Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comp Dreaming

After going to the Competition Committee meeting I am ready for some comps already! I was planning on East Coast and Big Spring, but Big Spring will interfere with our wedding/honeymoon, so I am crossing my fingers for a meet in Florida to come about.
There's been some interesting discussion about Nationals on here:

Check out the poll I've started and vote how you think Nationals should work! Since only a few people look at this site the poll might not be statistically powerful . . . but who cares what crotchety old stats professors would think about it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Excedrin Contest

Hi all-

I just uploaded a new video to youtube for another video contest. The deal with this one is they will pick the top 8 out of all the entries to go on to the voting round. So until then, check it out and rate it high so it looks good and I get into the top 8!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Update -

It was an exciting weekend starting with Friday's USHPA Competition Committee meeting.

I entered into a new world of hang gliding where there seems to be much history of ill feelings towards others within the competition community which is unfortunate and puts a bad taste in my mouth as a new comp pilot. Unfortunately, this history seems to affect the attitude and judgment of those involved to where they can not view the situation objectively and the comp pilots are the ones that suffer. I'm glad I went and I learned a lot, but it's not what I had expected. I would write more but I'm afraid a post like that would just perpetuate the negative impact the internet may have contributed to the current situation.

Saturday I flew for about 2 hours, got 2,400' over launch and had a good time. I was heading to the point when I heard fireworks, then I noticed little orange disks flying off the bluff. It wasn't fireworks, but someone shooting skeet off of the bluff that I was only 200' over! I turned around because I didn't want to get shot on the way back if I was lower. Living in North Georgia keeps you on your toes! Many people flew that day, once I landed at 6pm, there were still about a dozen gliders in the air. That night was the Halloween party and an experienced tandem guy, Mike Labato, won as a one-night stand. All of the pictures Ray took are at:

I've finished a video that I will post for a video contest soon, maybe tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

USHPA Board Meeting

Last night there was a little get together before the meetings started, it seemed well attended by all the USHPA people and there were Treetoppers there to greet them with a goody bag of treetopper shwag.

I'm going to go to the competition committee meeting today and be a cheerleader for Big Spring and a multi-meet nationals.

Looks like some NW wind is coming our way, so it should be flyable soon, it will give me a chance to work on some videos . . . stay tuned for those!
I figured out how to mount a camera on the wingtip pretty darn easily, thanks to Moyes' zipper by the tip wand-leading edge junction: (check out the bird in lower left)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Team Challenge Launches

Here are some of the launches from Team Challenge that Keith Atkins filmed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A little blown out

Today was a little blown out. I tried posting a video, but blogger is screwing up and I can't post one. I was able to fly but it was really crappy on the ridge especially in comparison to last night's nice smooth wonder wind.
Anybody else think this is the coolest groom's cake they've every seen? The middle one was banana bread and the bricks were a different kind of cake.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yesterday's flight

Got about an hour yesterday, thanks to Marc Fink for showing me where lift was, I think he was too low to get it and he landed, but thanks to him, I knew where to go. I climbed out to about 2,000' over launch looking at all the gliders in the lz I thought I would be the only one to get up, but I noticed a glider about 800' higher than me! It was Greg Heckman of course. I launched at about 4:00 from the Bandit so I'm sure Greg launched much earlier. I only had about one more climb and got to 3,000' over launch to cloudbase. My zipper got stuck when I was pulling it up and on my attempt to unstick it by unzipping it, the actual zipper came unloosed from one side. So I gave up trying to stay up since i was having to hold my legs up. Anyone know how to get humpty back together again? It's like unzipping a sleeping bag all the way, but then not being able to start at the end. Somehow I have to just jam one side of teeth through that little slot on the zipper. Check out my Team Challenge video, and come next year!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Team Challenge Video

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ticket to a Litespeed

This is how I got my Litespeed S - Thanks Lipton!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Final Day

The winning team - Thermal Underwear. Yesterday's inversion at about 5,600'.

The morning after the last day everyone is packing up and heading out for their long or short drives home. It was a very successful meet and lived up to its name of Team Challenge and reputation of being the best place to learn xc with a bunch of other people and have a great time!

