The Gordon Report – On time!!!!
Well amazing it was! ….
Lots of dry heat as our CD would say….
Perfect thermal conditions and 15 intrepid sailplane pilots with ruddered planes in a 7 round X 7 minute a pop TD contest.
Rich chose 100 point landing tapes for the LZ and with a quick pilots meeting at 9:30 we were underway and flying at before 10:00am.
With honors callup in place the first round was started by drawing four lucky pilots from the bunch to start proceedings off. Rich set the first round easy with a five minute max and most everyone found that not too difficult. A couple of notables were a minute or so short after scratching in marginal lift.
Kris Van Nostran set a high standard in round 1 with a 5:03 and 94 for 391 flying an Ava. Kris is going from strength to strength as his practice and dedication pays off and translates to high contest scores. I was close behind with my trusty old (Jody repaired) Super Ava on it’s first outing since being treed at last years Tangerine. I made a 5:00 – 87 for 387 with Jody Miller close behind flying an Ava 5:02 – 86 384 and Ray Alonzo (Ava Pro) 4:56- 87 and 383. Clearly this looked like another great Buzzards tussle with landings playing a big part in the days result if the lift kept coming.
Round 2 (set at 7:00 min max) saw the honors group in a bit of a struggle on the left side over the barn area with myself getting very low 4 minutes in to finally catch a puff over the pond and get out of trouble. Ray wasn’t quite so lucky and finished a minute short when he failed to sniff out the good air that was lurking around. The most memorable flight of the round was put in by Dan Johns flying “The Bus” (an old Sailaire) as he got perilously low downwind, but flew a masterful save with the old Sailaire on her wingtip like a DLG just corkscrewing up and out for his max. Kris Van Nostran once again showed his skills to take the round (6:57 – 88 and 505) and easily lead the contest and the honors callup for round 3. He was joined by Ed White and his GL with a 6:55 – 85 for 500 and Rich Kiburis the illustrious CD and Jody Miller at the winches for the start of round 3. Ed White is an amazing pilot. If you have never seen him campaigning his GL (yes thats a Gentle Lady) you have missed out on something spectaular and amazing. Ed can do incredible things with his little piece of balsa and monocote. No spoilers, no span and no composite construction – just a wily pilot and a great flying little trainer. Ed came out to kick our butts with his GL and was already doing just that.
We quickly got flying in Round 3 as Rich hurried us along to ensure we completed 7 rounds for the day. It was tough air for part of this round as the lift began to cycle and sink came into play. Launches were also becoming rather crosswind from the right as the slight breeze set up from the North. In fact 9 of the 15 pilots failed to make their max this round and the call up group of four failed to get it done except for …….. yes you guessed it…. Ed and the Gentle Lady maxed out with a 6:49 and shot a 93 landing as well for a 502 score. It was a difficult piece of air but Ed launching 2nd last definitely knew where not to fly as Kris and Rich floundered in sink right off the top. It was a great flight by Ed and was only topped in the round by Ray Alonzo and the Ava Pro with 7:02 – 92. Even many of the pilots launching later in this round bombed out, as sink closed in around the Buzzards field. 3rd best flight was Al Parsons 6:57 – 38 and what I thought was a miserable landing result of mine 7:02 – 21. As we four launched for honors in Round 4 Rich announced a half hour break for lunch after the 4th round was over. As it often is with lift cycling through – as fast as sink had claimed nine victims in Rd 3 the strong lift in Rd 4 carried all but five pilots to maxes. We were joined at one point by the most magnificent swallow-tailed hawk showing off his prowess at thermalling and indicating truly for us where the strongest bits were.
The “half time” score sheet was printed and displayed and the Round 3 sinkfest had really shaken things up at the top. 1 through five with three rounds to go were: Gordon B (that would be me) on 1813 points, Al Parsons 2nd on 1781, Ed White and the GL on 1777 (go Ed), Ray Alonzo on 1774 and Jim MacLean on 1728.
Round 5 saw Ray Alonzo lead us off with me second on winch 2 followed by Jody and Jimmy Mac. Everybody lined up at the winches to follow us up as we caught a downwind launch into great lift forward out over the pond. Strong lift took most of us away but a couple of stragglers joined the fun a bit late and though Al scratched magnificently for a few minutes at a very low altitude he eventually succumbed to a shortened ride. The most fun part to watch though was “The Bus” as Dan drove her this way and that between the trees in a valiant attempt to make it home after failing to catch the ride. With 14 other pilots cheering him on, he made it through the gaps and back on deck to put the big beast down in the LZ. It was a short ride but definitely a memorable one. The best flight round 5 was Jody’s 7:00 – 95 flying a borrowed Ava he had never flown before. He was landing this girl like a man possessed. Jim MacLean also flew a great flight (7:00 – 78) with his Ava to be 2nd honors pilot for Rd 6 while Don Grisham showed us he could do it too with an excellent 6:57 – 81. No 4 on the honors callup was good old Ray hanging in there with a 7:04 – 81. The air had really got much stronger as the afternoon began and only 3 pilots didn’t max Rd 5.
The 90 degree crosswind quickly became a downwind for launching as lift pulled air to the west and the Rd 6 pilots (though launching low) had a clear indicator of where the lift was at. Temps had slowly been increasing all week hitting the high 80′s for the first time this season and we were enjoying the mildest hot weather one can expect in Florida. It meant great thermaling conditions though and the Rd 6 guys had a ball. With every piece of good air comes a piece of equally crappy air as Ed was to find this round. He launched the GL a little late as the cycle had moved through and found himself in a no-mans land of air that felt like lead. The GL capitulated to find the LZ in just over 2 mins and Ed’s magnificent run this contest was over. It was sort of a real pity because there is something to be said for watching a guy like Ed make a plane like his GL land better than most of the field, after being aloft for the required task time after time.
The final round saw Al Parsons lead us off with his more than respectable 7:02 – 98 being matched by an unstoppable Kris Van Nostran 6:56 – 100 to be tied for honors 1 on 516. I took 3rd position at the launching station with my 7:02 – 95 while Rich Kiburis was number 4 flying a Rd 6 7:01 – 93.
Once again the air was there. Just needed to be patient and let it develop and lift our gas bags up out of trouble. Inexplicably a couple of notable pilots missed the ride in the last round but I will not forget Ed Whites masterful recovery from the previous round disaster as he posted another spoiler-less 7:01 – 89 for 2nd best flight of the round. Jody easily flew the best flight round 7 with a 7:00 – 96 and was the best landing pilot all day with an average of 86. To put that in perspective Ed White average GL landing score without spoilers was 76. Eds result is remarkable when you consider his landing average beat me and my Super Ava (68) and even pilots like Ray Alonzo and Ava Pro who averaged 74.
The final scores were tallied as we packed up the gear and the top five pilots on the day for round one of the Bent Wing Challenge were:
Gordon Buckland – Super Ava – 3286
Ray Alonzo – Ava Pro – 3263
Jody Miller – Ava – 3182
Al Parsons – 3146 – Yard Dog
Rich Kiburis – 3087 – Supra RES
It was a great contest with lots of fun – laid back flying in a balmy Florida sun.
Can’t wait for more.
C U Next time