Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rain, Bowling, Contest Complete

The rain overnight continued without a break all day. It was pretty obvious there wouldn't be any chance to fly today, so the day was cancelled, making this two-day contest nonetheless valid. The results were:
1. Victor Panafutin 18 pts
2. Tim McAllister 14 pts
3. Vladimir Bessarabov 13 pts

There was actually a tie for 3rd place, but Vladimir was determined the 3rd place pilot by a tiebreaking method in the SGP rules.

So Victor and Tim have qualified for the 2007 World Sailplane Grand Prix in New Zealand. It's quite a long way off, though, scheduled for December 2007. It's an exciting prospect. However, it doesn't ease our dissapointment with the weather here. Tim said that he had really looked forward to flying in Russia, almost more than the French Alps. Maybe we can come back some day? The people have been great, and we have had a good time here. The weather, well, what can you do? Everyone says it is really unusual for this time of year to have any rain. I have to say to Sabine Prasser - I think I am winning the rain competition!

So a bunch of us went bowling this afternoon at the nearby mini mall in Protvino. I took a bunch of pictures then promptly deleted them instead of copying them. So I am sorry, but no pics of bowling. It was a real American Brunswick bowling system, all computerized and fancy. I think I took last place with several frames of zero points. Well, someone has to be last!

After the closing ceremony tomorrow at noon, we will travel to Moscow for a few days before heading back to Dallas. Seems like a good idea to see some of the major sights other than the Drakino Airfield, although it is very nice.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August 8 Day Cancelled

When we woke up this morning, we saw this:

Although we were not quite sure what it was (apparently it was the sky), we took it as a sign that we might have a chance to fly today. Sure enough, two warring airmasses were doing battle right over our heads. Just to our northwest, there were cumulus clouds. Over our heads, the deck of clouds remained. We sat on the grid (change of pace!) until 3:30, when the sniffer reported that it was just "flat" so the day was cancelled. We have one more chance to fly, but the forecast for Wednesday looks slightly worse than today.

Tim considers the better weather to the northwest, just outside of the task area.

Someone was asking me about some of the Grand Prix rules, so here is a very short summary.

The contest is limited to 20 aircraft and pilots. Typically they are from one class. In this case, they are all exactly the same kind of aircraft. After the gliders launch, the start time is announced. Pilots must be behind the start line one minute before the start. These times are announced on the radio and in larger Grand Prix, announced over a PA system. Once the start line is open, the clock is running for all competitors, just like in auto racing. There is no penalty for starting late, but you have to find a way to get in front of those who have started before you if you hope to win.

With the start line and this type of "regatta start" the spectators below can really see the pilots as they get behind the start line and then start.

The tasks are all racing tasks. So how do you win? By making the best choices for that particular day.

The length of the competition period is shorter, the tasks tend to be shorter, but they do not have to be. Oh, and you don't get any real bonus or penalty for your speed. The first person to cross the finish line gets 10 points. The second place person gets 8 points and so on down to 9th place, which gets 1 point.
It doesn't matter if you beat someone by 15 seconds or 15 minutes as long as you come in first. Interesting, right?

In the Grand Prix rules, the task setter may also give bonus points for reaching a certain turn point first, which can change the game on a particular day.

If you really want to get into the rules, which are still featherweight in size compared to the Sporting Code Annex A, you can read them at

Monday, August 07, 2006

Aug 6-7 RAIN

August 7, 2006 (Monday)
Heavy rain last night. Now we are re-connecting with the world since the internet service was restored. When people start discussing which glider DVDs to show at the morning pilots' meeting, you know the forecast is bleak.

August 6, 2006 (Sun)
We had thunderstorms last night, complete with lightning. Quite the storm! It is still raining this morning, and the forecast really does not look too promising at all. In fact, it really doesn't look good for the next few days. So everyone looks a bit depressed, the way pilots look when things get drippy like this. They are showing pictures from their nationals in Novosibirsk (with dust devils!) and making paper airplanes.

I am hoping to go to Serpukhov (the nearby town) this afternoon to visit the flea market and to just take a look around. (We did get a nice tour of the town by Alexander, a local who is helping out with the press for the contest. He speaks English and German, so we understand each other pretty well.

Yesterday's festivities were very nice, in spite of the weather. There was a big show, with folk dancers and karaoke singing, and a sort of power house of dance-style cheerleader show.

We were treated to a luncheon of many kinds of hors d'oeuvres and vodka, cognac, and wine. Main courses were also served, but we couldn't even eat them - we were too full of hors d'oeuvres!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Rainy Saturday - Aug 5

Rainy morning...
We are all ready for the spectacle that was/is planned for today. The giant stage and sound system have been erected. All kinds of security people, event set up people, policemen and official types are hovering around. Unfortunately, it is raining. At times it is raining heavily! So we are inside waiting for the ceremony which we assume will take place at noon regardless of "moisture."

The fancy stage!

Don't you wish you had one of these cars? It is about the size of a Yugo.

Close up of the MI-2 helicopter used by the Mo-Atck aero club. Possibly produced in the 60's. Twin-turbine initial flight training! As much maintenance time as flight time, or so it seems.

Aerial view of the Drakino airfield looking roughly southwest.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tim Wins the Day - August 4

Hello All,
The day really didn't look that promising this morning, and even until 12:30 - 1:00 it was still pretty overcast. We were promised a clearing area / better weather if we would just be patient. Sure enough, it started to clear out about 1:30 and we were out on the grid in the sunshine at 2:30. The first launch was at 3:00 and the start time was 3:45.