I learned a lot from Mike Barber, Jim Lamb, Dennis Pagen, Terry Presley, Kevin Carter, and all the other great pilots around here. This meet is priceless and I urge any H2 to go out and get their H3 by next year so they can attend this meet. I even had Dennis Pagen measuring my sprogs yesterday!

Yesterday was a tough day for some but I was able to scratch low and got up with a handful of other pilots, and more were able to climb out later on too. I think all the rigids ran the course, I don't think any C's made goal, and I know at least 2 B's made their goal. Our B's and C sunk out and so Eric and I made the first lap to the C goal and back and our other team members still had some time before they'd be ready to setup again. So we headed off again to complete our task with a second lap. We used the clouds down the ridge to get us perpendicular to the waypoint and then ran across the valley to get the waypoint and hit a little climb in the valley on the way back. I really need to get a final glide feature on a vario, because I didn't really know if I could make it back to the lz or not so I took one last climb and made it back. My luck of hitting a climb didn't happen for Eric who left a climb lower than me and that was probably the difference, he said, that he came up a mile short of goal.

I never saw the scores for yesterday and I haven't seen them posted around, but I can say that my team won! Team Ohio came in second after overtaking the E team in the middle of the week. I didn't know if we could pull it out, but I think we managed to win by maybe two hundred or more points. Of course, everyone here will say that's not what it's about, and I agree, but it is nice to win once in a while. The best thing to take away was all the experience and seminars that will hopefully keep us lower air time pilots from having to take the time to figure this out for ourselves. Instead, we are able to come to a meet like this and take advantage of all the great pilots who have so much more experience than us. I look forward to next year!
I'll try to edit together a video soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Penultimate Day - Toughest Conditions yet

The leader of the Air Hogs, Mark Stump, circa 19??, on his Fledgling (spelling?)

Yesterday was the toughest day yet for the competition, the weather was overcalled and only two C pilots were able to make goal out of all the pilots. My team pushed and launched at 3pm while no one had yet to launch with the strategy to spread out in hopes of finding some lift. The sail plane that had just past by was not encouraging as it sunk away, but it was already 3pm and we thought if we sunk out and it got good we could always relight.

I launched first and radioed back to my team to not follow me, for Eric it was too late, but our C pilot was able to take my advice and he tried something different and was able to find a climb and he was one of the two that made goal!

Last night Mike Barber went over some landing footage taken this week and talked about landing, which he said 9/10 times if someone is having a problem its because they are pushing out and not up on their flare. I've tried to include a video but I think this connection is too slow to do it. But I will make a video for youtube once I have the time after the meet is over. Today is the last day and the scores are getting pretty close. If our C hadn't made goal we would be a few points from second place. The E team dropped off, only scoring 46 points yesterday compared to the 240 points the top three teams scored yesterday. So now Team Ohio has moved up to second place and are only 160 points behind us (making goal is worth 100). Team Scores:

1 - 2,149 - Thermal Underwear
2 - 1,980 - Team Ohio
3 - 1,706 - E Team
4 - 1,461 - Pale Gliders
5 - 1,433 - B'Low Me Again
6 - 1,419 - Comp Concepts
7 - 1,419 - Team Colorado
8 - 1,011 - Leftovers
9 - 980 - Mountaineers
10 - 871 - Air Hogs

Today is going to be an out and back type of task. The C's are just out, to the same goal as yesterday, the B's are out and back here to Henson's, and the A's have to go out and back to the C goal twice. The weather is called fairly similar to yesterday, but hopefully it is more accurate today. There may be some nice cumies today whereas yesterday was called for none. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 5 - A Blue Day

Jim Lamb imparting some of his knowledge on lesser experienced pilots.
Jeff Bozarth laumching.

Today was a later day, as usual for this NW facing site. My team was able to launch around 3 after about 20 other gliders. The day was called to be a good, albeit blue, day with the inversion rising to 6,500'-7,000', which is good for this site and 500 avg fpm climbs. Early on it didn't seem to be that way. I was able to launch in a strong cycle and get up fairly quickly. Terry Presley substituted for Eric on our team who had to go work in Nashville, and hadn't slept in 36 hours so may or may not be back tomorrow to fly for our team. But Terry was able to get in front of the other teams before they mover over in front of the rest of our team, where we were second to last in line.

