Today was a no fly day. Winds at launch are forecast to be 15 kts. & winds aloft forecasts predict winds at 9000’ & 12,000’ to 30-40 kts. Tomorrow, the last day of the comp, is supposed to have light Southerly winds but winds aloft may still be strong.
The last two tasks were brutal for those of us on DHV 2 wings since we were unable to get to a point in space that would allow us to reach the turn point upwind of the working course line. The task committee had to assign the turn point to keep the 65 competitors near the main roads, but the tasks were near impossible for most. I’m hoping for a task tomorrow that will challenge my skills & decision making rather than the penetration performance of my wing. Don’t get me wrong – the second task did have three DHV 2 wings in goal – it was doable that day & I made a rookie mistake getting downwind of the proper line. But the third task just seemed to be impossible for the slower wings since we had to be flying South of the course line to make the turn point and there just wasn’t any lift there.
Considering the above, I’m feeling good about the way I’ve flown the tasks assigned. In a couple cases I didn’t go very far (18.5 K) but given the circumstances – I gave it a good effort & am happy I just got over the back & on course.
These two down days have allowed Dave & me to get out & see the countryside around Lakeview and, I’ve got to say, it is beautiful country. I’m writing this while sitting in the sun in a 100 acre meadow that I flew over the last two tasks. You can get to the boonies in 15 minutes around here – for the ME that’s a hermit, this could be heaven. I imagine the winters can be cold & long here, but the spring & summer is great. Dave’s out on another walkabout & I’m just relaxing – it could be worse ;-)
If you are reading this blog & are considering competitions, I would highly recommend them for improving your skills & increasing the quality of your flights. At some point, boating around your local site may get a bit tedious, as it did for me. When that happens, you need to have the skills, equipment, & experience to safely fly your first XC. One of the best places to fly your first XC is at a local comp. Generally, the first couple of waypoints are nearby with small valley crossings. This will give you experience at starts, strategy & experience using the GPS. Retrieves are usually simple & you’ve 10 guys/gals in the area with radios that can help you out. The best aspect of comps is the exchange of information by the finest XC pilots. At this Nat’s I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Frank Brown, Eric Reed, Josh Cohn, Dean Stratton, and many other top 20 pilots. The Rat Race was more geared for mentoring, but it’s hard to avoid learning just lurking & listening. Don’t be shy & don’t stop learning. Cross country flying is very challenging and very rewarding. Competitions are just a simple way to get in the air with a safety net that is organized.