Friday, July 11, 2014

Big day Chelan PG Nats July 10

Whopper of a task today, 206 km to St. John near the Idaho border!  Many personal bests (including myself) and almost 40 in goal by goal deadline of 8pm!

Flight is here.  And results will eventually be posted here.

Initially I wasn't sure about this task as it was totally blue with lightish WNW winds...a good direction but not very strong for such a push.  And the smoke from the Entiat fire made the first part of the task interesting as it was very smoky and hard to see gliders once they pulled away from you.  But on the flip side the lift was abundant and smooth...I guess the smoke was calming things down a bit.

The smoke didn't clear until around Coulee City and it was then that I could see cu's in the distance marking the Blue Mountains and the border with Idaho.  But our course had no cu's so we had to rely on dust devils and other pilots.  Definitely a day to stick with a group!

The crux of the task for me came with ~30 km to go.  This was where we had to leave civilization and head over no-mans land towards goal.  I was slowly climbing at the edge of it, peering in the distance to see if I could see a road in case I didn't make it.  I saw a straight line and figured it was a road so off I went, bailing on the gaggle that was slowing me down.

Landing at the end of the day at 194.5 km.
As I glided into no-mans land and got closer to the straight line, I realized it wasn't a road at all but the railway line!  No main roads anywhere and a 30km walk out if I landed out.  So I went into survival mode and milked a slow climb for the next 30 minutes until I got to 2900 m and was going to make it past the no-mans land.  I wasn't sure I had goal on glide but I decided to go for it as I was over the last bit of brown fields and everything past this was lush and green...not good for thermal production I figured especially at 7pm.

So I had the giant 25 km final glide and saw I wasn't going to make goal but land short, so I milked it as long as I could, landing 6 km short of goal for 194.5 km.

Up to now my longest distance has been ~160 km (towing in Edmonton) so I was pretty happy to have bettered that by over 30 km!  The final glide was awesome as it was the end of the day, very buoyant, and I landed at 7:42pm with 18 minutes of taskable day left.

The next cool thing about the day was as I was waiting on the side of the road for my ride, a shortbus pulled up and Rob Sporrer poked his head out (he was driving it) and offered a ride!  The shortbus was from goal, from a local resident of St. John who was so tickled at everyone landing in his town, he loaned his bus (for free) to to get us back to Chelan!  We had an awesome ride back with the tunes going and stopping in Moses Lake for a late-night burger run, arriving back in Chelan at 1:30am!

Other stories include the retrieve van that was pulled over for pilots wearing no seatbelts (in the end no tickets were issued, just a warning), and the pilot that was given a ride to town by a police officer after a local reported "suspicious behaviour" by the pilot (sitting on the side of the road).  Jim Orava landed in the no-mans land at the 160 km mark and had a long walk until retrieve found him.
Watching the sun set in the Entiat fire smoke as I'm waiting for my ride.
We did have some carnage in the goal field however.  Two pilots landed downwind after seeing last-minute powerlines, one wrapping himself around the school's flagpole and the other stalling it in from 10' on his back.  He's OK after being checked out at the Colfax hospital but will be sore for a while.

Other than that it was a very successful day!  Despite the length of the task we still had almost 40 pilots in goal plus many just short, and multiple personal bests.  It was also the longest task in US PG Nats history!



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