The task, in retrospect, was a bit of an undercall at 113.5 km.

For those of you following along at home (Rick Howell) the TPs were: 001 start, 027 Suxotino, 06 Velejevo, 003 Pfin, 002 Fin (and there was another new tp file this morning with a change to the finish coordinates, so your results may vary.

Tim called the last TP and asked "who else is home?" I answered "nobody". So as you all know, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Tim appears to have won the day with an approx. speed of 75.6 kph, but we're waiting for the scorer before we celebrate in the traditional Russian way - with beer and fish! Apparently, dried whole fish is the favored food pairing with Russian beer. I will report about this later.

We are expecting a big crowd for this weekend's flights, air show, folk dancing(!) and general pomp and circumstance. I will continue to offer full reports as I am able.

Our FAI/IGC Referee, Bruno Ramseyer (Ireland) admires the improving sky on the grid today.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Results from Day 1

Hi everyone,
Today (Thu) has been cancelled due to high overcast and increasing winds ahead of some more weather (see my link to the weather sites at right for the "aktuelles" forecast). I look forward to a trip to a big Russian groceery store later today, if I can catch a ride with someone.

We achieved task 1 yesterday, with a 165.5 km 3 turnpoint task. The weather was pretty good, although below average by local Russian standards. There were cumulus clouds, although not all were true lift indicators, and Tim fell victim to a "sucker cloud" that separated him from the top group and dropped him to 6th place on the day.

A pretty good showing for his first cross country day in a Jantar, though!

Things went pretty smoothly from an organizational standpoint, although there was some confusion about the start order. Before the first comp day, lots were drawn for line numbers, which is pretty standard in international competition, right? Then you take off from left to right by line, so your start order depends on when you get to the grid. Here, they were trying to take people in the order they had drawn the lots, which resulted in slight confusion (I think mostly on our part) but it all worked out.

We have ended up with 13 competitors instead of 15 - two had to withdraw at the last minute. Just to put this event in perspective, there are about 300 glider pilots in the country. There aren't any "modern" gliders herre yet, although people are working to change that. There are about 100 Jantars, 100 Blaniks, and 30 Lak-12s. Russian contest pilots are given different titles, such as Master of Sport and something else I can't understand when they say it in Russian.

This airport is pretty active all week long with helicopter training and aerobatic training as well. Of course, I am tempted by the go-kart track, but so far no one will race with me. Perhaps that falls under the "don't do nothing dumb" heading anyway.


The flying center, constructed for the 2005 World Glider Aerobatics Championship

A Wilga tow plane...with a pair of Antonov 2s - one in original Russian Airforce marking and one in more modern paint job.

Iakov Shrage, our host.

The weather man, Sergei Stepanov points at the less-than-promising forecast for today.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Contest Day 1

August 2, 2006
After a morning of preparations, a contest day is underway now! The Competitors were able to get enough height in the start area and headed out on the task at 2:35 pm local time.
Tim was interviewed by Russian TV this a.m. - here is the link - if they do a story, you should see it in a few hours. There has been press all over this comp - two TV crews today, one yesterday, one over the weekend, and a flock of print reporters. So we are keeping busy with interviews as well as the usual contest stuff.

Here is our glider...lucky '66'

Note air museum of old Russian planes in background...oh wait, it is not a museum, they are all in use!

I'll let you know how the racing turns out in a couple of hours.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pictures from Russia

Hi everyone,
I finally had time today, because the weather was still too overcast and damp to support a task, to resize a bunch of photos.

Today was contest day 1, so we started the morning with a special opening ceremony complete with 1. speeches by local dignitaries, 2. playing of the Russian national anthem, and 3. a young woman singing a special song about airsports - wait, what was that last one? Yes, it was a specially composed song done for the World aerobatic championships held here at Drakino airfield last year.

So anyway, it wasn't exactly raining, so we cleaned the glider and readied ourselves for possible launch, although it looked pretty unpromising. Tim and several others flew anyway. He really enjoyed flying the Jantar, and although we can't understand anything the controllers say to us on the radio, Tim managed to fly without any problems.

We expect taskable weather tomorrow, so tune in then...

Cloud streets over Belarus, on Sunday.

Chaos at Domododevo Airport.

Cloud streets as we approached Drakino on Sunday.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The long Journey to Russia

Dateline Serpukhov, Russia - July 31, 2006
After one long day of driving and one long night of repacking suitcases, and another day of flying we are at Drakino airfield south of Moscow. I will add longer notes and photos later, but here is the scoop: Tomorrow is the first day of this all-Jantar Grand Prix competition. The facilities at this arifield are wonderful. We are staying a short walk from the flightline in a great suite(!) yes, a suite, not a tent, I know, it is not our usual style!

There are 15 pilots, and 14 are Russian. The other is Tim. It is interesting to see the grand prix concept in action, because we were part of the first Worlds in GP last September. It is an evolving thing, rules-wise. Last night we saw a lively discussion in Russian about the rules. Interesting to see that the same topics come up now as in St. Auban last year: how to keep pilots from diving toward the start line, how to contorl speed at the finish, what about bonus points for a pre-determined turn point, etc. It is this mindset of collaboration that makes this kind of comp interesting for me, anyway.

Today it is raining and cool (I am happy not to be sweating for the first time in a month!), but earlier we got to meet our Jantar - contest ID 66 (registered as CCCP-1666 - I know - CCCP!) and take a look at the cockpit, which is huge compared with the Libelle. I will approach cleaning the plane either later or early tomorrow. It does need a good bath and maybe some polishing and taping.