So I was able to get up and meet Terry who had been boating around waiting for us to launch. Our C pilot was able to get up and Terry worked down just to work with him and help him climb back up. It was an excellent example of what this meet was about, if you could hear what was going on the radio - nothing beats having a former World team member core down to help you climb out and talk you through it on the radio! I know our C appreciated it, and made it to their goal! Terry was then able to scratch low from helping our C pilot, Bill from FL, and continued on to the A goal and back to land at the C goal (which was the lz of the A task as well). I stayed back with one of our B pilots who was struggling and tried to help him as best I could and spiraled down from 6,500' to about 3,000' to try and help him out. It was a bit more challenging to help someone - I have a lot of respect for the clinics Mike Barber has done for people for so long when he flies with them and tries to coach them. It is much tougher than it sounds, and probably more frustrating too.

Needless to say the B pilot I was trying to help sunk out, and I had spiraled down several times to help him but to no avail. By the time he was landing out, I was also struggling so I floated on down to the C goal where a keg was eventually brought to the delight of all. The selfish part of myself (usually too much of myself) was frustrated that I had spent my time trying to help someone when I could have made my goal. But the altruistic-self reminded me that is what this meet is about, besides, Terry was able to help a pilot and make his goal!

One of the scariest things I saw was a mid-air collision. I have talked with both pilots and neither of them knew they hit each other and maybe no one would have never known. I was less than a hundred feet over them and barely caught the incident. Luckily they both were turning right which was what was called by the task comittee. I was busy making sure I was hitting anyone when I looked down just at the right time to see the lower pilots wing left wing tip tap the right wing tip of the barely higher pilot and they just 'boinked' and kind of bounced off each other. It was barely a touch but it was there. I know there were some other close calls too, but overall another safe day. Tipp Rogers had one of the best launches of the day despite him having one leg and he was off after two hops off the ramp, it was amazing to watch.

At the end of the day, it sounds like only maybe two or three A pilots made their goal, possibly no B pilots and several C pilots made it. Tomorrow I will post the new scores.

There is also the topic of a new scoring system that was brought up this morning because there is the concern that the C pilots are not being scored as heavily as they should be since this is what the meet concentrates on - helping C pilots learn how to go xc and so they should get the most points, which would reflect the most involvement and teaching from the A pilots on their team. So the scores may change so that the C's are more heavily weighted, which makes sense to me. There is also the discussion to have a different format or teams for those who want to go to bigger comps after this one. Which I would have enjoyed last year to prepare me for East Coast and Big Spring. That should be a big draw for those intermediate pilots next year who are looking to attend those bigger meets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day 4 - Blown Out and New Scores

Last night was a great karaoke dinner with several people embarrassing themselves pretty well. Ollie had several songs and the Air Hogs had a good one too. Yesterday's task was a fun time for everyone with many people making goal. The Henson LZ (B and C goal) was packed at the end of the day. Early on (2:30) it was a bit scracthy but the ridge was beginning to work. By the end of the day when I was landing, and many others, it was a struggle to come down, there was lift everywhere. Cloudbase was at 6,500' and I got there once. The E team caught up to use even more in the scores (see below) despite 3 of our team members taking sled runs early to get the extra points. Ollie, and his mothership, was able to escort all his C's to their goal down the ridge. All day the ridge looked like Atlanta rush hour traffic since all the tasks crossed the same area at least once and at most 4 times! Everyone was flying with everyone else, it was good fun.

We also just completed a launching clinic with Dennis Pagen and watching every single competitors launch on video. It was great because most everyone did not know the subtleties of their launch techniques. The grapevine grip was the most purported method. Later we'll have a landing clinic with all the footage that has been taken so far. Jim Lamb (A-I-R USA) is giving a talk right now on technical soaring, talking about polars, and other complicated things.

Today has been called, but some are free flying for fun. Tomorrow looks like a great day, and my team better step it up if we don't want to loose first place, but if the E Team keeps doing what they've done, we'll be in second after tomorrow.

Team Scores as of 10/1/08

1 - 807 - Thermal Underwear

2 - 798 - E Team

3 - 624 - Team Ohio

4 - 601 - Mountaineers

5 - 541 - Team Colorado

6 - 523 - Comp Concepts

7 - 519 - The Pale Gliders

8 - 465 - B'Low Me Again

9 - 400 - Air Hogs

10 - 345 - The Leftovers