Day 1 – US Region 10

Today’s task was another Turn Area Task, this time with 4 cylinders.  The course would take us generally over the same area as we flew yesterday in the practice day.  By the way, I was very pleased to learn this morning that the old Cherokee II and I won the practice day!  Our handicapped speed worked out to somewhere in the 63 mph range, second and third were in the 61 mph range.  Yay us! BUT, it was only a practice day and from what I could tell a lot of tough competition showed up on Monday while we were out flying.

The weather call was for similar as yesterday. 6-7 knot lift up to around 8 or 9000 feet.  However there was a lower chance for cumulus today.  I for one was hoping that part of the forecast was wrong.  Gridding and Launch seemed to go smoothly.  I was happy that Leah and I were able to be where we needed to be when we needed to be and everything was ready to roll when the time came.

That reminds me, there is a new high tech addition to my instrument panel.  Thanks to Frank Paynter (TA) for delivering it from Uvalde, I’m renting a PowerFlarm unit for the contest.  I built a shelf into the glider before we came down here and we got it mounted today.  It seemed to work well although I was only in one gaggle with Frank in the start cylinder, I was able to see him in real life and on the Flarm.  I’m not sure if any others here are equipped, there are more than a few who came up here from Uvalde so hopefully I’ll have the chance to see more people as the week goes on.

I was 5th to launch today and managed to release in a good thermal and work my way up to a respectable height in the start cylinder.  I worked with a few gaggles and generally got a feel for the day.  As the fleet launched it was noted there were no clouds anywhere, and the CD did a roll call to change the task from a 4 hour minimum to 3.5 hrs.  Fine with me.  My plan was to just barely nick each cylinder, try to pick a course that minimized my time spent working into the wind, and get home over time. The gate opened and I started immediately.

The run west/northwest to the first cylinder was pretty easy even in the blue.  A few climbs and I was there at an average of over 40 mph.  Not bad!  Then the turn south was BRUTAL.  I got low enough a few times to have to take any lift I could find and the speed just tanked.  I think the average was something like 25 mph.  I was very happy to finally make it to the second cylinder as it appeared it had clouds in it!  I had finally made it to cloud-land although the clouds were way above me and pretty thin, and cycling fast.  Oh well better than nothing.  After the second cylinder I turned more or less into the wind but was able to find a blue street that I ran for nearly 10 miles with no net loss in altitude. Not bad!  A few more thermals and I was to the third cylinder and finally able to do away with a headwind component for good.

By this time I was down to about an hour remaining.  It was going to be about 25 miles to the last cylinder and another 15 or so to Llano.  I got really low for one last time right at the cylinder but then caught a few good climbs and rocketed up to my high point for the day, 8500 MSL.  From there it was one more thermal to get to the last cylinder but by the time i got there I was back down around 3000 feet (1500-2000 AGL) and needed to get back up before I could head for Llano.  I found a 2 knot thermal over a landable looking pasture and figured I would take whatever I could find if it was the difference between landing out and finishing.  It did improve, with the help of a few birds showing me the core, and I soon was 1000 feet over glide to Llano. Right where I wanted to be.  I set out but soon encountered some strong sink and even with the 15 knot push was making less than 20:1 over the ground.  Oudie was telling me I needed 20:1 to make it so I started looking for another thermal.  Found a decent one and bumped up another 500 feet and headed out again, by this time I was about 10 miles out and starting to get over some rough ground that leads up to the Llano airport.

Of course, like yesterday, that rough ground was a fantastic thermal generator.  I already knew I was going to come in slightly under time and wasn’t too concerned with that.  A few minutes would hurt my speed slightly but what was done was done and I was happy to get a good finish.  I did want to try to improve on my 2000 ft finish though from the practice day.  Well when I got down to 2000 AGL about 3 or 4 miles out from the airport i found nothing but lift!  I was running the Cherokee up to 80 mph at times and still not coming down!  Good grief, I ended up finishing at 1700 today.  Oh well.

SeeYou says my distance was 132.4 miles which should work out to somewhere around 37 mph.  I’m pretty satisfied with that considering the struggle I had today.  We’ll see in the morning how it compares.  Here is the flight: