13 August 2011

Contest Day 7

It didn't look good at grid time with high cirrus and mid level cloud cutting off the heating. Launch was postponed to 13:00 and tasks were changed to B:
18m - 363 km
15m - 373 km

Once we were on task, conditions were better than what the dismal looking sky was promising. Climb rates up to 9kt made it one of the fastest days of the contest for 15m class. The 15m class winners did 142 kph. My speed was 132 kph which is not bad for a standard class glider.

The scores for 15m are still not published at this time.
In 18m class the Australian team aced it again. Jerzy came 7th.

Saturday - Contest Day 7

The score sheet this morning had a nice surprise showing that I had moved up on place to 14th in overall scoring.

There is mid level and high cloud covering the west and north of the contest area. Consequently all tasks were set as assigned speed tasks to the east and south, down to the Mexican border.

The 15m task is a 400k assigned polygon. Grid time is 12:25 CDT with first launch planned for 12:45.


US Junior Team Party

Friday evening we attended a great pizza and beer event in support of the US Junior team. It was great fun.
The Huffstuttler family had generously made their hangar available for the event. They also donated flights in their beautifully restored antiques and war birds (Huffstuttler Airforce) with the proceeds going to the Junior Team.

Derek had a flight in a T6. His grandfather got his wings flying a T6.

Sonia had a flight in a beautiful Waco replica, piloted by Conrad Huffstuttler. Made her day.

From left to right: Derek Mackie, Conrad Huffstuttler, Sonia Hildesheim

12 August 2011

Contest Day 6 - JS

The task was shortened to 2:30 hrs with the same turn areas because the day developed slower than expected. Dave and I had planned to start at 2:30 but by that time we weren't getting anywhere near the 5000 ft start gate top. We delayed our start to shortly before 3p which in hindsight was a good decision. On task conditions improved and eventually were quite good. Bute we also noticed the cu shooting up and starting to tower. The center of the second turn area was already in rain when we got there around 5p. Fortunately, with a 50k turn area we had lots of options.

I turned home when I had 32 mins left and my computer said it would take me 42 minutes to cover the roughly 100 km. I started out about 2500 ft below glide path and a speed ring setting of 4 kts. As it turned out, running cloud streets, I managed to get up to final glide altitude just running cloud streets and arrived one minute under time (what a waste). My speed on the final leg was close to 200 kps which helped for the overall task speed of 119 kph, covering nearly 300 km in under two and a half hours. It was a short but intense race.

As soon as we were on the ground towering cu started to build but they rained out and collapsed before t-storms could develop.

Day 6

This morning there was a high overcast of cirrus, and that is not normal for Uvalde.  According to our weather guru, it was left over moisture from the T-storms off to the north and west yesterday.  By about 9:30, the cirrus was still there, but now the typical low level stratus was overhead as well.

The launch was originally set for 1245, but delayed until 1325.  The open class went first and they stuck, so the launch continued uninterrupted.  The thermals were weak when first off tow, and didn't get much better before the start.  I was one of the first starts, along with Joerg, and we  were able to run along reasonably well and take a few 3.5 kt climbs to stay between 3-4000 AGL.  I maximised the first turn area as the sky looked better than in the direction of the 2nd.  By the time I turned, the sky was looking better to the south and I was able to bump along some good streets.  For the task my thermal time was 16% of the flight.

I flew 342 km on task at 125 km/hr.  In the last turn area I may have made a tactical error and deviated around a thunderstorm and gained only marginally more distance.  I finished 13 minutes over time, and had I turned 5 minutes earlier, I think my total speed would have been better.  I need to look at that on See you tonight.

Contest Day 6

Today will be difficult with a late start and thunderstorms expected after 5:30p. This obviously doesn't leave much time to be on task.

The 15m task A is a 3 hrs turn area task with two turn areas. Maximum 431 km, minimum 173 km. So lots of flexibility in the tasking to hopefully avoid the bad stuff.

11 August 2011

Clouds and Bats

We saw some interesting clouds this afternoon. In the hills it blew up with thunderstorms but nothing in Uvalde.

The yellow streak in the photo below is a dust devil as it is being sucked into the cloud.

At sunset we visited a bat cave near Uvalde. It was spooky when the swallows circling overhead the cave all of a sudden withdrew and tens of thousands of bats flew out in several waves. It looked like something out of a Hitchcock movie. There were some kestrels and hawks waiting for the bats to emerge. I saw a hawk ridge soar right into the cloud of bats and grab one. Quite the experience!


