Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dinosaur Day 5

We had a second day of predicted overdevelopment and wind.   But, early on things didn't look like they would be as bad as expected so the task committee went ahead and set a task and launch was opened.  No one was all that keen to launch and a half hour after the window opened the overdevelopment started back behind launch.  There were also pretty strong windy cycles coming up launch which didn't make everyone feel very warm and fuzzy either.

After some himming and hawing, we gathered many of the pilots and took an informal poll to see what they were thinking.  Of course, it was already apparent that they were voting with their actions (NOT launching).  Based on that, and the fact that launch conditions were quite rough, the decision was made to cancel the task.  Although the sky didn't totally explode along course line, launch and landing conditions were very questionable.  A few pilots went free flying, but we watched one glider get a giant wire slap and go negative not 5 seconds after launching and another just get tossed all over the sky out in front.  It was a good decision to keep people safe on the ground.

Luckily, with everyone up on launch, it was the perfect day to visit some of the amazing landscape this area has to offer.  The Dinosaur National Monument is just a few miles from the launch and it is breathtaking.  Most of the crew and pilots went for a short hike out to a lookout point and then visited the petroglyphs and an air conditioned cave and met up at the river down below for a swim and a float in the cool 10+ knot current.  It was a lovely rest/play day.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dinosaur Day 4

Arriving at launch yesterday, we could see the start of overdevelopment to our west, so a task was iffy from the start. But, it seemed to not move or grow toward our task area, so the committee called a task to the town of Meeker.  But, by the time launch opened, there were bits of development even out in front of launch - smallish, but enough for us to watch carefully.  

It wasn't long after pilots got in airborne that concerns started.  Just a few minutes after the first start, we got calls from several pilots saying the sky was blowing up along course.  The task was cancelled and most enjoyed at least a half a rest day.  Greg Chastain didn't have his radio on and his driver didn't get our messages about the task being cancelled, so he flew the task and landed at goal ;-).  He reported some pretty rough air along the way.

I love weather....and I love the wild sky out here.  This was the view driving away from launch yesterday after the task was cancelled. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dinosaur Day 3

When scouting out the area previous to this competition, we came through Steamboat Springs a couple of times.  It's a lovely little ski town to our east and a great spot for a long goal.  Weather conditions cooperated yesterday for calling a task to Steamboat.  It's just about 200km and the landscape along the way just gets prettier and prettier.

Despite some expected overdevelopment in the higher mountains that chased us most of the way to goal, we had ten in.  We were welcomed by the local hang gliding club, the Steamboat Airforce. Unfortunately, the huge goal field was a bit on the wet side, making for a few fun splashdowns.  But, everyone seemed pretty happy with the nice long task anyway.

We were treated to a beautiful stormy sunset on the three hour drive home.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dinosaur Day 2

Thank goodness the weather forecast for day 2 was off.  At the morning's task briefing we were told it was going to be a "hold on tight kind of day".  After the rough air and whining yesterday, none of us wanted to hear that it was going to even more turbulent.  But, they were happily wrong.  

With light winds, the task committee was able to call an almost triangle bringing everyone back to Rangely where HQ is.  It sure made life easier for the drivers and crew.  The pilots were pretty happy too.  There were 16 in goal in the open class with Zac winning the day with about 100 leading points. He had a big smile all night. 

It's great to see new faces at goal.  Wayne Michelson has been there everyday on his new Laminar. Danny Jones was quite pleased too. 

Super fun to see Dave Aldridge win the sport class task on his beautiful Sport2C.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dinosaur Day 1

Late June was chosen for the competition this year to try to avoid the sometimes scary overdevelopment they have experienced here later in the summer.  Although conditions are typically quite strong in June, late in the month normally brings little precipitation.  Before arriving here, we were happy to find the expected forecast for sunshine and no overdevelopment.  Unfortunately, there were three decent sized wildfires burning and very strong wind (70mph) right here just a few days before the comp was to start.  A temporary flight restriction was in place due to firefighting aircraft right up until 9pm Saturday evening.  Luckily, it was lifted, the wind died down and other than some large sections of scorched earth, the fires are out and won't be effecting our flying.

