Friday, July 9, 2010

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