The Gordon Report.
The first Florida ALES event may well have been better off conducted at the pub as a REAL ALES event cause the weather was really not condusive to enjoyable soaring. We had a pretty constant 10 to 15mph wind with gusts near 30mph at times which made for very interesting soaring when your weapon was a piece of foam like a Radian. That is the device I and many others were armed with to do battle in this inaugural event at the Buzzards soaring field. More than 20 people turned out to fly, time or watch the event which was fabulous for such crappy weather.
It was simply marvelous to see so many new faces with their “winch on the nose” ships. It’s great for the hobby in general and augers well for the remaining Florida events this year as well.
Rich Kiburis laid down the law at 9:30am with some tips on the Buzzards local rules, safety and landing zones. The landing zones chosen by Rich were the fabulous 100 point tapes with 1 point for every 3 inches. Thats a 300 inch radius available for landing points which is pretty generous but also an excellent measure of landing skill with the increments every 3 inches.
The timers were started the moment the sailplane was launched meaning that the first 30 seconds of powered flight was included in the 8 minute max set by Rich as our target. Rich announced two classes of 2M (including the Radians) and Unlimited, (including more radians for those of us that didn’t have anything else. )
With the field split in half to make it easier to find timers, we had two flight groups (A & B) for each round.
Round one saw us launching into a howling gale which really negated any opportunity to turn and circle in lift with a Radian but lift there was in many areas due to the abundance of trees and variations in the topography of the Buzzards field. It wasn’t surprising that some craft stayed aloft for 6 or more minutes as there is always “wave” to be found though tricky to ride out.
A lot of variation was seen in the launch heights of the various models with the more powerful ones clearly gaining a significant launch advantage. Most Radians were using the full 30 seconds of power time and not reaching the 200 meter powered ceiling.
A lot of pilots found landing in the LZ for points to be challenging and clearly some practice is required there with the various aircraft. Others (like myself) need to become much more familiar with the vagaries of modern BEC’s. ESC’s, Lipos and chargers etc. We have done so little stuff with electrics that we have a bit of a learning curve ahead. In spite of that there were few failures and most of the hardware including the Altitude limiting switches seemed to work pretty well. I lived up to my name in the 3rd round with another tree landing alighting my radian well up in a Pine tree while I was attempting to surf a little close to the greenery. Jody and Blaine kindly assisted in a “poking ” operation with our 50 foot extender pole and the Radian was recovered undamaged.
Various rounds through out the day were flown in cycles of pretty good lift and on more than one occasion multiple sailplanes including Radians were congregating in the windy LZ, 8 minutes after launch. In particular Ray Alonzo flying a Sundancer in UNL and an electrified Blaster2 in 2M was really showing how it is done with some great sorties outwide and way downwind to make many maxes while the rest of us watched. One occasion saw him hedge-hopping a long way back from downwind at an impossibly low height to make it all the way to the LZ for points as only Ray Alonzo can do.
Rusty Carver with his little 2M Penetrator thingy also impressed with many flights working lift downwind “where no radian could go.”
The biggest mention really needs to go to the new guys we haven’t seen before who came out and flew with uis in an untested contest format and had fun AND took home the bacon.
Conley Whiddon flying an IBIS was our UNL winner on the day with 2026 points. Great job from a newcomer. Hope to see lots more of him. 2nd place was filled by our own Ray Alonzo on 1889 points and third was Bob Jesse on 1812 points flying a Radian. Great job Bob and even more so because he flew the same Radian into 3rd place in 2M. What a great effort.
1st place in 2M was won by Ray Alonzo flying no more than a little baby Blaster 2. Excellent effort with some great flying skills displayed all day. 2nd in 2M was Rusty who campaigned his Penetrator with skill and daring on a day when the wind was often triumphant over us in our efforts to stay up. Two other new pilots also flew with distinction and finished just out of the wood and they were Jon Collins (Electra) and ZB (Pulsar 4M). Well done guys!
I think there is no doubt that everybody who came out to fly had a lot of fun and is sure to be back for the next event. From what I saw, this format is clearly a winner and with a few adjustments and improvements as we go along I can see it becoming a permanent fixture on our Buzzards soaring calendar. See you all again at Don Grisham’s Fantasy of Flight Contest.