Monday, August 9, 2010

Al Tyler - Final Thoughts

I guess I should be very sad with my 45th place finish but I actually flew pretty good in the worst conditions I have ever flown. I worked very hard to get ready for this competition. They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity and I just could not seem to find the luck I needed at the critical times.

The tactics to prevail on task in the very large gaggles in extremely weak conditions must be experienced to understand. Although I had studied these tactics I still could not make myself be patient enough and took too many risks. John Cochrane and I did get the opportunity one day to display our team flying skills in “strong “ conditions ( 3500agl and two knots) and this was my most satisfying day. I was also happy to make almost as much distance as anyone else on the day that the entire 15 meter class landed out in Serbia.

I want to thank my wonderful crew for all their support. I must have worked my crew harder than any U.S. pilot that ever attended a WGC. Thank-you Rob, Rhonda and Wesley. I even forgive you for remarking on a retrieve well after midnight that you had driven more (expletive) miles than I had flown!

Dennis Linnekin’s execution of the Team Captain's job neared perfection. Always upbeat and positive and never failing any pilots request. Dennis even found an alternate Team support group in the staff at the “John Bull Pub”. The entire Team worked very well together and all the crews were ready and willing to assist each other. I would like to especially thank Adnan Mirsa ( unofficial Team psychologist ) for helping me maintain a positive attitude. Adnan is truly one of the most positive and upbeat people I have had the privilege to be around..

The competition suffered in many areas. Organization and facilities were poor at best. The task setter evidently did not pay much attention to the weatherman . Launching 150 gliders into a sky with bases at or slightly above tow altitude was asking for disaster. I think it was a miracle that no one was killed. Having said this I must complement the small group of very young workers led by contest director Milan.

I will remember with fondness all the fun of the opening ceremonies, international night party, closing ceremony and especially the new and renewed friendships. The retrieve stories (especially Serbia) will be retold and embellished for years to come. I would like to leave you with a quote from Rob while leaning against the car that was attached to the trailer that was two feet deep in Serbian mud: “8H if we ever get out of here I am never crewing for anybody ever again !!!"

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The farewell party is over. Many are remembering the good friends from all over the world we have met this week, and perhaps regretting a bit the number of trips we made to the free schnapps table.

A while ago I sent a few friends a picture from the grid with the caption, "the reason soaring is more popular in Europe than the US." I can't post it here, but let's just say it involved the different approach to sun exposure and the number of youthful members of the fairer sex in European glider fields. My wife, Beth, grumbled a bit about it, so in her honor here are two more pictures from the grid.

Let's call the first, the real reason soaring is more popular in Europe than the US.

This little guy was just adorable. Yes, there are lots of families and kids here. Part of that in turn stems from the creature comforts. This airport has a nice bar and restaurant, a great water park nearby (see Gena's post below), and it's close to a cool city with great restaurants. And all the Europeans are complaining about how spartan it is.

And second: For a true pilot, there is only the wind, the clouds, and the sky:

Thanks for all your support, we're coming home

John Cochrane

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Slides of Szeged

My favorite pilot briefing took place on the day after the day in which not one pilot in any of three classes completed the task. The contest organizer began with an announcement: "I would like to apologize to the pilots." And then he introduced the task-setter.

Two days ago, on a non-flying day for Open Class, we visited the local water park, which has, according to 9-year-old Alex Cheatham of the British team, the LONGEST WATERSLIDE IN EUROPE. As it turns out, the Szeged water park has not only the LONGEST WATERSLIDE IN EUROPE, but also an entire Crayola Crayon box of swooping, twirling, spiraling, and plummeting slides in an indoor-outdoor, complex of waterfalls, lap-pools, and spas, with deliciously warm water. My co-crewmate, 9-year-old Julius Tabery, particularly loved the green slide, which had a few turns and a steep and rapid descent into an outdoor pool. He also favored the red slide, a generic twisty-turny slide that deposits swimmers suddenly into a funnel, around which one spins several times before being dumped gracelessly into an indoor pool. And there was, of course, the blue slide, which is the LONGEST WATERSLIDE IN EUROPE, accessible only via elevator: a covered spaghetti downhill ride from a four-story height, with skylights of various colors, including rainbows, stripes, stars, and polka-dots. My favorite slide was the open-topped yellow slide, which languorously winds its way from three-stories in the air to a waiting open-air pool, with a lovely view of the sky available the whole way down.

The slide I absolutely did not want to try was the purple slide, a quick and nearly vertical 10-meter descent into an indoor pool. Of course, everyone insisted. I tried once and backed out. The second time, I closed my eyes, took the plunge and then, after violently bumping my head toward the end, forced a whole lot of water up my nose while skiing across the pool on my back.

Back at the airport the next day, I kept thinking about those slides and my contest experience as crew. When you tell people you are going to Europe for a glider competition, they envision the yellow slide—a lovely tour of European countryside, with blue skies and good food. On a good day, the pilot gets the blue slide. But for the crew on the ground—at least for the emotionally involved crew—the contest is the purple slide: a terrifying, gut-wrenching I've-faced-my-worst-fear-and-survived-it, but-it-wasn't-all-that-much-fun kind of ride. And yet we keep going back.

In other news, more than one U.S. pilot is disappointed today. WE crew Carol Elliot says the best remedy for a bummed-out is pilot to throw him into the hangar with 150 other pilots, each of whom has a story to tell. In that milieu, you just have to get over yourself. Says Carol, "It's like socializing your puppy."

So tonight we attend the final banquet, visit with the other pilots and crew, and hear the other stories. We'll eat and drink and socialize, and after a while, we'll forget the purple slide. It will seem like yellow, all the way. Or, for some of us, THE LONGEST WATERSLIDE IN EUROPE.

Gena Tabery, SS crew


"The tasks are cancelled for today."

And with that radio announcement ended the World Gliding Championship of 2010.

Now, as the thunderstorm pounds down on the office, here are the results of our efforts:


Ron Tabery: crewed by Gena and Julius Tabery and Peter Fuss: 7th
Garret Willat: crewed by Ant Bilsev: 19th

18 Meter:

Bill Elliott, crewed by Gary Carter and Carol Elliott: 30th
Tom Kelley: crewed by Mathias Ignacz: 48th

15 Meter:

John Cochrane, crewed by Adnon Mirza: 27th
Al Tyler, crewed by Rhonda and Wesley Tyler and Rob Ware: 45th

Thursday, August 5, 2010

15 Meter Race


Today everything clicked. I was in the right place at the start, and saw a huge gaggle leave including all the big names. I waited a few minutes, and then it was time to go. Alas, my teammate Al was too low, but with the main gaggle gone in 2500’ cloudbases, late in the day with a long task, I couldn’t wait. The scoresheet is interesting for the start times. You’ll see how vital it was to go with that group.

I dumped all my ballast on the first glide, and was getting worried, as the clouds looked even worse and even lower and I didn’t see any gliders. Have I missed the gaggle again? Then as I got down to about 1500’, the clouds parted, and there in front of me was the entire 15 meter class, spinning around. I came in underneath them at about 1000’, and instantly connected with 4 knots. It tailed off, and I moved to a second group and again connected, this time leaving most of the first gaggle behind.

The next two legs were really pleasant. I was dry. Everyone else was carrying a full load of water. I was able to easily outclimb them, but at 70 knots with 3000’ cloudbases nobody is running away from me. It took 3 thermals to work to the top of the stack. Then, I was able to stick with a fast group of 5-10 gliders pushing forward. There were some patches of spreadout and a low moment, but otherwise we were working from cloud to cloud with good vertical development.

As we approached Szeged, I was in the position we all dream of. I’ve caught the fast gaggle, and I’m just behind and a few hundred feet higher. I’m ready to pounce and blister home on the final glide. And we’re approaching Szeged…

Except, we have two more legs to go. And everything behind Szeged is covered with thick high clouds and no cu. I floundered a bit in a thermal, then went on to a group of three gliders working under the last cloud. ….Then they turn back and go to the place I was floundering, where now there is a big gaggle.

The worlds is about changing gears, and now we changed big time. All that ground gained against the gaggle goes out the window. I turned around as well, and patiently ground up to cloudbase. Leaving again with a group of 5 at the top, we glided across the dead zone at 53.000 knots, to start connecting with weak lift on the other side. The next two legs were very slow work with a group of excellent thermal piltos, stopping for every 1 knot thermal along the way.

And then it got really bad. I ended up with a group of 5 down at about 1,000’, looking for anything. It was an interesting experience. We wound up basically parked in a bubbly zone. The thermal would surge to 1 knot or so, and we’d gain 500 feet. Then it would die, and we’d lose about 200. And on and on like this. I must have spent 45 minutes with these guys patiently grinding around. I was frustrated that there seemed to be another gaggle down course ahead of us, but I couldn’t get to it.

Eventually our thermal surged just enough to get a final glide, so I closed the vents, and set of at 53.000 knots towards home. It all worked out ok and I finished uneventfully. I expected to make it home with awful speed, but it turns out the gaggle ahead of us all landed out, so I was one of the first finishers.


