6:45am start here this morning with everybody up before dawn for Breakfast. The meals have been plentiful quantities of staples with lots of cereal and fruit along with way more hot food than you could possibly eat. I’m glad I lost 15lb before I came because it surely will be back before we are done here.
The Team Managers meeting was held at 8:00am and for me was a new experience but very educational as the Contest Director explained the details re the layout of the field and the contest rules. The 5 minute prep time would begin immediately upon the end of the previous groups 10 minute working time – therefore each group would be 15 minutes and without reflights we would have 4 groups per hour. With 8 groups per round that meant we should complete 1 round every two hours and hopefully 7 in two days of the Pre contest.
The first round began at 9:00am with a gentle breeze of about 5 mph and a warming sun creating gentle patches of lift which was just enough for most of the pilots to get their times. During the second round at about 10:30 am the wind started to blow and by eleven we had about 16 to 18 mph breeze and everybody was scrambling for ballast. The conditions were so variable though, that the wind didn’t last longer than about 2 1/2 hours. By the time we had a half hour lunch break and started flying at 1:15pm the wind had died again and the ballast was put away.
Conditions generally were great for soaring during the better part of the day with most pilots taking lift from the launch area downwind and working just one thermal to return to land but as the wind got up the thermals were still strong when you cited them but there were so many it wasn’t that difficult to find a second patch on the ride home.
The US team did well in the conditions for the most part, but a few incidents kept us busy at times. Paul had an altercation with an irrigation boom which required a quick wing leading edge repair. Rich Burnoski had a midair way downwind but both models continued flying and since Dominic was sharing this model with his Grandpa and had to fly the very next group we had no time to fix it. Suspecting damage, Rich asked me to grab some repair gear so I jogged to the prep area and grabbed some reinforced strapping tape and a coke can and raced back out. As we suspected Rich had a leading edge damage over 8 inches and we strapped it up quickly and launched Dominic just on time.
After Dominics flight we began to rePair the damage and we were surprised to be offered by the Ukraine team a 14″ long section of premolded leading edge from an Ava. Apparent this can be purchased from Vladimir as a repair item! Brilliant. Just clip it over the leading edge and tape it down.
Daryl suffered a little in his first round when during the windy period with an Icon 2 on the flight line and zero ballast the wind came up and he had to fly light with no time to get ballast. He did a magnificent job of flying out about 9 minutes of the flight but without the accelerator pedal to come home he didn’t make the landing zone. Something weird happened later in the day also as some damage was done to Daryl’s Icon stab on the ground. The pits is a congested place with many models on the ground but you don’t expect someone to tread on your stab at this sort of contest. Daryl also suffered the only line break we had all day. Phil said the break appeared to happen in the knot itself which is rather unusual.
As the afternoon wore on the lift began to weaken to the point where by 3:30pm it was weak enough to leave some pilots short on time unless they chose the correct direction from launch.
Many groups were completed where the 10 minutes was spent simply circling in wide flat turns to gain little more than a few hundred feet above launch altitude. F3j being a man on man event often saw large gaggles of sailplanes all trying to extract energy from the same piece of air. A lot of collision avoidance measures were necessary to keep ones plane intact.
The landings were interesting with a steel spike in the center of a painted 15″ dia circle. Once the landing was complete the judge would take a tape measure and measure he exact distance to the nose from this stake. A lot of pilots were concerned about this “obstacle” in the center of every landing zone. Dominic actually spiked his model in vertically to take a 100 with the model sticking straight up from just beside the stake.
Can’t post scores yet for some reason they are not posting them at the field.
Will do so as soon as we have them.