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 ;-)