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Pre-comp at the Quest Air Nationals

Many pilots have showed up early for the 2018 Quest Air Nationals.
Today this is what the sky looked like:

This is a satellite shot at 1:30 PM. It looked that good at noon also.

The place is packed with pilots ready to fly. These last three days have been
very flyable and tomorrow looks good also. The first day of the comp on Sunday
doesn't look so good, but after that it's all good.

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high
near 89. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday: A chance of showers, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 2pm.
High near 82. Windy, with a south southeast wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as
high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

We had a task of 229 km to the north northwest. I was pulled up at noon to a sky
full of cu's. Pulling the pin at 1,600' I circled up to Christian Ciech at cloud
base at 3,900' at 300 fpm. He was test flying the new gliders that he brought
with him from Italy.

Larry Bunner was right after me and we were set for the big task. But when he
came in under me he couldn't get up. Also his radio wasn't working. I was
hanging out at cloud base waiting for him.

Finally I went upwind to stay local and wait for him to get up. I didn't find
any lift under the cu's until I was down to 800' at the north end of the runway.
I worked 50 fpm to 1,400' drifting rapidly away from Quest in a 10 mph southeast
breeze. Then I saw Larry landing.

Losing the lift I went in search for more but ended up landing also. A quick
reflight did nothing as I went under the nearest darkest cu and found zilch.
Larry almost landed again but found 400 fpm at 1,600' at the north end of the

He was able to head north and find a few other very slow thermals. He was
getting no where fast and it sure didn't feel like an epic day, although it sure
looked it.

I got on the radio and suggested coming back as there didn't seem to be any wind
on the ground. He thought that was a great idea and started back. It was a
struggle, but he did it as conditions improved. Lots of pilots sank out before
late in the afternoon it improved a lot.

The tugs were pulling pilots up all day with a few making short cross country
flights upwind and back. Some didn't make it back or ever got above tow height.

This is our first day of the season with fake clouds. Very similar forecast for
Saturday, so we'll see if we are faked out again.
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