The Gordon Report – Saturday
We looked forward to the second Kennyworld event this year with great anticipation. It is a fantastic flying site, Kenny is a wonderful host and a great group of pilots would gather together to contest Unlimited Sailplane for 2 days of competition. The only thing that wasn’t organised properly was the bloody weather! Sunny all week until Saturday and Sunday. Wasn’t that the way weekends always were when we were kids and had something planned for the weekend? In any case the rain and thoroughly overcast skies certainly made soaring much more difficult than the typical conditions we have in Florida at this time of year.
The Pompano Hill Flyers (where apparently you can smell the lift,) ran this 5th round of the FSS series. CD Mike Naylor started the contest off Saturday morning with 7 minute max normalized scoring plus a potential extra 10 to 50 points for landing using a graduated tape. Honors callup of the top 4 from the previous round was used and once again proved to be a great leveller by making sure the better pilots led the way on an open winch.
Right from Round one it was obvious that with the constant drizzle and heavy cloud shielding the sun, we would need to just try to fly in more bouyant air, because thermals as we know them just did not exist. Maxes were difficult to find but many pilots did manage to scratch around for the required 7 minutes and then make landings. Own own Buzzard – Rusty Carver is really starting to get his Onyx JW humming and led the field after Round 1. The other three honors call up pilots for Round 2 were Pompano Hill flier Larry Squire guiding a Shadow, our Rick Eckel and his imperfect Pike and that very hard to beat Buzzard – Rich Kiburis with another Onyx. The honors callup saw all four pilots lead off and fail to find good enough air to get their maxes so a new group faced the winches first for the start of Round 3. They were yours truly who finally flew my Sharon in just the right places to get a max and landing. Jamie Mercado (also from Pomano Hill) showed us all weekend how much he has improved and piloted his beautiful Green Explorer to join the honors callup foursome. The other two pilots leading off in Round 3 were Racy Ray Alonzo flying an Art Hobby creation and Vic Marget. Vic has just returned to Soaring after a forced year long layoff and it’s great to have him back as he flys extremely well. Ray’s launch of his gorgeous Art Hobby ship quickly became an unguided missile display – as for unknown reasons his ship flew rapidly at terra firma in a pilotless condition. (Another strange 2.4 case.) Each round was punctuated with short showers or drizzle so lunch was had at the conclusion of Round 3. More than half the field made their 7 minute time so our CD added a minute to make an 8 minute max for Round 4.
Kenny and his team are great hosts and provided $5 burgers straight off the grill for lunch while Rusty Carver entertained us with some helicopter antics.
I personally set a goal to begin my quest at this contest for my 3 LSF 5 3 wins of 20 contestants or more. I was pleased to know we had 23 fliers begin the day but my joy was shortlived when I failed by 45 seconds to achieve my max in the first round. I was working with a new partner in Jody Miller who is a great caller of air and my flight would certainly have been even shorter without his help. Jody was flying his brother Nathans Edge and is doing very well in his 1st couple of contests. He will be a force to reckon with. Putting them bad round behind me, I did find good air each round thereafter and led the callup again for Round 4.
Along with me was Dan Johns (another Pompanian) with his Shadow, and our Buzzard VP Al Parsons flying a home grown Bitzer and again Rustys Onyx JW. The air was still very difficult though with some of us managing to navigate away from the florida sinkholes while others got buried in the downward air to post low scores.
With heavy storms approaching our CD called it a day after 4 rounds.
My happiest moment in my soaring comeback was to find that I had scraped into 1st place to post my 1st LSF 5 win. FSS President Larry Squire handed out the plaques for our year end trophies. 2nd place just 18 points behind me was the ever consistent Buzzard Rich Kiburis. Third place was a sleeper in John Kennedy who was right there all day in 5th or 6th but moved up with a great final round. Larry Squire showed us he can still do it too with a great 4th place. The Sportsman fliers for the day were led by
Kennyworld is a great facility with Kenny allowing us the use of the barn. This meant that all the aircraft could be placed in the barn overnight and did not require disassembly. Some of us stayed overnight at his facility also, with our RV’s and campers as Kenny has provided hook-ups for RVrs. Ed White, Al Parsons and Rich Kiburis cooked up a great Bar-B-Q between showers while Ray Alonso first tried to master the intricacies of his Blaster 2 and then showed his eyes were still up to it with some hot passes from a mini racer called a Voodoo. An incredible tiny electric moldie that you have got to see to believe. A great day was had by all but it was with hopes and prayers for a less rainy weather change when we retired late Saturday night.
