Well folks, our two weeks of spectacular Moriarty soaring are at an end. Thanks to all of the help from the contest administration and personnel, we had a very successful contest that had most of the pilots wishing to come back to fly in the 1-26 championships in the future and in Moriarty again.
In terms of tasking, Chip Garner did a fantastic job of contest directing and did his absolute best, with the help of his trusty advisors Francois Pin and Ron Schwartz, to make tasks which were fair, fun and safe for all the contestants. While all of the 1-26 tasks during the contest were Turn Area Tasks (TATs), they weren’t HATs as some of our esteemed glass pilots may think they were. While the turn areas were large, the nature of the Moriarty sky is that there is generally a defined cloud street over the high ground to the East or the mountains to the West. This meant that there was generally little incentive to deviate from the line and the vast majority of competitive pilots were in the same general area in the sky. However, the fact that the tasks had such large sectors, it allowed some of the lesser experienced pilots to be able to nick the sectors close in and experience contest flying and completing tasks for the first time. This makes the contest more fun for ALL those involved, as the tasks are doable for the whole field and in the case of Moriarty, the tasks do not lose fairness due to the size of the turn cylinders.
The weather held up fairly well and it was possible to fly every day for 11 days in a row! We only cancelled one contest day and this was because an unexpected thunderstorm anvil created cirrus that dampened convection enough to make a task not doable. However, a couple of us still even managed to stay up for a while on that day! With respect to the contest, the weather made for some interesting tasking and strategy. We never really had what would be considered in Moriarty to be “strong” weather. In fact, there were very few days when the locals even bothered showing up to the airport! However, to Eastern standards, the weather was very reliable and easily soarable. We started the contest in a strange Monsoonal weather pattern with a lot of moisture. Over the duration of the contest, it got progressively drier and drier. I think it would be safe to say we had three weak days that made for some interesting flying. These days had cloudbases at around 11,000ft and generally had problems such as over development, rain or high cloud cover. We had one day that was truly strong and this was Day 5, when Ron Schwartz flew 57 mph RAW. There was fantastic streeting that day due to there being enough moisture to cause strong lift, but since there was a drier airmass moving in, it never stopped working. On the last two days, we had a convergence pattern set up near the Manzanos which some pilots were able to work effectively. Overall, the weather has been very dynamic and made the contest more complicated and fascinating.
In terms of the grid, launching and retrieval processes, this contest ran very smoothly. Even though there was not the expected CAP support, everyone had enough help from one another and from contest personnel that everyone was able to easily make it to the grid with time to spare. There was no 1-26er ever left behind! Mark Mocho (sorry if I spelled your name wrong) did an excellent job of running the grid. I guess the contestants were so scared of being the target of his sense of humor that they did everything they were supposed to! We were consistently launched in less than an hour thanks to the four towplanes provided by the Alburqurque Soaring Club and their experienced towpilots. With the exception of a broken weak link in the very first stages of tow, there were no premature termination of tows or any unexpected events. Connie and Bob Hudson very effectively ran the retrieve office, making sure everyone got back safe and sound. Probably the most demanding retrieve happened on the first day of the contest when Jim Bob landed out in 142 on a huge ranch and Bob had to contact three separate sheriff county offices to figure out who was in charge and who could help with the retrieve! Thank you so much for your prompt support on such a consistent basis. Also thanks to Kevin who helped every day on the line and getting pilots back upon their return back to the airport.
The social events were well attended and quite enjoyable. The night in the park was quite fun with most of the pilots and crew all sitting in a circle trading stories about their flights, all while with a plate of excellent food from Nachos, a local Mexican food joint. The night at the Southwest Soaring Museum was also quite enjoyable, allowing pilots to meet the great George Applebay and see all the awesome gliders while enjoying each others’ company. Pete and Judy Vredenburg went well beyond the call of duty in terms of making the contest an enjoyable experience by organizing these events and making everything run smoothly for everyone. They even had special belt buckles made for those who had ordered them and had gift bags with appropriate local information, maps, water bottles, patches, among other things ready for ALL pilots in the beginning of the contest. Well done Pete and Judy!
Also, it would be fitting to mention the success of the one day “Call of the Champions” race created by Pete Vredenburg this year. The premise of this race is as an invitational to any previous 1-26 champion to come and race against other 1-26 champions on a task that they decide amongst themselves to win a keeper trophy. Pete had a magnificent trophy made that sported a carved bald eagle head mounted on a base of wood. It is really the most beautiful trophy I had ever seen and quite fitting for the occasion. ASC provided free tows to the five champions who flew a 153 mile Assigned task which was basically a 130 mile flat triangle and a 20 mile out and return at the very end. Four out of five of us landed out, but Harry Baldwin made it around! His finish was quite spectacular… he came up short from the airport! However, he was .7 miles from the finish sector… he had completed the task! The retrieve was quite a spectacle as it was in the brush, with many vehicles out there and many hands to help the Champion of the Champions of 2013!
Lastly, I would like to mention what a great personal experience this contest was for me. This group of pilots who call themselves the 1-26ers are truly an incomparable bunch. They have so much fun and it is such an emotionally uplifting experience to be part of this group. For instance, team Knoll/Walker, who called themselves Team Decrepit were so fun! They progressed to completing tasks at the end of the contest, but at the whole time laughing at the process and themselves instead of getting disappointed or discouraged at their performance. It was fun watching them as they were quite the comic interlude! There were also many 1-26ers who helped me out when I really needed it. For instance, I my tailwheel jammed prior to launch on a practice day, completely ruining it. Ralph Farra (182) provided me one that fit just right with the bearings in the previous wheel and away I went! The next two days, my main tire went flat! Bobby Templin who was Ron Schwartz’s crew helped me get the wheel off, and at first patch the wheels (with also Milt Moos’ help) and later when that didn’t work, replace the tube (Pete Vredenburg’s). I can truly say that without such spontaneous help that it would have been impossible for me to win the contest, so thank you so much to the people who had helped me and to the 1-26ers as a whole, as you guys are such an awesome group of pilots. Also, big thanks to Bill Thar for providing me with an oxygen system, Glenn Fisher for the parachute, Pete for letting me stay over at your house during the contest and lastly Aero Club Albatross for letting me use lovely Sweet Red (563). All of you made it happen for me.