Monday, July 19, 2010


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


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


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


World Gliding Championships


                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


World Gliding Championships


                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


World Gliding Championships Report


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 cafés 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


                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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


World Gliding Championships Prievidza

July 9, 2010 A non-flying  day

We took the day off today showing our respect for Alexander Martynov who died in an accident yesterday.  Our day began with a pilots meeting which was totally dedicated to our lost comrade.  A book of condolences was signed by all, a brief video of shots of Alexander was shown and a moment of silence and reflection was had by all.

Representatives of Aero Spool, our host and the manufacturer of our tow planes the Dynamic, offered a tour of the plant.  At least 30 of us, Including 2 of our pilots and myself, took them up on their offer, showing up at the door at 13:00.  We first visited their shop where they do repair work on gliders and damaged Dynamics.  It looked just like any similar shop in the US with 3 or 4 men hand sanding wings and racks of control surfaces on the wall.  Our next stop was the lay-up room where they have a single set of molds for the fuselage, the canopy frame, the horizontal tail, the outer wings and all the control surfaces.  Finally we visited the assembly room where it all comes together.  At full production they can produce 8 ships per month.  There were 4 in the in various levels of production at the time of our visit. The engines are basically Rotax 4 cycle engines producing from 80 to 120 hp.  They come in 4 different Variations distinguished by the color of their valve covers. 90% of the ships leaving the plant have emergency parachutes.  This is really a neat little ship.  Before the contest is over I intend to get a demo in it.

Another popular attraction of the day were the Demo flights of the PW6, a 2 seat trainer similar to the ASK21. Some of our pilots took their crews up and released over the Castle for a delightful bit of sightseeing.

Seven of us spent the afternoon at the Bojnice Zoo.  For a population of only 60,000 in Prievidza and Bojnice, their zoo is amazingly complete and in good condition. Our travel guide refers to it as the best in the country, and we would be happy to support this assessment. The animals all appeared to be well fed and content with minimal, though adequate, space. The zoo offers a wide variety of animals, from exotic birds to your basic lions, tigers and bears. (Oh my!) Some of our groups favorites included the incredibly talented pigmy marmosets, the six month old baby orangutan, and of course the much beloved elephants. The zoo was built to extend up the side of a small mountain, which allowed for many beautiful glimpses of the Bojnice castle, and even some neat photo opportunities. You can imagine that our group enthusiastically took full advantage of these panoramic views of the valley. Francois handled Dottie's new video camera (which was incidentally, a gift from the former) with expertise and much excitement.

                After what turned out to be a lot of uphill walking through the zoo, we headed out to eat at a new (to us) restaurant. The food was excellent, and our waitress even had a slight grasp of the English language. We walked back to our hotel and were home by nine thirty for a good nights rest.




Written by Martin Grant, crew to Peter Deane

The Practice days are over, and the operations have been fine tuned. Saturday was the opening ceremonies, mercifully short speeches, a good Air Display which allowed us to escape into cooler clothes and get ready for the first contest day. The banquet in the castle was well done, the food was good but we blew it by latching on to the wrong tour, so we got a great tour of the castle at night, ghosts included - in German. But never mind, it was fun, and after a considerable number of the local brandy/jagermeister concoction, I wouldn't have understood it in English.....


The first contest day was a disaster for the US standard class guys. The weather was dominated by a long finger of upper cirrus and mid level cloud that, at times killed all convection. The satellite picture showed a break running down from the North giving a possible start around noon and so it proved. As soon as the sun was on the ground the thermals started in a weak and ill defined fashion. The whole grid got away safely  into a few well populated thermals. Mike Smith landed back after being towed into the drop zone which was totally devoid of any lift at that particular time. Mike restarted well - and hit ground at an airport 30 miles out on the first leg. Mike had used prior experience as to where to go, Peter joined him at the same airport on the second leg.... Peter explained that he had gone to a region in the hills that had worked well in the past, and now was totally dead. He flew out into the valley and met even more dead air. In fairness to both, most of the hot shots did badly as well, so there was a degree of luck attached to the day. Others explained that to do well on a day like that required team flying which the top teams have down to a fine art. The Germans smoked around at over 100kph.


Tuesday's tasks are cancelled as the decaying frontal systems that drenched Western Europe moved into the area. The grids were set up, all the Standard Class gliders were rigged, ballasted and ready to go before briefing, so during the briefing a solid mass of stratus moved in and looked like it would soak the Airfield. Luckily it missed but there was a mass rush to get back to the trailers and derig. So this gives a little time to mention the second contest day.


