Monday, July 19, 2010

Blog

The World Gliding Championships

The last day and the Closing Ceremony

July 17 and 18

Dawn broke on the last day looking a lot like the day before. The day's forecast didn't look much better.  The tasks for the day recognized the potential for overdevelopment late in the afternoon as they were all 2 hour area tasks.  On the day before one of our pilots had been harassed by leeching members of another team so we decided to file a complaint seeking their disqualification.  This is not a simple process and kept us busy right up to the beginning of the pilots meeting.  We studied the "roach race" of the three gliders, ours and two of theirs using "See You".  At times they appeared to be superimposed over one another.  The complaint was not accepted but there was no more leeching on the last day, possibly because our pilot kept quiet over the radio, not even announcing his start time.  The launch began at its appointed hour without the standard 30 minute delay.

 

Once the launches were complete and each and every start time was turned in, we went to work taking down all the reference material, score sheets, flags, antennas, and devices to hold the windows open, etc.  We had already gotten rid of our printer and about 100 lbs of other stuff when Tom Kelly and his crew Bob Carl came through on their way to Hungary for the other half of the WGC.  Still it's kind of sad.  There is nothing drearier than an airport at the end of a contest.

 

The weather, which looked so bleak in the morning gradually improved, finally producing a pretty good soaring day.  Our guys all made it home, ready for the end of the contest. That evening the WGC hosted a party for all of the pilots, crews, and administrators. Food was provided, along with free beer for everyone who had their name tag. The party lasted long past midnight, but we left before then and watched the lightning fork across the night sky as the storms rolled in.

                The next morning was the day of the closing ceremonies, and a dreary day to behold. The clouds sank to brush against the low Tatras, and the entire valley was covered in mist. We got there a bit early, and spent the morning beginning our goodbyes, both with our own team and with others. The actual closing ceremony began at ten thirty, and was inside the largest hangar. Each team stood behind a sign bearing the name of their country, and after some short formalities the awards were presented. We had two pilots, Sean Franke and Francois Pin who placed in the top ten, and received some sort of award. After the ceremony, we ate a last lunch at the airfield, said goodbye to our team, and started on the long road to Prague.

 

Blaire and Dick Mockler, signing off

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog

World Gliding Championships Report

July 16, 2010 Day 11-12

 

On the second to last day of the contest we received a demonstration on how bad the flying weather can be in this part of the World.  It was so bad that total overcast and towering cu-nims were predicted for mid afternoon.  Closer to noon we were hearing thunder and experiencing occasional showers.  The sky grew dark and gliders were landing back out of a dead sky to be relaunched.  97 out of 104 gliders landed out including all 6 of ours. The 7 Standard class pilots that did finish the task all started in a 30 minute window of opportunity.   The tow pilots were the big winners of the day making numerous relights followed by hours of aero retrieves.  It was such an over-call that the task setter was given a public flogging the next morning by the site's Official Executioner, barely escaping beheading. As you can imagine, this was much applauded by the exhausted pilots and crews.m

                Today was very busy as our crews crowded into the office, anxious for news on their pilots. As we waited, our nerves were hardly put at rest by the line of glider trailers leaving the air field.  The air inside our office was stifling, and the building rain clouds only added to the humidity. When it finally did rain, it was a welcome change to those of us on the field. Or at least to everyone who did not go on a retrieve. The rain cooled us down, and almost everyone who was still at the airport was outside enjoying it.  Tomorrow is the last day of the contest, and we look forward to it, yet again with hopes of much better weather.

-Blair and Dick Mockler

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog

World Gliding Championships  report 7-14-10

 

Wow, absolutely our best day of the contest! A first and a second!  On the second day of the contest Francois Pin racked up a second.  Sean has been pushing the top ten since the first day.  But today not only did everybody get home but were in the money now.   We just had a little trouble getting started.  Most of our guys are flat land pilots and this place has mountains, lots of mountains.  The whole task area is mountains and valleys.  It is pretty intimidating to cross a mountain top without knowing what's behind it. 

I talked to Sean about his flight.  Of course it was hard to talk with a big smile on your face.  Blair had predicted that he would have two 10 knot thermals today.  He did!!  He started after 2/3 of the crackerjack German team, caught them at a difficult pass on the third leg , worked a thermal that they missed and watched them milling around behind a mountain as he sailed over head to start his final glide home.