It’s been a long contest and a huge learning experience. Today everything clicked, and I think I played this WGC game and all its new tactics well. There are few flights where you don’t come home with some regret for some mistake. My wife emailed and said “hey, if this contest goes on another month you might do pretty well.”  Adnan recommends a steady pace of 930 points per day, which is pretty much how it worked out except for my stupid lawn-dart on the first day.

Once again, this has been a team effort, and I owe thanks to lots of people. Dennis (captain) Adnan (crew and coach) were right there today as in the whole contest. My clearnav has been working great, and the whole clearnav team has been wonderful about answering my testy emails about small issues here and there. The support we’ve heard from home has really helped keep our spirits up and enthusiasm going. And I shouldn’t forget my mom, who took me out for glider lessons all those years ago (1972!) I don’t think we ever dreamed it would end up at a world championship.


John Cochrane  

decorum violations

Pete Harvey was asking me the other night if anything gets me upset..I seem so laid back. Well pre-start I was wandering around the clouds, sometimes above some. Just waiting for the right time to go. I eventually visited the start gate gaggle, and wandered around the line.... then stopped connecting with the lift. This is where the violations started and continued to increase. All the way back to the airport where I had to relight. In such a haste to get back into the air, I tried stopping as quick as possible in a cloud of blue i was told.... so I could self-launch again (looking for a 5.00 x 5 10ply). Thanks to the few on the ground for making a very quick relaunch on the day. Eventually I got to the start gate and headed on course at 215...I really wanted 115 for a start. But off I went anyway. I flew a little slower than normal, really trying not to get stuck, and thermalled less. All in all the first leg went well, I should have cut it a little short, but I did not think the day would die as quick as it did. The next 2 legs went fine...all by was very lonely. Going into turn 3, obviously I went to far, as the beautiful Austrian had to come to the rescue. At the time there was a little cloud street that went into the turn, then another lining the way home....and it all went away.....and the violations started again.

August 5

All U. S. Team pilots have started their tasks and are out on course.

The weather to the west is ok, but soaring conditions north of Szeged are not as favorable. We have a metar report of scattered cumulus at 3,300' 80 miles west of Szeged. At Kecskemet Airport, 47 miles north, the report is of broken cu at 2,400', with additional broken layers at 4000' and 8,000'.

Open Class has a 374 km Assigned Area Task. 18 Meter has a 289 km Racing Task and the 15 Meter Class is flying a stange-looking "bowtie-and-a box" Racing Task of 294 km.

Chris O'Callaghan

We woke this morning to the terrible news of the loss of Chris O'Callaghan following a mid-air collision at the 15 Meter National Championship yesterday in Uvalde, Texas. At the close of today's Pilot Meeting here, Al Tyler stood and made the announcement of the accident asking the pilots to "Please be careful, I don't want to lose another friend."

Our thoughts are with the Callaghan family.

15 Meter Day


Everything really clicked for Al and me yesterday. Cloudbase was only 2700’ above the ground, and we left 5 minutes after the gate opened at 3:00, both because the day ends promptly at 5 and we had a 2 hour task, and because the start gaggle seemed pretty dangerous to us.

We were able to click along, working from 2,500 to 3,000’, doing a lot of long straight glides. We worked together very well, each finding the core about half the time.

We had a bit of a low point after the first turn, but with a few minutes of fishing got right back up again. The gaggle caught us at this point, but we led out and never saw them again.

The last leg was a beautiful street, still 3,000’ MSL but right on course. Our twin clearnavs set us up for a perfect finish exactly on time. The street was clearly soft and the sky was bluing out however. We took two one knot thermals to build a little cushion on final glide, closed the vents and came on home in formation.

There were only one or two gliders on the airport, the sky was totally dying, and for a moment we let ourselves dream that we really had smoked the day. It was not to be. The winners somehow flew far over time, going to the back of the turnpoint that we nicked, and finding an even better street to come home on. Oh well, our speeds were still pretty good and 15/16 is still a decent performance. Yes, we probably could have saved several minutes with a more aggressive final glide, but on the other hand we’ve seen enough Hungarian and Serbian farm fields to last a lifetime. All in all a really good day.


John Cochrane (BB)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

15 Meter Time

Today's flying for the Open and 18 Meter Classes has been cancelled.

The 15 Meter Class will fly an Assigned Area Task with three areas. Minimum time is two hours with a nominal distance of 223 km. BB and 8H crews are gridding the gliders now. Take-off will be no sooner than 2pm...just over an hour from now.

Well, finally we had a good solid Midwestern day. It was mostly 3 knot thermals with the occasional 4-4.5 in the middle of the day, with cloudbases to 4,500.


Al and I decided to ignore the gaggle and fly US style, since there would be good cloud markers. Our first leg was a bit weak, or rather a bit too full of water for the 2 – 2.5 knot conditions. With water it’s hard to center, but that’s part of the game. You have to struggle a bit early so you have the water in the heat of the day. We worked together well and kept going in the punchy lift.


After a good high downwind turn, we got separated on the second leg. I got busy fixing the latest software issues, and didn’t hear Al stopping to climb. Still, we had a nice looking sky ahead of us and the best part of the day. Both of us had a very good run back to the Tiza river. The Italians came about 1,000’ over me, pair flying beautifully in their Dianas. I have learned not to even try to follow them. The Dianas have a huge performance advantage and just walk away from me.    


The Tiza river produced a big blue hole. No problem, stop in the last few clouds, take 3 knots to the overlying SUA, and go. (Unlike the US, we often fly under airspace in Europe). After a long quiet glide, I connected at 2,000’ under the first cloud, to a solid 4 knots. Now the fun part started. Clouds with good vertical development had wide swaths of 3 knots with 4-5 knot cores. I got a 97:1 glide in here. Going in to the second turn over Romania, the big clouds ended, and cloudbase went down about 500’. Time to dial back 70-80 and take those 3 knottters. It also had the look and feel that it would work under the clouds but not low. Alas, due to software glitches and my miscalculation I took about 10 km too far in this turn area. It wasn’t a disaster, it was just slower than otherwise.


Time to go home. We had widely separated clouds with good vertical development, producing smooth 3 knots with bigger cores. I happily took the 3 knots, thinking that it would be terrible down low.


That was right. Al, unfortunately did get low over Romania. He did an absolutely amazing job of working up again, but by then the day had died and he ended up landing out. Fortunately, he got out of Romania and didn’t suffer another border crossing!


Passing under the gaggle, I saw it only going up two knots, and chose instead to bump up under a nice street going home. I bumped form 600 under to 600 over and floated home.


The end of the day was very interesting. Ron went through first, and radioed back that it was booming on the way home. Bill finished later with a bit less enthusiasm. Garrett radioed “it’s getting a bit soft”. I found only 2-3 knots and very mild lift under the street. I looked back 10 minutes after I landed and the street was gone. When the weather gods turn the switch off, they turn the switch off!


It felt really good. Every flight has a few regrets –not either starting 10 minutes earlier, or starting 5 minutes later to gaggle down the first leg; not doing a better job of the final turn area; disconnecting with Al, and a little slowness on the last leg. But even though I’m not high in rank on the scoresheet, all but the Dianas went about 106 and I went 104, so it’s pretty good overall.


It’s back to rain and weak weather. However, that’s not a big disappointment, we’re here to race. I learned a big lesson from Doug Jacobs on the grid one day with looming thunderstorms. Everyone else was moaning. Doug was licking his chops, “I can really make up some points today!” It’s all about maintaining a positive attitude.


John Cochrane


Szeged and task area weather is currently 1,200' overcast with good visibility. The satellite shows a gap in the cloud cover approaching from the west so...maybe we'll fly today. We have a Pilot's Meeting in 10 minutes. The Contest Director tells us that a decision on flying will be made at 1100 local and task sheets will be available then.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Milka Schoko & Keks

That is my new favorite chocolate bar. Chocolate makes the day better, and I generally do not like chocolate.

Sorry did not write yesterday the internet died a sudden death last night. Now it has all blended together, and honestly I cant remember too many details.

But today, the start gate was so much fun, at cloudbase with people starting and bumping the gaggle on the way out, with people heading to the gate, in near IFR conditions FLARM is quite a nice toy. SS and I were on the fence about an early start, the 2 german winners did that. But we had a reasonable start, I got a little anxious and started, SS went back and started about 8min later. I had the great idea of driving hard straight on course and take a good climb. It was wonderfully executed for the last part...a good climb. I was reporting back to SS, at least telling him where I was, and seeing if the grass was greener on the other side, which it normally is. I caught up to a nice pack, which I new I started after, but eventually lost. Then had the Brits come in under me, which was fine, but they started after me and a few thermals later I was looking up at them.

So I shifted gears and tried to push for a stronger climb, but it never really worked, I just marked thermals for everyone. I was pushing too fast for the climbs I was achieving. I did have a good final glide that I started below glide and bumped home. The 18meter boys were with me in the last thermal and went to cloudbase. I just bounced along, finally got a 2.5knt final glide, then found all the lift I was looking for the last 60km and had to push to near the yellow arc. I know which is not the worm burner final glides one might be used to. I have been practicing the normal cruise speed final glide, but unlike the multiple people we have seen short of the runway with a safety margin. Its late and we have to go Mosquito hunting before lights out.

