Saturday, July 24, 2010

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