Contest day 2#


The day started with similar weather as the last few days. High cirrus, and early cumulus and the threat of towering cumulus in the North West.  The satellite suggested another break in the cirrus moving through during the early afternoon and the thought was that this would mean that the thunderstorms would be given plenty of chance to form. In fact there must have been some more stable air which moved in and started to squash the cumulus on track. The launch went well, a couple of relights, but most got away cleanly. As the area dried out and the cumulus were fewer, there was nervous looks skywards! Just as I finished yesterday's report, formatted it and pressed "send" I got the shout that Peter Deane had landed out......  He had talked about trying to fly with the Brits for a while, keep the task short and not risk too much in the valleys were there fewer cumulus. There was a fairly good path over higher ground, but a couple of areas where you had to cross a valley to get to the turn cylinder. I had been tracking his Spot, and it had switched to 30 minute reports, hence I had no idea that he was on his way to a field, and the retrieve would end up as an epic story.


The first error was that there was a mix up on the formats of the Lat/Long from the Flarm unit and the Tom-Tom Navigation unit in the car. One must have been decimal, the other degrees/minutes. I had this uneasy feeling that there was an error, as I began to suspect that we were diverging from where the Spot suggested he should have been. Well down the road I began to disbelieve the irritating voice on the tom tom. It was set to Jamaican, and one more Hey mon, turn leefft at the nex' roun about and it would have been thrown out the window. So, more conversations with Peter, navigation now by an old fashioned map to the local town which Peter thought was the right one. As it turned out it wasn't but we had good fortune to drive past the field from the opposite direction. In the mean time though, a massive thunderstorm was bearing down fast. We caught the edge, but the outflow from the storm was at least 50kts at ground level with horizontal rain and as I saw more of the side of the trailer in mirror than was seemly I parked in the lea of a large building to wait it out. We were pelted with bits of trees, cats and the occasional dog for about 10 minutes. Lots of lightning and rolls of thunder to the East, but the storm passed quickly and we were off to the field. The next bit of good luck was that four glider pilots from the local airfield had spotted Peter and had come to help. The spoke good English, and kept him company as we drove the last mile or so the field. The bad luck was that the downpour had soaked the field such that top couple of inches had turned into a glutinous mass of extremely thick and slippery mud. He had landed in this truly massive field, conservatively estimated as around 3/4 mile each side. And of course he was at the opposite end to me, stuck in the mud on the access road. I managed to disconnect the trailer and drive the car to firmer ground, but the enormity of the problem was beginning to become obvious, as the sun started to slowly sink in the West...  Peter and the three guys from the local club started pushing the LS8 down the hill, but the wheel attracted so much mud it stopped turning and the only way it was going to move was by sliding it. The young lady from the gliding group drove their car down hill on the other access road and managed to make contact with me. The others gave up moving the glider and walked down to meet us. A quick phone call to Preividza Airfield solicited the information that the rest of the team would be delighted to come and help, but..... They had all been drinking, to celebrate Francois' second place in the world class. As there is zero tolerance for booze and driving, that was no help. By now our shoes were covered in mud, each step was getting heavier and as the field dried out a bit walking got more difficult as the mud built up under our shoes. Our luck turned back to good, as a couple of guys with a Jeep drove up the access road. Much discussion in Slovak and very broken English had us driving the Jeep to the glider with a strong tow rope. It towed the glider back to the trailer easily but definitely sliding rather than rolling. The salvage of the trailer was relatively straight forward and the glider de rigged quickly. Until we came to think about the gear - It was a solid mass of mud in the wheel box. Much groveling in the mud, and many handfuls of straw and mud pulled out let the gear come partially up, we strapped the doors partially closed so it wouldn't drag on the trailer floor, just as it got truly dark. So a rousing Thank You! to Ladislav, Ales, Vrata, and Martina from the Czech Republic! We got back to Prievidza at around 11:30. 


In the morning we went straight to the water hoses, and hosed the glider down before rigging it. It took ages to get the mud out, but we soon had it clean and presentable again. Many good pilots logged slow times, and it was not clear what the faster ones had done differently, maybe local knowledge really helped here. Mike Smith managed to get round in the standard class, at an admittedly slow speed but all congratulations for persevering to complete the task. Bill Sneed landed in a very tall Wheat field, and also had an epic retrieve, but no damage. The two club class gliders also landed out, but did credibly. 


Forecast now suggested better weather on the way, temperatures rising to high 80's, and I hope, great soaring weather!