The Gordon Report – Sunday
It rained unbelievably hard much of the night so we were hoping it would be all done by morning but dawn came on Sunday with more showers and it seemed our soaring day would be doomed. Just like Saturday though the rain moved through and we actually managed some sunshine and the contest got underway about an hour late. The humidity was incredible during the morning and the air very heavy. In spite of that, 8 of the 20 starters managed to make 7 minutes in the 1st round. My 6:58 – 40 just edged out Rich Kiburis’s 6:57 – 40 for the 1st up in the honors call up. Jamie Mercados landings were very consistent all weekend and he grabbed 3rd place with a 6:52 – 50 and Rusty Carver was very close behind with a 6:58 – 30.
The wind direction had changed over night so we were now launching downwind with about 5 mph and landing downwind just to keep it interesting. The first round saw a mid air between Jody Millers Edge and Art Scheurer’s Mantis. They intertwined and helicoptered their way into the tree plantation. Neither birds were badly injured but they were retired for the day and both will live to soar again.
The second round saw the wind pick up a bit and a different group of faces took the round as the leaders faltered. Rusty Carver was still in the top four but Ed White showed his skills with a perfect 7:00 and 50 to take the top honor. They were joined by Mike Naylor our illustrious CD and the lurking Rick Eckel who was flying is Perfect very well.
The air was really tough and those that made their max worked hard for it with no easy rides in fast moving small thermals that were breaking apart after just a couple of minutes. The wind increased at times so some flyers had to deal with nasty down wind launches and high speed landings that made energy judgement very difficult. In the 3rd round I succumbed to the tailwind on landing with an over aggressive 50 pointer turning to zero as my Sharon raised her tail up, up, up and finally flipped over.
Winning the 3rd round was Jamie Mercado with another consistent flying and landing display. Buddy Bradley and Rusty Carver also were keeping the pressure on and Don Grisham flew a fantastic round with his Icon 2 to join them at the winch for the beginning of round 4.
The air was very difficult to read and less than half the field of 20 were maxing each round. Often the “guinea pigs” leading off the round (as our honors pilots,) found the going tough and helped those following to get a better read on the fast moving spotty lift that was there. At the end of Round 4 Al Parsons had shown he has what it takes with a perfectly timed approach and landing to take top spot. Ed White and Rich Kiburis followed with Larry Pitts showing some great style to round out the top four. Round 5 was to be our last for a day which was now seeing enough wind for our CD to switch the landing zones 180 degrees. Rain was a coming also and half of us managed to complete our round before the rain with about 5 flyers who had to wait till the shower passed to complete the round.
This was my second opportunity for a Level 5 LSF win so I was very focussed. I new that after my flip over zero landing earlier I would need a very high score in Round 5 if I was to stand any sort of a chance of winning today. With Ed White calling my air I managed to pull off a great flight for a perfect round by flying very deep downwind to some great lift and making it back while most were floundering in nasty air nearer to home. It was not quite enough though as Jamie Mercado flew 5 consistent rounds and finished with enough points in the last round to win the contest. I took second place just 34 points behind. 3rd place was taken by Buddy Bradley flying an Ava most of the day and Larry Pitts did a great job to take 4th. Our 1st placed Sportsman was Lance Ropke (I think similar to Samson – his fine crop of hair gives him certain soaring skills. ) Tom McPherson took a great 2nd in Sprtsman.
Though conditions were quite miserable at times, it meant that every flier had to fight hard every round for their times and their landings. That made the contest in my view challenging and more rewarding. We met some new soaring friends – some who travelled a long way and we look forward to soaring with them again soon. See you all at FSS 6 at the Buzzards home field Nov 7th and 8th.