I've heard stories of days of 1500-2000 fpm lift to 18,000+ feet here, but for Task 1, we got slightly more mild conditions.  With the high pressure here at the moment, lift was forecast to be only between 600-800fpm with an inversion around 12,000.  So, the task committee called a smallish (for this area) task east to the town of Meeker - about 110km.  Turns out it may have been a little short - at least for those that were happy to hold on tight and endure the rodeo.  The first pilots made easy time of it and the goal crew wasn't even able to beat them there.  

It's interesting to see the reactions of various pilots to this kind of big air.  Nene Rotor had a giant smile on his face at goal and seemed to genuinely enjoy the same rough air that Jonny and Ollie whined about all evening.  Ollie said he was crying for his mommy at least three times during the flight and suspected that he may have crushed his carbon basebar holding on so tight.  Some reported very turbulent air, others said it felt no different than Crestline in the summer and still others found it to be strong but not overly rough for the mountains.  I suppose it all depends on the air you happen to be in. 

Scores are slow coming - with very weak mobile phone service around here and pilots being rather spread out, it's tough to get scores posted as quickly as we would like.  When yesterday's task is scored, it will be up on AirTribune. Meanwhile, it's likely that Zac won the day, although he was unsure whether it was him or Nene that crossed the line first.  I also spoke with Christian last night and he came through very lifty air to goal and was fairly high - so it's even possible that he was above Zac and Nene and came in ahead of them.  

We're using Flymaster live trackers here rather than AirTribune for a variety of reasons.  Although they are tracking well in this very remote area, we've had trouble with the interface - pilots show simply as a number, so unless viewers know everyone's number, they have no way to see who is who. We also haven't been able to get the task up on the Flymaster site.  It's been frustrating, but we're working like mad trying to get it all fixed up so that people can watch from afar.  

Dinosaur Open

We've got a nice little group out here in the wild west - Dinosaur, Colorado - for the week.  After a great competition in the mellow flatlands of Whitewater, many of us caravanned west together with some really fun stops boating towing on the Mississippi River and hiking in the Badlands.  

Big air mountain flying isn't for everyone, but we have a fun mix of pilots from Mexico, Guatemala, Brasil, Australia and the UK.  This year the town of Rangely and Moffat County are hosting us, so we had the opening briefing at the Automotive Museum in town.  Who would have expected such a beautiful collection of cars in this out of the away place.  We even had a visit from a strange T-Rex with a British accent ;-)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wishing I was a Highlander

This past August I had ten free days between the HG and the PG Euros in Krushevo where I was serving as a CIVL jury member.  For years I've wanted to check out Scotland - mostly just to listen to people talk.  I probably could have been blindfolded the entire time and enjoyed it nearly as much. That accent is just plain beautiful.  

I was lucky enough to find a house swap with a couple that live very close to the center of Edinburgh, so I had a fantastic place there that was so perfectly situated.  A friend from the US met me there and we played tourist, mostly around Edinburgh. It's a city that is sooooo worth a visit. Aside from the usual castles, cathedrals and city stuff, we mostly just ate, drank a fair amount of Scotch and sat quietly listening to the locals.  

The Scottish highlands were every bit as majestically rugged as I have imagined.  I've watched far too much Outlander and I feared I had an unreasonable, totally romantic notion of the area and would likely be disappointed when I finally got there.  Definitely not.  It was magical.  We drove from Edinburgh up through Glencoe and Fort William, then to Loch Ness, Inverness and then back down. We just cruised around enjoying the lovely highland landscape and even got a chance to walk through the monument at Culloden Battlefield - erie but beautiful.

Now I sit here in California, just eight months later, planning my next trip there later this year.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Valadares Final

Big congratulations to Jonny Durand, David Brito Filho and Andre Wolf on taking the first three spots at the first of the Brasilian National series competition in Valadares last week.  It's going to be fun to see whether either the Brasilian or Australia teams can challenge Italy at the worlds in August.  

Friday, March 31, 2017

Jonny's pro-edge

Jonny is flying Gerolf's glider in Valadares this week.  It has a cool sail material on the trailing edge. Moyes is calling it the "Pro-Edge".  It makes me think of a fashionably faded t-shirt material.  It's apparently wrinkle-free and they think it improves high speed performance.  Jonny said they may start putting on the leading edge as well.  I like the look of it!