Friday, July 9, 2010

July 9

Martin Grant

The weather continues under the influence of the same high pressure centered in central Eastern Europe, giving a dry, stable north westerly flow across the Contest region. The Weather guy caused great hilarity in describing the retreating occluded front as those "stupid clouds and cirrus". A long racing task was set for the Standard Class, with the forecast for morning cumulus, lessening to blue thermals in the afternoon. A beautiful cloud street appeared early, leading to the first turn point but after the launch it weakened noticeably. The launch was continually postponed, giving little time for the task. Cumulus was scattered, and very shallow, indicating imminent blue conditions. The ridges gave the best promise, with High Cumulus, but it seemed that the valleys were filling with stable air. So, after following an erratic signal from Peter's Spot, the dreaded phone call came explaining that he had turned the first turn point but on the way back he landed East of Zilnia. He had tried to jump across the Martin valley, but there was not much lift on the next ridge and he got too low to connect with the thermals. He was in a good field, slightly uphill but recently harvested.

The drive to the field was fine, no Tom-Tom this time, just old fashioned technology in the way of a map. (Maps are excellent, I hope they catch on.) We met in the local village, again with great help from the locals, and drove along the narrow roads to the field. At this point, I think I need to draw a veil over the events that led to the trailer being beautifully suspended over a river bed, with the wheels spinning slowly just above the water. But it was close to a farm, and once more the locals rose to the occasion, planks appeared as if by magic, bottle jacks were brought, men jumped into the water in their socks, and soon the trailer was back on its wheels on the correct bank. All done with no common language other than signs between us. More veils should be draw over the rest of the trip to the field, but eventually the glider was in the trailer, and it was brought back to civilization by a four wheel drive vehicle - using a different road. Task setting seems to be slightly overset, but this is the World Championships! Local knowledge continues to be worth its weight in gold and the team flying pilots consistently come home.

This is now being written on Saturday, and it is even hotter. The high pressure is drifting overhead, and it was forecast again to be predominantly blue with scattered cumulus over the mountain ranges. The local forecast consistently underestimates the temperature, and it is now in the low 90's and very humid. A 370 km task was set for the Standard class, which was hastily reduce to 310 km on the grid as the promised thermals took much longer than expected to appear. We could hear the sniffing Duo Discus fire up the turbo once or twice, which is never a good sign. Huge gaggles appeared after the launch, and there were many gliders lower than I bet they found comfortable. It seems that the launch is always about 5 minutes too early, leading to scary times for the first launches in the World Class. A few relights from the club class, including those rugged individuals who like to land in the opposite direction to everyone else and one fine pilot who felt he need to test his wheel brake before he ran off the end of the airfield. (It didn't work)

Around 2pm, the gliders seemed to making better progress and there was more air between the lowest gliders and the hills. Many more relights, mainly from the Standard Class which I suspect was launched into a less than perfect area. Just had a report that Mike Smith has landed in a deep wheat field around 60 km away, and a strong crew is gathering to lift him out. A total of 11 land outs so far in the Standard class. Peter is making good progress, rounded two turn points and making progress towards the third. I don't think it is quite as forecasted, as there is more cumulus than I thought there would be, and in places, it looks really good. I think jumping the valleys will be the difficult part of today. The task is set using the ridges as much as possible, and I am hopeful there will be many finishers. So far, as I type this, the club class are finishing and two World class gliders have arrived. Land outs are now up to about 20, with a steady stream of trailers leaving the airfield. It seems from control that Peter is the last out, and the Spot is showing rapid progress towards the finish. There is a dying cloud street leading back from that area, and if Peter was in contact with the street it should lead him home.

Sadly, it was not to be. Peter landed about 30 km away. This time, the retrieve was perfect, great field beside the road, good access, easy de-rig except for the trailer ramp collapsing from old age. He was the closest land out, and might have just needed 1 more thermal to get home.

Sunday dawned with different air. The forecast promised regular Cumulus over the hills, and the task followed the high ground nicely. Again a good task of around 370 km, and the promise of a serious racing day. The launch went smoothly, no significant problems getting away, and Peter had strict instructions not to land out, as the the ramp for the trailer was still under repair. And so it proved - the Austrians, armed with local knowledge reported that it was almost a tourist task with plenty of time to admire the scenery, with no serious slow points. Peter was more conservative, and deviated to the east on the long leg to the North West, but still raced around in a fast time to come in 21st. Almost everyone returned safely, and at times, there were 12 gliders scattered over the field and another 8 on final approach. There was some confusion on our behalf because we had forgotten what to do when our Pilot got back, but luckily it came back to us, when someone reminded us that it had a lot to do with celebratory beer. It was good to have the whole team back in one piece.
-Martin Grant