Francois wanted to do it his way.  He figured the gaggle would progress at the pace of the slowest pilot, He knew it was going to be a strong day so he left early and never saw another ship all day.  He was the very first ship home including all classes.  Climbing out of his ship he banged up his knee.

Of course we had a few hurdles getting there.  Bill Snead's nice big VW quit outside the gate this morning and they had to push it in to the airport.  Nancy spent the day trying to get it fixed.  They finally got another car….. without a trailer hitch. The repair shop thinks they will have it fixed by Friday.  Of course that allows no slippage. Saturday is the last contest day and we will all be leaving after the closing ceremonies Sunday morning.   

Dick Mockler

Blog

World Gliding Championships

7-13-10

                The day started with a storm-like potential in the sky. The morning pilots meeting was delayed to ten thirty instead of the usual ten o'clock. Our theory is that somebody might have been a little bit hung over to start the meeting on time, but that's just a theory. The prizes were awarded for the previous day, and then they continued with the weather report. Although it didn't look exactly promising, the storms weren't supposed to form until much later in the evening.

                As usual, I headed out to the grid shortly before the launch began, and looked for ways to help out. I ended up doing a lot of umbrella holding. As the launch progressed, I headed to the back to wait with Mike, Sharon, and Lily. We watched a huge thunderstorm develop to the east of the airfield. As I was staring at this ominous, looming cloud, I saw a small funnel cloud slowly descend from the storm cloud. Fortunately, at the time I was holding Sharon's camera, so hopefully we'll have those pictures up on the site soon. The funnel cloud didn't touch down, so it wasn't an official tornado, but it was enough to worry me. As a Texan, I've had a few emotionally scarring incidents with tornados. Still, I spent the rest of the launch staring at the cloud with something like morbid fascination, watching more funnel clouds try and form. The real shocker of today was that it didn't even rain on the airfield.

                All of our pilots except for two made it back to the field, and fortunately neither of the crews had to go on an excessively long retrieve. We retain our hope for an even better day tomorrow, with no land outs and some high scores.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blog

World Gliding Championships

7-13-10

                Today saw the beginning of another good soaring day. Launch went relatively smoothly, aside from numerous five minute delays. We finally began the launch at about 12:05, after forty-five minutes on the grid. After we sent the pilots off the crews began preparing for international night. Nancy and Sharon headed to Tesco to pick up some Coke, while the rest of us slowly cooked in the office. If it hadn't been for Nancy, the American team probably wouldn't have had a table at International night. She was completely prepared, with a American Flag table cloth, USA bracelets, glider themed stamps (where she found those, I have NO idea), stamp ink, red, white and blue candy, maps of Texas, and books of the flora and fauna of Texas. So, thanks to Nancy, the USA team did not go unrepresented during international night.

                One of our pilots landed out almost at the far end of the course, making for a long (2 ½ hours each way) retrieve for his crew. We sent them off with wishes for good luck, and promises to take plenty of pictures of international night.  Fortunately, there weren't any other land outs for the US team, so once everybody had landed we began to set up for the much anticipated evening.   Our pilots had some very good flights.  Francois Pin came in third place for the World Class and Sean Franke was 13th, making his total standing 10th place in the standard class.

I wish I could claim that we had an elaborate plan, but as we had to bring everything we required in our luggage, that was not the case.  However our friends from down under, the Australians, had a pretty elaborate spread, which included stuffed animals and interesting hats.  The Poles started setting up about noon, and by eight they were passing out plates with enough sausage and sauerkraut for a full meal.  The Belgians also worked most of the afternoon preparing, you guessed it, Belgian Waffles.  I'm not sure where they came from, but the program also included scantily clad female flaming baton twirlers who showered the crowd with sparks, a dancing Doberman, and some rather primitive looking gentlemen making music with long horns made from wood and leather and more.  The pilots shut down and headed for home by about 11:00, but the crews stayed longer, more to the tune of two in the morning.  Incredibly Nancy Snead's simple preparations drew a lot of folks. For one thing it was the only place anyone could get a cold non alcoholic drink (Coca Cola) and her large map of Texas highlighted three World Championship sites.  Her husband Bill was a very busy greeter, but Nancy was the real crowd pleaser, giving free gliders "tattoos" (also known as stamps) which were popular with people of every generation.