August 4

When we last left you...we had two pilots, two crews and two gliders still in Serbia. John Cochrane has brought you up-to-date on his and Adnan Mirza's long, late retrieve from the Kikinda airport.

Al, Rhonda and Wesley Tyler along with stalwart crewman Rob Ware, (Mayor of Cave Spring , Georgia) had an epic retrieve from a very muddy field in Serbia. I will leave it to Al and his crew to tell that amazing story. I think it would make great article in SSA Magazine.

Well, all of that occurred two days ago. Since then, we have had serious internet connectivity problems. So, let me tell you a bit about yesterday.

Our Open Class guys continue to work very well together and had another great day. Ron Tabery is in fourth place now and only fifteen points out of a podium position! Garrat Willat is in eighth overall.

In 18 Meter, Bill Elliott finished 33rd yesterday with a speed of 106 kpm over the 330 kilometer task. Bill is currently 25th overall. Tom Kelley flew the task at 99 kph for 43rd place yesterday and is now 47th overall.

15 Meter pilot John Cochrane flew the area task at 103.7 kph for 384 k. placing 16th for the day. John is 30th now, overall. Al Tyler outlanded only 26 k from home, proving that even the best pilots can have a string of very bad luck. Al is 46th overall in 15 Meter.

Gotta run the the Captain's Briefing!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yesterday the 15 meter class was tasked out to the west over the (relatively) high ground, then across the (wet) Danube river valley, then following the (wet) Tiza river for two more legs, all through Serbia. You can see where this is going. A courageous pilot stood up to complain at the pilot’s meeting, pointing out that if anyone had to go to Serbia, notorious for 4 hour border crossings among other things, perhaps the open class with engines might be a better choice.  His complaint produced a slightly shorter task with a fortuitous airport turnpoint.

The task went as expected. We had a very nice first leg, at least by Chicago standards – 3 knots to 3000’ AGL. Then we hit the Danube river, and it was survival mode for the rest of the day. All we had were blue 1-2 knot thermals to about 2000’ AGL. I watched with dismay as the “time required to finish” on my clearnav slowly inched forward towards Thanksgiving.  It is amazing actually just how bad conditions one can fly in with the help of small gaggles of 4-5 gliders.


Eventually I got a final glide to the airport at the last turn, where I landed with 16 other gliders including the contest leaders. Yes, there is sanity in WGC pilots! The airport was very nice. The owner, who turns out to be the head of the aero club of Serbia, showed up and brought us all beers and Cokes, and opened up the clubhouse. The decision to give up a few points and land at an airport was looking better and better.  We took some pictures of the assembled group which I’ll pass on when I get them.


Retrieve was a nightmare. The border crossing took hours  in both directions.  50 glider trailers showing up at a border crossing at 2 AM has very predictable results.  We also had a small road accident when an impatient Serbian driver rear-ended Adnan and my trailer. The car being driveable, we just got out as fast as possible.  And I had an easy retrieve. Al is stuck in a muddy field somewhere in Serbia. Everyone who landed in fields had to go to the local police station.   


The 15 meter class is sensibly canceled for today, since nobody got home before 3 AM.  Of course today looks like the best weather we’ve seen in the whole time we’ve been here.  


John Cochrane

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Day 4 "I'm low, but it's time to go."

"I'm low, but it's time to go," said Ron Tabery (SS), and off he went, at 2:00, the absolute last of the Open Class gliders to start on Day 4. Tabery was the second glider to launch, at roughly 1:05, so by the time he landed at 7:10, he had been flying for a while. There is a 10-point penalty per minute for landing after official sunset. Ordinarily, this is not a penalty anyone worries about. Tonight, I wondered.

For the ground crew, this is the Hotel California of contests: we check in, but we can never leave. Either the task is short, because of weather, or it takes forever to launch, because of weather, or no one starts, because of weather, or they finally start and it's not clear whether anyone will be able to stay up or complete the task, because of weather. It was a 438 km. task today. Ron estimated 125 km. average speed, so I figured I had 3.5 hours. But as the day progressed, the gliders did not, and it really does not help the crew's peace of mind to have the tracking devices in the planes and the traces on the screens in the gliderport.  Agonizing over each turnpoint is the worst way to enjoy a contest--particularly when there are four turnpoints, and it has taken hours to reach to first one. I believe that SS alone rounded the third turnpoint before joining everyone else in motoring home.

Then there are those crew who must leave. To go to Serbia, for instance. This afternoon, there were at least fifteen glider trailers trying to get out of the airport at the same time. They were stacked three deep, waiting for their turn out the airport gate. Quite a gaggle, and not the start gate you hope to be waiting for.

The Szeged summer music festival's production of Georges Bizet's "Carmen" was grand and idiosyncratic—the setting was the 1958 Hungarian uprising, with a jeep and uniformed police and police dogs patrolling the stage, a huge orchestra and chorus, and magnificent soloists. Made up for not being able to get away from the airport, although some of us stayed only for the first act, because, well, the next day, there was flying to do.
Gena Tabery

USA #1

As promised the day was set to prove that the previous day was not that challenging, and they could out-do themselves. The day was actually a nice soaring day, then ALL of the gliders went in the opposite direction. To separate the classes, we had the 15meter as the sacrificial class with 100 percent land-out, I believe mostly in Serbia. The open and 18meter class motored home for those that could.

The start sucked, it was less than 1knt and completely we waited...and waited. Actually SS and I both returned back towards the airport just to climb up again...and we waited. I eventually got a good climb near the start to cloudbase, SS said to not wait up, and I appreciated that, because I really did not want to. I started at near cloudbase, but alone. I went north of track, and advised SS to not do the same, called climbs for him and how conditions were up ahaid. He found the pack, I was very lonely. I deviated upwind quite a bit to practice my Mifflin flying. There was a small ridge, and very little wind, which I did not want to be downwind of. So I floated along, dropped all the water, and limped. I did see 1 two-seater above me once, then another motoring home from the direction of the first turn. SS managed to get ahead of me, and turned the first turn at least 10km ahead of me, interesting doing head-on with the entire open class.

I turned around and now SS was calling climbs, I decided to head out across the valley in the rolling hills, It worked SS was reporting 1.5, and I took a 4....yes a 4knt thermal, I had no idea they were around, I was empty and one of the EB's was not, I climbed right through was great. That got me pretty much even with the gaggle...the remainder of the open class. I then found a 3.7knt climb, which SS came over to visit me with. This got us on top of the pack, which by the next thermal I was the highest with A and 4M (our new radio friend). WE was also reporting weather ahead. We ran along, A flying too fast for me, 4m found a climb and this got us out in-front. N1 eventually pushed out with us, I tried hand signals to change to our radio freq. But we got it sorted. N1, 4M and I pushed along into the bleak unknown....We bumped a thermal...which we should not have, SS centered it and I told him to STAY!!!! because it was really starting to suck. We found a gliderport, and I started the engine on a modified downwind following in about 5 18meter gliders.

So it was a very good day, AST, started late and passed the was soo cool...but it was a distance day, which SS was able to win. I'll let him write more...I am going to bed, the adrenaline has worn off.

Uh Oh........

So busy here I haven't had any time to write! We're sitting in the Team Office coordinating three retrieves. Bill Elliott outlanded north of here. Should be hearing from his crew soon. John Cochrane landed at the Kikinda Airport in Serbia. Adnon Mirza is on the way, but has been stuck at the Serbian border entry for over an hour with 25 other glider trailers and crews. Al Tyler outlanded in a wet field near Hovo Miloshevo, Serbia. He is waiting at the police station in that town for his crew.

Just had the chance to see some scores! YES! Go check them out!

Now, back to the retrieve story... Adnan finally made it through into Serbia and he must have connected with BB by now. Hoping to hear from them soon. Bill Elliott, his wife Carol and crew Gary Carter just returned to Szeged and are eating at the airport restaurant here. The 8H Crew, Rhonda and Wesley Tyler and Rob Ware have entered Serbia after a long wait at the border and should arrive at the police station to meet Al and his new friends. They may spend the night in Serbia and retrieve Al's glider from the field in the morning.

Here We Go!

The US Team is up! Garret (W), Ron (SS), Al (8H) and John (BB) have gone through the start gate. Wait...Bill (WE) and Tom (RI) just called in with their start times. So, here we go!

The tasks are long and will be difficult today. Weak looking cumulus to the west and that's where all the classes are headed first. All classes are flying racing tasks today. The 15 Meter task is 334km, 18Meter's are flying 360km, and the Open Class is tasked with 438km.

Finishes and Safety

By now most of you have heard of the accident. I posted the following to the discussion going on on rec.aviation.soaring, and echo here. Those of you who know me will not be surprised on my view of things.

At Szeged there are beautiful fields for the last few miles short of the road and barbed wire fence. The only thing separating a landing just shy of the road in a field and a landing 1 cm over the barbed wire fence and road is the substantial number of points offered by the rules for trying to pop over the fence.