Day 5

Thursday Day 5 began with a beautiful blue sky for the first time in several days. Our pilots were ready to improve on our mixed results.  The launches came off on schedule with no delays or problems.  All classes faced speed tasks that were quite a bit more ambitious than we had faced in the last few days.  I heard one of our guys waiting for the start gate to open exclaim that it looked like a 5 hour task.  All were through the gate by 1:15. 
It was about an hour later when tragedy struck.  A Standard Class gaggle was low working weak lift on a forested mountain side when one of its numbers appeared to spin in.  A French pilot saw the impact and was able to get the coordinates.  I understood that one or more pilots landed close by at the Martin airport to do what they could.  At this point the identity of the downed glider was unknown.  Meanwhile the CD sent a shotgun blast text message to all of the Team Captains instructing them to contact all of their pilots. They were flying in the mountains so this was impossible.   Our team members, with one exception, all carry SPOT devices in tracking mode.  We were quickly able to determine that our captains were still progressing along their course.  The Team Captains were being called to one meeting after the other to see what could be learned.  The last of these was to inform us that the missing pilot had been reached and identified.  He was Alexander Martynov a Russian Federation representative.  .  He came to the Worlds with 900+ hours and had placed well in the 2008 and 2009 Russian National Club Class Championships.  His picture submitted with his application shows a youngish man in his 20's or 30'.
The CD cancelled the day for the Standard Class. We are all deeply upset and concerned for his family. 
The pilots meeting the following morning was a memorial to him.  A book of condolences was signed by all. The Contest Officials appealed for greater emphasis on safety and provided some more information on the accident. A brief talk was given by the Russian Team Captain who had expressed an appeal that we not fly today.
Our pilots in the other classes had a good day.  All got home safely.  Sean and Bill were well up on the score sheets.
Dick Mockler, Team Captain  

July 7

                Yet again we began this morning with overcast, unpromising looking skies. Strong winds swept across the ground, lowering the temperature to a frigid (ha-ha) sixty six degrees. Our crew and pilots were on the grid for a very long time, while the launch was continually delayed. When they finally started, it had been decided that the world class would not fly. Needless to say, the other classes were green with envy.
                After launch, every one of our pilots had a rough time, with three out of the four pilots landing out. Grandpa and I sent the crews out on their retrieves, using our new our European Auto Route software. Sharon Jankowski was able to follow "John from Denmark", whose pilot had landed in the same field as Mike. Mike was found to be in good company, with two other very experienced pilots in the same field. The retrieve was made much easier with everyone working together to get the three pilot and crew teams on the road in short order.  Peter's rig ended up suspended between the banks while attempting to cross a creek.  Fortunately several friendly locals happened along and soon had the trailer wheels back on the ground and glider, pilot, crew and trailer on the road for home.
One of the local favorites Sebastian Kawa made it past the 3 kilometer finish ring and landed short of the airfield getting credit for a good finish.
                We have a much more hopeful forecast for tomorrow's flight, and our pilots are all looking forward to a day without out rain and storms.
-Blair and Dick Mockler

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 3 July 6

Today started with overcast skies again, and a fifty percent chance of rain. Not a very promising soaring day. At the team captains meeting, it was announced that future team captain meetings would only occur after the regular pilots meeting if requested by one of the team captains. After the pilots meeting, we waited about fifteen minutes before being notified that there would be no flights today. The pilots left the grid in droves to avoid the drizzling sky. We ate a warm lunch on the field before Grandpa and I headed off to Tesco (Walmart).

That afternoon, Sharon, Lilly and I went in search of a swimming pool and ended up in a hotel spa. We swam in one of their mineral pools for about an hour before leaving for the hotel. In the evening Lilly and Sharon came over to eat dinner at our hotel, while Mike went to the airfield to watch the TV spot over the Chilean Grand Prix. Apparently, technical difficulties with the video kept him at the glider port later than he anticipated, so Lilly and Sharon had to walk the two blocks back to their hotel.

Nancy and Bill Snead went home once they found out that no one would be flying, and tried to relax. However, upon their return to the hotel, they discovered that Bill's cell phone was nowhere to be found. After thoroughly searching in the hotel room, it was back to the glider port for the Sneads. Nancy and Bill went up and down the runway in the rain, all in search of Bill's phone. By some miracle, they were able to find it on the grass covered field, and so trekked back to the hotel before setting off to go eat. They ended the evening with a game of European bowling in the hotel basement. In Europe, they only use nine bowling pins, and the bowling balls are much smaller than those in America, more comparable to a large grapefruit than a bowling ball. The bowling balls also only have two holes instead of three, and each pin is pulled up by a string attached to the top after it is knocked down.

