99 Soaring Fans, This is Bravo Zulu 7 September 2012
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were flying days. So the camp was completed as planned. Cloudy mornings preceded clearing to partly cloudy by 1300. Wednesday and Thursday could be characterized as challenging since the ceilings were below 4000 feet MSL and the thermals were generally light. It felt good at the end of the day to have completed the flight and gaining new experiences. Friday was much better with lift to 5000 in places. Since the purpose was to practice team flying and XC techniques, long tasks were not needed. The longest was on Friday and was just over 40 miles.
Although the basic format for this training camp intended lectures/discussion in the mornings and flying in the afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Francois doubled up on the lecture time so Thursday and Friday had less classroom and more lab work…..flying.
Gary Carter (HK) and I had a great time flying together. Thursday we improved our communication style and smoothed out some of the rough edges from the day before. In this environment, the learning curve is very steep and the improvement quite evident. We did the same task 3 times and Gary calculated that we made each circuit faster than those before. We did even better on Friday with weather conditions improving through the middle of the afternoon. We had a longer task, giving us a chance to stretch ourselves a bit more.
On Friday, Gary and I teamed up again for the first task. Others followed Fernando (FS) around the course picking up tips on reading energy lines and finding lift under those illusive haze domes. Everyone had a great time and the conversations afterward described the fun flying in some pretty challenging, not to say scary, conditions. All came home save BZ who visited one of the local airports before getting an aero-tow home to Chilhowee. Hey, it happens.
This was a very successful venture. Sarah and Jason with the help of Sandy and Tom Snyder who handled the meals and other logistics and of course the master teacher, Francois (FP) put on a great training opportunity.
This team flying is common in Europe but the US is just now exploring allowing it in Regional contests under a waiver. The camp here at Chilhowee, is the first time formal training has been offered to those not on the US Soaring Team. Francois prepared a lot of material that really delved into so many areas. In my experience, training in cross-country techniques is too often missing needed explanations about why we do things. Although racing teams use team flying to gain a competitive edge over the competition, recreational pilots can use it to enjoy their flying more. I for one really enjoy getting together with another pilot and going somewhere or even just cutting circles around the local area. Many other sports are more enjoyable when shared, whether, its golf, fishing, riding motorcycles, sailing boats or just watching football. Shoot, eating is more fun when I am with others. It seems to me a natural thing to want to share my most passionate sport with friends.
I hope that more pilots will show an interest in training camps like the one here at Chilhowee and the one at Caesar Creek. Perhaps other venues will come along to support the continuing education of the soaring community.
Bravo Zulu out