JoeyGlide is over for another year. Overall I think it was an incredible contest to be a part of and I am very glad that I made it out. The opportunity to fly with other pilots who are the same age and have a similar level of experience provides young pilots with a fun contest to be a part of and a good gauge of your abilities. I hope that one day we can have a similar kind of contest in Canada.
The comraderie between competitors at JoeyGlide is fantastic. In the air everyone flew safely and fairly giving the safety officer and penalties committee an easy job during the contest. The positive atmosphere continued on the ground. Before launches more experienced pilots were willing to discuss strategic plans and perceptions of the upcoming day. In the evening you could count on the fact that everyone would get together and share tales of the air over a beer, talking about decisions that were made, both good and bad. These stories evoked a lot of laughter, but also some serious learning.
There were many times that you could tell we were at a junior contest. Although some may perceive the radio chatter as unprofessional, it helped make an entertaining and friendly contest. Webbsi Max FM was on the airways all week, providing us with good jokes (Hey Johno, niiiice cirrus!) and quality music (Top Gun theme song!). On the ground many practical jokes were played, including giving some gliders new call signs (MC Hammer and
4) and the furniture from an entire room being moved outside. Although not typical of a gliding contest, these friendly antics created a fun atmosphere that will keep young people coming back for future contests. Canada
JoeyGlide also had a serious side to it. I think everyone who was involved in the coaching clinic greatly benefited from the knowledge the coaches brought to the contest. Morning briefings also gave new pilots information about strategy and safety.
Through the eight days of flying I learned a lot about myself and about contest flying. One thing I learned is about the importance of a good start. It is important to find a balance between flying with the rest of the field on some days, having patience to start when the day is good, and not starting so late that you miss the best part of the day. Reflecting on each day of flying I can see how I could have improved my start. Another thing I learned about is flying with other pilots and using them to mark thermals, particularly on Day 3 when a large portion of the field flew together for most of the day. Watching other pilots and how far they travel on their straight glides has taught me that this is something I need to improve on. Part of this is being more selective about which climbs I take, which requires discernment. If I am able to improve on this aspect of my flying I will increase my speed. One of the biggest aspects of my flying that I need to improve on is learning how to read the sky, understanding where the good air is, and being aware of the changing weather as the day progresses. I can see that each of the things I have learned and hope to improve on will only improve as I gain more experience and fly more! I am looking forward to it!
I would like to give some huge thanks to several people who helped me during the contest. First of all to Tobi Geiger: thank you so much for being so generous to lend me your glider and all of your equipment! Your glider is definitely the most beautiful glider I have ever had opportunity to fly! I really appreciate your generosity and all of the help you gave me throughout the contest. Thank you also to Swaantje Geyer for lending me your vehicle: without it I would not have been able to get to the contest. Thank you to everyone who sent me notes of encouragement and constructive criticism during the contest, especially to Chris Gough. Every little bit of information that I can gather will make me a better pilot. Thank you also to Internode and all of the personal sponsors who helped provide funding for JoeyGlide. As a young person with limited money I cannot properly express how much all of the support means to us! I would also like to thank the Australian Junior Gliding Club for being so kind to award a foreigner like myself a scholarship!
Now for a cheesy sentimental moment: thank you to each and every pilot who was at JoeyGlide this year. I had a great time getting to know all of you better and racing around the skies with you. I had a few moments where I looked around the room and thought how incredible it would be if we were all still flying in 40 years and could sit around drinking beer and laughing about the good old times of flying JoeyGlide. Keep enjoying the thrills of the sky!