Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 44 years. She’s a passionate supporter of the US Teams and loves contest reporting. She currently resides in both Steamboat Springs, Co. and Greenville, SC.
“An amazing soaring day yesterday.Jim and I started together and had a very long glide under fairly overcast skies to clouds well to our south.
Luckily, we had plenty of company with most of the Standard Class with us. Almost everyone had to dump their water to enable us to stay aloft in the very weak conditions. I was within 100′ of having to start my engine, but was able to eek out a weak climb and keep going. We finally got to the good air under fabulous Polish cloudstreets and took 5kt climbs to cloudbase. Gliders were everywhere as we raced to just short of the second turnpoint. Then everyone stopped and climbed for every inch as a huge blue hole needed to be crossed to tag the second turnpoint and press on to the clouds to the north. We were at max L/D for quite awhile until we reached the northern cloud street and were able to shift into high gear again for the leg to the last turnpoint. Just to the north of our cloudstreet, we became aware of a long line of showers developing. I questioned Bald Eagle Ground, our ground team, and was informed that weather was moving in and that the sky to the north and along the final glide home had gone overcast. As we flew along our cloudstreet, the clouds gave way to a dark overcast. It looked like the only hopie we would have of getting home was a small group of cumulus clouds in a bit of sunshine well to the south of course line. Jim and I made for those and discovered a few other gliders had the same idea. We joined the other gliders and were able to start a weak climb at 1kt to try and and get to final glide. Shortly though, the fiberglass fleet arrived. Over the next few minutes there must have been over 50 gliders trying to work this last weak area of lift. At one time I observed 3 counter rotating gaggles as groups of gliders would leave one thermal at 1/2 kt and dash to another group climbing at 1kt. I was maddeningly close to final glide, but just couldn’t get there. Gliders above me were starting to leave, but not very fast. No one had much cushion. I finally had to make a go of it. The sky ahead was a dead slate gray. There as a stream of white wings ahead marking the way. I was 100 over a MAC 1 final glide with about 20 miles to go. There was nothing else to do but try. As soon as I started out, my glide started to deteriorate. Then the glider next to me deployed his bug wipers!! I’d completely forgotten about bugs. My wings were fairly well covered. I tried to use my wipers but neither one would deploy. So much for the time we spent checking their action before I took off. I adjusted the computer’s final glide for bugs and now was 100′ low and going lower. At least I had plenty of company. All around me were gliders in the same situation, many lower than me. I went through my engine start procedure to be sure I could get it started quickly at the last minute if necessary. We started to see gliders circling low that couldn’t make it. I wasn’t sure what they were circling in, the sky was totally gray and had been so for quite awhile, but I bumped through them and miraculously found a little lift. I was back on final glide, MAC 1 +10 feet! Then +20′ then +60′. I was going to make it afterall. It was a great feeling to feel the wheel touch down on the runway at Ostrow. We’d seen it all today, overcast, blue holes, coudstreets and made it back on a squeaker of a final glide. This was what we came all this way for.” Bif Huss
Bif is flying YU, a Discus 2b in this competition