Last night was unbelievable! We maxed out our first server with 64 pilots and even put up a second server that filled up with another 15 pilots! Between the two servers, we had 79 folks flying US Nightly Soaring. 27 pilots flew 1-26s, 37 flew Blaniks, 12 K-21s, and one Ka-8!
We got the message folks. School class in Slovenia is a hit! We will run similar tasks once a week.
We will also add Club Class into a more routine rotation. It’s clear that we have a lot of new people and folks are especially excited to fly gliders that they had flown in real life.
Last night was spectacular. It was so much fun to hop into Sweet Red (563), my faithful steed for so many years and wonderful experiences. 1-26s are just so freakin’ fun to fly!
The glider felt really good and realistic. Chris Wedgwood (OXO) actually asked me to beta test the ship when they were building it for Condor. I was really touched that he put together Sweet Red’s beautiful paint scheme!
In any case, the start area looked like a scene out of the Hell’s Angels. All sorts of different colored gliders flying at different speeds in all directions. Two poor fellows collided in a thermal and I was dodging their dismembered wings and fuselages! It was definitely wise to get away from the massive furball to a quieter part of the sky.
Once the start opened, the lumbering mass of glass, wood, and metal locusts set out to terrorize the Slovenian countryside. The first leg went along a ridge that was just barely working.
Many folks were low. It was prudent to pick up a thermal soon after start to get nice and high. Getting a good start and efficient climb early is a good strategy to be fast and avoid digging yourself into a hole early in the day.
I picked up a red line start and pulled up a hefty 250ft with my energy! The first thermal was reasonably honest, but it was just high enough to get to the ridge below ridge top.
A nice gaggle marked the climb up the slope and I eagerly joined it. This set me up nicely for the upcoming upwind leg.
I had overrun most of the gaggle by now, but a reasonable group still lay before me. Folks were driving into the valley, which looked eerily devoid of clouds. I looked over to my left and saw a lone Blanik climbing in the blue.
I asked myself if I was in a “risk-minimization” mindset. And I begrudgingly agreed that flying a 1-26 in these conditions puts me there. So I deviated 45-50 degrees, much in pain at accepting such a major deviation.
The thermal was honest all the way up and generated a nice little cloud above me as I left. And the gaggle ahead was struggling low under a cloud that didn’t deliver.
It’s nice when gear-shifting actually works!
After this point, I maintained a MC 4-5 glide, cruising along mostly at 80 mph. Pretty fast, but I had folks marking the lift ahead. I took pretty much every climb along the way and deviated quite a bit to get them too.
Almost every thermal was marked with a glider. This was really really cool! We typically don’t fly in such large groups in the States and it was really fun to see gliders everywhere. Managing gaggles, knowing when to leave and when to stay is really important in high level competition. I didn’t learn how to do it until I flew in several Junior Worlds.
But, with so many gliders on Assigned Tasks, all of the same techniques apply. Especially so when you’re in one of the lowest performing ships. Make one mistake, miss a working thermal, and you’re in deep trouble. Best to get high and stay high!
It was a relief to round the second turnpoint; no more headwind to contend with! However, the lift was thinning out and thinning out. Folks were landing out left and right.
I zigged and zagged, trying to stay with the few clouds that were available. One dies, damn! Deviating toward a new, developing cloud.
It works! Only 4 knots, but best to stick with it.
The sky has more options ahead and they look better than this 4 knotter. Time to move on.
One more new cloud! 5.5 knots
Just another 1500ft to go for the finish.
One more climb before the last turnpoint, riding out the tailwind right up to cloudbase and a MC 5 final glide.
Good air along the ridge on the final leg, getting up to MC 9.7!
***Sweet Red***, four miles out from the east!
And a finish for the win, with a time of 1:26:20 on course.
It’s *really* fun flying these gliders!
Luis Saut also had a great night, coming in a very close second. He is also a very accomplished low-performance pilot, flying the Brazilian Quero Quero. It is very similar to a 1-26! It showed that he was comfortable in these ships, comfortably breezing through the gaggle to complete the course.
I’d also like to add that for future tasks with School class, that the experienced guys SHOULD take 1-26s. The beginners can then take the Blanik or K-21 and keep up with the experienced pilots and make it around the task. This is good practice for everyone!
Tonight we fly in Ridge North 2. See you guys online!!
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