March 15 – Day 4 at the Seniors

Well, we had a very interesting day today.  I didn’t do all that well, but I can at least tell myself that I didn’t entirely crumple under the weight of an early screwup.  We had the usual morning meeting, complete with Doug Jacobs (DJ, flying John Good’s Duo Discus) telling us how he had killed us all yesterday, and then I went off to do my normal morning routine,  and then about 11am I got back to my micro-castle where I pulled up my normal mix of weather sources (NWS, BMapper, and XCSkies).  It immediately struck me that the weather I was looking at was dramatically different than what we had seen at the morning meeting, and so I hustled over to the office to ask CD John Good if they had seen the updates.  As it turned out, they hadn’t, as the internet connection to the office was down for some reason or another (I was using my trusty Verizon USB Modem, so I wasn’t affected by the outage), and so they had been contemplating tasks based on the weather plots obtained earlier in the day.  Needless to say, this caused quite a stir, but the CD regrouped quickly and came up with a task that fit the new weather pattern, and this actually worked out quite nicely.  Too bad the soaring gods didn’t see fit to reward me for my daring rescue of a task in distress (or maybe I *was* rewarded – and the original plan was for me to wind up in a farmer’s field today! ;-))

Anyway, the weather (as amended)  turned out to be quite interesting, and so was the task.  The weather issue was the significant threat of overdevelopment and 100% cloud cover to the west in the afternoon, so the CD moved the task around so we first went northwest to Dunnellon (just southwest of Ocala) with a 25-mile radius, then east to Bob White with a 10-mile radius, then south to Challet Suzanne with another 25-mile radius.  The idea was this would get gliders up to the northwest before the OD threat materialized, and then keep them on the east side of the soaring area for the rest of the day.  A nice touch by the CD today was a personal briefing to every pilot about the significant airspace issues presented by this eastern route (flying under the shelf of the Orlando Class B airspace, and the 3-mile radius Disney ‘temporary’ flight restriction area like a big boulder in the middle of everything).

Today I made the mistake of trying to follow DJ again, and I really should have gone off on my own.  I actually started by myself, but ran into a gaggle containing MP (DJ’s ride), 1K (a DG-1000 piloted by Rob and Helen Cluxton), and arch-friend Dennis Linnekin (DL).  So, not being completely brain-dead, I decided I could try and reprise my leeching act from yesterday, but this turned out to be a *bad* idea.  For some reason, the line that DJ took out of the start circle completely confused me, and by the time I figured this out, I was out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time.  As far as I can tell, DJ went one way (the right way), DL went another way (also the right way) and I went a third way (the wrong way).  The good news – well actually the not-so-bad news was that once I figured out that I was well and truly screwed, glued, and tattooed, I managed to get my act back together and run the rest of the day at a reasonable clip (not that it helped all that much on the scoresheet).

Just before I started  writing this post, I got a call from John Mittell (BZ), my ‘mentee’ here at the Seniors.  Apparently John had glanced at the XCSkies forecast for tomorrow, and just about dropped his eyeballs into his  socks – something like 800-900 fpm to 6000-8000′ msl over much of the southern task area tomorrow, low winds, and not too much chance of overdevelopment.  If this pans out in actuality, it could be a heck of a day!

Speaking of tomorrow, rumor has it that Chip Garner (CG) and Doug Jacobs (DJ/MP) are battling it out for 1st overall, and so we could see some more championship flying in great conditions.  Stay tuned!


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