We say "pilots will act safely and throw away the contest when safety intrudes" but time and again experience proves us wrong. Put 400 points 1 cm above a barbed wire fence and pilots go for it.

This is a solved problem. A substantial minimum height for finish, coupled with very strong penalties for coming in low, means that for pilots like the one in this accident, racing is over when you're making the life or death safety decision of stopping in the last field or popping over the fence.

Alas, IGC rules do not even allow the safe finish. Yes, they allow a cylinder with minimum altitude, but the penalty for finishing low is a warning the first time, and 25 points the following times. Compared to the loss of all speed points for stopping in the last field, this will do nothing. The US has gradually moved to a cylinder finish with substantial penalties for low arrival, which is helping.

To those who have "never heard" of this type of accident, go read the accident reports. European accident reports are littered with crashed gliders in the last few km of contest flights, driving into the ground in the hope of squeaking over the fence. (Kudos to Sailplane and Gliding for printing them.)

All this is explained in great detail in an article I wrote for Soaring magazine nearly 10 years ago. Here is a link.

I apologize for the harsh tone, but it's sad to see utterly preventable accidents continue, and sadder still that international rules do not even allow organizers to take the obvious corrective action. This is not rocket science.

John Cochrane BB

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I was opening the webpage up when Ant mentioned a wonderful thing while brushing his teeth. I must mention that Tom Kelley and I have both rented Caravan's and are staying on the airport. It really gets you into the heart of racing at a WGC, think Gypse villiage, there are over 100 caravans and tents out here, all packed together by country. There are kids running around, pools set up. BBQ's going every night. Ant pointed out (I seemed to have missed), females walking around nearly nude....anyway....They brought in portable showers and bathrooms to cover everyone's needs. The other morning however we saw someone refilling to rinse their sewer tank..One sink off-limits... Then Ant was just mentioning he was brushing his teeth while the next guy came in lifted his feet into the sink to wash them, meanwhile Ant is still brushing. Sorry I had to share that news with you...We are now down to 3 sinks.

As for the day. It is amazing because you think the previous day was just keeps getting worse. Not only did the first turn suck really bad, with a descending cloud-base between the start and turn area. I missed the turn area, it was flippin 30km, the computer said "turn here" so I did, because there was no reason to spend anymore time in their than I needed. Next time I will count a few more. It looks like I am 47 meters out, which will land me a 50point penalty, with a little luck still holding onto my top 10 spot. I was 15 for the day. So we started and I deviated to try and get around the lower cloudbase....there was no getting around. So I finally glided in and limped back dropping water and taking 0.5knt thermals to keep from finding the farmers daughters....or using more fuel...which I have finished off 2 20L barrels, I think I have burned more 100ll in the past week than diesel (mini-hearse).

So I took a near 80degree deviation to try and get back to the higher cloudbase where WE was reporting 4.0 knts (the decimal place is correct again), finally a few thermals later I had reconnected with the stronger lift and it felt like racing again. SS stayed closer to course-line, my way was a little faster. Eventually we got to see each other again. Then since we were so overtime, I just turned around after getting into the next turn. However the winners offset their really sucky first turn by going deep into the second turn. I was too low entering the second turn to attempt it. The final glide was by far the best part of the whole day...great lift, clouds streeting in the correct direction....

Off to bed, then stick Dennis on the scoring office :)

I wasn’t able to write for the last few days because I was out inspecting the fields. Which are lovely by the way. Landouts here are really easy and safe. 


Today went much better. I was last to launch, and ended up struggling to get up. Most of you have been there – overdevelopment looming, you want to start NOW, the huge gaggle is orbiting overhead and you just can’t find more than a knot. Eventually the whole gaggle left without me. Slowly I climbed up to take a decent start, 10 minutes late and all alone.


The first leg was slow, taking 2 knot climbs under soft clouds to about 3500’. Up ahead it was overdeveloping fast, with a line of much lower (!) bases in the first and second turn areas. I clipped the first turn area, and then went on to the second. Now I’m under the low bases.  I took one 2 knotter to 2500, then another. Just as I was running out of ideas, I saw off in the distance the 15 meter furball, down a soft line of clouds. I headed directly there, came in under them all at 1000’, in the rain, and connected at last with 1 knot. This is real desperation. Slowly, I followed the gaggle, bit by bit climbing through them. After 4 or 5 of these 1-2 knot thermals in the second turn are I had climbed to the top of the gaggle.

Conditions slowly improved on the third leg: solid 2 knots, then solid 3 knots, under higher and better developed bases. Alas my teammate Al didn’t make one of the really weak climbs and landed out. With really good clouds ahead, I led out, found my own thermal and beat the gaggle home.


You can’t ask for more: start late, catch the gaggle, climb through it, then lead out and get home. So far it’s 3d for the day on the scoresheet, but for me it’s a real accomplishment to play this game and do it right.


World championships are very different from US contests, in large part because of the different rules. The treatment of distance and speed points and the day devaluation formulas mean you need really different strategies. It’s easy to say “stay with the gaggle” in the winter, but there are all sorts of situations and all sorts of gaggles. Each day is a big learning experience on how to play this game.


John Cochrane

Update July 31

8H has outlanded near Kistelek to the WNW of Szeged. Al was on leg three, I believe, of 15 Meter task "C". All other US Team pilots have returned to Szeged. Turning in the traces now. Scoring results seem to be available more quickly, so check 'em out!


Today's weather features bands of high cirrus and cu's forming to the north and west of Szeged. Cloud bases are estimated to be at 3,000 feet.

The Open Class and 18 Meter gridded first and Ron Tabery (SS), Garrat Willat (W) and Tom Kelley (RI) have launched.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I figured I would write before I lay in bed thinking about what I should write. Today was very challenging, I thought the other days were, but only to be proved that there were more challenging ones out there. We had a reasonable start, with a long glide, SS and I, (looking back on it once on the ground, should have started early) played the start-gate roulette game and waited a little. The pack started and we did reasonable good. SS got out infront and we played catch-up with him for most of the day. Again he called out climbs for me, which did once get me ontop of the gaggle. The 1st turn was soft, but not as bad as the rest of the legs. We got into the second turn without too much pucker factor as the day began to improve. Then we had a huge hole to cross, only broken by .5knt thermals in the middle. SS found a climb that got him a little higher than me, and he thought he could make the next set of clouds. I was lower, and also made it to the clouds. I finally made it to a good field, engine master on, and 2 seconds to engine start when the left wing felt something. .1knts.....and it was the best .1knt thermal i have ever had. Eventually it turned into .2, and I climbed 100ft....I was soo high now. Eventually it turned into 4knts, after an upwind center with some help from KS. By this time SS had over run me again but he was at cloudbase, he still had water and I was dry. Then flying the feather around was not as good. It climbed well. I made it into the third turn as the gaggle I was with was lower and entering. So we were doing really well, SS especially. With another huge deviaion we made it to one cloud street that ran 45 off course line. I took it south until I got a good climb. However that never came to be and I nearly ran into Romania before giving up. So turned back on course and floated to a little over 1000ft and started the engine and came home.

The pisser is that the guys that made it home, I was with at the cloud street, we were all deviating together. They must have started their glide while I choose to climb more under the clouds..that never worked...grrrrr.

Still top 10!!!

With a few more days of flying....hopefully more than a few.


Distance Day

It's a distance day. We have been watching a mass exodus of crews and trailers from the Szeged Airport! With so many outlandings, we think the US pilots have done well today, having flown as far as most of the other teams. First, Tom Kelley (RI) returned on engine power. Then, Al Tyler (8H), John Cochrane (BB) and Bill Elliott (WE) all called in reporting safe outlandings with no damage. Ron Tabery (SS) and Garret Willat (W) made it home, also under engine power.

We have a very dark sky here with a heavy rain cell northwest of the field with lightening visible at regular intervals. Everyone is scrambling to get things put away or otherwise secured.

All On Course

John Cochrane (BB) elected to return and re-start his task and now all six US Team pilots are out on course. We have bands of high cirrus and I can see cumulus, but not very high, to the west of Szeged. The talk on the team radio indicates that everyone's doing OK. Bill Elliott (WE) just reported turning the first turnpoint.


We had an early Captain's Meeting to discuss yesterday's accident. In response to the accident, Contest management has instituted a 3km finish cylinder with a minimum altitude of 140 meters.

Our thoughts are with the driver of the truck.

We are very proud that three of our pilots, Ron Tabery, Garret Willat and Whiskey Elliott are in the top ten in their respective classes! Everyone is gridded and ready to go. The level of energy and determination on this Team is palpable!

Launch has been pushed to 1230 local. Contest Management says that "trigger temperature is too high."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

29 July 2010, Day 2

Planes were still landing this afternoon at the Open Class tie-down area, as we were wiping the bugs from the wings and getting ready to put covers on the plane for the night. Not really understanding, because it didn't make sense, we heard someone a few planes over shouting, "Oh, no. He's hit the truck!" And then there was a loud "ka-thunk."