Although the pilots might strongly disagree with me, I personally hope for at least one more rain day so we can go explore the wonderful town of Prievidza, and get a proper tour of the castle, hopefully in English.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Hi my name is Alex, I'm 9 years old. I'm crewing for my dad Sean Franke at the World Gliding Championships. On the first practice day before we ate breakfast we went to run some errands. I thought we were going to Tesco the supermarket but we went to some computer store. They went in and stayed in there a while then came back with this thing-ama-bober in some box. So then we went to the airport ate breakfast then we went over to the glider they fiddled with something in the glider for an hour and a half or two hours. Then we went to the grid my dad took of, oh! I remember something we were driving down the street and we saw a crossing guard, not a normal crossing guard, a crossing guard with a gun! We had sour broccoli soup and then we went to Tesco to get a few things. Then we went to the airport because my dad landed. So then I washed it then ate dinner, we went back to the hotel and I went to the trampoline there. Then we went to bed. that's basically it. Please read other blogs!


Day 2

This morning in the pilots meeting we discovered that there had been a mid-air collision on the previous day. It was discussed in great detail between the various team captains. What had happened was while one pilot was circling in a thermal, another glider had tried to enter the thermal by coming up from underneath the other airplane, which he didn't see. The two planes collided, and both were damaged, but the one who had tried to enter the thermal was able to return to Prievidza, but the glider that had been thermaling was more severely damaged and had to land in a nearby airport. During the team captains meeting it was determined that although the collision had been an accident, it had been the responsibility of the pilot entering the thermal to carefully observe for other pilots already in the thermal. So the pilot at fault was disqualified for the day, and temporarily excluded for the next two flying days. The other pilot's glider was so badly damaged that it could not be repaired for this competition, and the championship directors have allowed him to replace his glider and continue the contest.

The launch went smoothly for the most part, but we had several pilots struggling to find lift. One of our pilots had to relite three times, and still landed out, so we've been having some challenging soaring conditions. Today each class had an assigned area task, with a duration ranging from two hours to two hours and fifteen minutes, similar to the tasks set on Day One, although they were slightly longer on Day One. The task distances ranged from at least 106.7 kilometers to a maximum of 368.4 kilometers with slight variances in each task. We had a total of two landouts today, with some very challenging retrieves, as a powerful but short thunderstorm swept through soon after the crews left the airfield. Personally, I enjoyed a nice rain shower, but don't tell the pilots that.

Although it was a difficult task, Francois Pin was able to come back in second place. He reported flying defensively with other World Class pilots of the French and Polish teams struggling to stay high on the first leg. On his second leg he charged off by himself to chase some clouds on the other side of the ridge that more or less led to the second turn. It didn't work and he ridge soared most of the way to the turn stopping for every little peak along the way. Finally, coming home, he faced a 17 knot headwind and a cloudless sky. He met up with a gaggle and together they headed for home. About twenty miles out he reached the clouds and roared home to finish second for the day.

Mike Smith was another pilot who, made it back to the airfield under difficult conditions. At our request he agreed to write a small excerpt for today's blog.

"Let me begin by saying that it was much better than my first day, but still not as good as I had hoped. The first day's flight was one of those nightmares that haunt competition pilots in the winter when we can't fly. Clouds just out of reach. Hills a little too high. Valleys with very little lift.

A French pilot, one of the four unfortunates who also landed out at Martin, remarked to me, "It's not the best way to start a contest!" 
Day 2 was better for me. Reasonable lift under a high overcast. Some very short streets, and a wind that made ridge soaring saves possible. I had a fairly good flight going till the last turn. It was in the valley to the south and it looked dead. I decided to tag the cylinder on the northeast side so that I could use the ridges in case there were no thermals. In the end, I spent over an hour and a half on a ridge until a thermal finally popped and gave me enough altitude to get home. I did a straight in landing and rolled up to my parking spot, greeted by most of the US Team. It was a great welcome home."

While many of the pilots were landing, Sharon let me borrow her camera again, and Lilly and I went down to the very end of the field where the gliders were coming in. They literally flew right over us. We were able to get some pretty cool pictures of airborne planes, and of the wheat fields and pretty flowers of course.

Blair Mockler with some help from Dick Mockler

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 1

The fourth of July began with overcast skies of cirrus clouds. The weather wasn't looking too good for any of our pilots, but we headed off to the airfield anyways. While Grandpa and I were tidying up the office prior to the team captain meeting , I noticed Manfred Franke standing outside the door to the British office. When I walked outside, I saw that he was taking a picture of their office door, and it was soon clear of what. Manfred had taped a tea bag which read "Happy Fourth of July" to the United Kingdom door. It was a big laugh, not only for us Americans, but also for the British team. Although we fully expect retaliation in some form or another, it was well worth it. In addition, the American team was recognized in appreciation of our national holiday. I lined our open office door with American flag bunting, which caused every passerby at least to do a double take. Some just stopped and stared at our patriotic door. We even had one guy stop and ask for a small American flag, which as you can imagine, we happily gave to him.

