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