We looked in the direction of the sound, and there, lying on top of the fence separating the airport from the highway just to the north, was a glider. But it was facing the north--opposite the direction in which it would have been landing. And it didn't seem to have any wings. Immediately, the canopy popped open, meaning, perhaps, that the pilot was safe.

He was. The first bystander on the scene, pilot Francois Jeremaisse (LSJ) of the Netherlands, ran to the downed pilot, Lars Zehnder (VW) of Australia, shouting, "Stay in the glider! Stay in the glider!" He did.

And on the road to the north, Highway 55, leading from Szeged to Baja, traffic came to a halt. A large, and more important, tall Mercedes truck, with the logo "ACTIROS" was not moving. All around it, people were gathering. And later, as we walked closer to the scene, we could see the wing jutting out of the shattered windshield of the truck, still stranded on the highway. On the airport side of the event, the fence lay on the ground with a concrete post shattered and lying on its side. The glider faced the highway, with its fuselage fractured at the wing-joint.

We talked with several people who observed the event. They all saw the same thing: the glider came over the highway, landing toward the south, and before it crossed the fence between the road and the runway, it hit the truck, cartwheeled, and landed on the fence, nose toward the road.

It was a tall truck. The glider was low. Perhaps it would not have struck a lower vehicle. Had there been no vehicle at all, it could have passed safely onto the runway. Many planes were landing with very little energy—this was hardly the only low finisher.

We have heard that the pilot is uninjured, but the truck driver was not so lucky. Several ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and a medical helicopter arrived within minutes.

Gena Tabery



There was the start gate gaggle, the one cloud near the line with all of the open class gliders and a few kiddy gliders. I had managed to find my way to the top of this thermal, and we waited. My lack of patience got the better of me and we started. SS and I went through the gate at about the same time, and both connected between clouds with what felt like wave, I thought we were having a pretty good run. SS was having issues with his bug wiper (we serously think they are over rated and not worth the hassle). I was looking at some good looking clouds left of course in the forest area. However it was too far left of course. The clouds were not that much better and straight on course which were developing fine....soooo...... we got run over. But we were with a fast pack X, N1, 110....and we led a few times, we followed, we were all playing hop scotch. Getting into the last turn I think we even might have snuck slightly ahead of the we started final glide first. We went left (again....pattern here) to some decaying...thought they were developing clouds, I needed about 1300ft for a 3knt MC final glide, the clouds ahead decaying. So i turned it down to a 0 and we could make it, so we throttled first gear. The group behind us went straight on course and bumped up to a nice final glide and beat us home. I think there was a group of 6 or so that landed first. Unfortunately they also started after us, so time will tell what happens on the score sheet. I am exhausted and going to bed now.


8H and BB have outlanded near the town of Melykut near the second turnpoint. Both are down safely with no damage. RI, SS, W and WE have all returned to Szeged. I've been busier than the proverbial "paper hanger" most of the day in the Team Office, and haven't spoken with any of the returning pilots yet. So, we wait for the scores and hope for good results.

On Course

WE and RI started just after 2pm. They're all out there now.

Game On!

All start gates are now open. SS, W, 8H, BB have started.

Launch Delay

The Competition Director has delayed the launch three times. First to 1200 local. Then to 1215 with the remark: "We really mean it." The last radio call just pushed the launch time to 1230 with the remark: "This time we really, really, really mean it."

Launch in 33 minutes...

We presently have a high broken overcast passing the contest site from the northwest. Drier air is forecast to fill in behind it during the race today. And, in fact, we observe clear skies to the northwest now.

Today's tasks are available on the WGC Hungary contest site. Just use the link provided on the SSA Home page.

All US Team pilots are ready and on the grid. Launch begins in 33 minutes at 1130 local.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Good Beginning

As you know, only the Open Class flew a task yesterday. After Open Class Contest Day 1, Ron Tabery (SS) is in a tie for 7th place and Garret Willat (W) is in a four-way tie for 10th. Personally, I think this is a great beginning for both of them!

Yesterday, at least three sailplanes from other teams outlanded in Serbia. The good news is that they all landed safely and undamaged. The bad news was that Serbian airspace was not open at the time. This resulted in a lot of confusion and red tape at the border ("Where are your papers?").

Today's flying has been cancelled due to weather.

We were honored that Michael Greiner, the designer of the ASG-29, visited our Team Office this morning with his wife and nine-month-old daughter, Emma!

Tuesday, 27 July, 2010 World Championship Szeged

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The weather briefing on the third possible contest day (official Day 1) was depressing and ominous: "If you finish, you must glide." Perhaps this puzzling directive suggested that pilots who start their engines on course would not be considered finishers. In the end, only two pilots glided home. The rest either started engines or landed out.

Open and 18-meter classes launched successively and toward the end, simultaneously, and 18-meter Danish pilot Arne Boye-Muller(AB) said he was at the gate and on the verge of starting when officials cancelled the task for 18-meter. The 15-meter class had to wait on the ground for several more minutes before they, too, found their task scrubbed. Because conditions were so weak, officials feared too many planes would have been bunched in too few thermals, according to Chief Steward Brian Spreckley. But as a Dane, Boye-Muller was disappointed. "This is our kind of weather," he said. "I was ready to go."

Open Class had a two-hour turn area task, and waiting for the gate to open, Garret Willat (W) radioed to Ron Tabery (SS), "Looks like you can have either rain or 1500 feet." "Or both," Tabery replied. Later, Tabery said, "It was the weirdest contest start I've ever made. I went through the gate and made an immediate U-turn," to avoid the wall of water facing him. Open Class flew in rain and clouds for most of the task. Most made it through the first turn but faltered just beyond. The top twenty pilots, including the US pilots, made at least the second turn before calling it a day. Willat spotted a likely hay field with two gliders already landed, while Tabery went on slightly further to a plowed field. Finally too low to hope to climb again, both pilots started their engines and motored home. Arne was right—it was the Danes' kind of weather: the only two pilots to finish under their own steam were Jan Andersen (A) and Poule Larsen (HJ) who flew 186.3 (82.9 km/hr) and 185.7 km (79 km/hr) for 480 and 478 points on a heavily devalued day. Tabery came in 7th with 125.6 km and Willat was in a 6-way tie for 8th place with 123.5 km. Only the finishers' speeds are listed on the score-sheet: for everyone else, the scoring is strictly for distance achieved.

In this rainy weather, we try to forget that a flood wiped out most of the city of Szeged in 1879. The city that we see today is a 19th- and 20th-century Szeged, built mostly after that catastrophic event, when the river Tisza overflowed its banks. To prevent future floods, in 1883, the town vowed to build a cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Hungary. Plans for the neo-Romanesque building were drawn up in 1913, and it was finally consecrated a cathedral in 1930.  Last night organist Robert Kovacs presented a recital at this Templom Fogadalmi, with music of Franz Schmidt, J. S. Bach, Robert Schumann, Cesar Franck, and his own improvisations. Afterwards, many on the U.S. team met for dinner at what has become the unofficial team office: the John Bull Pub, just a few blocks from the cathedral, near the University, Hungary's second largest (30,000 students).  

Gena Tabery



Good Results!

As you know, only the Open Class went out on task yesterday. Currently , Ron Tabery (SS) is in a tie for 7th place and Garret Willat is in a four-way tie for 10th. Personally, I think this is a great beginning!

At least three pilots landed out in Serbia yesterday. The good news is that all of them landed safely and without damage. The bad news was that Serbian airspace was not open. This resulted in much confusion and red tape ("Where are your papers?").

Today's flying has been cancelled due to weather.

We were honored to have Michael Greiner, designer of the ASG-29, visit our Team Office today with his wife and 9-month-old daughter Emma!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 1

Finally we got to fly. The start was utter and terrifying ciaos. There are 43 open class gliders and we were nearly all in one thermal waiting for the start of the gate opening. It was sprinkling a little and cloudbase was around where we all were. The Flarm was lit-up like a Christmas tree, I even used the strobe light, which is mounted on the top of the fuselage. We started on course took a huge left turn and followed the shelf around the rain. SS thought it would be a grand idea to eventually turn right and slide under a lower part of the shelf, almost after the rain. We then had a few markers, stopped in some grand less than 1knt stuff. Got some of the water out before lower gliders came in, which involved keeping a little more water than desirable. However by the next thermal the tanks were empty. I thought going north again another 90degree deviation was best, however the pack was heading back on coarse at best L/D to get the turn and hope to make it back to the clouds. I then saw 22 head north, but opted to stick with the gaggle. Somehow I ended up on the lower end of a pack, SS ahaid, calling "4knts if you dont mind a little rain" 1200ft I mind a little rain..but eventually the sight of him climbing got the better of me, and off I went. It was really not the smartest move of the day. "Hope is not a strategy"....we were way beyond hope at this point. Sure enough in the light rain I connected something that took me to cloudbase and eventually the gaggle I was with was about my altitude. So it payed off, and I will not try that again. However SS had nearly 10km on me....but he called out a few climbs and the weather ahead.....invaluable. As we pressed on I watched the pack head to the climb SS had called out, and I stopped early for a stronger one. Then again SS called out a climb the pack was heading towards and alone I was able to center a better climb. Then a third good climb was marked and I was less than 500ft behind SS....thank you for those. We ran along a shelf and life got pretty good, as good as it can below 3000ft and looking at rain. Then we glided into the rain...then out of the rain, and the rain got worse, and we got lower. We did see one glider at cloudbase out of the turn, I think he got on the other side of the shelf we ran and it worked better. But a mess of open class gliders were low scratching around in something that was sinking, just not as fast. Then pilots were rolling out and lifting engines. Eventually I did the same. SS says my voice changed when I radioed it had started. It did not start the first time, which was very rude. However the field was superb looking, which I had checked it out when we glided over it too low the first time. I watched 2 other guys land-out, 1 engine out. SS radioed a little later he had also re-started. The climb and 2 thermals to get home were uneventful.

tomorrow is another day.

