Another rain day – I think I’m going to commit ritual suicide soon. 8 days at Ionia, and we only flew two very tricky days. I get here only to have the first day rain/winded out. I have been put on notice by Cordele CD Mike Smith (XM) that if tomorrow is rained out, I’m going to be asked to leave the contest as a sacrifice to the weather gods ;-). According to the radar plots this morning, we were almost sure to get hammered by some very evil-looking stuff, but it eventually just missed us to the north. What *didn’t* miss us was the extremely high winds – in the 35-40kt range, so I’m just as happy to be on the ground watching trees bending over.
As it turned out though, it was a pretty productive down day for me. It started out with me discovering that one of my batteries had a broken connector wire, so I was able to get that repaired without getting stressed out. I keep a pretty complete electrical repair kit with me on these trips, and it has come in handy more than once.
Also, I was able to help Rob Ware (DI), and Bob Richards (RHR), and Sam Giltner (5U) get their SPOT devices set up and tested, so that felt good. Sam’s wife Penny pressed some absolutely decadent ice cream on me as I left their RV, and wow is that stuff high-octane. One teaspoon and I think I gained 5lbs! I also was able to get Canadian National Team member David Springford (F1) checked out on the Hawke Tracking SPOT management procedures, as the Canadians will be using our system for their Nationals (full disclosure – Mark Hawkins and I are co-owners of Hawke Tracking LLC which provides SPOT tracking maps for contests and other events).
My Micro-Castle has been very good to me, but this season it has gotten a bit cranky. In Florida at the Seniors my thermostat decided to go dead, and it took me quite a while (and three different thermostats) to get that squared away. Then, at Perry the little electric heater strip in the air conditioner duct decided to go on strike, and so I had to use my gas heater and a small space heater to keep warm there (not to mention several layers of clothing). Then, on one of those 92+ degree days at Ionia, the air conditioner quit working – now *that* was a killer – I was forced to abandon ship and hide out in the nearby Bob’s Big Boy for much of the day (and of course, I had to console myself with a Bob’s Big Boy Strawberry Belgian Waffle – yum!).
The loss of the aircon was a double whammy, as my next stop was to be Cordele, and I would certainly need the aircon down there. As it turned out, I landed out on Ionia Day2 on Wednesday, and as we were driving through Ionia on the way back to the field I noticed an RV service and repair place. At this point it was pretty obvious at the time that Thursday, Friday and Saturday (last three days for Ionia) were going to be unflyable, so I loaded my camper back onto the pickup and drove it over to the RV place Thursday morning early. When I asked about getting someone to look at my aircon, they told me they didn’t do heating/cooling work, but Wilson’s Heating and Cooling in ‘downtown Ionia’ (all three blocks of it) handled that side of the business. Wilson’s was willing to take a look, but both their techs were out on calls at the moment, but would be back at noontime. So, I went back to Bob’s Big Boy and sacrificed myself on the Strawberry Belgian Waffle altar until lunchtime, whereupon I showed back up at Wilson’s, where I got a very pleasant surprise. Not only was a tech available, but he was knowledgeable, thorough, and efficient. In less than an hour he had checked out my system and ran the problem down to a loose wire-nut behind the thermostat (yes, that would be the thermostat that gave me problems in Florida). Turns out that I had not completely secured the aircon control wire in the wire-nut, and it had eventually worked loose. Not only did the guy get my aircon going (YAY!!) but also diagnosed the problem with my little heater strip (dead thermal cutoff switch). He didn’t have the cutoff switch part, but at least I knew what the problem was.
So, there were a few rays of sunshine coming out of Ionia after all. I got my aircon problem fixed, my heater strip problem diagnosed, and I was able to get home Thursday night for two extra days home with the wife. I was also able to find a replacement heater strip cutoff switch at Columbus Temperature Controls and get the heater strip working again (not that I think I’ll need it for the rest of the season, but…).
Meantime, back at Cordele, the popular weather forecast is calling for 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms tomorrow (good grief!!), and the visible satellite loop looks terrible. There is a huge band of clouds swirling counter-clockwise over the entire eastern half of the U.S., and there is another huge band of clouds swirling clockwise over the Gulf of Mexico. It looks like the northern low pressure system and the southern high pressure system are just funneling clouds and high winds right through Georgia (oh, joy) :-(.
Stay tuned for more stories of how glider pilots attempt to stay sane in the face of really crappy weather forecasts – indoor cockroach racing, here we come!