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