Waiting for the Scorer

SS and W are home. They both entered the first two turnpoints and were on leg 3 of the task when they had to start their engines and accept a "virtual land-out" at that point. SS and W have both returned to Szeged. We know of two competitors who landed out and many that returned well under time for the two hour task. We are not yet aware of any pilot that completed the task. So, we wait for the Scorer!


High, thin overcast, scattered to broken cu's estimated at 2,500 feet. Open Class start gate is now open. SS and W both started at 1401 local time. Their task has been changed to the "B" Task (available on the Contest Website). 18M Class had all launched, but their task is cancelled and they have been directed to return to Szeged and land. There is a band of rainshowers west of Szeged moving to the northeast. Garret and Ron are penetrating that line toward the first turnpoint.

Contest Day 1...hopefully...

And we quote from this morning's Pilot Briefing: "Weather of Hungary and Serbia is determined by a cyclone. The centre of the cyclone is situated above Hungary. The amount of mid and high level clouds temporarily will decrease W of Szeged, so that in that region weak thermals will be possible."

The US Team is gridded now on RWY(s) 34. The Open and 18M classes will launch first today. The current plan for first take-off's at 1245 local. Today's maximum temperature is forecast to be 22 degrees C (72 f). I see scattered to broken cu's now at about 1,500 feet agl. with a high overcast.

The Contest Weatheman left the pilots with a final thought: "If you make it back to Szeged, you will have to glide."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 1 attempt again.

Roughly once a day I have a pilot wanting to know if we can talk to arrange a glider for them for Uvalde. The interesting thing is every two years the US pilots do the same, occasionally it works too. I was very fortunate when I cornered Gerhard Wiabel at the SSA convention and he got me in contact with Karl Klossok of Germany. Ray Gimmey and Dick Butler have also had the opportunity to fly his gliders over the years. This year I will be flying WK an ASW22BSE (I think it is like an L, but with an S instead), however I registered WK later than someone else, thanks to Ant (my crew) and some orange tape I am now W (Willat, Winner...), and some white tape to cover the old lettering.

Today was Day 1 that did not happen. SS and I are in row 1, and I got takeoff order number 1...yep thats first to launch, on an English looking day. Task B was set for 15meter and Open, while 18meter got canceled. Then 15meter got to go home. While the open class waited. We were ready to go when the launch was pushed back 30min. Which ment I sat in the glider another 30min ready to go, it was a nice cool day on the ground. Ant pulled the vent tapes and wing-wheel, holding the wing level. I had the engine up and primed and was about 1min to hit the starter when they canceled the day. I was hoping the kiddy gliders would show there support and stick it out with us. But they quickly de-rigged. Eventually the open was canceled at 2:28. The sky looked ok to do the task, starting immediately, not with 50 gliders though, cloud-base was a little low. Then with 60min launch, plus 20-30min for gate open after first launch...That would a mean a start close to 3:50 , and the soarable weather ended at would have been hard for a 2hr task.

Sooo...we grid squat tomorrow, the weather is improving, we are here to race, so we will be ready to race.


A motorglider was sent up and reported 750 meter cloudbases. 800 meters is the minimum for launch. Today's flying has been cancelled due to low ceilings.

Morning Report Day 1

We are still under the influence of a slow moving area of low pressure. It has moved a bit to the east of us and we are expecting slow improvement in the weather.

And...since this is the World Championship, all three classes are gridded and ready to go. Their tasks are available for you on the WGC link next to this blog link on the SSA Home Page.

It has been raining for the last 20 minutes. Al Tyler just informed us that his sailplane has only been rained on once and it took him about 4 hours to dry and clean it to his satisfaction. Al just told Rob Ware that "you can have my glider after the contest." Yeah, it's raining, but Rob seems pretty happy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rain. The organizers very sensibly called it off before the pilot’s meeting so 150 gliders don’t feel the need to assemble and water in the rain.

Contest Day 1

Today's forecast is for rain in the contest task area (and pretty much the rest of Hungary). We've had little patches of light rain pass through Szeged this morning. It's not raining now, but radar shows light rain over Serbia moving north towards us.

There is a Team Captain meeting at 0930 followed by the daily Pilot meeting at 1000. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

last practice day

Disclaimer....grammar and spelling are generally incorrect.

I cannot even tell you how long I have been here now. I was one of the first to arrive to Szeged, and the glider which was so kindly delivered by one of the Dutch crew is ready to race. After a few very confusing days I realized the 302 needle was incorrect, but the audio fine. So after placing the Clear-Nav (thank you N-K team) over the 302, everything is working great. I rented a caravan and it is starting to feel like my home away from home. I am borrowing a mini-hearse from Francois Jeremiasse. Its not really a hearse, but it does look like one, and towing an open class trailer with a VW Golf it does look like it could end there.

Ron and I had an excellent opportunity to fly together, on the last practice day, picking the same lines and sharing information, like a 7knt thermal I flew around. For some reason Ron's score did not appear on the score sheet, I am sure we were close together, I tied for 2nd. It was fun meeting WE out on course too.

One of the practice days we mostly all flew together, the US Team, open class launching later. But calling a turn and racing off to it, then call the next point was a lot of fun. I picked a few in the blue, just to make it interesting. Actually the visibility has not been very good and looking more than 10miles is near impossible. I am very happy they do not task MAT's here, it would be miserable, well 270 turnpoints might make it easier. Which has now been cut down to the low 200's.

Ant and I are ready to race. It seems everything is working in the glider. Now just waiting for a flyable day.
Here's another attempt at the picture. I'll get the hang of this yet

John Cochrane BB

Landout and opening ceremony.


Al and I started together and worked well down the first leg, between about 3,000 and 5,000 feet. 3.5 knots, 4 knots, 4.5 knots, 5 knots, wow, this is great. Then I lost Al (always a bad idea), and the clouds ahead started to look a bit thinner. Ok, slow down a bit. As I passed through 3,000’, I did figure out it was time to slow down a lot. But there were plenty of clouds ahead, and towns, hayfields, a factory, some large barns to try. One after another, nothing worked. At about 800’, just next to the field I picked out, I saw seagulls thermaling. At last! No, it turns out, Hungarian seagulls like to circle in sink.  At this point, there was nothing to do but execute the plan, “show how a world champion does a landout” and try to do it as perfectly as possible. Fly a good pattern, keep airspeed up, check the field one last time, and in we go.  It worked out perfectly and I rolled right up to the dirt access road.


Thinking more after the fact, it’s a situation common at home near Chicago. The fields are wet, and the area we were in is low and flat. The good clouds were on the building cycle of vertical development, sucking air in. The isolated cu like you see in the picture didn’t work well anyway, and the blue areas were really bad. So getting below 3,000’ and away from clouds with good vertical development really needs a quick gear change. Others reported a soft spot here, but got through ok.


Then of course the fun starts. I’m 155 km from home. This is going to be an adventure. The farmer and family showed up, and we had a great time talking about various things.  Here they are



See the little guy with his back to the camera? He likes to play with all the knobs. Any of you who have seen how I dress at a glider contest will notice a much different attitude to sun exposure. After establishing my zero Magyar and their broken English, it turns out the farmer was Italian, which I do speak, so we had an interesting discussion – what is an American who speaks Italian doing in my field in a plane with no  engine? What is a nice Italian guy from Perugia doing running a farm in Hungary? I think the story there has to do with the beautiful Hungarian lady in white.


Anyway, they eventually left, and I decided to stay with the glider. Adnan eventually found me – did I mention the total  lack of road signs on the 2 lane country roads? Thanks very much to Ken Sorenson for lending us his GPS! We had an uneventful ride home, capped by a great plate of pasta at the restaurant at the gliderport. Now this is a European idea we need to have – a good restaurant at the gliderport that serves dinner at 11 pm!


Today was the opening ceremony. We all lined up behind a very Hungarian oompah band and marched through the streets, followed by speeches and a fly by from two jets, which rumor has it is the bulk of the Hungarian air force.  


More thanks to people who got me here; My glider is flying beautifully, in part to Dave Nelson who reprofiled the wings again this winter, and Hank Nixon who set me up with a pair of his fancy winglets.  The team organization is working like a clock, so now it’s up to us pilots. First day tomorrow!