The culture shock is immense. You feel like a 5 year old having to ask what every word means. Thank goodness for Iakov Shrage and his daughter Anna who speak excellent English and are looking after us very well. We went to get russian cell phone numbers, to the bank, to the grocery store, etc. this afternoon. Now we are provisioned and set for tomorrow...just hope the weather clears.

FYI, the time in Russia is 2 hours ahead of central europe, so 9 hours ahead of Central US time. Just thought you would like to know...

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28 called due to rain - This WGC is complete

Hey all,
We knew that rain storms were coming today, just not when. Everyone went ahead and gridded, although you could see the bad weather coming our way. By 12:00, the day had been cancelled, and everyone hurried to de-rig and put away everything before the storms came It really rained hard ( although not as hard as the day of "Mudfest") and it was definitely the right call!

Results from 7/29 and overall

Club Class
Tim McAllister 36th on the day, 23rd overall
Tim Welles 29th on the day, 31st overall
David Stevenson 25th on the day, 34th overall
*A note: Tim McA had a really tough flight and was ucky to get home at all. As his crew person, I thank him for a landout-free contest!

World Class
Pat Tuckey 6th on the day, 11th overall
Francois Pin 8th on the day, 5th overall

These pilots are to be commended for their quick study of the flying in this region. It is a very steep learning curve, and all did very well at it. This was also a very strong field, containing many of the best pilots from Europe and around the world. No slouches here! So you should be proud of our boys as I am.

The incredible heat and number of hours flown made this a real endurance test, both physically and mentally. I enjoyed my time in France, although it kind of reminded me of time in Uvalde or Hobbs. The food was pretty good (even Flunch) and of course the camraderie was great. So, tonight is the final party, with the closing ceremony tomorrow morning. Then Tim and I wil be off like a shot heading back to Schwabia and on a plane to Russia Sunday morning.

The adventure continues...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

July 27 - Day 11 underway

Hey y'all-
It is day 11...Regis, our competition director can be smug now...he promised us 10 flying days, and lo and behold, we have achieved 10 days.

Another hot one! The tasks for today are:

Club Class an assigned area task of 3 hours with a min distance of 311.3 km.
124 Start - pont de manosque, 053 Luc en Diois (30 km) , 064 Moustiers (20km), 017 Briancon (30 km)

Tim McAllister has a vpos tracker - if it works is another question.

World Class also has an assigned area task of 2:45 hours and a min distance of 213.4 km.
123 Start Greoux, 043 Jausiers (30 km), 027 Chatillon (30 km)

Yesterday's results
Club Class
Dave S. - 16th 88.8 kph
Tim McA 17th - 89.3 kph
Tim W 30th - landed out near our hotel La Pigette, safe and sound, but just lacking the altitude to make it home to Vinon.

World Class
Francois and Pat both landed out. Unfortunately, Francois had problems with his outlanding and the glider couldn't be repaired in time for this morning. After discussions with the comp director, it was decided that he could fly the glider that Paul of NZ had originally been flying. Lucky! So there was a purpose, although not readily apparent, for Paul's injured acchilles tendon after all.

With the forecast looking less than promising for tomorrow, this could be our last racing day. I will keep you suitably informed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Competition Day 10 underway - July 26

Hello All,
This is supposed to be the hottest day of the summer, but I find that hard to believe. It has been an inferno for weeks! The pilots are on task, supposedly rested after yesterday's "day o' rest" and we are back into the contest routine.

The Tasks for today...

Club Class
123 Greoux, 069 Orpierre, 118 Puimichel, 075 La Roche Ram, and home. A racing task of 328.3 km.

World Class
107 Vinon Aero, 075 LaRoche Ram, 087 Serres - a racing task of 278.9 km.

Based on the weather briefing this morning, strong thunderstorms should build over the mountains this afternoon. So far there are large builds of clouds both northeast and northwest. We will see.

It's hard to believe that there are only 3 more possible days...Friday is our lqst day, with the closing ceremony on Saturday a.m. After that, Tim and I are off to Germany to return the glider, then on a plane to Russia to fly the Grand Prix there. So there is much more racing to be done.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hello All.
Rest day, rest day, how I love my rest day!
Here is a quick report and then we are off to swim.

The weather was once again not as forecast, with rain showers headed into and out of the first turn for Club class (Luc en Diois). It was a pretty straight racing task from there. I was happy because all of our pilots got home in time for our joint party with Germany and Austria. Lots of German beer flowed freely, the chili we served was eaten all up, and I never even saw the Austrian chocolates because they were scarfed up quite rapidly!

Club Class results from yesterday...
Tim Welles 26th speed: 99.8
Dave Stevenson 28th speed: 97.3
Tim McAllister 31st speed: 96.1

In World Class, Pat tied for 4th on the day with a speed of 97.5 kph and Francois was 8th with 96.0 kph. They were pleased with their team flying today.

So I am out of here and will talk to you manana!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day 9 - July 24

Ooh La la! It is even hotter today than the previous days, when the temps have reached 40 deg centigrade and higher! That's more than 100, and I stop counting over 100.

Today's initial task was set but was changed on the grid due to storms over one of the turnpoints. So we ended up with the following:
Club Class - a 315.1 km racing task
Start, 124¨Pont de Manosque, 027 Chatillon, 026 Chateau Neuf, 086 Serreponcon.

