Day 4 at Llano, Texas Regional (Region 10)

The weather forecast for today was for mostly blue skies with lift in the 6-8kt range to maybe 10,000′ msl – just another day in soaring paradise! ;-).  CD Richard Schafer called a MAT with mandatory first and last turnpoints.  Actually he called three different tasks, with three different mandatory first turns, as he wasn’t sure which quadrant of the task area would be best.  His plan was to wait until after the launch when his task adviser (Gonzo, EE) could give him a better of conditions.  As it turned out, all quadrants were equally blue, so we went with Task A, which had the mandatory turnpoint out to the northwest.

After the start gate opened and pilots started dribbling out on course, some cu’s started popping way out to the northwest, and later in the  day there were also clouds to the east and southeast of Llano.  The smart move for today was to exercise what Wally Barry (WB) calls the ‘key to flexibility’ – i.e. indecision ;-).  I waited around in the start cylinder until almost everyone had left, hoping that the additional delay would show me which way to go after the first turnpoint.  As it turned out this trick did work, but not without a fair bit of hand-wringing on my part.  After the first turnpoint, I saw there were some clouds WAAAAAAYYYY out to the northwest (downwind), and nothing else but blue in all other directions.  I knew the logical thing to do was to get into that cloud field and  use them to make some long downwind/upwind runs, but if it didn’t work I was going to be a long way down the river without the proverbial paddle.   Then I remembered a quote from Brigliadori’s “Competing in Gliders” where one member of the Italian team was asking  another how Doug Jacobs had managed to do everything perfectly when he won the WGC there in 1985.  The answer was “It was simple.  Doug always did the most logical thing – never letting his emotions or fears get in his way”, and so I decided to quell my fears and “do the most logical thing”.  I forged out to the northwest, got into the cloud field, and made some long downwind and upwind runs along cloud streets – simple! ;-).

Had dinner tonight with my good friend Dave Coucke, who moved out here to Austin recently from Ohio (we flew together for years out of Caesar Creek Soaring Club).  He joined the Fault Line Flyers, and now is flying a Standard Jantar in partnership with another FLF member.  It was fun reminiscing about the CCSC days, and comparing Ohio flying to Texas flying.  Ohio weather has been abominable this year, so soaring conditions at CCSC have been poor at best.  Comparing that to typical Texas soaring weather, where even trailers can be found at 10,000 msl in 10kt of lift, I can see why Dave decided to move.  He urged me to make the move too, but I told him the only way I was going to get the wife out of her home in Ohio was over my dead body, and I figured being dead was going to put a crimp in my soaring career ;-).

Tomorrow is the last day of this regional, and it will undoubtedly be another shitty day in paradise – clouds to the horizon in all directions, 10kt to 10,000 or higher – darn!