From the beginning of launch until all of the pilots landed, the USA ground team was plagued with a static loving radio. The only solution was to turn the radio down so low where it wouldn't drive every resident of the office completely insane. Towards the end of the day it slightly died off, saving our frazzled nerves. Even without the various radio problems, all of the crews were on edge because it was the first day, even the championship officials barely managed to deal with the normal first day issues with a smile.

By the end of the day, the results weren't as good as we had hoped. Our highest scorer was in 13th place with 736 points on a devalued day. With two land outs, we hope for better luck and weather for tomorrow.

-Blair Mockler

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Opening Day

On the day of the opening ceremony we didn't have to be at the airport to day until 9:30 for the safety meeting, which was mandatory for all competitors. Fortunately as I am not a competitor, my presence was not required. So while the pilots sat in a hot hanger for forty five or so minutes, I was able to read my book in a silence. Meanwhile, something akin to a carnival had been set up all over the airfield. There was face painting, falconry from the nearby castle, and rides in various aircraft were available all day. The festivities were mainly for the citizens of Prievidza and Bojnice, and they took full advantage of it. Thousands of locals flocked to the airfield to take part in the opening ceremony for the 31st FAI World Gliding Championship.

By four o'clock, all of the teams had been organized into a line for the parade. Naturally it was alphabetically arranged, so we had the United States of America bringing up the rear, but proudly toting our American flag. The entire ceremony was filmed, and our parade was followed by speeches from various city representatives, beginning with the mayor of Prievidza. We were treated to an interesting dance titled "Dance of the Dynamics", which incorporated both a local dance studio, and the airplanes, called Dynamics, which are used for towing. Last of all was a thrilling air show, and possibly the most highly anticipated part of the ceremony. No one was disappointed, the air show was a complete success and even included a small airliner, which did several low passes over the runway.

That evening, all team members, crew, and even those tagging along for moral support were invited to the castle for a banquet, complete with music and entertainment. After what seemed an eternity of waiting in line for dinner, I finally received my food, and sat down to eat with Lily Gallmeister, the daughter of one of the crew members. After enjoying our dinners, we set off in chase of an English speaking tour of the castle. Although we never caught up, we were able to do a little exploring of our own, but unfortunately we were shepherded back down to the entrance hall before we got a chance to ascend the dark, winding staircase. Apparently the Slovakian tour guides didn't share our desire for adventure. Eventually we did end up following a tour, but it was definitely not an English speaking tour. Lily, her mom, and I just smiled and laughed as if we know what was being said. We ended up leaving the castle at eleven, just enough time to get a decent amount of sleep.

-Blair Mockler

Friday, July 2, 2010

Practice Day 2

This morning saw the first Team Captain meeting, attended by both Grandpa and myself. We discussed such things as a speed limit on the airfield (Apparently some unknown person was traversing the field at seventy kilometers per hour. We now have a speed limit of twenty kilometers per hour.) and Mochovce, the nearby nuclear power plant, which has been classified as a no-fly zone. At the pilots meeting, which is open to anyone, we learned the results of the first practice day, and one of the US pilots, Bill Snead, won first place in the World Class.

Take-off and starting times all went smoothly today, and I finally got to announce something on the radio, always a reason for celebration. Grandpa and I split lunch time, so that there would always be someone monitoring the radio. Everything went very smoothly, until about three o'clock, when we received word that one of our pilots had landed out. After sending his crew on their way with GPS coordinates, Grandpa and I spent about an hour trying figure out how to use the SPOT coordinates to create a detailed map with directions from the airfield. After many trials and experiments with the Windows program AutoRoute 2010, we now know how to take a SPOT message, even without a phone call from the pilot, and quickly come up with a usable map and directions for the crew to use.

After our lengthy trial and error process, I took a short photography break. Sharon Jankowski, the crew for Mike Smith, allowed me to experiment with her SLR Nikon camera, and I took about 150 pictures in twenty minutes, and will shortly be receiving photography lessons from Sharon. Before leaving the field, Grandpa and I put up and American flag which covers over half of our office wall. I think we can officially say that our team headquarters is the most patriotic.

We returned to our hotel for dinner, where we had the best ice cream in the entire world for dessert, along with chocolate drizzled crepes. Afterwards we took a short walk through Bojnice, and up to the beautifully restored castle, less than two blocks from our hotel. That's all for today, we'll have the last practice day tomorrow, and the opening ceremony on the third of July.

-Blair Mockler

Practice Day 1

The first few days of the Practice time allocated before competition saw many members of the US Team frantically trying to get their rented gliders in to a fit state to fly competitively. Francois Pin found his PW5 had been delivered with recently and badly sanded wings, so was handed a bottle of polish and was told that before it could fly his long suffering crew should apply this all over to protect the surface. Dottie could be seen for the next few days with polishing cloth in hand accomplishing this onerous task with grim determination. Bill Snead's Polish Club PW5 was in much better shape, but he spend at least one day trying to make the trailer lights work. Peter Deane in his German LS8 flew on the prior two days and was inspired by the beautiful countryside, but was wary of the limited land-out possibilities because of the extensive wheat fields and forests.

