The Gordon Report – ALES style
There could not have been better planned conditions for this event with Don scheduling thermals to die for. The gods hearing our prayers provided hot, mildly humid, thermal making conditions that had Gentle Ladies, Radians and all kinds of Unl ships foating around in the heavens at will. In fact it was a Radian that finished on top of the 2M class with no maxes missed and that gives you an idea of how glorious the day was.
Don ran a geat contest with 2 classes – 2M and UNL and a special prize for best Radian. (I tried this the first ALES event with a Radian and a standard prop which was flat out getting me to 150M in 30 seconds. – (Not a good recipe for scoring well against this group of enthusiatice contestants!) I spent 9.99 at Graves Hobbies during the week and fitted her up on Fri night. When I tried the combo out on Saturday morning I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was getting to 200M in about 22 sec. Huge difference!)
Don’s pilot meeting aleted us to the fact that the format would be a 5min prep time before every round indicated by a horn blast and flying a flag. The flag would come down after 5 minutes and a 1minute clock would start for the horn to be blasted again to begin the round. Pilots would launch their aircraft within the next 15 secs. Timers would start their clocks at the launch of the aircraft and we would fly 7 minute rounds. The format worked fabulously well with really the only improvement being the potential to start some rounds once everyone was ready rather than wait for the 5 minutes to tick away while we boiled in the sun. The good thing about those 5 minutes though was it provided ample opportunity to read the air prior to launch and we used that all day.
The Fantasy of Flight location is a great soaring field with good facilities, parking and sufficient variation in the terrain to be a terrific thermal colony. Plenty of oak trees also harbor many bird species and we had a parade of swallow-tail and red-shoulder hawks, buzzards providing indicators all day.
The 2M class was divided into two groups because of the limited number of landing spaces. We had 6 – 100 point tapes set up and sometimes 8 or more pilots in a group. First round saw action that was to be repeated all day with many 2M sailplanes tracking upwind to find lift and thermalling for 3 or 4 minutes to over 1000 feet to descend back to the Lz for the 7 minute max.
I was great to see new faces once again with power pilots trying out soaring and having a great time learning to read thermals.
Unfortunately my preparation was so poor that I launched my newly acquired Super Ava in the first round with the CAM set to 100M instead of 200. It is real easy to accidentally re-program the thing by switching your system on with the Throttle position set to flat out. That puts the CAM switch into programming mode with a bunch of wierd tones which thean accidentally programs the wrong setting if you flip the throttle power switch at the wrong moment. Exactly what I did! I tried to save my arse but failed miserably to convert 100m to 7minutes landing at 3:29. As with everything new there is a learning curve. That was my lesson!
The contest was run so smoothly that in no time we had flown 3 rounds and Don was calling lunch. Those 3 rounds were relatively un-eventful with some great flying and a few low saves particularly by the old hand Raed flying his electrified BoT. The most action was seen in the landing zone with 8 or nine aircraft descending at the same time to compete for space on a landing tape. Made it interesting and lots of fun with no mishaps though there was some banter about doing a kamikaze on the aircraft already in the LZ by follwing pilots.
Lunch was provided very ably by the catering truck and the contest once again got under way with the sun now heating things up over 90 degrees.
During the 4th round of 2M a strong thermal created a willy willy (dust devil in american speak) which was wandering along the flight line as we flew. I was 20 seconds out from a landing when I saw the havoc the willy willy was creating and I sceamed out to my wife to grab my SuperAva and hang on to it. Turning back to my Radian I could not believe the air we were landing in was so turbulent that the eliptical dihedral was reversing to eliptical anhedral like a bird flapping its wings as I forced her to the tape. Managed a 42 landing in the midst of that and was mioghty proud of that. Turning to Sheralyn and my SuperAva I discovered the mini tornado had broken off my beach umbrella right in fron of her and planted it againce the barrier. She saved my ship tho. What a great wife I have. Other planes in the pits were not so lucky with a couple broken by the violent wind.
After 5 rounds Don called it quits and announced that we were to have a “flyoff” for 2 cases of beer.
One 15 minute round. If you managed more than 15 minutes it would then be a landing contest. I love a challenge for beer so I asked my secret weapon (my wife) to come out an call the beer air for me.
Every pilot bar one managed to make the 15 minutes in great conditions. Some of us sure did struggle at times with much of the flight conducted well below launch altitude but by the time the 15 minutes was drawing to a close the air had developed and most of us were specked out. I enjoyed the opportunity to shoot a landing without reference to the clock and managed a great 92. My best all day. At the next LZ Ray Alonzo put his Radian in very close to measure a 91 – just one off the money.
We all gathered around Ed who was last to land with his little 2M ship and though he made a valiant effort he was unable to pull off the miracle landing to rest the beer from my grip.
Don called us over to hand out the hardware.
Winner of the UNL category was none other than “Mr Electric” Rich Kiburis flying his big bird. 2nd was Conley Widdon who is really showing a lot of class in the ALES events so far. 3rd and a huge congrats was John Kennedy and his electric Ava. Well done John.
Winner of 2M was myself and the “heavy” Radian and new prop.
2nd was Rich Kiburis with his 2M thingy and Rick Eckel flying a Radian also came in 3rd.
The best Radian trophy went to myself also courtesy of some startling results in the LZ with my piece of foam.
Great day was had by all. Great format was enjoyed by all. Can’t wait for the next one.