World Class - a 274.0 km racing task
Start 123 Greoux, 084 Savines, 035 Digne, 087 Serres

Club Class has the trackers today, and Tim Mc has one, so if the system is working, you should be able to watch at

Yesterday was very exciting and challenging. The great forecast was a teeny bit off, or perhaps a great bit off, because big storms in the Durance Valley sucked up all of the energy in the area, leaving pilots in both classes to struggle at, or below, ridge height for long periods of time. Unfortunately, Dave landed out on his way to the third turn, Valensole, which is nw of here on the plateau. Tim and Tim both finished the task, although both struggled mightily to do so. On Tim W's way in, he called me on the radio once he figured he would indeed be making it home, saying simply "Order pizza now!"

Francois allso scraped his way home, reporting how far under glide scope he was during his final glide, but somehow making it and ending up in 4th on the day. Thank you to Nancy Snead for those worry beads you gavedottiee Pin a while back...she really used them yesterday. Pat almost squeaked it home, but landed out 1.7 km from the airport. His family was here to help out with this very manageable retrieve.

The 500 km task took longer than expected for most competitors, so we were seeing finishers anywhere from 7:30 to 9:00. Very late night!

Tomorrow has been cancelled for a safety break. A certain French pilot was complaining vigorously about this, as was another Team Captain, but it has been declared and looks like we can sleep intomorroww!!! Boy, do we need it.

Tonight is our US team party, which we're doing with the Germans and Austrians. The Germans brought 180 litres of beer, we are doing chili, and the Austrians have brought Mozartkugels, chocolate confections which look like trailer hitch covers. Should be fun, and I expect that the beer will be consumed with some vigor, since tomorrow is a rest day.

Quote of the day " Some of those pre-start gaggles resemble a demolition derby!" Pat Tuckey

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 8 underway

So it is Competition Day 8/Day 9 of the contest. Possibly a mistral day. That means a northwest wing and much trickier conditions for those unfamiliar with the area. It is hot, the sky looks good, so we shall see how they do.

The tasks...
Club Class a 498.8 km racing task shaped like, well, a couple of triangles.
036 Embrun, 080 Saillans, 114 Valensole, 029 Col de Cabre

World Class is a 364.2 km racing task, bow tie shaped.
027 Chatillon, 116 Brunet, 105 Veynes

And yesterday, well it was a good day for some and a bad day for some. They aren't kidding when they say this is a game of skill AND chance.

Tim McA put a good flight together with 111 kph and 14th on the day. Unfortunately, Tim W. and David landed out, but fortunately, they were together. It was a long retrieve, and they didn't get home until after midnight.

Francois made it back as well, with a speed of 82.9 kph in 5th place on the day.
And Pat, there's a story there. He landed out near Sisteron, which should be a 45 min drive, right? Well, Bogie left yesterday, so Pat has a new crew - his nephew Jake. Jake is 18 and has never crewed before, but he had the directions and a map, and all of the phone numbers, and he seemed so confident...but he IS an 18 year old boy. So hours passed and no Jake. Then he arrived in Sisteron, but still couldn't find Pat. Eventually, about 9:30, they connected, and all was well. So a late night, but happy endings for all.



At camp, our typical pre launch gathering.

Sylvie, Meredith, David and Meghan.

Marina Galetto, one of the Stewards.

Dottie tries to keep Jan cool.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 7 Underway - July 22

Hi Everyone,
I wonder if some of you remember that old song "I am fixin' to die?" Well, it is that hot. The Texans among you may question this assessment of the heat. I mean, we are talking about FRANCE, not Houston, for goodness sake! But you have to trust me...I think I have melted a sizable section of my brain due to desert-like temps and although it is sort of dry, I am always sweating. I found Dottie Pin yesterday in the hangar waqtching the VPOS tracking of the World Class and resting her head on her frozen bottle of water. I would have taken a picture, but she was so hot, it didn't seem fair to subject her to that (although she still looked good - how do you do it, Dottie?) Oh, and to clarify, I am not complaining - at least it is not raining and we are having lots of good flying WX.

Anyway, back to the flying. Today's tasks are:
Club Class - Assigned Area triangle Task 2:45:00 hrs min distance 223.32 km, max 426.8 kmStart 123 Greoux, 073 Pre Md Carl with radius of 35 km (Darned abbreviations), 027 Chatillon radius of 30 km, and 125 finish 20

World Class - Assigned Area "bowtie" Task 2:30 hrs, min distance 211.5, max 463.8 kmStart 124 Pont de Manosque, 029 Col De Cabre (our fave) radius 20, 064 Moustiers radius 20, 086 Serre Poncon radius 25, 125 finish 20.

So they are out there now and I am seeking shelter from the sun in my air conditioned hotel room for a few minutes.

Wrapup of yesterday - We seem to be taking turns having good and bad days in club class. Tim W put together a good flight for 19th place on the day, and David S. was 30th. The winner, France's inimitqble (ask me and I will tell you why) Olivier Darroze won the day with a smoking 115kph speed. Tim McA had a tough day, making it home, but winding up dog slow back in 35th on the day. Oh well!

In World Class, at least a Pole won the day instead of a French pilot.
Francois placed 6th and Pat was 9th on the day. Now Pat is having radio probs instead of battery probs, urgh!

Latest controversy: sunflower picking on final. There's a field of sunflowers at the appreach end of runway 20, so of course, some pilots cut their margin pretty fine on final glide...sometimes even disappearing under the blooms for a moment. I have not yet seen a glider hop out of the cockpit with an armload of sunflowers, or tournesols, in French, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened. Well, it would surprise me to receive flowers from a glider pilot, but I think you know what I mean...So Regis the CD made a new ruling that low approaches will not be tolerated. How low "low" is will be determined by a video camera at the finish line. So it remains to be seen who will have an example made of them. It seems like half of the finishers are sunflower picking from my vantage point. I will keep you posted on that one.

