Morning Routine

The sun rises in Leszno about 4:00. We sleep a little later than that, but SS and DB are usually on the airfield between 6:30 and 7:00. By7:30, the entire U.S. team has arrived and is assembling. It is to the advantage of the big-winged planes to weave through the trailers and to the scales sooner rather than later, so as not to get stuck in a position from which it would be difficult to get unstuck. Today, by 7:45, we had found the scales–look for the fellow outstanding in his field, in a green shirt, waving his arms. The first weighing had us overweight by 11 kilos. Back the car up, with the plane on its tow bar, 5 centimeters, move the scales on the soft, grassy field, move the car and plane forward 3 centimeters, and we are over by 16 kilos. But the weighing crew wants to try it again. They ask us to move the 850 kg. plane with the 92′ wingspan backward 4 centimeters one more time. On this third attempt, the plane is 25 kilos underweight, and we all agree to be satisfied.

photo 1

The grid is arranged by class: today, 15-meter planes are at the front, Open Class behind them, all on the South/right grid. To the left of those, on the North grid, is the 18-meter class: 9 rows of 5 planes, plus 1. The 15-meter/Open Class grid consits of  21 rows–5 rows for 15-meter, 10 per row; 6 rows of Open Class, 6 planes each, Open Class wings overlapping. We grid according to row; position on the row is irrelevant.

By 8:15, we are staged and ready for the pilot meeting at 10:15. Enough time to buy new batteries for the Spot tracking device, move the trailer to the repair shed to have the wheel bearings replaced, and attempt to fix the crew radio. Today, as yesterday, grid time is 11:30. Eighteen tow planes, with three in reserve, launch at 12:15.  They launch north and south runways simultaneously, and by 1:35 they have launched all 132 gliders. At times, as many as seven planes are visible  at one time on tow in the sky just beyond the field.

photo 2

Not all tow planes are created equal, however, and there have been a few pointed comments about climb rate from pilots of the heavy planes being towed low, the entire length of Leszno, below smokestack level.