John Cochrane


Friday, July 23, 2010

All Accounted For...

Tom Kelley has landed safely in Szeged. Adnan just phoned in from a field in Northern Hungary after a 3 1/2 hour drive. So, John and Adnan will probably be back to the hotel around midnight. Fortunately, tomorrow is a no-fly day with the Opening Ceremonies scheduled in the cool of the evening.

Contest Day 1 is Sunday!


BB landed out at 1442 local. Reported "large field, no damage, friendly English-speaking farmer." His crew, Adnon Mirza, is on his way for the retrieve. 8H, SS, W and WE have all landed back here in Szeged. We are standing-by for Tom (RI).

On Task

Ron Tabery (SS) and Garret Willat (tail ID now changed to W) started the Open Class Task at 1343. Tom Kelly (RI) began his task at 1413 and Bill Elliott (WE) just called in a start time of 1423.

U.S. Team Has Launched

All six U. S. Team sailplanes have launched on the third and final Official Practice Day. All start gates are now open. No U.S. Team pilots have announced their starts, yet.

The weather is partly cloudy with solid looking cu's at about 5,000 feet. Temperature is about 94.

BB and 8H just radioed their start times of 1316 local.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Quick Update

Everyone has landed back at Szeged. No complete tasks today...the weather on leg three prevented any of the Team from reaching the third turnpoint. Our pilots wisely elected not to push further on a practice day with no points in the balance.

Tonight the combined Austrian and German Teams are throwing a party in the main hangar.

Tomorrow is the last official practice day and Opening Ceremonies will be held in the Szeged city center on Saturday evening.

Sunday will be Contest Day 1.

Second official practice day July 22, 2010


It’s still hot and humid, but the lift is getting stronger. The organization is still, shall we say, getting organized. But pilots and teams seem to be a very patient bunch and it’s all getting sorted out.


For me, it was a great day of flying. Al and I hung around until we finally heard the start was opened (another organization glitch,  they haven’t figured out how to communicate when the gate is opened yet!).  We started together and it was a long glide with not much lift. We bumped one or two gaggles, but they weren’t doing much so we pressed on. And on. And on. Eventually I found a savior thermal at about 2,000’ , but Al was just a little lower so we got separated early in the day. The next part of the first leg was gangbusters – 5-6 knot thermals, and lots of long straight flights while climbing. There are a lot of gliders around but everybody is very well behaved. I hope that continues once the real contest starts. I kept going with the 18 m gaggle quite far in the first leg, and then we split up and took a second leg down to Serbia.


Today was historic, and the CD had a bit of mist in his eyes as he called the task. This is the first time gliders have been allowed to cross in to Serbia,  ever. As the CD said, “if you know anything about our country’s history, you know what this means.” I don’t know much about Hungarian history, but I do know that one hot summer about 100 years ago the Austro-Hungarian army marched into Serbia and began a long dark 3 / 4  century for much of Europe.  This is my first trip east, and the signs of fresh reintegration are still here and heartwarming.


Anyway, this “historic” flight was, for me, a trip back to Northern Illinois. Flat, wet, big fields, and 2.5 knot thermals. Time to slow down!  In and out of Serbia we went, conscious that the third turn had blown up and at best we were going to nick the cylinder.


Exactly as forecast, the third turn had blown up. When I got back to Szeged on the way, there was a cool line of clouds marking the outflow boundary from the storm that had passed, and then the most dead sky I have ever seen. Time to shift gears for the fourth time. I just stopped for half an hour, went back a few K, slowly climbed all the way to cloudbase and glided in to the murk.


And back again. It’s only the practice day, and I don’t need to practice gliding to a landout in a muddy field, I think I know how to do that!  Now off to the German team party instead.


John Cochrane


Practice Day 2 launch time today we had scattered cumulus north of Szeged with fewer clouds to the south. A rain shower was visible during the launch to the northeast. All three classes were assigned the same task: Szeged (016) Szegedva (001) Kecel (083) Sivac (204) Bekes (018) Szatymazapt (099) Szeged (016). Cochrane (BB), Tyler (8H), Elliott (WE), Tabery (SS) and Willat (WK) all launched with probably 100 other competitors. WE and 8H have returned. BB is on approach and WK and SS are still on task. There was overdevelopment along the third leg from the Serbian Border to Bekes. Sorry for the delay in posting...had internet access difficulty...

Team Support

Yesterday I realized just after take off that I could not transmit and only receive radio calls. Decided to fly the task anyway as it looked like a very good day. The problem would be my inability to contact the tower for landing notification. When Dennis did not receive my check in call on U.S. air he asked if I copied his transmission to click the mike three times. I did and Dennis replied ok 8H we copy. As I neared the field on final glide to the steering turn I received a call from Dennis asking if I was within 50 kilometers of the field and replied with my three clicks. The support team had been following my progress by monitoring my Spot tracking. Dennis was in the tower and advised the personnel that I would be coming in with no ability to contact them. It was a great relief when Dennis asked "8H are you on final glide--- 3 clicks; are you going to do a speed finish---silence; are you going to do a direct finish--- 3 clicks; 8H tower has you cleared for a direct finish and your crew is waiting on the end of the runway--- 3 clicks. Now thats support!
As I write this its nearing 9am and Rob and Wesley are assembling the glider and watering her up while I relax back at the hotel in the air conditioning. My crew is doing a great job and allowing me to conserve my energy. Rob found a loose connector on the back of the radio that caused my transmission problems yesterday and it was an easy fix. The field is extremely rough and taking off with full ballast is no fun. 8H

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Szeged, Wed July 21


Today was the first official practice day. We also did the scrutineering, weighing, and registration. Interestingly, worlds do not do all the paperwork ahead of time as we have learned to do at US contests, and they also demand a mountain of it. Anyway, the US team got it all accomplished swiftly and now we’re ready to go. Teamwork helps; Ron Tabery figured out it was time to get in line fast, told the rest of us, and we all showed our buffet line skills finely honed at  US contests.


The flying today was much better. It’s hot and humid, reminiscent of a good day at Cordele. Bases were in the 4,000-5,000 range, It looked like it would blow up around 1:00, but despite big vertical development it never really got bad. Apparently there was a decent storm in the last turn area that took some delicate maneuvering.


I wouldn’t know, as I spent the day tending to little electrical and mechanical issues. Hint: When you install bugwipers, be really really careful not to drill right through the main power lead.  But it’s much better to get through this on a practice day than on a real contest day!


Szeged itself is pretty interesting. The town center where we are staying was all built in the late 1800s and has a Parisian feel, as do the people. Left to rot under communism, it’s all been spruced up recently, and much of the downtown is a big pedestrian area. Cafes and restaurants spill over into the street. We’ve had dinners most nights out in the open, as the lovely evening cool steps in. Then a walk to the favorite gelato store and walk back to the hotel. It’s all much too civilized to be a glider contest.


John Cochrane

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Second unofficial practice day.


It was a very familiar-feeling Southeast day today. Hot and humid. Clouds started about 1 PM. As on the previous day, the US team was at the front of the grid ready to go, and took off first to get in some much needed practice. We headed out to the east with cloudbase about 3,000’, struggled a bit in 1-2 knot thermals for about 50 km, came back as the day got stronger with 3-4 knots to 4,000, finally topping out around 4500’. The forests turn out to be good thermal producers because they’re higher and on sandy soil. The fields are quite wet from a lot of rain. We went out to the western part of the task area, then returned. We all stayed out until the lift died off substantially and clouds dissipated, and then got to practice dribbling home in the blue. Al and I tried Euro-style straight in finishes, which are no big deal since the airport is huge and surrounded by landable fields.


Tomorrow is the first official practice day with task and everything, and we’re all looking forward to that.


John Cochrane (BB)

Everyone's Back

Garret just landed and everyone's home. All six U.S. Team pilots flew today. Three days of Official Practice begin tomorrow. We have some great photos to share with you soon!


Tom Kelley (RI) has launched and Garrett Willat (WK) will launch shortly.

Out on the Grid

I'm writing from the U. S. Team Office on the Szeged Airport. Scattered cumulus at about 4,000 feet above ground level (agl). Temperature is 88 degrees. No racing task was called today, but three of Team USA's pilots are airborne now for the last "unofficial" practice day. Tom Kelly (RI) and Ron Tabery are just finishing up getting their ships weighed. We have two pilots using Spot Tracking today: Al Tyler (8H) and Bill Elliott (WE).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Arrival Szeged July 19, 2010


We’re all  here in Szeged at last, and ready to go.


What they don’t tell you (well, maybe I didn’t listen) about a world contest is the enormous amount of work it takes just to get here. There’s lots of paperwork and arrangements, and then finally getting everything over here. Whew, that’s done! With some minor mishaps we’ve all made it and we’re all up and flying.


Today was an unofficial practice day. Cloudbase started around 3,000’ and rose to 4,000’, with 2-3 knot thermals. The day overdeveloped a bit so we had to dodge showers, but nothing huge. It’s really pretty. I went to one thermal marked by a huge gaggle of birds, and found they were storks! I’ve never seen that before. Unlike our hawks though, they get spooked by gliders and left before  I could find the core.


