Monday-Day 1. Thirteen of twenty-six pilots flew faster than 50 mph on a day that might have been good, or not. A weak cold front pressed down from the north through the afternoon, bringing light showers late in the afternoon, however the unstable air in front of it allowed climbs of four to seven knots as indicated on our varios during an afternoon of cumulus clouds streets with bases at 7,000 agl in winds of just 11 knots. Sweet. Our practice day had the same weather and that’s the great thing about flying here at Albert Lea; if the sun gets to the ground, soaring is fun and fast. And if you have to land out, almost everywhere is good enough. Today’s winners included Tony Condon in the lower performance class, Ron Ridenour in the sports class, and Mike Shakman in the 18 meter class.
Tuesday-Day 2. Twelve of twenty-six pilots flew faster than 50 mph on a day that was predicted to be high and fast. The first legs for each of the three tasks had cu’s marking the way, but then the sky dried for the remaining legs. Lift was there at three to six knots and it went just as high to maybe 6,000 agl or more, but everyone slowed a just a bit. Today’s winners again included Tony Condon in the low performance class, Ron Ridenour in the sports class, and Mike Shakman in the 18 meter class.
Wednesday-Day 3. No, this isn’t boring. A high-pressure ridge continues to dominate our weather so today was better than the practice day and the first two contest days. The skies over Iowa were fast with climb rates from four to seven or eight knots or more, and altitude gains to 7,000 feet agl and higher, all guided by honest cumulus clouds. Eleven pilots flew faster than 60 mph including two pilots from the low performance class, and eight more pilots bested 50 mph. And then many flew gold distances. Today’s winners include Mike Shakman in the 18 meter class, Ron Ridenour in the sports class, and Tony Condon in the low performance class.
Thursday-Day 4. Here we go again. A modest task day just to rest-up included turnpoints at Blue Earth and Belmond, all flown quickly with a shorter minimum time. The day started slow but a little sun on the miles and miles of landable fields got the sky going with Cu’s marking all legs over the task. Climbs were slow at first but improved to four and up to eight knots on the varios all the way up to 7,000 agl, allowing speeds in the fifties for a number of pilots. The days winners included Matt Michael in the low performance class, Bob Spitz in the sports class, and Don Kroesch in the 18 meter class.
Friday-Day 5. This was a tricky day for some and maybe all of us. If you read the overdeveloped streets consistently well, then you went fast. However, if you missed the energy, you then found broad areas of sink, forcing you to scratch low once or twice. Lift varied from a couple of knots up to seven plus knots on the varios right up to the 7,000 plus agl cloud base. The run back to the airport was high and fast for everyone, that being the task area without the big ground shadows. Today’s winners included Matt Michael in low performance, Bob Spitz in the sports class, and Don Kroesch in the 18 meter class.
Saturday-Day 6. Well, the weather this week has been fantastic with light to moderate winds with fast climbs to 7,000 agl or more. Thermals were turbulent and narrow but easy to find if you had patience and lots of altitude, allowing most pilots to fly in their preferred flight bands – high and fast. We found today to be the best day of the contest because there were just enough haze domes, wisps, and cumulus clouds to mark the strong thermals on all legs of the task, allowing pilots to climb to 9,000 agl if they were so inclined. And a few did so but this didn’t seem to be much of a distraction because 16 pilots flew faster than 60 mph! Today’s winners include Ron Ridenour in the sports class, Don Kroesch in the 18 meter class, and Tony Condon in the low performance class.
Summary. The weather this week was exceptional, and this allowed us to fly every day while at the contest airport. We were able as pilots to concentrate on height bands, fast speeds, big circles under larger cumulus clouds to find the strongest lift, fly to the same corners of small cu’s so that we could bump along without circling or zooming and this allowed many pilots to fly as fast as their previous best speeds for several days this week. At contest’s end Matt Michael in the low performance class, Ron Ridenour in the sports class, and Don Kroesch in the 18-meter class showed how well this could be done as their respective class winners. Congratulations to them, the second and third place finishers and to all the other pilots who flew really fast.
I have flown several contests in my own Ka6e and come to believe that the handicap spread was just to big when the fast, modern gliders populated the same class. I wanted to provide an opportunity for pilots who fly and cherish their old gliders like mine to compete in their own class like Region 10 North tried two years ago. I believe that there is enough interest in our soaring community for these low performance gliders to race in contests if they perceive that the tasks and handicaps seem reasonable. Thus, I offered them an opportunity to do so, and the response was enough to make one work here at Region 7. And guess what, they flew fast and had a great time and certainly that’s what our soaring community wants.
Many thanks to Jim Hanson the airport manager and his wife, Mary Alice, and all the volunteers including: Tom, Marilyn, John, Sara, Mike, Jim, Dale, Vicki and Karen. That’s all for this year.
Leon – Region 7 CM