The airfield itself is at the North end of a delightful Valley in Prievidza, and consists of a rectangular grass field with only just enough length to safely launch the grid as long as the World Class were the first to go. Some of the heavily laden Standard Class gliders needed what seemed to be the full length of the field to start climbing. Peter Deane remarked that he much preferred the Tow Planes with retractable gear because when the pilots pulled up the gear straight after take off, at least they then started to climb. All this can be forgiven for the Airfield environment, with the Medieval style Castle overlooking the airfield from the West Side ridge. Because Prievidza is found in the western third of Slovakia, we are nestled in a beautiful valley with low mountains all around it, called the Tatras.

So, Today was the first Official Practice Day, allowing both the Teams and the Airfield Management to fine tune the procedures for launching the three classes in a timely manner. The first impression of the Organization is that it is very good and well thought out, giving us high hopes that it will be a tightly run Competition. We also had our first official Pilot's meeting this morning, and it was so crowded that there were barely any seats left, even in the back of the hangar. The USA Team captain and assistant spent most of their day in the comfy team office monitoring the radio reports and making emergency runs to Tesco, the local Wal-Mart. Fortunately, they were able to find some much needed office supplies, and bring some improvements (like a trash can) to our office.

The weather in the region is presently dominated by a slack pressure gradient over most of Eastern Europe, with a moist North to North Westerly flow across western Slovakia. A weak trough over the border between Germany and the Czech Republic could brush the Northern end of the task area tomorrow. Thermals appear to start early, with the first Cumulus appearing around 9:30 in the morning. By noon, there was the start of clear development, and the indication of many convergence zones over the mountain ridges. East and North of the Airfield towards the lower Tatra Mountains, the early cumulus soon developed into towering cumulus by mid afternoon and Thunderstorms late in the day. They did not seem to affect many people, and a substantial shower bearing down on the airfield as the Competitors finished dissipated well before it caused any problems. It appeared to be difficult sometimes to find a decent climb off tow, leading to some very full gaggles before conditions improved. There didn't seem to be much in the way delaying tactics, and most Competitors left soon after the start lines opened.

Each class were sent to Assigned Area tasks to the North East, the World Class had three turn points for a distance of around 217 km, The Standard and Club Class shared similar 4 turn points for around 278 and 275 Km respectively. The task times of 2:45 for the Standard and Club, and 2:30 for the World Class were pessimistic, and finish time were substantially lower than that. All the US pilots who flew got back with fast times, and there were 3 or 4 reported land outs from the other Competitors.

Tomorrow's forecast shows similar conditions, but the Thunderstorms have built earlier and more impressively each day, so there is some apprehension that they could have a significant impact on Tomorrow's tasks.

-Martin Grant, Blair Mockler, and Dick Mockler

World Gliding Championship-USA Team 6/29/10

After arriving in Prague Monday morning, my grandfather and I spent the entire day exploring the Golden City. We spent two or so hours in search of a decent printer and ink, which was made even more difficult by our very minimal knowledge of the Czech language. Later that afternoon we took a tour of the city by bus, which drove us past the Charles Bridge, the breathtaking Prague Palace and Cathedral, and the town square, which had an overwhelming World Cup theme, complete with a soccer ball version of a bucking bronco. Our evening was spent exploring the town square, and its surrounding area. Fun fact, the Czech put their street names on the sides of buildings, which means no street signs. You can imagine how this might affect navigation.
Tuesday morning saw the beginning of our drive to Prievidza, Slovakia. Although it was a pretty lengthy drive (seven hours) as I wasn't driving, I was able to fully appreciate the beauty of the Czech and Slovakian countryside. The farther we drove, the more mountainous the terrain became, and the narrow roads cut through small, ancient forest covered mountains, before emerging to look down on the terra cotta roofed villages. I probably have a hundred blurry pictures on my camera from attempting to take pictures from a car moving at 120 kilometers per hour. We also spotted a road sign which we have NO idea what it means. 
We arrived in Prievidza at around five o'clock, thanks only to Grandpa's GPS, christened Flo. Perhaps the most amusing part of our driving was listening to Flo try to pronounce the Slovakian street names, which she somehow managed to do even worse that Grandpa and I. We checked into our hotel, a brand new Best Western, complete with a car lift into the parking garage. Early Wednesday morning, we actually learned that we are the only guests in the hotel. Once we arrived at the airfield, we were able to find the majority of the US team, and together we endeavored to erect an antenna from our team office. Admittedly it is shorter than those of Britain and Australia, but our flag is much higher, which is really the important thing. We were done perfecting our antenna by nine o'clock, and we all got together for dinner at the airport restaurant before heading home at about ten. 
Blair Mockler