I'm taking it easy today, hanging out by the pool of our lovely B&B and taking care of emails and loose ends such as laundry. Also checked the scoring for the three days with AAT tasks. Found that each day the scored distance is between 3.9 and 4.3 km short of what SeeYou gives me. If everyone gets cut short the same distance, it is not a big problem but still, the point penalty is greater on days with shorter tasks.

Sonia has gone to "San Antone" with friends for shopping and sightseeing.

This morning there was no sign of yesterday's thunderstorms. In typical Uvalde fashion, the day started out with a low overcast which broke up shortly after lunch to make way for blue skies and cu. Hopefully we will have the same weather for the rest of the contest.

Rest and Maintenance Day

Today is a rest day and I took advantage of the free time this morning to repair the trim cable that broke in flight yesterday.  The cable snapped where it is held in place by a set screw, so with Derek's help we were able to get it resecured and back to normal operating conditions. 

Fortunately, it broke in a somewhat neutral trim position during the flight, so I could use the flaps to provide most of my trim requirements for the rest of the flight.


Day 6 - Rest Day

As Dave said, Day 5 was a tough day.

The day started later than expected which required the tasks to be changed in the air. The original AST was turned into an AAT. If they would have stuck with Task A, we would have seen a lot of landouts.

Dave and I went on task around 3p, still in pretty soft conditions.

Things improved as the day went on but remained difficult.

There were lots of cu but many didn't work. It was difficult to find the strong lift required to get good speeds.

For several days now we have observed huge CBs in the distance over the mountains in Mexico. Every day they came a little closer. This evening they finally moved into the western task area. The build-ups looked quite menacing as we de-rigged the gliders but except for a few rain drops and an impressive lightning show after dark, nothing happened.

Tomorrow, Thursday will be a rest day. The announcement was welcomed by pilots and crews alike. We have been flying 450 - 550 km tasks for five days straight plus the practice days. It will be good to get some rest, take care of loose ends and do some sightseeing.

I have to dig into my scores of the last couple of days. On AAT tasks the scoring speed is consistently about 1kph less than what SeeYou shows. Since the scoring is SeeYou based it should match up.

10 August 2011

Day 5

Today was another tough day, for me at least.  At start time, cloudbase was barely 4000 AGL, but we had to get going so as not to run out of day.  The lift was very disorganized and difficult to center.  On the first leg, I tried to bump and run as much as possible since it was into wind and circling without climbing only pushed you backwards.  The problem was I was low , down to 2000 AGL once and 2500 twice.  I finally found a good  6 kt climb that finally got me up to 6000 AGL and could start to push.

At the moment, my speed is at the low end of the scale with the winners coming in at 127 and me at 114.  I need to review their logs and see where they went to get the extra speed today.

Day 5 - 2

15m task for day 5

Day 5

Yesterday just before launch, a dust devil going through the grid signaled without a doubt that trigger temperature had been reached.

We woke up to grey skies this morning but this is typical for Uvalde and the overcast is forecast to break up and lift to give way to a sky filled with cu. Conditions are supposed to be stronger than yesterday. Hopefully we will have cu to last all day.

The 15m task A is a 461k racing task, going south east first, then north into the hill country. Grid Time is 12:25.


09 August 2011

Day 4 - Another Blue Day

The task today for 15 m was a 440 km assigned task.  The first leg was down to Laredo, TX on the Mexican border. This first leg was 180 km in length into about a 20 km/hr headwind, oh and it was blue too and just to make it even more challenging, the start height was limited to 3500 ft AGL.  Down from our usual 6000 ft AGL.

Today I was able to run with the US pack again and kept with the fast guys at the front of the pack.  A few guys dropped back as we climbed away from them, and by the time we had reached Laredo, people were spread out a little bit.  Baude Litt in his LS8 was able to keep with us on the entire run to Laredo, and then stayed with us on the next leg north.  After the second turnpoint, he went left and we went right and left was the right way to go, if you follow :)

By now our pack was down to 4 from our original 10 and we had trouble centering good thermals and wasted too much time trying to find good cores.  On some tries, I would see 6 or 8 kts on the first half turn and then it would disappear.  Even with 4 of us looking for the core, it was still hard to find.  We pressed on towards the third turn and were able to climb to final glide in about 4 kts 70 km from home.  Then it was bump up under the haze domes that were now visible from the sun's backlighting.

LBL who had pushed on ahead of us managed to core one of the good thermals and was rewarded with a 7 kt climb that put him 3 km/hr faster than the rest of our pack.  That makes 2 day wins for the LS8 in the 15 m class!


