Sunday, September 14, 2008

US Nats - Day 1 - Task 1

Today's forecast was similar to yesterday's except that the winds had a Southern component in the afternoon. The task was a 110k (68 mile) task from Flynn LZ to Hammil (in the valley) then to Big Ears and a 28k final glide to the Fish Hatchery. I launched early (as usual) and had an easy time to 13,500'. The conditions at launch changed dramatically after I launched. The wind came in strong from the South and gave many pilots a tough time on launch. Additionally, when the wind shifted it caused the lift cycle to end & some pilots went down in the LZ.

I waited around for the start (an EXIT of the 3k cylinder) and was off in good shape for the run North. I made a few climbs and hit the first turnpoint comfortably high & not far behind. When I returned to the foothill that had been so kind to me on the way out, there was no love for Tim . . . I groveled along the ridges for 30 minutes below 10,000' until I found a nice 500'/min. thermal that put me back in the game.

Three thermals later, I was gaining on the Big Ears Turnpoint, but only at between 10-15kts. groundspeed. The South wind had kicked in & being low was not a good idea. I did my best to stay high to avoid much of the headwind while going to Big Ears.

Finally I hit B. E. and was able to hook into a 300'/min. climb to almost 12,000. I left this thermal with a required L/D to goal of 8.6:1 and by the time I crossed the goal line, 14 miles later, the required L/D was below 4:1. My ground speed on final glide was over 65kph.

There were over 30 in goal and I was in the last 30% to finish the task at goal. Results will be HERE. I believe that the top 3 finishers were:

1st. Eric Reed
2nd. Dean Stratton
3rd. Josh Cohn

My flight is HERE.

All-in-all, today was a really fun day. Lots of work & some hard flying, but the conditions were generally well behaved. The 20 minute final glide was very relaxing after the long,and sometimes frustrating, flight.

Tomorrow is going to be another good one & I hope to successfully get to goal again. I must admit, though, that I'm really tired after flying two 65+mile flights at high altitudes without O2. . . It won't keep me from going big again tomorrow though ;-)

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