Ho hum, another spectacular soaring day at Caesar Creek - gets boring after a while ;-).
Day 4 is in the bag here, and it was a pretty interesting day from a number of aspects. First, I finally got to call a task I have wanted to try for a 'long' time - a 'Long MAT'. The weather forecast indicated the possibility of some high cirrus coming in from the west later in the day, possibly cutting off soaring, and there was also a problem with the lift values in the southeastern part of the soaring area. So, we set up a 2.5 hour MAT task with 9 mandatory turnpoints covering 150 miles. Now, the cool thing about a 'long MAT' is that although a pilot must do all mandatory turnpoints in the order specified, he/she does NOT have to do ALL the mandatory turnpoints in order to get a 'completed task' and speed points - all they have to do is achieve the minimum distance for their class (40sm handicapped for Sports class, 50sm for FAI). Anyway, the weather issues today made the long MAT a perfect call for the conditions, as we could keep everyone within about 50 miles of CCSC and would hopefully have everyone back home again before the expected high clouds got close enough to shut us down.
As you may recall from previous reports, the first contest day was a landout special, where only two pilots made it around (Jeff Russel TZ in FAI, and Curt Lewis in Sports). Ex Junior U.S. Team member Erik Nelson (5E) was one of the landouts on Day1, and was consequently over 200 points out of first place. However, champion that he is, Erik won the next two days to chip away at Jeff's lead, and today won decisively (more accurately, Erik CRUSHED the rest of the fleet - the second place score today was 804!) to take a 21 point overall lead in FAI class. I think maybe the rest of the FAI class should sue for mercy! We have three more days to go, so anything can happen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Erik bring a lawn chair to the grid on the last day ;-).
In Sports class, the contest has turned into a Genesis II battle, with Curt Lewis in first place overall (Curt was the other guy who got around on Day 1), but Don Kroesch (DK) has won the last two days in a row and is nipping at his heels only 28 points back after 4 days. Robert Norton (7H) has continued to add to his list of 'firsts' with an apparent gear-up outlanding today with some minor damage to his gear doors (being repaired as I type at Murray's place). At this rate, Robert is going to get all the normal list of mistakes out of the way in short order ;-).
Rumor has it that Jeff Russel has a bit of an excuse for having a bad day today. Apparently as he was wiping down the wings on his tied-out glider this morning, he was startled by a long black object under one wing, thinking it might be a snake. Upon closer inspection it did indeed look like a snake, but it wasn't moving at all, and so Jeff concluded it must be someone playing a prank on him. Still, he thought it might be wise to make sure it really wasn't a snake, so he poked at it with something, whereupon the fake snake slithered away toward the fuselage. At first, Jeff thought that was the end of the matter, until someone pointed out that the snake had not appeared on the other side of the glider, whereupon Jeff realized he was in danger of having a snake for a back-seater in his ASW-27! In desperation he dives under his glider to see the tail of the fake snake wriggling up into the wheel well, so he grabs the tail and is trying to keep the fake snake out of his airplane. Finally, (?) Wilson, one of our CCSC Juniors saved the day by donning a pair of gloves and yanking the fake snake bodily out of the wheel well and throwing it out into the adjacent soybean field.
The rest of the story...: Having heard and/or witnessed (not sure about the) the not-fake snake episode, Curt Lewis and other co-conspirators decided to add a twist by purchasing a real fake snake (is that an oxymoron?) and slipping it into Jeff's cockpit while he was disassembling this afternoon (If I had seen a not-fake snake crawling into my wheel well after leaving it out all night, I'd disassemble too!). Reportedly Jeff went through almost all the disassembly process without noticing that there was a snake peeking out from behind his parachute, until right at the end when he reportedly levitated some significant number of feet away from the fuselage. I hate to think what Jeff is going to do in retaliation, but I can't wait to find out!
This CD business can be fun, but it's kind of like phone sex (not that I have ever done such a thing, but I've heard about it...). All you can do is talk about it - but you can't actually go out there and compete for the points and prizes. Not to mention the fact that we are having the longest run of good soaring weather at CCSC in living memory - four flying days in the XC camp, followed by a practice day and 4 more flying days in the Regional contest, and all I get to do is watch all the other pilots go play! Well, I did manage to go out on an inspection tour today, just to make sure no turnpoints had moved overnight - yep - they are all still there ;-).
Weather forecast for tomorrow is a bit iffy. There is a weak cold front moving through tonight, with some possibility of some showers and/or thunderstorms late tonight/early tomorrow morning. The popular weather forecast is for mostly sunny with a high of 84 (almost 10 degrees cooler than today), with winds out of the north. Depending on how fast or slow the front moves, we should be able to get a race day in. Stay tuned!