. Gerry O’Keefe in particular is to be commended for manning the gate for hours prior to the contest to let us in along with Kris Van Nostran for organizing the site and equipment in spite of his unhealthy hip. A great job was done CD’ing for the first time by Steve Formanek. Thankyou to Lee Royer for helping pack up and a special thanks to John Vennerholm and Gerry O’Keefe for being great sports and staying later after the event to help Enrico Parades and Jody Miller attempt their LSF G & R’s. (Jody made 2 attempts at 2km without success this time but we will get it next time for sure.) I was very disappointed we couldn’t get Enrico up for his attempt but we will do his next time also. Thanks for everybody who came out.
C U all next weekend at KennyWorld for the one of best contests of the year.