Weirdly enough, after three weeks in the French desert, I am having a hankering for the following: Mi Cocina food and a Mambo Taxi, a Dr. Pepper slurpee, a selection of current English magazines, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Weather Channel (I know, I can't believe it either) because there seems to be no Weather on French TV except a super cool guy who kind of waves at a graphic with little suns on it), and of course a long phone chat with my friends & family. Other than that, everything is cool here. Anyone who wants to send along some of the above mentioned items will find our physical address on the official website Be sure to pack that slurpee in dry ice.

Here are pics...

You have got to love a language that calls a sports goal a 'but'.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 6 underway

Hey Y'all,
Another hot one, sans cirrus clouds today. The tricky thing will be avoiding late afternoon storms in the northern part of the task area (the high ground). Things were pretty weak at first, with almost all of our pilots complaining of being below release altitude early on.

The tasks:
Club Class - Racing task 376.0 km. 107 Vinon Aero, 053 Luc En Dioi, 022 Castelon, 086 Serre Poncon, 125 Finish 20. This is another bow tie to the north zest, then on a southeasterly line, north to Serre Poncon, and home.

World Class - Racing task of 366.8 km. 123 Greoux, 075 La Roche Ram, 090 St. Andre Les something ( I only have the short names), 084 Savines and home. This is a kind of long dog leg to the northeast.

Yesterday was indeed challenging, but doable for both classes. At times there was alot of rock polishing - this alps should be pretty shiny with all of the polishing going on!Unfortunately, David landed out at Briançon Airport, but he did make dinner reservations for Meredith and Meghan at the apparently good airport restaurant. Good pilot!

Tim McA pulled off arespectablee 7th on the day w/ a speed of 91.8 kph, and Tim W made it home after getting stuck in "the right place that he thought was the wrong place," if that makes any sense. Good job Tims. Good Pilots!

In World Class, Pat and Francois placed 6 and 7 on the day, with speeds of about 74 kph vs. the French winner's time of 76 kph. They seem to be putting it together well and are moving up the overall scoresheet.

I am impressed at your restraint in the caption contest. In fact, no one has entered a caption at all, which I suppose should tell me something about the attractiveness of the contest. I will endeavor to take a more interesting or humorous pic in the next day or so.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day 4 Wrapup; Day 5 underway

I am starting to sound like a broken record, but it is true: it is another hot day here in Vinon. Today, cirrus clouds were hanging around our area and they are still here to some degree now (14:15) It looks very blue around here, with a few puffy cu way off to the Northeast.

Here are today's tasks.
Club Class will do a 406.6 km racing task shaped like a butterfly or a bow tie depending on how you look at these things. First turn is Plampinet to the Northeast, Then to La Cluse to our northwest, then back to the east to Jausiers, which is near the high mountain town of Barcelonette, then home.

World Class will also do a racing task of 269.7 km shaped like a bow tie, but to Orpierre first, then to Aiguines east of us, then to Seyne and home. I expect it to be a challenging day...

So, yesterday was an interesting, albeit frustrating day for most pilots, including ours. "Nothing was easy," they all said. After many long hours in the cockpit, all of our pilots mase it home (hooray) and although the club class pilots were not pleased with their speeds, I would submit that survival was a big enough achievement. Tim McA ended up 22nd on the day, Dave Stevenson was 28th, and Tim Welles was 33rd. But today is a new day, and they are all on task now.

In World Class, Francois and Pat had caught up with the French team, who do seem to be the ones to beat, during the first leg of the task. However, the French took a different route back home and somehow outpaced our guys, who ended up 10th (Francois) and 13th (Pat) respectively.

Now for the photo caption contest! Please submit your caption for the photo below and I will choose a winner tomorrow. The lucky winner will receive a goodie bag of assorted WGC swag. The pictured unfortunate PW-5 pilot, Paul Schofield of New Zealand ruptured his achilles tendon by stepping in a pothole while running after his trailer after landing out on Day 2. Now, Paul is a special friend of the US Team and we do wish him the best, but the situation also begs for a special caption!

And in other photos...

Dave Stevenson with his wife and crew Meredith, yesterday - 19 July.

Tim Welles after his outlanding at La Motte Chalcon on the day of Mudfest. This is the altiport where tow pilots must have a special certificate to fly there.

Neil, the Team captain of GB gives his best dour Scotsman smile.

Yesterday in the pool - left to right: Sylvie, Megan, Jan and me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 4 underway

Hey all or y'all as the case may be. I am sitting in the info office watching team captains turn in start times. The pre-start time is always such a chess game. On a day like today, with big tasks - club has a 405.4 km triangle racing task to 10 Beaurieres, 35 Digne, 17 Briançon; the World Class is on the way for a long out and return to Plampinet for 312.5 km. The weather looks pretty good, although it's always possible we'll see overdevelopment (by which I mean thunderstorms...sorry for the jargon) later this p.m. and very possibly in the mountains when the club class is at Briançon. Check out the meteoblue link to the right for the latest conditions.

Here are some of the pics I have been collecting:

At the morning briefing. Always looking at the map.

Tim Welles programming the task into his flight computer on 17 July.

Uli Schwenk (Germany) got really stuck in Lake Vinon during the Mudfest.

I am dealing with a computer problem, I think.

Here's Jan (crew for Tim W.) after being drenched on the muddy day.

More after I have a chance to upload what I took today.

I just heard that the Brittish team had a photo caption contest yesterday on their website I am going to look through my pics and see if we can do the same!