The terrain around Szeged looks very comfortable to our pilots. It’s  flatland, with mostly big hay fields. You can land anywhere. It feels a lot like Illinois to me, like Perry to Al, or even like Texas, though a bit weaker so far.


I owe a big thanks to a very large number of people who have helped with the big job of just getting here. In particular, Hubert Elsen and Maria Woerle and Mid-America Overseas got all my shipping arranged, Herbert Pirker spent a whole morning installing my bugwipers, Hendrik Hoeth set up a blipmap page for us, John Leibacher and Chip Garner have sorted through the inevitable turnpoint and SUA file problems, and of course we pilots benefit from our devoted captain, crews, and the US team organization at home that has been working tirelessly to set up a first class operation over here. My crew is Adnan Mirza, who some of you may know from his time in the US, who has flown several worlds as Team Pakistan, and really knows how to pamper his pilot.


Now we’re getting the team organization set up, as well as trying to do some more flying to get in the zone for the first contest day on Sunday.


John Cochrane BB

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 15 blog

July 15, Thursday

Up early, breakfast at the hotel, on the road again!  We have a beautiful drive to Linz.  However, once we get to Linz the GPS takes us thru downtown.  We hit a construction blockade in town and there are not any signs for detour.   The GPS continues to try to take us back to the construction spot so we finally turn it off.  We drive around Linz with the trailer (that was fun!) hoping to find a sign to Vienna (Wein).  Finally we see a sign for Wein (1) and off we go.   According to the map (1) parallels (A1) which is were we need to be.  We find a place to transition to (A1) and are once again on the route we should be on with GPS back on.  We've been in touch with Gary and he is behind us.  We finally reconnect with Gary before Vienna.  Coming up to Vienna Rob's GPS is taking us into the heart of Vienna - mapquest said we should take the ramp we just passed to bypass around town.  Gary called and wanted to know what we were doing since his GPS said to take the ramp also.  Decision was made to have Gary take the lead at the next ramp so his GPS could get us back to the bypass route.  Now we are back on track to Hungary.  We are once again in the lead due to traffic changes and soon don't see Gary (he had made a stop).  We cross into Hungary - we are getting close!  We soon stop for gas, bathroom (did we tell you that you have to pay to use but they are very clean?) and drinks.  While at the gas stop we see Gary pass by.  I text Gary to let him know we are behind him.   Gary soon stops for gas and we stop also to rejoin him.  Gary said he hoped the guys team fly better than we team drive!  Amen!  We arrive at Szeged airport without any trouble.  Lots of gliders - tomorrow is the last day of the Flat Land Cup (Hungarian Nationals) and lots of WGC gliders have arrived, also.  Milan finds us and discuss parking, ? want to fly tomorrow.  Trailers are parked, more talk (surprise) and then on to find Hotel Korona - our home for the next 3+ weeks.  Hotel Korona is very nice and has air conditioning!  Bill and Carol Elliott arrived earlier today.  After unloading the car we all go to look for dinner.  We enjoyed great food, great beer, great wine and great friends.  Back to the hotel - we are all road weary and ready for bed.  Finally sleep with a/c!!!!!!!
Rhonda Tyler, 8H Crew

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Al Tyler July 14

"I don’t care if it rains or freezes, long as I got my plastic gps’s riding on the windscreen of my car. Plastic gps she don’t slide cause her ass is vacuumised riding on the windscreen of my car! Plastic gps please don’t lie, if you do I might die, riding on the windscreen of my car."

Struggled to get going after yesterdays overcall. Met Gary at the Cobra factory around 10am and by the time everything was checked and shipping arrangements made with Agnes to get my glider back to the states, we depart around noon. Plan is to team trailer all the way to Szeged. About 100k along the way we come upon a traffic jam and Gary decides to take a parallel route off the autobahn and rejoin later. We have just passed Gary and watch in dismay as he attempts this maneuver. End of team trailering as his maneuver does not work and we are far ahead. No problem except, I have placed mine and Rhonda’s luggage in Gary’s car to make more room and save weight in our 4 cylinder wagon. New plan is for us to search out a motel (no easy feat yesterday) and call Gary to meet up for the evening. Nearing Passau we plan to get off but miss the correct turn and cross the Donau river. No problem just take the next off ramp and circle back to the autobahn. This is when the above referenced tune comes into play. With great faith in our plastic gps we wind thru a village down narrowing streets and finally down a one way cobble street. If you could have heard the expletives in the car you would surely advise we trade the plastic gps for a Jesus model. Finally out of the village we find ourselves headed to Linz but on a winding road following the bank of the Donau river parallel to the autobahn but one tall solid ridge away. Who cares, beautiful scenery and we are going in the general direction of our destination. Problem is its getting late and our luggage is with Gary. Around 8pm we see a beautiful hotel resort on the river with a small marina and a huge outdoor dining area and bar. Who needs fresh clothes for tomorrow? A very fast unanimous decision was made to stop for the night. What a great decision this turns out to be as the accommodations are stellar and we have a great meal outdoors by the river. The blond Austrian beers and blond Austrian waitresses were mighty fine. Lost is slow but this time all agree the gps did us a favor.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Al Tyler July 12

Awake early in anticipation of finally acting out the planning for this mission that’s been going on for months. No trip to Cave Springs, especially one that involves travel to a foreign destination, is complete without a briefing session at the diner for breakfast with all the locals. I have to comment that this two hour session might have been more productive than any Team meeting and a lot more fun.

Probably it was the coffee or Rob asking every 10 minutes “are we really going to do this” but the execution of the first leg would become a bit unrealistic. First a one and a half hour drive to the farm for a nine hour flight departing Atlanta at four thirty pm arriving Frankfurt seven thirty am July 13th - but still day one on the task. Took the ICE train to Stuttgart to meet up with Klaus Keim, a fine gentleman that volunteered to get us a rental car complete with hitch from a local garage owner. Klaus picked up Rob, Rhonda, Wesley and me at the station and drove to his house where his beautiful wife Ursula served all a delicious lunch. Now off to fetch the car. Klaus not only arranged the car but personally oversaw the maintenance and had new tires, plugs, rear lift gate springs replaced. On arrival around two pm the car was not quite ready and when we tried to open the hood to check the fluids it would not budge. One and a half hours later after lots of lessons in German swearing the problem was resolved. Now declared road worthy I asked to pay and sign the rental forms. Guess what? No forms, a deposit and a hand shake and we are on the road to complete the leg to the finish at the Cobra factory around 350 kilometers away. As usual with Klaus’s directions and four maps I started off by getting lost before leaving the town limits. Not to worry, a call from Klaus to check on our progress leads to him driving to meet up and escorting me out to the autobahn. GPS locks on and about eight pm we arrive at the Cobra factory. Alfred Spindelberger and Agnes have just sat down for dinner with Gary Carter who is crewing for Bill Elliott and there to finish up the work to get Bill’s new bird ready. Feeling bad to interrupt dinner we take Alfred up on the offer for a little beer and directions to the closest hotel. Arrive at the hotel nine pm to find they are full and spend the next hour driving to find the recommended next place. In the process go down a back road thru an intersection to fast and seeing the bright flash figure out I just got my first German speeding ticket. Now very tired and not real happy I send Rhonda to ask for directions. Everyone in soaring knows without Rhonda I would be in deep #$%! She finds a couple at a local ice cream parlor and one of them speaks good English. They not only tell her the name of the hotel where they are staying (it was the same one we were trying to find) but they call to make a reservation. They also volunteer to wait while we finish dinner and let us follow their cab back to the hotel. Great meal although no one was sure what they ordered. Finally checked in at the hotel to find no air conditioning but to tired to care.

Time on task from the farm to hotel 31 hours. Day summary: take up soaring a sport where you meet people like Klaus Keim. What other sport would have one of its most prominent figures pick you up, feed you, get you a car and sheppard you on the way. What other sport would have business owners like Alfred and Agnes Spindelberger pick up and deliver your glider from the port, convert the hitch and wiring and laugh while you interrupt their dinner and offer you cold beers. How lucky I am to participate!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Al Tyler July 11

Left Perry for Rob Ware's farm in Cave Spring Ga. Rob is going to take valuable time away from his farm chores and leave the Town without the service of his Mayoral duties while amid a major water works improvement project. I think he is mainly going to crew for me as he knows this project is reaching completion and when folks get the improved water pressure it's going to blow out all their plumbing!


The US Soaring Team that will compete in the 2010 World Gliding Championship in Szeged, Hungary is ready! Four sailplanes shipped and waiting for their crews to pick them up. Two more arranged for, ready and waiting. Our pilots have been practicing and competing all season and have flown very well. Tabery, Willat, Elliott, Kelley, Cochrane and Tyler are ready! We have a great support team in place. Most of us will be traveling to Germany or Belgium this week and then trailering down to Szeged. We should begin informal practice on July 17. Opening Ceremonies July 24. Competition Day One is July 25.

We will do our best to keep you informed via this blog. Thanks to John Godfrey "QT" for setting it up!

Thanks for checking in,