99 Soaring Fans, This is Bravo Zulu
I am reporting from Chilhowee Glider Port, home of Chilhowee Soaring Association, http://chilhowee.com/
Like others, I too doubted that the weather would hold good enough for a contest this past weekend, but I arrived Friday afternoon to prepare for the Region V contest and planned to stay over for the training camp. I was wrong about Saturday and the contest got underway; day one is “in the bag” as my friend, Frank Paynter, (TA) is fond of saying. Sunday hosted rain and was not a competition day; Monday followed suite. Now, we are all waiting for the Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th, checking the weather in anticipation of competing. As of day one, Frenando Silva, (FS), has the lead. Gary Carter (HK) is carrying second. Bob Richards and Jason Arnold come in third and forth respectively. The remaining contestants are all tied for fifth having a zero score.
I also chose to attend the XC/team flying training camp that spans the days between the weekends that make up the Region V West contest. Besides loosing Sunday and Monday to the hurricane, Isaac, it also put a dampener, (sorry I just could not pass on that one), on the prospects for a successful XC/team flying training camp. Tuesday was a washout, (OK, I hear you saying stop that BZ) and was not flyable. Nevertheless, if you decided that not flying was enough to keep you home, you missed some outstanding, superior, stupendous, and very informative training. Let me tell you this.
If I had known Friday all that I know now about the training I would get, the lack of flying Tuesday, bad weather and all, I would have come anyway. The training offered by Francois Pin was worth the time, expense and backache from sleeping on a couch….flying or not. Since we could not fly Tuesday, the group had discussions with him that cleared up a lot of my cloudy (stop it!) thinking. Since we could not fly, 5 of us listened to him discuss many aspects of soaring and flying cross-country. Despite the fact there were chairs, we were so involved with the exchanges that we forgot to sit down and did not even notice the lunch hour passing. The birth of my first Grandson would keep me away but little else.
I know that most of the glider-flying community cares little about racing. I suspect the same could be said for power pilots not wanting to race at Reno, or sailors to strive for the America’s cup. I could name even more sporting activities that challenge the body and soul without the need to race competitively, but I think you get my point. There are many of us that do not think it necessary to even go cross-country to enjoy the sport. That said, who would argue that it is not necessary to improve one’s skill, lest one slide into complacency and become an accident or just bored and become a former glider pilot? How many golfers pay good money to attend a golfing clinic held by a national champion? They will never compete in a PGA tournament, much less go to the Masters; they just want to get better. My thinking is that the same skill set that makes a nationally or internationally rated soaring pilot will make you a better recreational glider pilot. Being better will make you safer and I believe enhance your enjoyment of soaring all the more. Sarah and Jason Arnold have worked hard to make this training available to anyone who wanted it.
Caesar Creek Soaring Club, http://www.soarccsc.com/, held its XC camp earlier this year and I hope they do it again next year. Sarah Arnold has hinted that she wants to hold this XC/team flying camp next year. I would strongly recommend both for all glider pilots that are looking to improve their flying skills. If you want an opportunity to improve your flying skills, you should ask about coming to the training camp closest to you. By the way, team flying can really boost your effectiveness at recreational flying. I have done it on an ad hoc basis and it can be effective but being trained on how to do it better is well worth the time and effort.
My next article will discuss the fun part of the XC/team flying camp…. Flying with a partner.
As an addendum, I think that using Condor for training in X-country and team flying is a good idea. I have used it to help me improve my X-country flying skills and recently I have flown with Frank Paynter to work on team flying. While it won’t replace getting into the sky and enjoying “real life” flying, it is a great adjunct to training. I hope more venues pop up around the country and we all get better and have more fun flying around the skies, sans power.
“Bravo Zulu out”