Day 1 at Fairfield (US Region 4 North)

Well, we finally got a day in - yay!

This morning the sun was bright and the skies were clear - no fog, no rain - time to assemble.  Because the rain has made large parts of the Fairfield trailer parking area somewhat squishy, many of the locals and some of us visitors have taken to assembling our gliders out on the asphalt runway, basically right at our grid positions.  This works out well for me, as I generally have my truck already hooked up to my trailer for the retrieve when I launch anyway, so moving the trailer out to the runway is no big deal.  I'm getting a bit more practiced with my WingRigger single-rig system, and today I did the entire thing, from opening the trailer to glider fully assemble in just under 20 minutes.  Still a far cry from 7 minutes with my old carpet-roll system, but not terrible ;-).

The news at the morning meeting was for weak, blue, and low - perfect!  Seriously, Baud Litt once again nailed the prediction to within a few feet in altitude, and on the timing - wow!  The task was a 2-hour three-circle TAT designed to keep us all on the east side, essentially running up and down rt 15 (the 'Route 15 Ridge' as it were).  Sniffer Danny Brotto stuck, so the 18m class was flung into the air, and we stuck too (mostly).

About 5 minutes before the 18m class gate opened, I was in perfect position; at the exit edge of the start cylinder, at the top of a miserable excuse for a thermal, with John Seymour (SM), Baud Litt (LBL) and Erik Nelson (5E) all in sight.  Ten minutes later, I'm on the ground waiting for a relight, wondering what the heck just happened!  I wasn't entirely alone, as Tim Welles (W3) landed about 5 minutes before me, and John Godfrey (QT) landed just after me.  I seriously considered just putting my glider away, but I could hear a whole string of gliders calling their starts, so I decided to give it another try.  Good thing I did, as I got off tow and immediately hit a 3-kt climb to 4000' - 2kt more than I was getting before, and 1000' higher!

The task sent us down to the southeast over a huge factory (cement?) out in the middle of farmlands, but I managed to get a real good climb there, and so I went deep into the circle, figuring to use the factory thermal twice - and that plan actually worked! On the second iteration of the plant thermal I met up with Erik Nelson (5E) who had started about 5 minutes after me and was just coming into the circle as I was going out.

The next leg took us north over Gettysburg and into the foothills and orchard country (ugh!).  As a visitor to this area, I'm always fascinated with the Gettysburg area because of it's unique civil war history.  Gettysburg itself is a very small town, and you can imagine it being about the same size during the war.  The town is basically surrounded by battle monuments and markers, and when I look down on it from above (I had plenty of time to do this while climbing at 1 kt!) the thing that struck me was the huge expanse that must have been covered by the battle.  There are monuments and markers everywhere - covering many square miles in all directions.  I have never taken any of the tours or gone to the memorial, but looking at it from a hawk's perspective is very sobering.

The weather forecast for tomorrow and Thursday look daunting, and Baud didn't hold out much hope for flying either day, so maybe I'll get a chance to do the Gettysburg thing after all - 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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