Thursday, July 22, 2010

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