The Gordon Report Sat – Faith is knowing it can be done!
What a Day!
What a day indeed.
As per the forecast the wind did blow at times but a great group of 18 fliers had a lot of fun today at the Buzzards FSS #6. I had lobbied all week to try to get 20 pilots to the contest so it qualified as a Level 5 LSF event. We failed by just 2 pilots to make the numbers but congratulations to all the 18 who did turn up and welcome also to the spectators we had at the field today as well. It was a tough thermal day but a couple of rounds saw booming thermals pass through the field at about 20 mph but the rest of the time most fliers nosed into the wind and worked various forms of wave lift that formed here and there on the upwind end of the paddock.
Raed started proceedings with a pilots meeting shortly after 10:00 am and flying in the 1st round was underway by 10:15. A 7 minute max was set with normalized scoring plus a graduated runway landing with 25, 50, 75 and 100 points available from a well executed arrival. We were warned that with the Sou-easterley blowing that the pond was going to be “in play” but also that amphibious landings were out of bounds. More on that later!
Round 1 was pretty well uneventful for the most part – but was marked by many low scores with most pilots achieving 3 to 4 minutes in the windy conditions. Rick Eckel and his Pike Imperfect immediately put his mark on this contest with a masterful 6:57 in the 1st round. Jim McLean also flying a Perfect showed that he can handle windy days with the round winning score of 6:58 -0 for 995 points. Jamie Mercado flying an Explorer matched Ricks score with a max and Rich Kiburis and his Onyx JW made the four for honors leadoff to round 2 with a 25 landing and 5:35.
It was towards the end of Round 1 that I finally got to relinquish my tenure on the special yellow award I was honored with early this year when Al Parsons decided to test the pond water with his Onyx. The Onyx got wet – Al’s feet got wet and I got that Rubber Ducky out of my flight box at last. Funny thing was that Al was not going to be the owner of the Buzzards Rubber Ducky for long!
Consistency was required on a day like this and Rick followed his great 1st Round score with another max in the 2nd. Jim Mclean also maxed again in bloody difficult air which I personally was struggling with – as were most of the field. Once again Jamie Mercado found good air and shot a perfect landing to win the round. Don Grisham flying a Supra got a max and new comer Rick Horlander in his first thermal contest maxed with his Supra too. Rich Kiburis showed the same good form he has exhibited all season and flew a max with a 100 landing and Jody Miller also managed to max with his Edge and score 50 landing points. In all 12 pilots found pieces of a giant thermal which blew through and easily made the 7 minutes so CD Raed Elazzawi increased the max to 8 min for Round 3. Jamie, led off Round 3 and Dan Johns flying a Shadow was second on the honors list with a great 100 point landing and max in Round 2. 3rd in Round 2 was Rich and Jody Miller rounded out the top 4 honors pilots. Dan and Rich were the only pilots of this honors quartet to find air for 8 minutes and this is where the honors system was a great leveller with Jamie and Jody on the deck in less than 3 minutes. Others like Rick launching later in the round fared no better with Rick posting an uncharacteristic 3:18 with the Perfect and Jim McLean a 4:19. The air was all down at times and actual thermals to turn in were very few and often required very tight turns to make use of them.
With 3 Rounds complete the leaderboard had Rich kiburis in 1st place with Dan Johns and Jim McLean 3rd and Rick Eckel 4th.
Lunch was enjoyed with a short break. Thanks Rusty for once again providing the cooking skills and keeping a hungry bunch fed with great burgers and dogs.
I personally was having a real struggle in this contest and was both failing to make the times AND missing the landings with my Sharon so I took the Espada for a fly during lunch and decided to try her out for the afternoon. It didn’t make any difference to the outcome as I faded to one of the “also rans.”
Lunch seemed to fire Jody Miller up though as he came out in Round 4 and posted a round winning score with a 8:02 and 50 with Rick matching it with a 7:58 and 50. Rick Horlander showed that he is going to be a force to reckon with here at the Buzzards as he piloted his Supra to a superb 8:02. Jim McLean kept his name on the leader board with a 7:57 . Landing points were getting harder to earn as the blustery conditions fooled many of us – seeing some overshoots and many falling short of the strip.
During Round 5 the thermal activity finally saw most of the field post a good score and 4 perfect “100” landings were also made by the masterful Rick Eckel, the “never say die” Jim McLean, “dead eye dick” Rich Kiburis and the amazing Pompano kid Jamie Mercado. These top 4 scores had a spread of just 7 points for the Round.
