Saturday, 20 July 2013

Rising from the rural Bulgarian dust…

Spirits in the team van were a lot higher after Task 4, which saw the SA pilots delivering some very fine performances with Andre into goal in 7th position and Russell close behind in 11th. 

The subject matters covered included clouds; challenges old age may pose to competition flying; some tips on getting to goal; a brief one-on-one with Russell on his flying; and what aspiring young pilots in South Africa would need to do to get into future teams.

Andre arrives in goal no risk of riding the loser bus again today

The meet director had again raised the topic of cloud flying in the task briefing, with very clear instructions on what to do in the event of being sucked into a cloud. In a nutshell, absolutely no spiraling in a cloud (this had led to an almost mid air collision in task 3 – the pilot avoided the collision but landed under reserve – he is ok) and a clear demonstration after re-appearance that the pilot is shedding the advantage gained – a ninety degree turn off course-line and loosing your height. With a sky similar to yesterday (although a few more blue patches) reports along the task route indicated that not every one had taken this advice to heart. We enjoyed Andre’s short films from the top of each climb which included an altitude check and “I’m not in the clouds…no one in the clouds… still nobody in the clouds…and still nobody in there…” – seems the lead gaggle was playing fair! (if you haven’t read Andre’s Eureka solutions for cloud flying -

Nevil set the world record at the age of 51 in 2008… so gammy hips certainly does not seem to present much of a challenge to qualifying for the team! Based on Nev’s maturity, we worked out that Russell, the youngest team member, probably has another two decades of service ahead of him. As long as his hearing, his shoulders and his bladder control last the distance.

So what nuggets of advice on getting to goal were shared from the combined century of experience in the team van?
  1. Stay at base.
  2. Don’t loose the gaggle.
  3. Fly the clouds streets.
  4. Keep your sense of humour.
  5. Push bar when in unwanted lift.
  6. The gaggle doesn’t always get it right.
  7. A little distraction (like filming yourself going up to cloud base) can work too.
  8. Stop and turn under the biggest cloud of the day…if you don’t you will loose time.
  9. Don’t land on course.
  10. Never eat yellow snow even if it looks like a lemon snow cone.
  11. Fly a little faster than you normally do, but know when to gear down.
  12. Don’t look at the sun through binoculars
  13. Don’t fold up your glider while still flying.
  14. Everything else you can learn but if you can’t sing, then you can’t sing.

Chris treated us to a short singing performance – and watch out ladies, if you haven’t heard his sweet tones yet…this is gonna break your heart!

Our shy tenor watches Stef coming into goal
 On Russell’s flight “I once again managed to get myself low after launch, but once I was high, and didn’t have to worry about being left behind by the lead gaggle, everything became pretty mechanical. Until the final run, when a bit of strategy, timing and decision-making came into play. I probably lost about five places by stopping to top up where in fact if I had flown straight I would have hit the lifty line going into goal sooner.”

And if you are a young South African pilot aspiring to be in the team one day…and have read this far, we hope you’ll continue reading our blog for more on this topic.

En-route to recover KJ who landed just shy of the last turnpoint
The competition so far has been very well organized and smoothly run. The meet director is an absolute gem and we wouldn't be surprised if he gets invited by many nations to run a few of their comps. 

Day 7 has's off to work we go.

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