Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last day at 15 Meter Nats

The fleet is almost lauched - 3,000 foot tows. Looks like a weaker day...who do you think will win? The scoresheet has certainly been shaken up alot during this contest.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

15 Meter Nationals Tuesday update

Just heard that the weather looks excellent today, with cu popping in all quadrants of the task area. Pilots will be "treated" to a 4 hour Turn Area Task of Thompson (30 mile radius), Salt River Pass (30 mile radius), Downey (28 mile radius). This will let them get a good view of Grand Teton, should they head deep enough into that TP. Distances: Minimum 177, Nominal 288, Max 443 miles

With all of the crazy stuff happening, back injury, land outs, etc, you never know what might shake the score sheet up today. Stay tuned!
More news soon,

Monday, July 25, 2011

15 Meter Nats Day 5

So, I spent day 5 flying well above 18,000 ft. myself, but I was aboard a Canadair Regional Jet reading a book while heading back to DFW, aka 105 degree land. Such altitudes were generally not in the cards for most of the 15 meter competitors, who unfortunately had a bit of a rough time, according to early reports. As of 8:00 this evening, only 5 or so of them were back out of the 20 odd pilots left. Lots of landouts, all of the towplanes out fetching people, and lots of action at the retrieve desk. I'll let you know how it all shook out when I hear more news.

I really enjoyed this contest. No, not just because my pilot won. Logan airport is pretty nice. It's in a lovely valley, with all of the modern conveniences as I have noted earlier. And the hospitality is great! In spite of us tromping through the FBO, the Leading Edge Aviation staff, every last one of them, was so kind to me. Being a contest organizer myself, I tend to want to clean up more or less reflexively. When I tried to refill the paper towels in the restroom, the guys absolutely would not let me and took care of it right away. They keep a basket of candy constantly filled even though the candy was gobbled up by glider pilots and 4 year olds at a pretty rapid rate. So thanks to the Leading Edge team for making it a fun week!

The daily random travel tip for Logan is that you might want to hit the Gossner Foods dairy store while there. It's pretty close to the airport. You can get all kinds of cheeses, ice cream, and a few other locally produced food things that make good gifts. We tried the huckleberry cheesecake flavor and it was extremely tasty.
More news soon,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Region 9 Complete - 15 Meter Nationals Rest Day

The Region 9 contest is now complete. We got 5 days of flying in. I only had one melted crayon (green) in my vehicle. I have misplaced two of the new "My Little Pony Fashion Applejack's" pink plastic shoes. All things considered, a success! And my pilot finally won a regional, which was a nice bonus. He has placed at regionals many times, but never won, even though he has won the Nats once. Congratulations EY! Congratulations to all of the pilots who persevered and completed all 5 contest days, and to Biff Huss for winning the regional "FAI" class, too. BTW, check out how many Club Class ships placed in the top of the Sports Class score sheet. A bunch...

The 15 meter folks had the day off today. Starting tomorrow (Sunday) there will be a changing of the guard for them as Karl Striedieck is leaving for the rest of his vacation with Iris and Mookie, and Tim will be taking over. This was the pre-planned arrangement in the wake of the death of our dear Charlie Minner. Fortunately, Tim's job as a school rowing coach requires him to be in charge of 24 highschoolers every day. So he's used to drama and occasional diva fits. This would seem to be a good preparation for the job of CD! Ha ha. No, of course all pilots are completely well-behaved and never complain or pitch fits!  There are about 20 ships in the 15 Meter Nationals at this point, so it will be a much more manageable number than the 60 or so we had at the start of the combined contests.

I'm heading home on Sunday (starting to run short on vacation days),  but I'll do my best to keep up with what's happening in Logan and let you know, too.

Above: One of the many great shots taken by Andy Blackburn who hiked up some mountain with Jim Cumiford on Day 4. After bushwhacking for a few thousand feet, they found the ideal spot from which to take pictures of gliders on the ridge. Thanks for sharing them, Andy.

More news soon,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FAI class 1. Biff huss 2. Jim frantz 3. Walt Rogers
Sports Class 1. T McAllister 2. Colin Barry 3. Mike Reid congrats to all!
Banquet time! Thanks to the Weaver family & Leading Edge Aviation for a great regional.