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A lovely practice day with nice streets on all legs (for the World Class) and altitudes up to 7500 ft. Bill and I practiced our Team Flying technique, as well as dodging storms, one of which was (of course) right at the first turn point... We flew together well until my radio and PDA (on the same battery) went blank.. Fortunately the second GPS with back-up PDA (on the second battery) was still OK. Traced the problem tonight to a bad battery charger. Another trip to Tesco tomorrow to try and find a new one. Practice days have their value in debugging all the unfamiliar equipment, which is borrowed and does not always perform as expected...
Time for bed... Getting into the routine of my 10-hrs nights during contests. I'll take all the beauty sleep I can get.
And Rizsard did make it in, avoiding a few storms on his way from Zar in Poland where he took possession of his glider. His son Konrad also arrived with the trailer on tow.
The full Team is now on site. Tomorrow is the last practice day.


Thursday, July 1,2010 Today was like normal practice days except my dad landed out. But lets start from the beginning. I woke up with dirty socks being shoved in my mouth. I knew from the beginning today was going to be a very long day. So I got dressed, got my backpack and we went to the airport. We ate breakfast and then we went to the glider. I washed the glider and then we hooked the glider up to the car then we went to then. I was wandering around in some bushes and found some wheat. It was a major find because I have never seen wheat In real life. I was so excited I almost…Uhhh. Did something crazy. I went to get a bottle to keep the seeds in and tried a seed. It was delicious! So I got the bottle and filled it up about one eighth of the way. Then I could not go back to where the wheat is because they started to take off . ,So after my dad took off we went to eat lunch. The wait felt like hours. So finally I said that the wait was to long and that I was going to eat the seeds for lunch. So after lunch my dad landed. Not a normal landing, a land out. Good ol gramps didn't want to believe me so I told him to look at our spot. I was right (of course ). So we jumped into our car and then we went on our periling 2 hour, excuse me, 3 hours long drive there and another 3 hours on the way back. So then after we dropped off the glider at the airport we went back to the hotel and plopped into my bed and went on snoring. That's it. See you soon! please read other blogs!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 of the 6 Team pilots, plus Dick Mockler our Captain and his assistant (devoted grand-daughter) Blair, have arrived in Prievidza and are fine-tuning gliders and ground logistics. The last pilot, Ryszard, is expected to fly in tomorrow from Zar, just across the border in Poland, where he is getting his glider from. The weather has been steadily improving since we arrived, so Ryszard may actually make it in easily without a practice landout...
Still lots of preparation to wrap up today... On my way to Tesco (the local Walmart) to find a pump to fix my tire... Blair, who arrived yesterday, should take over the news dispatch today as soon as we finish setting up the base station.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Packing, packing, packing

Getting ready to head out Friday morning... Dottie and I are going through our "don't forget" lists and packing as tightly as possible. It is amazing how little fits in the maximum luggage weight allowed by the airlines...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Logistics and Arrival - June 21st

Well this is it - all logistics taken care of, eldest daughter graduated from UCLA (do I sound like a proud Dad?) relatives all gone home and I'm climbing aboard a 747 tomorrow to fly to Frankfurt and pick up my rental LS8 and tow vehicle - a day transferring my instruments and (hopefully) doing a little winch-launching with the owners at their home field, and then a 12hr drive from Central Germany to Slovakia, through the Czech Republic.

After all the logistics,IGC shenanigans, forms, fees, medical checks, licenses, contracts, emails, phone calls, equipment purchases, bank transfers, file transfers, map studying etc etc we're finally ready to go - and now the transition from conceptual planning to actual reality feels a little surreal.

Since I have no prior experience at Prievidza I'm heading out early and praying for good practice weather - though if it doesnt cooperate theres outlanding areas to check out in the further reaches of the contest area. And of course, catching up on jet lag. Heading East is always worst it seems, my theory is its due to missing a nights sleep, as opposed to just having a very long day when returning.

We'll be staying near the castle in Bojnice (featured in most of the WGC 2010 SK web site videos) and the town looks historic and quite interesting. The field itself looks to be very well organized and we're all looking forward to a fabulous contest. Hopefully everything will go smoothly with glider, car, instruments and journey across Europe - next time I write I should be settled in in Prievidza - time now for some zzzz's in preparation for the long zombie mental state needed for 12hrs in cattle class. - Must remember to get a Slovensky phrase-book....

Ciao! 2T (CW in the contest)