FSS 4 – Sun 05/20/12 IRKS Cocoa

The Gordon Report.

Kris called the pilots meeting an hour earlier than Sat and announced we would be flying the same format as Saturday with random flight groups of seven pilots and assigned timers.
The weather was a little milder with less wind around 7 mph also from the NE like Saturday.
Round 1 was called as 6 minute round and in active air all 14 pilots made the time. Jamie Mercado set the bar high from the start with a beautiful 100 point landing in conditions just perfect for soaring.
Round 2 saw the task set at 8 minutes and now Dillon stepped up to the plate with a great 100 pointer in the LZ. Nearly everybody found the up air this round also and it looked like it could become a landing contest if the conditions continued so strong.
Round 3 was more of the same with a great 100 pointer by Jody Miller also debuting his new Soaring USA X2. Dillon Graves showed us that his first 100 wasn’t a fluke by scoring another to match Jody. There were some holes in the lift though and a few of the pilots were not getting out as they spent too much time in down air and came home early.
Enrico Parades debuted his recently acquired Orca and his piloting skills showed as he maxed each round. The most interesting and gratifying part of the entire day was the sound of Dillon Graves on the flight line changing roles – as he came of age as a soaring pilot and began coaching other pilots to achieve more. It is one thing for Jody and I to have coached Dillon to be able to find and use lift but it is an entirely different thing to listen to him teach the same lessons to others. I have no doubt that 2 or 3 flights made by other pilots would have landed very early if it weren’t for Dillon calmly encouraging these more experienced pilots with “Keep pushing through the sink because the lift is always on the other side,” and “the lift has left you behind – leave that and fly downwind to pick it back up.” It was wonderful to see and I think Dillon will make tremendous forward progress now that he is predicting the outcome of not just his actions but that of others too.
The task for Round 4 was set by Kris at 10 minutes and all bar 2 pilots made the longer time. Dillon won the round with a 75 landing and Enrico was close behind also with a 75.
Round 5 air was just awesome with the whole sky seemingly going up. I finally managed to hit a landing to make 75 and get back some of the lead which Dillon, Jody and Jamie had been building. Rich Kiburis had also been hanging in with steady maxes and scoring landings. Ray’s landings had apparently left him for the day as he couldn’t buy a 75 of a 100 today.
Round 6 saw a return of Dillon to the hunskie for his 3rd 100 of the day and an almost unassailable lead in the contest. Jody managed a 75 to stay in the hunt but clearly all Dillon needed to win his first Open contest was one more max in the final round.
Dillon’s reads had been immaculate all day for both himself and those he called for so we had no doubt he could do it again just one more time. As his coaches Jody and I had decided it was really important that he complete the contest in “his own” air so he could feel he had done it 100% on his own.
As Dillons group launched I noticed that he was heading upwind while most of his group was going to the left toward some distant buzzards in marked lift. I was timing for Dan Johns so after assisting him into air I turned back to watch what Dillon was doing. He had not acquired lift and was now headed back toward the gaggle of gliders specking out downwind of his position.
I was relieved to see him navigate to the base of the thermal at around tree top height and hit a bump which he recognized and began to work. Meanwhile I kept up a running commentary of his progress to my pilot as I saw Dillon in the process of making an amazing save to win the contest. It was with dismay that I saw Dillons Xplorer stop turning and fly further downwind. He was already in positive air so why was he going away from it? Unfortunately Dillon had made an errant decision that the air was behind him and unfortunately this save was not to be. I am sure the disappointment was huge but this weekend this young pilot came of age as he passed on many valuable gems of soaring advice to others. He is very ready to take on the big boys next weekend in Denver CO at F3J in the Rockies.
The final winner was Dillons coach and mentor Jody Miller with Jamie Mercado 2nd and myself slipping into 3 rd place.
After the FSS event on Sunday we did some LSF tasks with Enrico Paredes and Mike Naylor up at the same time to do their 1 km goal and returns. I was at the far end of the course and Dillon Graves at the near end to sight the start and end points. Enrico specked out and succeeded easily in getting his new Orca up the course and back. We also got Mike on his way but without using a chase vehicle Mike had difficulty seeing the model 1km out and he had to bring her home before he reached the target. The good news is Mike is having his eyes repaired shortly by our famous club eye doctor Ray Alonzo – so we will get er dun next time. Get em fixed quick Mike.
Enrico also got his Orca specked out a little while later with the help of Rick Eckel and easily hung out under a dark cloud for 30 minutes to complete that L3 task as well.
The best news all day was Jamie Mercado’s relatively uneventful 30 minute flight. With Jody Miller and Mike Naylor assisting him and his Xplorer 4M with the air calling he flew around at various altitudes for the first 20 minutes or so and it wasn’t really until the last 10 of the flight that he really got her high. The TD task completed Jamie’s sheet for Level 3 and he can now move on to Level 4. Jamie had earlier placed 2nd in the FSS contest on both Sat and Sun to complete his contest requirements. Congrats to Jamie and Enrico on some excellent accomplishments. Thanks to Dillon for assisting with the 1Km course sighting and also to Jody and Rick for putting in the time to help these guys get their time.
Well done.
Full Scores Sunday FSS 4

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