Walt Rogers waiting for a tow.
Launch will start at 2:15

Grid squatting for the last day of the Regional. 15 meter has a rest day. We just launched a sniffer. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 3 at Logan

We got another day in today, Day 3 for both the Regional and the Nationals. The Regional will wrap up on Saturday, and I don't expect to have any more rest days, since we didn't fly on Monday. It is Thursday night, right? I tend to lose track of the days at contests. We started launching at about 14:10 without too many relights. It was another challenging day, but a different sort of challenging from the previous two days. Tim was one of the first pilots back, having started pretty early. Slowly, the tiedown line started to be re-populated with gilders, but there was also good business in aeroretrieves for the towpilots tonight.

A nice relaxed grill evening capped off the day. The local folks are very friendly and hospitable and we really appreciate all they do to make the glider pilots feel welcome.

More news tomorrow,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Launch underway, 14:20


This is what we do on our summer vacations. Duane & Enza on the ramp, day 3.

Day 2 at Logan

Interesting days at Logan. The weahter is not enitrely coorperative, but it's not entirely uncooperative either. We got a day in today, Wednesday, July 20 ("One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" anniversary day) but had a bunch of landouts and a few more incidents with broken ships. What leads to damaged ships on landouts? Many people smarter than I have considered this question. I have been to another contest here before and not seen this many broken shops. I kind of think it's about knowing your limits and making safer choices, like choosing an airport for your landout (Airport bonus!) or just making good field selections. It's always hard to see people leaving with their broken ships before the contest is over. I have been there and feel their pain!

Fixing that shredded tape on Wednesday morning.

Look-ee-there! There is a tilt-rotor in the middle of the tiedown area! They are doing some kind of tests with the Osprey that involve it hovering for a long period of time then stopping and being hauled in to a hangar for engine maintenance. They aren't impacting our operations at all, nor we theirs, that we can tell. It's interesting to see this aircraft up close.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pilots out on a 3 hour MAT in total blue conditions. Check the Spot tracking page link (right) to see how they're going.
Towing back from a long day at Logan, Utah. Note the peeling tape on the top of the tailplane from flying through some hard rain. Pieces of the contest ID lettering were also shredded. Was one of the turnpoints in Hades?

Logan Day 1

It's Tuesday, July 19, and we just got our first day of competition in at the Logan Region 9 and 15 Meter Nationals contest. What a day! Lots of land outs. Not my pilot, thank goodness. Lots of changing weather. The pilots I talked with at the end of the day described so many moments that one might have "gotten flushed" (i.e. sent earthward, toward a landout). Some had landed out really far away, in places like Lava Springs. I don't know where that is. It sounds far. Yikes!

The weather is appropriately hot during the day, cool at night. A major upgrade from Dallas' 105-84 temperature range. We have seen monsoonal moisture pressing this far north over the past two days, which is unusual for this time of year. But everyone seems to be saying that about the weather lately. "It's never like this here in (fill in month)," people say.

Logan is such a great place from a crew person's perspective. I have, within 5 minutes' drive, a Walmart, Subway, Chick-fil-a, and many more restaurants, Harbor Freight, Home Depot, bookstores, a mall, and a DRIVE THROUGH STARBUCK'S which deserves to be in all caps. If you need it, want it, or just kind of have a whim to get something, it's probably nearby.This is quite different from pretty much every other soaring location I have ever been to, where the main entertainment of an evening is watching the truck stop gas price sign switch back and forth from cash to credit price. I have actually done this on the porch swing at the Motel 6 de Moriarty. Sad. I know.

We also have such nice hosts at Leading Edge, the local FBO, and great leadership in Micki Minner, who is carrying on in excellent form. Those of us who knew Charlie are certainly working this contest in his memory. He is sorely missed, of course. I raise a red Gatorade toast to him each day when I am out on the line.
More news soon,
EY Crew

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You know you're in moriarty waiting for finishers when you have fine dirt between your teeth.
That's gallette, not Gillette. Darn autocorrect!
It's a speed task on a windy day 4 at moriarty. abo, clines corners, Gillette. 285 mi. Windy out of the west & blue! Launch about 1/2 done

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moriarty tasks tat for both classes. Club Las Vegas, Galinas peak, 3 hr min. Modern watrous, Monte alto with large radii. Only one handout so far.
Most made it home. EY keeps having trouble with his ClearNav showing incorrect circles on the TATs. This is very annoying and is costing him speed. He felt like he went a bit slower today. It was one of those days where you could be with a bunch of folks and some hit the convergence just right and had a fun time and the others missed and had a bad time.

