This morning I was sleeping soundly in my Micro-Castle, when I was blasted awake by a very loud “Thwack!” on the fiberglass roof just above my head. For a moment I was confused and frightened, until I remembered my camper was parked underneath a walnut tree, and the noise was the sound of a ripe walnut dropping from the tree! Just another part of the New Castle experience ;-).
We woke to an overcast sky, with no possibility of sunlight hitting the ground. However, in the Charlie Spratt tradition, we all assembled and gridded anyway. At New Castle, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds, as the wind was forecast to be out of the southeast, and the tunnel ridge usually works pretty well with a southeast wind. Of course, to get in a task you still have to be able to thermal up a little bit above ridge height, sneak out into the valley for 5-6 miles, and then get back to the ridge with sufficient height to work your way back up to the top. As the day wore on, however, it became increasingly clear that the actual conditions weren’t going to support even a back-side ridge mission. John Good went up as as sniffer, and reported only 55kt even on the highest/best part of the ridge, and the cloud base was basically at or slightly below ridge height. So, at about 2pm the day was called and we all put our gliders back in their boxes. As we were towing back, three or four pilots elected to take tows to try your luck, and as we were dis-assembling we were treated to an impromptu thermalling demonstration right over the field. At one time there were three gliders all circling fairly low and very visible against the grey sky, and they were (for a while at least) gaining altitude slowly but surely. It was very neat to be able to see these guys working that really weak, but not impossible, thermal.
For me, all was not lost, as I was able to watch CD Hank Nixon in action as he worked through the options and gamely tried to get a day in, while still keeping things sane and safe. This is an education I sorely need, as I have been volunteered to CD at next year’s region 6 south contest at CCSC (June 16-23 if you are interested). And speaking of CCSC, we also plan to hold a Cross-Country training camp at CCSC the week before the contest, so if you are just getting started in cross-country flying and/or contest flying, this would be an excellent opportunity to stretch your soaring legs over very forgiving terrain. We should have on-line registration available soon for both the regional contest and the XC camp on the SSA website soon.
Dinner tonight was pizza and pasta provided by a local catering firm, and it was an excellent meal. The contest management here at New Castle is neck-and-neck with Perry for their professionalism, friendliness, and great cuisine. While dinner was being served and eaten, Jim Smiley and I logged on to the weekly Monday Night Soaring Condor race, and had a good time flying in the Czech Republic. I managed 3rd, and I think Jim came in 6th for the night – not bad for a couple of local yokels! ;-).
Unfortunately, tomorrow’s weather looks a bit grim too, and we may not even get the gliders out of their boxes. Maybe Jim Smiley and I will organize some Condor races to take our minds off the rain. In Condor-land, the weather is always soarable! ;-).