Linda Salamone's Blog

Sunday, April 08, 2007

US NATS and other stuff
The ride down to Florida was uneventful, except for the snowstorm we encountered after picking up Bellerby in Buffalo. It's just hearsay... I was sleeping.
Dropped Steve off at Quest, said hellos at Wallaby, and proceeded to Sebring where we spent a rainy night. Got to the Ridge Friday morning, with 2 practice days ahead of us. Well I decided not to fly since the tows looked pretty rowdy, and set my sights on a calmer tow in the morning. We set about making our campsite liveable and greeting everyone as they arrived. A few people flew, and they did pretty well for a while, but the field was too active for me. Around 5pm I saw a gathering at the pool, so I joined in. Turned out to be a pilot's meeting. I was thinking that it was a little silly- they would have to repeat all of this the next night after ALL the pilots arrived for the start of the meet on Sunday. But it was good to get a gander at all who were here already and chat about thunderstorms.
After the meeting, I heard some talk of calling a task on Saturday. Well, who ever heard of a task on a practice day? Hmmm. So I asked. And that's when I found out that the meet was starting on SATURDAY, not SUNDAY. Suddenly everything seemed to be a rush. Mark figured this all out at the start of the meeting. Took me til AFTER the meeting to catch on.....
Saturday DAY 1 NATS:
Took a tow at 8:30 am even though it was blowing 30mph up at 2K. I made just two turns and still thought I might wind up in the orange grove. Tow went well, the two turns went well, the landing was okay. Ready to compete!
Task was called to the south with pretty high wind during the pilot meeting. While we were getting ready to stage it looked like the safety committee might have a problem with the wind. I just went about as if we were going ahead and I was ready when it looked halfway decent to go. Tow was active, and Lisa dropped me off in a decent thermal. I had a tough time for the first couple of thermals just figuring out the snaky lift, and I was drifting pretty well and not getting high- like 2800'. After an aborted attempt to get back to the field, I just left kind of low. I went on a death glide, or so I thought, until i hit a little ratty thing at 1100' and got to 3700' or so. Mark got in there with me, and a couple of others, and they left way high and went pretty far east. I left and took a more direct line on course and got to the turnpoint just after they left. Oh well, straggling like I usually do. But I thermal a lot better without other distractions so I made my way toward TP2. I heard Mark talk about a ton of sink on his way so I stayed in whatever I could find, which wasn't much, on this short leg of the task. I saw where he went down, just as he was going down, and he radioed NOT to land there. I was low, getting desperate, and he said the police were on their way to the field where 4 of them landed. It was such a nice field, and the only one around, and there I am at 600', 500' coming in to land. But I saw two birds climbing out and I followed their lead, and wound up climbing right over that irate farmer's head. Funny. But it only got me the TP and another mile or two to have a pounding in between two rows of 10' high sugar cane.
Ron was making his way to get us all (I guess we all called at the same time- Tom and George at goal, me and Mark short) and the spanish speaking cane workers were very nice when they saw that I wasnt afraid f their pit bull, nor was he afraid or pissed at me. The first guy to me said, "are you okay?" and I replied, "yes, but more importantly: are YOU okay?" since I didn't know if I was at a "nice" farm, or a "mean" farm.... He was fine and even brought me some ice cold water while I waited.
So day one ends on a decent note, fun flight although I doubt I would have flown at all on a non-comp day due to the wind on the ground.
This morning, I set up my glider to find that the VG cord was snagged hard between the pulleys in the sail. The cord is pretty frayed but I think I can get away with it for one day. I have new cord but it will take some disassembling to replace it. During my flight I did have some issues with VG. A good preflight this morning (as always) caught the problem. The worst that can happen in flight is no VG at all so I guess I will risk that today.


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