We were talking with Bob Faris about leeching. But how to know who you should leech off of? How about a new product - a pilot "mood spot" that you could attach to the glider. It would glow different colors depending on the pilot's situation. A green color might indicate "happy pilot: follow me!" Or a muddy purple could say "I am miserable and heading for a landout." This could save a lot of heartache for pilots who just aren't sure whom to follow on a given day.

Steve Leonard and his zuni

Monday, June 13, 2011

We are mid launch at moriarty on day 1

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Case for Club Class Glider Racing in the U.S.

Since I initially wrote the post below, Club Class has begun to gain recognition with the approval of our Super Regional contest to be held in Moriarty, NM with a Club and a Modern Class. At this moment, the U.S. Sports Class nationals is going on with a Club Class being scored separately and SSA medallions, if not a trophy, up for grabs. The club class pilots are at the top of the overall score sheet, too.

The turnout for the Moriarty contest (of which I will be Contest Manager), is very strong for both Club Class (15 so far) and Modern Class (18 so far) with a cap of 40 ships. There's still a little space if you want to join the fun June 11-17 in good old Moriarty, NM. A good number of these folks are either new to racing or haven't raced in years. We hope to make this a friendly, fun, safe contest where new pilots can learn from the more experienced ones, and no one needs to be embarrassed by his/her "old" glider.
The Case for Club Class
During the late summer of 2010, a proposed change in the U.S. Soaring Team selection rules sparked a lively debate on rec.aviation.soaring about Club Class glider racing. This discussion has surfaced now and then for years, with threads on the topic as far back as the nineties. Why don't we have a Club Class National Championship here in the United States, when it is an FAI class with its own World Championship?

It's time for Americans to embrace Club Class glider racing. Why? First and foremost, it is an inexpensive entry to racing. It brings us into line with the rest of the world, where it is standard practice. It is better preparation for the Club Class Worlds. And it is fun!

What is Club Class?
Club Class is a fun, competitive, inexpensive racing class. As practiced around the world, the class is handicapped range includes specifically named set of older glider models, from a Standard Libelle at the low end to an ASW 20. This range of gliders is much narrower than Sports Class, with tasking to match that performance.

The FAI Sporting Code defines Club Class this way: “The purpose of the Club Class is to preserve the value of older high performance gliders, to provide inexpensive but high quality international championships, and to enable pilots who do not have access to gliders of the highest standard of performance to take part in contests at the highest levels. The only limitation on entry of a glider into a Club Class competition is that it is within the agreed range of handicap factors for the competition. Water ballast is not permitted. Championship scoring formulas shall include handicap factors.” (Section 3, 6.5.6)

According to FAI International Gliding Commission (IGC) President Bob Henderson, “The Club Class provides a competitive class for gliders that would otherwise have to be withdrawn from international competition; provides a learning ground for lower experienced pilots who are entering international competition; [and] meets a need for pilots who do want to compete but are unable to finance the cost of the latest and greatest machines.” Henderson continued, “it also supports the development of gliding as a whole because it protects the value of older gliders in the market.”

A Bit of History
The concept of Club Class originally came from Germany, where it was a popular way for younger pilots in older gliders to practice their competition skills. A t the 1999 IGC meeting, Australian IGC Representative Terry Cubley moved to introduce the Club Class as a new competition class for World Championships. He served as Competition Director of the January 2000 Pre-Worlds and of First Club Class World Gliding Championship (WGC) in Gawler, Australia in 2001. Cubley has participated as pilot, organizer, or observer in every Club Class WGC since then.

“The real benefit of the class is that it enables many more people to compete without needing to purchase a modern glider – a $20,000 Cirrus can provide an excellent competition career,” Cubley commented. “Our experience in Australia is that this added additional pilots, rather than re-cycling the old hands.” Ten years on, “Club Class is now a core part of the IGC calendar,” he says.