Be sure to drop us a note through the comment area below...we'd love to know how our 3 readers (excluding my parents and Aldo - Ciao!) are enjoying the reports!
More to come...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day of Rest - July 18

After yesterday's excitement, it was kind of a relief to hear from the CD that he expected to have a rest day today. With strong thunderstorms predicted again (starting to sound familiar?) the task was indeed cancelled at the 10:30 pilots' meeting. We busied ourselves with cleaning yesterday's mud off of gliders and other housekeeping tasks.

A few notes from yesterday's landouts: Pat Tuckey ended up in a field near Espinases, which is by Lake Serre Poncon. Immediately, he met a nuber of locals, including a glider pilot, a woman who wanted to "show her baby" the glider, and a guy in a motorized whelchair who seemed to be berating Pat about his ability to walk...all in French!

Tim Welles ended up at the 'Altiport' of LaMotte Chalencon with the German pilot Matthias Sturm. During the hours of waiting for an aero retrieve, the tow kept each other company. Tim took the second tow because he could communicate the wing running instrutctions in French to the airport caretaker who had to run the wing downhill. Everything went fine, and after im returned to Vinon, Matthias's 5 yr old son was waiting with a cold German Bier for Tim...very cute!

We did have a 1000 point day in Club Class, with 21 of 39 completing the task. In World Class, the day was devalued to arounf 700 points, with 7 of 19 completing the task.
And the weather, well, we'll see. We need to get out of this pattern, but I don't know when that will happen.
More news soon,

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mudfest 2006 - Day 3

So we had another contest day today. The weather man figured we would have storms, but the task setter was optimistic? with a 222 km speed task for World Class and a 291.5 km speed task for Club. Things were hot on the ground here, but more difficult up north, where they were going. Unfortunately, Pat landed out near lac serre poncon. Shortly after Bogie left to get him, it started raining here...then it started pouring here for about an hour. I heard from Tim Welles, landed out safely, if not dramatically at the La Motte Chal. Altiport, which features a very sloped runway and is located on a mountainside. Then we heard Dave Stevenson was out at Serre. So The crews strained to hear Francois and Tim who were out there somewhere fighting through the rain. During the biggest downpour and lightning several finishers started to arrive in near zero visibility. Soon we saw Tim and Francois. Good job in terrible conditions.
We're waiting for Tim to return via aerotow and for Dave by trailer.

Here are a couple of the first pics.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stevenson wins Day 1; Day 2 complete

Hello All,
The afternoon thunderstorms are really giving our internet service fits. About the time I want to sit down to write to you, a storm comes along and knocks things out.
This was a carbon copy of yesterday, which I haven't told you about, so: yesterday (day 1) featured assigned area tasks with a min time of 1.5 hours in both classes. Immediately after launch, a big thunderstorm was brewing over the high ground to the east-northeast, over the plateau. Once pilots got away from the airfield, conditions improved, after fighting through rain on the way to the first TP. Out on course, there were good thermal conditions and plans were made for long final glides back home. The storm finally moved through with very gusty winds which tore part of the roof off Tim Welles' camper!

Dave Stevenson wins the day with a speed of 116 kph. Congratulations to Dave!

So, today (Tue) was another hot one, with storms building even during our early (12:00) launch time. The tasking was again conservative, with a 1.75 hr assigned area task for the Club Class and 1.5 hrs for the World Class. Our team heads out at about the same time, sticking together during the first parts of the task. At Blayeiul, they separated taking different lines. Dave returned first, turning in a fast enough time for 15th on the prelim score sheet. Tim and Tim got stuck on L'ubac for a time but ended up crossing the finish line at exactly the same time and causing a near accident between Jan and myself as we hurried toward the two gliders!

This evening we look forward to the Italian cocktail party and another early night as we rest up for the next hot day. I hope for longer tasks and 1000 point days!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day 1 at 10:20 a.m.

Sorry for the silence yesterday - a strong storm (well, not that strong by Texas stds, but strong enough) knocked out the internet service at the airfield on the night of the 13th. So we spent Bastille Day without internet. Although flying was permitted before the opening ceremony, most just did last minute preparations and got ready for the opening ceremony. During the first speech, it started to pour, after having been extremely hot while we were in the marshalling area. So that was about it - a march in, one speech, and a quick aerobatic display to music. No tiny gliders! No folk dancing. I was disappointed. So, we are about to begin the pilots meeting. I'll give you the task and other color commentary in a little while...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

2:30 on Thursday

It's another hot day in Vinon on this last practice day. The weather forecaster predicted early overdevelopment with storms, so many pilots decided not to fly today, and no task was called. However, the forecast was quite wrong. It's hot, with nice cumulus and no major overdevelopment here yet. So it goes...a 300k day, perhaps? Tim Welles is the only U.S. pilot who is flying today, and we expect to see a big smile on his face when he returns.

Last minute glider tweaking, gap sealing, and various errands are taking up most of our time this afternoon.

Tonight will be the first team captains' meeting, and tomorrow, Bastille Day, is our opening ceremony. Then we get going on Saturday.

More soon,

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Downpour! Wed p.m.

Well, bless his heart - our Pat Tuckey is 2 for 2 so far - he got caught in strong storms this afternoon and landed out at Klaus Ohlmann's airfield at Serres, not far from where he landed out on Monday. Luckily everything was fine, and he decided to spring for the aero retrieve. He just returned safely. However, his crew, Bogie, while now in Europe, is still not here. Bogie, please hurry!!!

So now it's still rainy at 7:20 pm.
More soon...

