The Gordon Report Sun – Take a risk – do something different
14 intrepid pilots arrived at the Buzzards field this morning to do battle. Try as I may I could not find that necessary extra pilot to make the 15. Unfortunately for 3 LSF level 4 aspirants today this contest cannot be counted to progress them forward in the LSF program. It is only the 3rd time in 2 years that less than 15 pilots turned up to fly a FSS contest at the Buzzards. We will just have to keep working at getting more members out to fly.
Some say the weather kept them away but frankly todays weather was the most interesting thermalling day we’ve had all year with no pilots getting all their maxes and everybody having to work very very hard to make their times every round. Thats what makes this soaring game fun. And fun we had today.
CD Rick Eckel got proceedings underway at 9:00am though the air was cold and th sky fairly well blanketed with some mid level stratus clouds streaking across. Wind was more NW at about 10mph with occasional gusty bits to deal with.
Round one was simply very difficult air to read with soft lift in tight bubbles early on in the round. As the round went on, one group found pretty reasonable lift and we managed to get a few full 7:00 min maxes. Gordy flying his “other” Perfect with the trim and radio now working right was one of the pilots to find good air along with Rich Kiburis and a constantly improving Mike Naylor. Ray Alonzo was the best of the rest to give us our 4 honors guys for round 2. Jody had flown very deep in lift and found himself reflexed and racing home but very low. Finally as he neared the field below tree height he had to cross the “no-fly” zone and was awarded a zero flight. He did save the model with a fine display of low level flying back to the LZ, but unfortunately the rule had been set that a zero would be awarded for anyone flying below 3 times tree top height over our neighbors property.
In Round 2 Gordy once again found a sweet spot and made a fine max to record the only one for the entire round. The air was truly fickle with small bumps often showing promise and petering out. It was a very humbling experience for me as I managed to post two 4 minute rounds in a row as I struggled to come to terms with the difficult conditons. Our hard working CD Rick Eckel also was found thermalling just above tree top height in the “no fly” zone and he gallantly gave himself a zero to remain consistent. The real problem here was that this zone was immediately downwind of our launch and landing area. Real hard to avoid. Dan Johns once again showed his depth of experience with a good time of 6:49 – just 10 seconds short, while Paul Mittendorf flying a bagged Supra and Ray Alonzo and his old Escape were next best in Rd 2.
Before Round 3 got underway we were greeted with some patches of sunlight which started to get things popping more consistently. Unfortunately the honors guys didn’t launch at the optimum moment and got done pretty badly, but maxes were posted by Rich Kiburis and Rick Eckel to be our 1st two pilots launching in round 4. Conditions were so tough that Jody was in the honors group as was Rusty and the scores that got them there were 4 and 5 minutes.
Round 4 saw us launch into the best air so far for the day, as nine pilots made the time including myself for my first max of what so far had been a dismal performance for me.
Ed White made a great flight with the old Fusion as did Rich Kiburis with the Onyx JW and Rusty with his Onyx L.
The contest had really been flying along as we stopped for Rusty to cook lunch. He had burgers grilled for half the pilots before running out of gas and having to run for a top up. It really is fabulous to have the depth of guys who assist at our contests and the Buzzards are really blessed to have so many guys who step up to the plate and do the work to make these contests possible.
After the lunch break was over we got straight into round 5 in simply very difficult air once again. Though lift was available the ride was always very fast downwind with simply insufficient rate of climb to work back for long enough to make the time. I scratched around to nearly make my time and had to make an extra low level turn in the LZ because my dog Scruffy raced out to greet my plane. Once Jody got a grip on him I still managed to hit the LZ for some points to take the round. Ray Alonzo was second with Paul Mittendorf and Rick Eckel making the four.
Just before we launched into round 6 a very strong breeze started to blow constantly from the North and Rick and other pilots were seen adding ballast.
I launched first and headed upwind to the front of the treeline into the most awesome lift we had all day. When the wind blows this strong there is always great wave activity at the Buzzards and this day was no exception as everybody but 2 pilots made their times in a round that saw many specked out. I didn’t make a single turn until it was time to land. Jody went foward later in the round and did pretty much the same thing although others took thermals downwind as well. Great air and awesome fun to fly it.
The four honors pilots for the final round 7 were Rusty Carver, Jody Miller, myself and Dan Johns. The wind was still blowing strong but we had markers to the left so that was the direction I headed only to find little love. I spent a couple of minutes dicking around at and below tree height over the pond to be unfortunately first to land at just over 4 mins. Jody was able to find the air above me and downwind and made his time for a great scoring flight. Rusty and Dan got 5 minutes or so. Of the remaining pilots Rick Eckel took his Perfect out for a great max and Gordy (unashamedly demonstrating the ultimate in sandbagging techniques) kept us all waiting and finally launched into pretty good air after everyone else had already landed for the round.
When the scores were tallied after a gruelling day we had Mike Naylor winning the Sportsman category. I sneaked into 3rd place with some solid late rounds. Rusty showed his class when it mattered to take 2nd place and Gordy showed us that he hasn’t lost his touch entirely to take top honors for the day.
I think that this contest – both Sat and Sun taught me more about thermal flying than any TD contest I have flown before. It is such a pity that so many good TD pilots didn’t come out and experience the same thing as it takes these conditions to bring out the real skills that keep our ships aloft for the required time and even more skills to make landings accurately in such choppy conditions. I am already waiting for the Tangerine. Lets do it guys. See you at the Buzzards field in 3 weeks.
Over and out.