Flying the third task in the 2018 Big Spring Nationals
Wednesday task was setup to avoid going to the north where there
was a forecast of thunderstorms. They would in fact show up later down south in
Big Spring so it was good that we did not fly to northeast o Lubbock as
Bobby Bailey pulled me up with his 583 2-stroke powered Dragonfly and because it
is under powered he turns as soon as he finds lift. He started turning at about
600' AGL I held on to about 1,500', which took a total of two turns and then
pinned off. It is great to have Bobby towing you because he shows you right
where the thermal is, because he has to.
The wind was 6 mph at 147 degrees, so much lighter than the previous two days
and much more from the east.
We launched at 1:30 PM and the start window opened at 2:45 PM. I climbed
out at 300 fpm. After seven thermals I took the first clock at 2:45 at 9,500'. I
was 4 kilometers east of the course line. The wind was 12 mph at 124
degrees. I was happy to be upwind of the course line once again.
The sky was full of cu's that didn't get too high and shade out the ground. It
was a 20 kilometer glide to the first thermal outside the start cylinder. It
averaged 340 fpm and the next one close by averaged 540 fpm so in 27 minutes I
was at Ackerly, 36 kilometers from the Big Spring airfield.
There were pilots in the vicinity but I rarely followed them. I would push out
expecting that the cu's were good enough thermal indicators. I was hitting
mostly 500 to 600 fpm thermals under the cu's.
The turnpoint was a 25 kilometer radius cylinder around Gains to the west. I hit
it close to the optimum point and then headed upwind south southeast to get up
at 400 fpm to 9,000'. I circled north of the course line in this thermal, but
not too far north.
Attila who took the second clock had caught up with me although I didn't know
that was him as I hadn't see his glider before. I took three 500 - 600 fpm
thermals just north of the course line before heading due east to get under a
good looking cloud. half a dozen pilots were now following me.
I drifted with the thermal that was being blown back at 24 mph at 142 degrees. I
almost nicked the 12 km radius turnpoint at this point but had forgotten how big
the radius was supposed to be. I went a little further to the east northeast
before drifting back into it in a thermal.
I then faced a 17 mph head wind getting into goal starting from 8,800' and 15 km
out. Goal was at 3,000'. I could see cu's ahead of me so I was pretty confident
that I could make it. Attila was maybe a few hundred yards in front of me
and heading for goal at my altitude.
I was getting about 9 to one gliding toward the goal. This was almost enough to
make it. I saw plenty of 6:1 gliding and my numbers for the altitude above goal
were low about 600'. At 7 km out I found 360 fpm and took it to 8,200' and then
headed again for goal.
I was able to average 11:1 gliding from now over 9 kilometers out to the 1
kilometer goal radius cylinder and arrive 2,500' over the ground. If I had just
followed Attila in to goal I would have arrived a lot sooner.
After I arrived at goal a bank of cirrus clouds came over from the north and
reduced the lift. Only a few pilots made it in after me and many landed just
short. Those clouds were the precursors of the lighting and thunder that would
soon show up and cause damage at our goal at La Mesa, but after we had arrived
back at Big Spring.