FSS 1 April 7th Saturday

Saturday was forecast as being a little windy as often happens this kept a few of the potential pilots from coming out to play so we only had 16 registered when CD Don Grisham held the pilot meeting about 9:45am. Raed had set up two winches with retrievers and angled them a little toward the East as the current Northerly that was blowing about 7mph was forecast to switch more East during the morning. Don announced a format of MoM with assigned timers using the relative card positions on the board to determine who times each pilot. This system has been a huge success over the last few years with many pilots getting to interact with others they wouldn’t normally fly with and learn from each other. This is a positive thing and although I have heard the occasional grumbling once you’ve tried it a few times it breaks your dependence on having the same person time every flight and makes you a better pilot. The main thing it does is really move the contest along and allows more rounds to be flown in the same amount of time.
The first round got under way about 10:00am and I flew in Group one basically staying focused upwind riding some nice air along with my group for the required 7 minutes. Shooting a 99 landing gave me a really good start for the day and the rest of my group and most of the pilots in the following groups also found the air friendly in spite of the wind to make their times. Dillon Graves also shot a 99 and Jeff Carr coming all the way from Nth Carolina to play, put himself in good position with an 89 and John Graves flying very well slotted into 4th with an 87. Jeff wasn’t the only Northern visitor to join us for the contest as we all welcomed Skye Malcolm to Florida for the contest as well.
The wind started to strengthen just a little even though it did not appear to be swinging to the east as quickly as forecast so we were launching with a bit of a cross from the left for most of the morning. The 2nd round was set at a task time of 8 minutes and quickly the pilots started to find difficulty with the conditions as the real thermal lift became the only way up and venturing sometimes quite a long way was necessary to escape the surprisingly nasty down air. A couple of flight times were posted during this round of 1.5 to 2 minutes so you can imagine how important it was to choose a direction and find the positive air. Raed Elazzawi and Jamie Mercado showed how it was done as did Enrico Parades flying his pants off against Skye Malcolm both getting their maxes working air downwind. The third group all covered each other and made their times while the top group saw Dillon make a tactical error by not covering as he went too far too the right and then failed to make it to our lift with sufficient height. This is more of the experience that is shaping Dillon into the future champion he will become.
The third round saw the first group struggle with the conditions with the two Johns (Kennedy and Graves) both topping their group with flight times around 7 minutes. With a fairly strong wind at times around 15mph Dillon elected to fly his F3B model as he did not have a ballast system ready for his primary X2. It was a struggle for him also in the unpredictable conditions but he managed to eek out a 7:24 flying this much heavier model. Practice with his Freestyler is necessary though as he has much less stick time on the model as compared to his Xplorers. Enrico and Jamie Mercado made their times to top his group. Group three was the most difficult air of the day as experienced pilots like Paul Mittendorff, Rick Eckel and Jamie Mercado all found the going too tough and were outlasted by a wily Raed Elazzawi who won the group with a 4:48 – 87. The last Group before lunch saw Jeff Duval go the wrong way for a poor score while the rest of us Jeff Carr, Jody Miller and myself made our times to finish the morning unscathed.
During the lunch break the previous end of year 2012 FSS trophies were awarded with new President Paul Mittendorff presenting 5th through 1st in Sportsman and Expert categories. The award plaques are extremely nice as they are expertly engraved with the FSS logo in color by the AMA trophy shop.
Round 4 began after lunch with the wind now a little better lined up with our winch direction but still blowing fairly well requiring me to retain a small amount of ballast in my X2. The first group was won by John Graves with a 4:18 – 72 and Group 2 had all the air that they missed out on with Jamie and Jeff Duval duking it out in the LZ with a 100 and a 99 respectively. Group 3 and 4 each had 3 pilots make their time with one other finishing up well short. This is the nature of MoM and why it is so much more exciting. It requires you to find lift when it’s your turn to launch which requires specific air reading skills other than watching others find lift and then go and launch as with open winch. With top pilots like rick Eckel, Jody Miller and Jeff Duval missing their times the top order was getting shuffled every round.
In Round 5 we saw Mike Naylor keep his Xplorer aloft for a grand 7:56 in conditions where the rest of his group couldn’t beat 6 minutes. This also saw shuffling at the other end of the scoresheet as everybody seemed to take a turn at flying too long in down air. Group 3 also saw Enrico and Paul falter slightly as Rick and Jody made the best of the air while the top Group all took their models out very high and deep for 4 maxes.
It was Round 6 where mayhem set in as Dan Johns absolutely trounced his group by over 2 minutes and shot a great landing to rub it in. With the max having been increased by CD Don Grisham to 9:00mins Enrico became the first pilot to get the nine while his opponents also foundered with flight times around 5 minutes. Rick, Jody and Jeff Duval all made their times in Group 3 while Jamie had a short flight to drop out of contention while the top of the table got shuffled also as the fickle air finally got the better of me and I landed 4 minutes short. This moved our visitor Jeff Carr into 1st place with one round to go and I slipped from 1st to 4th with Dillon moving up from 4th to 2nd and Rick from 5th to 3rd. Raed also went from 3rd to 5th while Jody remained in 6th.
The final round was announced as also a 9:00 min round and we got underway in the cycling but windy thermal conditions about 3:00pm. The 1st group once again struggled in the air they were presented with John Kennedy taking the 1000 with a 3:20. Jamie Mercado aced Group 2 with a 9:05 – 98 and Group 3 launched in pretty good air which was missed by Jeff Duval having a bit of an off day while the others maxed. The final Group 4 was another difficult piece of air which required quick decisions and although we all seemed to be making progress turning in lift downwind only one pilot made it work for the 9 minutes and that was our visitor Jeff Carr who distinguished himself on the day as the only pilot on the day to make 7 maxes and won our event in fine style. The air was definitely there to make it work if you had enough balls but it was often weaker lift and the downwind drift saw many pilots including myself leave lift with insufficient height gained and work upwind to find a new ride only to fail and land short of time. A tougher day than normal in Florida but one that made us really work for our times. The best flying other than Jeff Carrs fine display was put in by Raed who nearly finished the day with 7 maxes also except for a 4:48 in Rd 3. Raed’s excellent form was enough for 2nd place keeping Jody Miller in 3rd a few points back while Jeff Carr won the Expert category easily with 7542 points.
The Sportsman class was won by John Graves and today marked the first time the FSS had run a contest where we provided trophies for the newly approved Grey Cup. Rick Eckel easily won the class with Dan Johns second and John Kennedy 3rd. Tom Galloway was the 4th Grey beard contender and will place a lot higher once we get him into some modern equipment. Tom is a great pilot but it often seems unfair as he struggles to keep up with our modern moldy ships as he campaigns a bagged wing model from over a decade ago. You need to upgrade Tom as the old foam wing is definitely holding you back. Look at how Raed skills have shone out and he has improved his scores tremendously by upgrading to the same quality equipment as the rest of us.
The soaring day was really enjoyed by the 16 pilots and I must admit flying in tricky conditions always creates more memorable moments than the usual easy thermal conditions we get served up in Florida. My memories of this contest will always be of Dillon voluntarily having the guts to campaign a much more difficult model to keep his super light X2 safe and Jeff Carr’s rock solid performance (although a bit rusty in the LZ.) Well done Jeff. I hope you come back again soon.
Tomorrow promises to be an easier day with less wind. See you all then.

Comments are closed.