Club Class Today
It continues to be a very popular class worldwide. The most recent Club Class WGC in 2010 in Prievidza, Slovakia had 47 competitors, and each previous WGC has been equally well-attended. Top pilots from around the world have chosen to focus on Club Class, including the current second-ranked pilot in the world, Sebastian Kawa of Poland. He has won the event three times. In order to qualify for his place on the team, he had to compete in the Polish Club Class Championship, in a Club Class ship, a Jantar Standard “Bravo”.

According to Marina Vigorito of Italy, who has been very involved in Club Class events over the past decade, “Club class was a most clever and innovative IGC idea. With a few thousands of Euros, young pilots can buy a beautiful glider and fly just for fun or compete in every kind of competition, up to the Worlds.”

IGC President Bob Henderson agrees. “My experience of attending Club Class competitions was that they are perceived as fun, challenging, enjoyable, lower pressure than in other classes and less costly.”

Encouraging New Competitors
You probably have not heard of Omri Kalinsky. He is not a big name on the U.S. soaring scene. But he is exactly the kind of pilot who would become an active competitor in Club Class. The single 31-year-old is a budding racing pilot. After earning his glider rating at Texas Soaring Association near Dallas in 2005, he purchased a Libelle 201 in 2009. He participated in a local contest that year. Then an experienced competition pilot friend persuaded to try his skills at Region 10 North in Arkansas in May 2010.

He doesn’t see himself flying his Libelle in a Sports Class Nationals.

“I'd rather fly Club Class, because the contest director can call tasks around a reasonably narrow range of performance without having to accommodate very low performance or very high performance ships,” he said. “I also like that all the handicaps of all ships will be fairly close. Even though handicapping can help, it usually favors the expensive ships in strong conditions and the older ships in weak conditions.”

“It's a great way to get into racing, it's reasonably accessible, and you can still win if you don't have $200,000 to blow every few years to buy the latest and greatest ship,” Kalinsky added. “The best part is the handicapping allows pilots to compete purely on piloting skill and not using the performance of your ship and thus the depth of your wallet.”

Pilots with lower performance gliders tend to think twice before going to the expense of entering a competition where many of the gliders will be Ventus 2s and ASW-27s. There's no way to know for sure how many contestants are being discouraged in this way each year because you can’t survey those who are not showing up.

The Future of Club Class
The Australian approach to Club class may be a model of what we could do here in the U.S. They made a conscious choice to limit the Club Class event to the same aircraft as are on the IGC Club Class list.

“To accommodate the guys with the more modern gliders who wanted to go and fly somewhere, we also kept a sports class for higher performance gliders, which flies in parallel,” Cubley said.

“This has seen a growth in the number of competitors in Club Class gliders, and a whole new group of pilots enjoying high level competition, with a chance to compete internationally,” he added. “With the smaller range of performance in the class, this has enabled a balance between Assigned Area Tasks and the traditional speed task (AST) which the pilots enjoy. We get some movement between classes so some of our top Standard and 15-Meter pilots are also borrowing gliders and flying in Club Class, and vice versa.”

“We find that the number of competitors in our Club Class event is larger than the other traditional classes, with a constant influx of new pilots,” Cubley added.

IGC President Bob Henderson sees interest in Club Class as increasing in the future. “The IGC is under pressure to increase the opportunities for Club Class aircraft to compete at the international level.” Henderson notes. “This has to be balanced against the demands for other classes and the ability of the gliding community to organize and host the number of World Championship classes and events that are already in the calendar. As time goes by and the championship calendar is modified, there may well be the opportunity to create a second Club Class grouping that will accommodate the first and second generation 15-Meter racing ships.

There are more than 1,000 IGC Club Class-eligible gliders according to a quick search of the FAA database. When you consider the U.S. Team Committee’s Club Class Team selection-eligible glider list, that number rises to more than 1,300. By the same token, there are currently only approximately 425 current generation gliders registered.

If we establish Club Class in the U.S. we may be surprised to find how many new faces are out on the contest grid. If we truly commit to recognizing this FAI class, the sport of soaring will find itself healthier in the long term.

Terry Cubley, Australian Representative to the IGC; Bob Henderson, IGC President; Omri Kalinsky, regular pilot; Tim McAllister, pilot-husband; and Marina Vigorito, Italian Alternate to the IGC.

Friends of Club Class Gliding in the U.S. Facebook Group
Moriarty Club/Modern Class Super Regional Contest June 11-17