Team Captain’s closing notes.
Now that we are back home again, but details are still fresh, I should add some thoughts to the blog.
As some of the pilots mentioned, the trip was long indeed and with all the driving around at the contest site we added about 6000 km to the Santa Fe’s odometer.
The contest was well prepared and plenty of US volunteer staff were at hand to get the job done in an orderly fashion. Some issues always surface last minute, but overall it ran pretty smooth.
The practice week proved that indeed practice is very valuable for pilots, crews and contest personnel.
The Canadian team had its own glitches as our pilots had their own ideas about practice flying.
Some preferred day on/day off, others 2 days flying and 2 days off etc.
As it turned out, there was always flying during the practice days, resulting in no rest days for the crews,
tiring them out even before the contest started.
Observing the first few practice days, I came up with a routine for all the crews and this was tested at the one day during the practice week that all pilots were flying.
It worked quite well and was maintained until all suffered from the heat at the field and it was decided that the crews spend the waiting time at our air conditioned motel room.
Scruteneering was as serious as it gets, with the FAA looking at all the glider and pilot’s documentation.
As it turned out this eliminated FAA checks on the grid.
All our pilots were flying their own gliders with familiar equipment, flight computers and back-up loggers. They still experienced glitches with SUA files and outright logger failures.
Jerzy’s ClearNav failed on the first contest day and his Cambridge back-up did not start until after take-off. Nick’s EW logger failed.... All this was due to extreme heat and added a lot of stress and distraction, costing valuable points.
As I mentioned earlier in the blog, pilot’s responsibilities have shifted. More attention is required during flying, but technicalities such as reporting start times and turning in flight logs is the Team captain’s responsibility.
Issues with procedures, changes and concerns are dealt with at the team captain’s meetings, which simplifies and shortens the morning general pilot’s meetings.
With all the up-to date available weather info it is also very important to have this passed on to the team pilots.
A good ground station with a tuned antenna that was erected at the Motel 6 resulted in an acceptable range. This worked quite well.
I was able to talk to most pilots up to about 120km out and this proved to be a big help.
On the first contest day heavy T-storms developed on course and I was able to advise the pilots of their locations, helping to avoid slowdowns.
On many contest days I advised on blue holes and cloud situations that the pilots could not observe from their own locations.
We have proven that the Canadians can and will be at the top and it was disappointing that during the closing ceremony no mention was made of the last day when Jerzy and Dave finished 1, 2 in the 18M, the best Canada has ever had at any previous WGC’s. Nick finished a very respectableble 10th for the day in 15M,
Dave and Jerzy flew together on several occasions, but on the last day it worked quite well, resulting in the top 2 spots in their class.
I am sure that with some more practice in team flying our pilots will be at the podium in 2014.
In closing, I would also like to recognise the volunteer crews. They showed up paying their own way to look after the pilots, relieving the pressure of the pilot’s spouses.
Joe Laposnyik, Dave Springford’s crew. Dan Daly, looking after Jerzy Szemplinski, skilfully updating the team blog and taking care of some team captain matters in my absence when I had to pick up Annemarie in San Antonio.
Sonia Hildesheim, looking after Nick Bonniere in her own quiet but very efficient way.
I am glad that Annemarie was able to join us during the contest and share some of the load.
Her observation from the 1991 contest was very valid...Bloody hot!
As a matter of fact, one of the local politicians admitted that if he owned both Texas and hell, he would rent out Texas and live in hell... but the flying is the best in the world!