Midday on Wednesday

Hello Everyone!
We had another hot day (100° plus), with great flying conditions on Tuesday. The CD, Regis Kuntz has been calling Vinon the French Namibia, and although I have never visited that African land, I can believe that Vinon could actually be hotter and dustier. It kind of makes Uvalde, and definitely Dallas, seem cool. Or maybe I am just suffering from heat stroke!

Anyway, finally, everyone is here! Francois and Dottie Pin arrived yesterday with their German PW-5 in tow. He has already gone through technical inspection, so we only have Dave Stevenson to go this morning.

Yesterday, Tim and Tim flew the task, which you can see on the official site Tim McA placed 7th of 12 and Tim W. was 9th. They both had good flights up in the alps. We had our first dinner together followed by our first team meeting. There are still many logistics to work out...cell phone SIMM cards to buy, antenna connectors to scrounge, and various electronic problems to solve. We are getting things sorted out and should be ready by Saturday.

The WX today doesn't look as good as the last two days, although it should still be good. The practice task will be a 1.5 hour Assigned Area Task ( like our TAT) to the northwest and northeast. There's already alot of vertical development on the Lure Mountain, not usually a good sign for long flying tasks.

Here are some pics as promised...

Lake Serre de Ponçon, north of Vinon, leaving the high mountains onto the Parcours.

Tim Welles having made the traverse from Pic de Burre transitioning into the high mountains of Les Ecrains, headed for the Pas de Cavalle and Briançon. Looking north towards Grenoble.

The high route from the northern Dormilouse (there are 2 mountains with this name) towards the south and home. Vinon is in the direction of the far away clouds in the left of the picture, about 80 plus miles away.

Pics by Tim McAllister, on July10.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

After a long Practice Day

Hello All,
A long day yesterday (Monday)...There were practice tasks in both classes. The Tims (McAllister and Welles) flew the club task but also enjoyed some sightseeing, since it was a spectacularly clear day. They took a look at Mont Blanc from a fair distance and explored some new areas and practiced some transitions. Pat Tuckey flew the World Class task but got caught in contrary winds at Col de Cabre and achieved the distinction of having the first landout! Since Bogie, his crew, is still in Dallas (Personal note to Bogie: please hurry up and get here!) Jan, Tim W's crew and fellow PiWi pilot Paul from NZ trucked off to the landing field, about 1.5 hours away. Everything was fine, but it was a late night for them.

David Stevenson spent the day working on his glider and getting settled in.
Tim and Tim went through technical inspection last night with no major problems.

We had a near international incident when the Lithauanians parked their trailers in our tiedown area. A little diplomacy and discussion with the organizers took care of this after a few tense moments.

More news and pics - I promise - today.

Monday, July 10, 2006

First Practice Days at Vinon

Finally back on the internet after a couple of days without. Tim Welles has been here for qa few days. Tim McAllister and I arrived on Friday. Pat Tuckey soon followed, and his PW-5 got here yesterday from Poland, so he spent most of yesterday working on it out in the sun. Did I mention it's pretty hot? Not Texas Soaring Hot, mind you, but very warm all the same.

The two Tims had a nice flight on Saturday - a tour of the mountains, nice conditions. Once we get the internet straightened out today, I plan to post the flight to the OLC so those who care can take a look.

David Stevenson arrived late last night; now we're just waiting for François Pin and the team will be complete.

I'll post pics later...
Susan McAllister
10:00 am

Monday, July 03, 2006

Idyllic Schwabia

Tim and I made it to Germany via Atlanta on Delta (note to Delta - you could be a little more generous with the seat pitch in coach!) and now we are in the Schwabian Alps. If you haven't been here, picture green rolling fields, hills with ancient castle ruins, and of course, a zilion gliders everywhere on a Sunday afternoon in July. We drove straight from the Stuttgart airport to Hahnweide (naturally) to see what was going on. Just as we were hanging over the fence, we saw our team mate Tim Welles on his first tow in the Standard Cirrus he will fly in the WGC. Then we met some other German glider friends, Mario and Sabine. They were at the 1st Grand Prix Worlds last September. Many other familiar faces there, and everyone was happy because the weather was nice, if a bit windy.
I'll post some pics later.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Here we go again!

As Team Captain, one of my jobs (and one of the most fun) is writing daily reports during the contest. I will do my best to keep you all updated at least twice a day as internet service permits. Here are all of the details about the Championship:
4th FAI Club Class World Gliding Championships
5th FAI World Class Gliding Championships
Location: Vinon, France, which is just south of Saint-Auban, in Haute Provence.
Dates: July 8 - 29
Unofficial Practice Days: July 8-9
Official practice: July 10-13
Opening Ceremony (no flying): July 14 (Bastille Day!)
First Contest Day: July 15
Last Contest Day: July 28
Closing Ceremony: July 29

U.S. Team Roster
Club Class

Tim McAllister - Dallas, Texas
David Stevenson - Atlanta, Georgia
Tim Welles - Horseheads, New York

World Class
Francois Pin - Knoxville, Tenessee
Pat Tuckey - Fort Worth, Texas

If you are a competition pilot, you know how much 'stuff' has to come with you to a sailplane race: your loggers, batteries, a computer with See You, wing tape, radios, etc., etc. Now think about taking all of this on the road and across the ocean. It does require some special planning! There's also lots of prep work to do - forms and registration, finding gliders to rent, reserving affordable and appropriate places to stay, finding cars with a trailer hitches, and learning about the competition area. After many moths of prep, we are almost there.
Be sure to check out the links to the official WGC site and other fun links as I find them...
Susan McAllister
27 June 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 3 under way