The air was so fickle on this day that Round 6 was maxed by just 3 pilots. All the leading glider guiders failed to find air and Rick Horlander lurking with consistent scores all day jumped into a final 3rd place outright (1st Sportsman) with a great 7:52 in this which was to be the final round. A special congratulations are needed for Rick as this is his first TD contest and also he has just moved to our area and is expected to be a regular at the Buzzards in the future. Our CD Raed flying a Legend also maxed this round 6 w ith a great 8:12 and 25 and the ever smiling and happy Ben Carroll from Pompano Hill Fliers posted a great 8:04 while the rest of us floundered around in the sink.
It was this final Round where Jody Miller and his Edge also found the going a little tough over the pond and a funny sight was Jody racing flat out to the pond get his model before the radio got wet. Sorry we had to laugh mate – but it was funny.
A special mention to Hank McDaniel who continues to amaze me with his spirit and ability flying in all conditions regardless of the fact that he is old enough to be my grand daddy. Also thankyou to Leif Francisco who flew his little Spirit in every round on a day that many pilots elected not to fly at all. We didn’t get the 20 I was looking for but 18 pilots came out and had a great day of sun (and wind) and I know that I am a better pilot today because of this very windy experience.
The final out come was a great 1st place in Sportsman class to Rick Horlander with Jim Blacketer 2nd and Leif third.
In expert class Rick Eckels showed why he is regarded by many as the premier pilot in TD in Florida. He came through with the consistency and the points for a great win with 5234.52 points on a day where nobody else even reached 5000. Well done Rick!
2nd Place in Expert was Jim McLean on 4944.64 who was absolutely solid all day with his Perfect. (Thats Pike Perfect 1st and 2nd. ) Rich Kiburis filled 3rd place with a great flying (and landing) display on 4874.11. 4th was Dan Johns with 4860.12 flying a Shadow.
Don Grisham filled a great 5th, Jamie Mercado 6th, Raed 7th, Gordon (that’s me) 8th and Ben Carroll 9th with Jody Miller rounding out the top 10.
It was a great day but a humbling one for me as I expected a much better personal result and flew very poorly for my worst result of the season. Thanks for everyone who made a special effort to be here today, I know some of you flew because you heard the call to make the numbers for LSF 5. I am sorry we didn’t quite get enough but I am also indebted to you for making the effort to be there. (Especially you Leif. Thankyou.)
Tomorrow is a new day and I am looking forward to great things.
The Gordon Report – FSS #6 Sunday. Success is getting up one more time than we fall.
After a helluva windy day yesterday 10 of us braved the 20 to 30 mph high winds that were forecast for Sunday. Starting one hour earlier at 9:00am, Raed got us flying in Round 1 with just a small breeze and just enough warmth in the ground for a few bubbles of rising air to be found. 5 fliers found enough energy going up to reach the 7 minute max while the others all got resonable air to make around 5 minutes. A few Buzzards were venturing about at low level trying to get up but they weren’t much help to us in this first round. Rusty Carver flew his onyx JW with precision to score a near perfect time and a 100 point landing. Rick Eckel picked up where he left off yesterday with a great max and 100 points also. Ed White was relieved of his Orange Grove duties for the day and he came to play with his Fusion and showed us he could still mix it with a moldie in the wind too. His 1st round time was a few seconds off but he scored a great 75 landing to be our 3rd honors callup pilot for round 2. I finally got close to a max for the weekend and stuck a 100 point landing to be 4th in the honors lead-off.
As predicted by the weather service the wind was already increasing by the time round 2 was under way and a fair amount of difficulty was experienced with winch line breaks. It made round 2 take a little longer than usual as the hard working trio of Raed and Jamie Mercado and Al Parsons set about repairing the breaks and unwinding the tangles. The delay meant my launch was late but I managed to still find good lift forward of the forest to get another max. Rusty and Rick who had launched first both got their times too but clearly the air was becoming harder to read with gusty wind breaking up any thermal activity as fast as it formed. Jody Miller continued to fly his Edge very well and in this round scored a 6:59 and 100 for a near perfect score to win the round. Rusty followed up his great 1st round with another great score with 7:00 and 75 landing to be second. Third pilot in round 2 was myself with a 6:58 and Rick Eckel completed the quartet to launch fourth in round 3 with a 6:57.
