2019 Nationals (pre-Worlds)
Sunny, with a high near 84. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming east in the afternoon.
Surface wind 9 decreasing to 7 mph, east, northeast
HRRR 3, 2 PM:
Updraft velocity: 560 fpm
Wind TOUL: 6 mph, northeast
Surface winds 5 mph northeast
Looks like a great day with light winds and a high TOL later in the day. No cus.
The task committee calls a box task to the northwest. The radii of the
turnpoints are chosen very carefully to make it pilot friendly with available
landing areas. For example, a three kilometer cylinder around Baron:
We don't have to fly over the swamp to the east and north.
I launch nineteenth just after Larry behind Bobby Bailey. He wraps it up tight
low in lift to make his little tug climb, but I hold on any way until he takes
me over to the forming gaggle to the north. It's 124 fpm to 3,400'. As I top out
it's a little over half an hour before the window opens.
The 5 mph east wind is pushing us toward the edge of the start cylinder, but
it's too early to go over there and get trapped against the western side. We
hold back in light lift biding out time. I'm on the radio with Larry.
At 1:45 we are near the edge of the cylinder and working up to 3,700'. With the
light wind we are able to stay close and take the first start gate at 1PM at
3,400'. A few pilots like Jonny and Zac will take the second gate twenty minutes
The thermals are very crowded and we hope to get away from other than a few
pilots who we want to work as bird dogs. But for a while everyone sticks
together and you are just lucky the out of control pilots, or the rude ones,
don't hit you.
We are not going to get high, so it's game of of dare as we head out to the west
to see if we can find the next thermal from 2,000'. It takes eight thermals to
get to Kokee with a quartering tail wind from the northeast at 7 mph. We find
between 100 fpm and 300 fpm climbing to 3,600'. The thermals are still full.
Larry and I are working together.
The turnpoint after Kokee is off to the northeast which gives us a bit of a
headwind at 6 mph. We're following about four pilots heading toward the town of
Bushnell and getting lower and lower without a sign of lift. My neck is sore
from all the craning around I'm doing to keep out of everyone's way.
Down to 1,400' AGL I look back to see pilots climbing a little over a kilometer
behind me. Larry reports lift ahead but I'm feeling a little too low to make it
there in the head wind. This is where we lose contact with each other (other
than on the radio). I climb from 1,000' AGL to 3,500' along with half a dozen
Pushing ahead I'm back down to 1,100' AGL after 7 kilometers but there are
spotters out ahead finding the lift and I climb out at 300 fpm to 3,200'. The
head wind continues to be a problem and it is a back and forth fight in weak
lift by the landfill trying to make the next waypoint around Coleman north of
the mines and west of the prisons. It takes 45 minutes to go 11 kilometers.
I tag the turnpoint at 1,500' and leave it at 2,800'. There are lots of houses
in this new development to fly over but fortunately there is also a mine to the
south of them. I find good lift over the mines and climbing in a 9 mph east
northeast wind get to 4,200' at 250 fpm.
The next optimized turnpoint is due east. I've got some altitude to use. I'm by
myself as Larry and his gaggle are ten kilometers ahead and moving slowly.
As I make it to the optimized point on the Baron cylinder five or six gliders
come over me about 200 feet higher. Great, now I'll have some help. We tick the
turnpoint and head south southeast. I haven't found much lift since leaving the
good thermal that got me over 4,000'. We get lower and lower.
Crossing the turnpike to the southeast I see the lowest guy in front of me take
one turn then head off with the others to get in a thermal on the north side of
the turnpike. I'm down to 800 AGL and don't see any landing areas in that
direction. I take a turn in the area where the previous pilot turned, but find
just sink. But less sink than I was experiencing. I drift back and find 100 fpm
at 700' AGL. I'm over huge open fields.
There is a good paved east/west road just half a kilometer to my north. I'm
drifting at 10 mph to the west. There are open fields for 5 kilometers. If I
stay up I know that I can get out fairly easily. I hang tight at 97 fpm.
Corinna flies right at my altitude right next to me but doesn't stop and thermal
with me. She continues east and quickly lands. After a few minutes two gliders
chase back to me from the group that had gone to the north of the turnpike and
come in under me. I think it is Olav on a Moyes Litespeed and Hugo Rodriguez on
a Combat. I get to hang with them just above them as we drift quickly west.
In twenty seven minutes we climb to 4,000'. It's 5:15 PM. I follow Olav to
the southeast where he finds a little lift. I move over to the small fire to the
west but that gives only 50 fpm. I lose track of Olav and stick with Hugo as we
head to the next fire. That one provides negative lift.
We head down the road that goes to Center Hill from Mascotte but soon run out of
altitude and land in big fields. It looks like Olav got within one kilometer of