Day 4 at Mifflin 15m Nationals

Sorry for the late report - I was too busy retrieving Mike Smith (XM) from a field about 5 miles away, and then stuffing my face with the wonderful Glick family fish fry dinner ;-).

Weather for today was pretty much just like yesterday, with the exception that the winds, such as they were, were from the southeast. The southeast winds held out the possibility of using the backside of Jacks Mountain, but that turned out to me (mostly) illusory.  Absolutely no chance of clouds, lift to about 5000' msl in the 2-4kt range

The task was southwest to Strip Mine (up on the plateau), then back north to Penns Cave, then south again to Raystown Dam, then home.  The launch started well enough on time, and unlike yesterday there were very few relights.  I was able to climb off tow with full ballast, albeit not very rapidly.  We all eventually worked our way up to the maximum altitude of 5000' msl, and then proceeded to play an extended game of start roulette.  Adding to the interest level, the thermals themselves seemed to participants in the game, and so the entire gaggle of 30 or so gliders would get up to 5000' only to sink back down en-masse,  to 4500 or even 4000 before it disintegrated and reformed in another thermal.  Twice I was up at the top of the gaggle at 4900' msl, waiting for someone (else - not me!!) to lead out, only to watch the whole thing sink down again.  Finally at about 2:30 pm the gaggle staggered out on course, but starting from about 4200' msl - great job, everyone!  (including me, of course).

The first leg took us across the Stone Mountain valley, and the entire leg was painful in the extreme.  Anything going up had a gaggle, even if it was only 1-2kt, and there were plenty of gliders fishing around down low for something to keep them out of a field.   I was able to keep up with a decent group consisting of  Eric Mann (P3), Jerzy Szemplinski (XG), Evan Luderman (T8) and John Seaborn (A8), and together we furballed ourselves across the valley.  Once on the higher ground of the Tussey ridge, we started finding better lift and higher tops, getting 3-4kt to above 5000', and we were able to move a bit faster.  Heading north on the second leg we generally followed the Tussey ridge up toward Woodward, and somewhere along this leg we also picked up Chip Garner (CG) in his new Duck Hawk glider.  The Duck Hawk has a very distinctive profile, so it was easy to pick it out at a glance.  With Chip at the controls, he didn't seem to have any problems keeping up, and the ship seemed to either hold its own or climb a smidge better than the 27's, 29/15's  and V2's.

Somewhere toward the end of this second leg, I decided to dogleg east to pick up Jacks Mountain, on the theory that even with just 2-3kt wind from the east-southeast, Jacks might work well enough to avoid thermalling at all for the last part of the task.  This *almost* worked, as I was able to go to the back of the Penn's Cave circle, and then head south toward the Raystown Dam circle, on Jacks Mountain.  Unfortunately, by the time I got down to the Mifflin gap I had started to fall off the ridge, so I decided to come through the gap toward the airport, intending to land  if I couldn't find a climb.  After an eternity of searching and scratching, I finally got back up to about 3200' msl, and continued down Jacks Mountain into the last circle, and then all the way back up north to the Mifflin gap again (I had to go to the gap because I wasn't high enough at that point to get over).  So, Karl is right that Jacks backside *does* work with almost no wind at all, if it is from the east or southeast.  However, I have to say that ridge soaring at 50kt is not for the faint of heart.  At one point I had to deviate well away from the ridge to clear a high-tension power line, knowing full well that the top wires were nearly invisible - yuk!!

There were a number of landouts, including the rumor of some damage to a glider and possible injury to a pilot.  I'm sure more details will be forthcoming, but as I understand it the injuries were not life-threatening and the pilot is already in treatment at a nearby hospital.

Dinner tonight was the Glick family fish-fry, and I have to say this was by far the best fried fish dinner I have ever eaten.  The fish fillets were tender and moist, and definitely scrumptious ;-).

Popular weather for tomorrow is  more of the same.  Sunny (as in NO CLOUDS AGAIN), high around 84, light east winds.  Stay tuned

Frank (TA)

Frank Paynter

Dr. Frank (TA) Paynter has a PhD in Electrical Engineering. He retired from a successful 25-year civil-service career in 1993 and spent the next 15 years as a antenna researcher at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, retiring again in 2008 to become a full-time soaring bum.He is the author of the book “Cross Country Soaring with Condor”, co-authors (along with Scott Manley) the popular Condor Corner column for ‘Soaring’ magazine, and is a regular contributor to the Condor section at with Mark Hawkins, he is part owner of Hawke Tracking, the company that provides SPOT tracking services for contests and clubs. Before soaring came along, Frank was a national champion skydiver and still holds the record for the most number of consecutive dead-centers in skydiving competition. Frank started soaring in the mid-1990’s at Caesar’s Creek Soaring Club near Waynesville, Ohio and instantly fell in love with Cross-Country racing. Now he goes to as many contests as his wife of over 30 years will allow, and spends his winter months racing and instructing in Condor.

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