Amazing day at the goal field today. I watched developing thunderstorms all along the way in the car and wondered most of the way if the task was cancelled. My phone had no coverage and I couldn't reach anyone by radio so I was getting a bit worried. Here's a shot out the window. The sky looked pretty evil, but it was nothing compared to what was coming for the poor boys at goal.
I hadn't been at goal for a minute when I heard Jonny say "we've got 30 seconds guys!!" No one paid all that much attention and it didn't matter much because it was more like 20 seconds when the first wave of the gust front hit from the south.
As quickly as I could help get Carl's glider secured I grabbed the camera and started shooting. By that time several gliders were flying. Gerolf's slammed into Shedy's back and then the leading edge of his glider. Over the top of both of them came Tony Lowrey's glider. He held on for as long as he could, until the wires sliced through his fingers and he had to let it go.
I got the most of the sequence here.
Once it landed across the goal field I turned to see how the others were doing. Blenkie's was pinned up against a car and Oyvind's was upside down a ways down the field. I thought the worst was over and turn back to find Tony's glider going up for a second flight.
It was the saddest thing I've ever seen. We were all just so grateful that no one was attached to any glider at that point. I'm sure it would have been unsurviveable. Here's Tony's driver giving the last rights to his poor Litespeed.
Thankfully, Tony is ok. He went to the hospital on the way back and only needed several stitches in his hands.
Chatting with Attila back at HQ, he said in all his years hang gliding he had never seen anything like this.