Benalla Storm

Benalla Storm

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 2 cont

Selena made it back today and the weather was even better than what we expected. She flew the 180km task at 77km/h which was better than one of the experienced pilots flying an LS-8. We do not know any other speeds at the moment because the scores are not being published. She had another radio problem today and was unable to transmit. When she got back we found the push-to-talk button not working and were able to get it fixed before too late. Neither of us were enthused to take the instrument panel off again. We will be leaving to Musbach in a day or two and will keep you all updated.

Selena's words:
At the morning briefing the group was still very upset about the accident. Many pilots have left, and the grid was significantly smaller today. The contest was officially cancelled, but they decided to continue with morning briefing and task-setting. However, they made it very clear that if at any point a pilot decided the weather was weaker than anticipated that they could return home to the field at any time and no one would think anything of it. They put a huge emphasis on making safe decisions. You can also tell by the small task that the committee is hesitant.
Standard Class was put at the back of the grid again and we were given a 180 km racing task: Klippeneck, Bad Ditzenbach, Hayingen, Klippeneck. Cu's were popping all around the air field, with booming cu's to the northeast (in the task area), but still they held the grid as cloud bases were low (one of the downsides of having a contest on the highest point around!). By the time Standard Class launched the conditions were phenomenal and I was getting to 2400 m at the start! Matthew and I had been intending to try to stick together today, but unfortunately by radio wouldn't transmit. We still managed to leave the field around the same time, and I caught up with him and a few other LS4s in the first thermal after the start. The long run with a slight tailwind to the first turnpoint was fantastic. The group was flying fast, energy lines were easy to pick (especially with three other gliders in front of me showing me the best path!), and we only took a few climbs. As the sky began to blue out the group kept pushing, and I missed one critical climb and fell a bit behind. I did manage to meet them again as I was going into the first turnpoint, but they were already on their way out.
The way to the second turnpoint was a little bit slower, but haze domes were still forming leading to good popping cu's. I met up with an LS8 along this leg, kept up with him for awhile, lost him as he sped off, but in the end managed to beat him home. The direct path home from this turnpoint was through a blue sky, with a line of cumulus tempting the pilot to the West, but not before a significant detour! I started out high so thought I would try to stick in the blue. In Australia good climbs can still be found in blue! However, I soon realised that I was not getting the same kind of climbs that could be found in the cu and decided that the detour was worth it. I talked to many other pilots on the ground who went through this exact same process, all also opting to detour for cu's. When I left the second turnpoint I was 4500 ft below final glide, and without any significan time spent thermalling I soon found myself only 2000 ft below final glide. Pretty cool! However, the final stage of the flight was spent stepping up into the Schwaebische Alps with fewer land-out options and rising terrain. I didn't want to get stuck low here so I took some good climbs before coming home.
Overall, it was a really fun flight! Conditions were way better than anticipated, and everyone made it safely around! I need to focus on increasing my speed in my glides, but otherwise was fairly pleased with the flight. I am feeling much more comfortable with the terrain, fields, thermal triggers, airspace, and the climb into the Alps which is great as that is exactly what I was hoping to accomplish in this pre-contest prep period! Now to get comfortable flying in the Black Forest...

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