Round 3 saw some changes on the leader board as the wind fairly threatened to blow us away. Neither Rick nor Rusty found the same honey holes they had been hunting and landed short on time. Jody and I had been having success flying a particular area – maintaining position and heading, so we continued to work our patch and were the only two fliers to get a max in round 3. With such a strong wind there was little to be gained from turning – in fact there was much to be lost because all the good air was seemingly as a result of ground objects creating excellent bands of “wave” lift. I flew this entire round without making a single full turn until landing time. Jody did the same. We both scored landing points and for Jody this was his second consecutive 100 pointer. Ed White was best of the rest this round with a 5:45 and Rick Eckel remained in the hunt with a fighting 5:23 and 25 point landing.
Round 4 was to be the last round before we could sample Rusty Carver’s BBQ so the BBQ was lit and Chris Manley set about cooking as we commenced Round 4.
Jody Miller found the same great air in a similar location and went about scoring yet another max. For me it was the one round to forget as the air I flew turned “sinky” and left me floundering at treetop height halfway through the task for a poor score and in fact last place for the round. Jody was to post the only max Rd 4 as everybody except him found the blustery conditions extremely challenging.
A well earned break was enjoyed and it was fantastic to see a number of visitors come out to watch us fly today. At one point we had 3 police cars and by lunch time there was more spectators brought to our field by Raed’s strategically placed “Soaring Contest” signs.
After a great Rusty Cheeze Burger the Honors lead off in Rd5 was called by Raed. It would be Jody again, Rusty as soon as he washed his hands. Ed White was to be 3rd and Jamie Mercado finally scored well on this difficult day. Jamie’s flying has improved every contest all year and his big green Explorer is just beautiful to watch. Once again Jody found lift over the trees but this flight he let his Edge drift along the tree line and then further and further downwind. All the time he was maintaining altitude around or above launch height but not climbing. With just a couple of minutes left for his max he began the treacherous run upwind to the landing area. Clearly if he found sink on the way back his ship was doomed. As “cool as a cucumber” Jody pushed forward and just cleared the downwind trees and then proceeded to circle in the lift forward of the trees at about 60 feet for over a minute while he burned the clock off. It was a magnificent flight with chances taken and rewards earned with a 6:56 and 50 landing. For me Round 5 was also my favorite. I wasn’t in the honors callup so I could choose when to go. I got a great launch and worked the lift in the same fashion as Jody and I had all day. I managed another max with a round winning time of 6:46 and 100 landing. Dan Johns – the intrepid Shadow pilot from Pompano also maxed round 5 to be 3rd behind Jody. 4th honors callup for the 6th and final round was to be Jamie Mercado again. Though Rick Eckel had flown consistently all weekend – his rds 3, 4 and 5 were short on time with his Imperfect – but as Rick does, he kept sticking landings and actually had the second most landing points for the day. (Second only to legendary landing guru Rich Kiburis.)
As I launched first in Round 6 I asked Ed White to time for me and after a great launch he gave me lots of great information about what he thought was going on with the air and the other flyers who followed us. I clearly got the better of the air early in the round and was higher than all the other 3 honors fliers by the time they had launched. As is often the case though the lift faded and I only just managed to get my time (short by 17 sec) with Ed keeping me calm to get my Sharon across the line for valuable landing points as well. This round was to be Jodys bad one for the day. Coming into round 6 with a commanding lead he could only find heavy air launching behind me and fell well short of his max. Rick lifted his final standing with a great max and another 100 landing. In fact for this round in-explicably Ed White launched later than everyone else and was the only pilot other than Jody not to find good air.
The wind certainly made conditions challenging but I also think it made better pilots of all of us who braved it. For me Sat was a humbling experience with my worst display of flying since I began this year. Overnight my mentor Gordy Stahl reminded me on the phone of what it takes to get good scores. I was determined today to do the simple things well in the wind. Launch high, Fly camber (without turning) and get landing points. That’s what I did and managed to scrape past Jody Miller for 1st place. Sorry Jody. Your turn next time. Jody was 2nd. Rick Eckel filled third place. Rusty grabbed 4th and Dan Johns pipped Ed White for 5th place.
Thankyou to Raed for being a great CD, organizer and flying too. Thanks for cooking Rusty. Thanks to Rich and Al for setting up all the gear. Thanks to Rick Eckel for your encouragement when I was down yesterday. And a very special thanks to Mike Naylor who offered to do the scoring for me today so I could concentrate on my flying.
Thankyou to all the participating pilots and clubs this year, as the FSS series has been lots of fun. We look forward to seeing you all again in 3 weeks at the Tangerine.
Gallery of photos from Saturdays fun.
Gallery of photos from Sundays windier fun.