 

Blair and Dick Mockler

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blog

World Gliding Championships Report

 7/11/10

Day 5-6 (Day 6 for the Club Class and Day 5 for the other two) began as a very promising day.  The bright blue sky was littered with cumulus clouds, which were forming over the high ground. The task areas were especially busy and our guys were raring to go.  However one of our pilots, upon seeing the score sheet for the previous day became quite upset to learn that he had been assessed a small penalty for his landing and the resulting dust cloud. Because it was within the 3k finish circle it was witnessed by dozens of people standing on the airfield.  We agreed to pursue it with Contest management so that he would be in a positive frame of mind for today's flight. Eventually we were able to get the penalty removed from our pilot. As it was not long after launch, a message was soon delivered to put his mind at rest.  Our logic behind the reasoning was irrefutable.  There were 45 off field landings fleet wide for the same day, all without official scrutiny.  Some of them may have been hair raising events and none were penalized.

The day turned out to be the best day of the contest so far with only 6 landouts in the whole contest.  In the Club class a French pilot Jeremi  Badaroux's 1,000 point win was  68 points higher than the pilot in second place, a huge margin.  It was the first day our team had not had a single landout.  Our Standard Class pilots did about 100kph, our Club Class pilots were in the 80's and the World Class in the 60's and 70's.There were plenty of smiles around the US team tie down area.

As our team was out staying high and cool we had our feet firmly planted on the ground and were sweating out a miserably hot day. There were very few breezes coming through our tiny office, even with every window and door propped open.

While the pilots were gone, the crews began discussing plans for International Evening. International evening is the night when the teams that choose so can set up a table with food and other goodies that are representative of their country. As a team we decided to grace our table with some good old American candy, along with lots of stars and stripes. We also intend to purchase some Coca-Cola at the nearby Tesco and just say it's American. This will give some of the younger generation (like me!!) something to drink, as every other country is bringing some form of alcohol. I'm not sure how this will work out, as the Slovakian police have no tolerance for drunk driving.

On a different note, we went out to eat at a new restaurant last night, again within walking distance of our hotel.  As usual, the food was excellent, but it wasn't the restaurant that I found amusing. As we walked back to our hotel, we passed one of the many outdoor caf├ęs clustered on the street, which featured a television that was tuned to the World Cup final game. Seated around the TV was the entire Spanish team, complete with a flag taped to their dinner table. In case you haven't heard, the Spanish did win, a fact which we were all made aware of at about midnight that night when they started celebrating. The residents of Bojnice are probably wondering whose bright idea it was to host the Word Gliding Championships during the soccer World cup. Way too much partying from those glider pilots.

World Gliding Championship

7-10-10

                We finally woke to a very clear bright blue sky. In fact, it might have been a little bit too clear. By eleven o'clock the clouds were few and far between, not very encouraging to our piots To everyone's dismay, the only cumulus clouds to be seen were small and faaaar away, above a distant mountain. . I was on grid duty today, so I headed out to the field almost directly after the Pilot's meeting. I went around the grid to all of our pilots, searching for someone who needed help before launch. Unsuccessful, I ended up reading under Mike Smith's glider, grateful for any shade I could find. Two hours later saw a change of plans for the intended task. Each of the three classes were presented with a shortened version of the original task, titled task B, in hopes of a lower land out rate. After about two and a half hours on the grid, Lilly and I headed back to the team headquarters to dutifully listen for start times.

                Things started heating up only seventy minutes later, when we received our first land out notification. And then our second. And then our third, followed by a fourth. Although those were hardly encouraging, we soon had good news. Nothing could have brought us more joy than Sean Franke's radio transmission of "Yankee Base, this is SN, Twenty-five kilometers out, final glide".  And then we heard that Ryszard had passed the finish line before landing about a mile from the airfield. All in all the day ended up being better than we were expecting, and more importantly, all of the crews had successful retrieves.

                That evening Grandpa and I went out to eat with Nancy and Bill Snead, along with Peter Deane. We ate at a restaurant just down the street from our hotel with wonderful food, and equally delicious desserts. After dinner we walked back to our hotel and arrived home sweet home to a nice, cold hotel room.