Day 4 - preview

Yesterday was hard work. 15m had a 4:30hr area task which yielded distances of 500 - 550 km. When we started there were cu in all sectors, except in the direction of our the first and second leg. Later we had a few cu but they dried up around 5p. In other words, the task was mainly flown in blue conditions without any cloud shade to speak of.

18m had a monster 5 hr area task. Jerzy ended up flying well over 600k.

Today the day started with more moisture which made for an interesting sky this morning.

The 15m task is a 439 km racing task to Laredo at the Mexican border - hasta la vista!

Joerg Stieber JS

Day 3

Today was a little more challenging than the 2nd day.  I flew 570 km at 120 km/hr according to my See You. 

It looked like we might have a sky full of cu again, but as we were about to launch the clouds started to thin out and go blue.  An ambitious 4.5 hour area task with a 560 km nominal distance was called for the 15 m class.  I decided that a start around 2 pm with a projected finish time of 6:30 would be about right.

I started at 2:05 with a group and with a couple of other groups already ahead by 5 -10 minutes.  This worked well as we were able to catch some of the earlier starters.  I had a little bit of trouble coming out of the first turn area and got down to about 3000 AGL and had to work some less than optimal thermals to get back up. 

I didn't fly with any particular group today, but met up with various groups along the way.  On the 4th leg, I met up with a group of 4 other gliders just as we were about to enter the hill country to the north.  In the almost blue conditions, it was great to have a group to fly with.  As it turned out it was a pretty good group to be with as the day winner LBL was in that group. 

Coming into the last turn area, I was concerned about being under time, so I extended a little further north into the area than LBL.  As it turns out I was 15 minutes overtime, and I think that slowed me down from about 122 km/hr (the winning speed of the day) to 119. 

The final glide was a little touchy.  Joerg who was 20 km ahead of me said he was  getting lots of lift on the way home, but I seemed to find the sink.  I was able to maintain no more than 300 ft below glide slope, and then in the last 20 km ran through some lift that put me back over glide slope.

All in all a good day, but a long one and a tough one!

08 August 2011

Day 2

Yesterday was a typical Uvalde day with streets running through most of the task area.  A few of our task legs were not aligned with the streets and required a little bit of hopping from one to another.  I started with the US pack again today, and although I made different decision we met up every time my our streets joined.  A couple of the US guys found a good 8.5 kt climb early on and they were able to leap ahead of the pack and keep ahead.

My speed at 133 km/hr was slow for the day, netting me 13th place on the day.  I was able to put together some nice runs, but I think my thermal average is probably lower than the others.  I need to check that assumption when the flight logs are posted later.

I had a great final glide, starting 90 km out with 20 minutes left in the task.   I was able to cover the distance in 22 minutes at an average speed of 212 km/hr!  That leg helped bump up my task speed by a couple of points.

07 August 2011

Day 2 - a classic Uvalde day

We had a classic Uvalde day today - cloud streets in every direction with bases at 7000ft and 8 - 10 kt thermals. Everyone had great flights.
Jerzy won the day in 18m with a whopping 152.9 kph over 560 km.

15m was the first to launch. Initially it was difficult to keep the heavily loaded gliders airborne in the weak morning thermals. Dave and I started shortly before 2p. By that time cloud base had risen to 6000 ft.

As conditions improved further, I found myself cruising at 100 - 110 kts under cloud streets, occasionally stopping for 8-10 kt thermals. My best climb of the day averaged 9.1 kts bottom to top. It took only three minutes, six seconds to gain 2858 ft. I placed 13th for the day, doing 132.9 kph over 532 km, again ahead of the other standard class ships.

Joerg Stieber - JS

Contest Day 2

Had a good flight on day 1, yesterday. But found myself all alone in the blue. Got low once over ugly terrain and decided to take it a bit slower and stay high. Consolation is that I was faster than the other non-flapped ships in the 15m class, including an LS-8 piloted by Lit Beaudoin, a world class pilot from Belgium. It is interesting to compare speeds across classes. 15m was almost as fast as 18m and both 15/18m outraced Open Class.

For today we decided to change our routine. Sonia and I went out at day break to rig before breakfast. It was a beautiful sunrise.

15m is first to launch today with a 4 hr area task, minimum 344 km, max 625 km. It will be a long day in the heat.

Day 1 Scores

Preliminary scores are posted on the SSA website at:

I think there is a small issue with the scoring program as the distance shown on the score sheet for the 15 m task does not take into account the subtraction of the 5 km start and 3 km finish cylinders, so I expect to see the speeds all drop by about 3 km/hr on the official scores once this is taken into account.  Since everyone will be affected by this change, it won't change the overall results or placings, just slow everyone down.