Valadares - Task 3

Beautiful day yesterday with a 78km triangle that was probably a bit undercalled.  There were 34 out of 44 in for a great party at goal.  Filippo won the day, which always amazes me considering how little he flies.  He averages about 17 flights a year and they are all in competition - no time for free flying for him. Jonny was just quick enough to take the lead from David. There are just 61 points separating them going into the second to last task.  

Young Rotors

Nene Rotor's young sons Bruno and Guilhermo are here flying the sport class in their beautiful new windows U2's.  It's great to see new young pilots coming onto the competition scene.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Valadares Day 4 (Task 2)

Finally a second task here at Valadares.  We had one day of off-and-on rain and a second day of steady rain all day.  Many of the city streets were like little streams.  But, flying was back on yesterday and they flew a nice out and return of about 90km that turned out to be more difficult than expected due to - yes - more rain!

Most landed between the turnpoint and goal where the clouds were heavy and the ground shaded.  But, Jonny and David made goal first and apparently got to pack up in heavy downpours. Pippo, Andre and Konrado came in nearly an hour later after waiting out the rain.  But, other than those, no others made it in and in fact some big names landed quite short near the turnpoint (Davide Guiducci and Nene).  They're using an end of speed section goal here and another pilot, Jose, made the end of speed section but not the goal cylinder.  Under Brasilian rules, when a pilot makes the end of speed section, but not the goal cylinder, he gets no arrival or other points - it's as if he didn't make goal at all, other than getting points for his distance.  This is different than the score he would get using the current version of FS with GAP.  

Yesterday's task puts Jonny in first just ahead of David, with Andre another 150 points back in third.   Behind them is about 300 points, so under normal conditions it may be tough to catch these three. Scores HERE.   

Monday, March 27, 2017

Valadares Day 2

Weather isn't exactly looking beautiful for Day 2.  Thunderstorms and a bit of rain are in the forecast, but relatively small chance and off and on throughout the day.  The organizers initially said they would hold on going up to launch until 10am, but the pilots tended to be more optimistic and most came up anyway.

It's a bit grey, but the sun is peeking through here and there and they have set a interesting one.  There will be a 30km exit radius on the start and pilots need only leave the start and come back to the goal field.  They can go any direction.  It should be pretty fun to watch and see who follows whom!

David Brito Filho was yesterday's winner - not Andre as I reported earlier on Facebook - owing entirely to his leading points.  Andre and Jonny were second and third.  There's a good sport class here and young Guilherme Sandoli (Neno Rotor Jr. ;-) won yesterday's tasks.  He's one to watch!!

Daily scores can be found HERE.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Governador Valadares

After a tough rainy winter in California, I got the opportunity to pop down to Brasil for the first of the two-comp Brasilian Nationals series.  The plan was to report the competition from the HG Outlanders blog, but we seem to be having some technical difficulties with it, so for now, I'll be reporting here.

It's a long (time, not distance) drive from Rio de Janiero up here to what feels like the middle of very rural Brasil.  But it's worth every bumpy, pothole filled hour...all nine or so of them.  This part of the country looks like nothing I've seen before.  For 360 degrees the landscape is nothing but pretty little round, green hills.  Even way off in the distance, there are curiously larger rounded mountains....nothing like you see in Europe or the US.

Launch overlooks the city of Governador Valadares with two lovely ramps and plenty of green grassy slope to launch in both directions.  I'm told that conditions here would remind me of Colombia - relatively soft and smooth with short distances between climbs.  I do wish I was flying! Meanwhile, reporting from up here is not too shabby either. With a cafe and free wifi, it reminds me of Greifenburg, but without the rain.

Two practice days gave us plenty of time to get acquainted with the steep drive up to launch, the busy city and the pretty scenery.  But today was the first actual task.  All the top Brasilian are here of course, along with Jonny Durand and half of the Italian team preparing to battle it out with the Brasilians at the end of the summer at the worlds.

Task 1 is a 115km run toward the NE and returning to a goal field just behind launch.  The first start was about 5 minutes ago and everyone was easily off the hill and is ready to go on course in lovely looking conditions. Thunderstorms are expected either tomorrow or the next day, so I'm sure they're happy to get a good task to start things off.

Everyone is tracking with FlyMaster live trackers and you can see each competition day HERE.  It doesn't look like they have the task up today, but you can see where everyone is anyway.  I expect the task will be there soon.