I just heard from Tim that the launch was underway (about 11:30 Eastern time.) I wasn't able to write this down, so all I can report is that the task is a 4 hour MAT with a first turnpoint of Lockhaven and then a bunch of other places, with Mifflin as the as last assigned turn. After that, no repeating turnpoints.
The weather looks good for today, with 3-4 kts to 4,000 and winds making the ridges work. More as I hear it!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day 1 Complete

I talked to Tim a little while ago, and he said that it turned out to be a ridge day after all. The task was a 1 1/2 hour turn area task to #22 McConnellsburg, with a 20 mile radius. This turn point is roughly south-southwest of Mifflin County. The minimum distance was about 65 miles, nominal 110, and the max was 155.
He said, "Jacks Mountain wasn't really working. Toward Orbisonia it got much better."
After the traditional Friday fish fry dinner, the game of softball was under way. Who will be the unlucky victim of the annual injury-during-the-softball-game award? I will report as I hear more news.
Greetings to all from *hot* Dallas, but with fairly reliable reporters on the ground in Mifflin County,

May 19 - Day 1 is underway

17:00 Eastern time: Competition Director Charlie Spratt's waiting game has apparently paid off with a task under way on May 19 - Day 1 at last!
The task is reportedly a short turn area task (TAT) to McConnelsburg.
It is still cold...more news soon.

A not-so-fine week of waiting

Let's see... on Tuesday we gridded but did not fly. On Wednesday, about half of the field took off but the day was cancelled when it became obvious the next storm was coming. Thursday morning I left at 5 a.m. for home, but the pilots gridded and sat through hail and rain out there before the day was called off. Then, while people were cleaning up and de-rigging, an unfortunate pilot had a collision between his glider's wing and another pilot's vehicle - crunch! All felt terrible about the situation.
It's Friday morning. Tim reports that it is cold, and that they are waiting to see if the weather will clear this afternoon. After this, the forecast starts to look better: Very probable ridge day on Saturday, and improving weather out into next week. That's good, because they only have until Thursday to get a contest in!
As much as we all love Harry Leach's rhubarb custard pie and steakburgers, there's only so much recreational eating that you can enjoy. Let's hope they're flying on Saturday if not today.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rainy days at Mifflin

I am awfully tired of writing reports like this, but here goes: I am at Mifflin County Airport, one of the best places to attend a contest in the world, and it is raining and about 55 degrees. I am in the meeting hangar watching glider pilots busy themselves with everything they can think of to satisfy their competitive or aviation urges. Hank Nixon is building an electric aerobatic model airplane. At least 6 - 8 people are sitting around telling stories and watching Hank work. Others are playing ping pong, chess, and foozball.

Yesterday a couple of people got in local flights during breaks in the rain. I'm only here until Thursday, and the outlook continues to look, well, not good. So we're waiting for tonight's dinner and pilots meeting...maybe going quilt shopping, maybe going to a movie.

More news later!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Off to Sports Class Nationals

Tim is off to Sports Class Nationals in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania (the Appalachians, for those of you from other parts of the world.) However, the forecast I just received from our contest Grenouille (i.e. weather man) Richard Kellerman was:

"It's obviously the case that we would rather not be starting the contest under the pervasive influence of a monster cutoff low, but the same model (GFSX) which predicts, probably correctly, miserable conditions for the next several days also promises better tings to come. For what it's worth, here's what I see for the period May 12 - 25:
Saturday 12 - Wednesday 17: Not likely to be soarable
Thursday 18: West winds at about 15 kts and cu at 6,000 ft msl
Friday 19: Not likely to be soarable
Saturday 20 West winds at about 18 kts, cu at 6,000 ft msl
Sunday 21 NW winds 15 kts, cu at 5,000 ft msl
Monday 22: Winds lvrbl. with cu at 6 ,000 ft msl
Tuesday 22: Marginal
Wednesday 24: Strong ridge, weak thermals
Thursday: Marginal"

Now I don't know about you, but when I hear a forecast, I don't want to hear "persistent cutoff low" but it seems like every contest we attend has one of these hanging around. Examples: Mifflin 2003, Sports Nationals 2003, Norway 2004, First Grand Prix 2005. I mean, really! Anyone who knows an effective anti-rain dance, please go ahead and do it now.
More later,

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Preparing for 2006 Worlds

As Team Captain, one of my jobs (and one of the most fun) is writing daily reports during the contest. I will do my best to keep you all updated at least twice a day as internet service permits.

Here are all of the details about the Championship:

4th Club Class World Gliding Championships
5th World Class Gliding Championships

Location: Vinon, France, which is just south of Saint-Auban, in Haute Provence.

Dates: July 8 - 29
Unofficial Practice Days: July 8-9
Official practice: July 10-13
Opening Ceremony (no flying): July 14 (Bastille Day!)
First Contest Day: July 15
Last Contest Day: July 28
Closing Ceremony: July 29

U.S. Team Roster

Club Class

Tim McAllister
David Stevenson
Tim Welles

World Class
Francois Pin
Pat Tuckey

If you are a competition pilot, you know how much 'stuff' has to come with you to a sailplane race: your loggers, batteries, a computer with See You, wing tape, radios, etc., etc. Now think about taking all of this on the road and across the ocean. It does require some special planning! There's also lots of prep work to do - forms and registration, finding gliders to rent, reserving affordable and appropriate places to stay, finding cars with a trailer hitches, and learning about the competition area. After many moths of prep, we are almost there.

Be sure to check out the links to the official WGC site and other fun links as I find them...
Susan McAllister
27 June 2006