Sunday morning and we managed to sleep in a little. Actually, the Crewton is still sleeping somehow despite full sun brightening her room. Today’s a rest day, and it feels a bit odd and aimless after weeks of programmed routine. Ours goes something like this:
Up around 6:15 as the house gets sunny and the birds start singing. (We’re staying in a small house in the city of Ceske Budejovice that belongs to the Hosin airport manager. It’s perfect for the three of us, and has made our time here that much better. Her garden is immaculate, and 5E Ground has enjoyed watering, pruning, and bringing fresh tomatoes to the team tent.) Unplug all the chargers (!), pack water and lunches for the day, and check weather over breakfast. Pile into our rented VW and drive to the airport. It’s only about 15 minutes to Hosin, shorter on the weekends. Sometimes we see other contest number-festooned crew cars heading out of the city.
We meet Paul at the glider around 7:45, and gang up on the dew coating the covers. If it’s a dry day, this goes fast and we can get the glider uncovered, watered, batteried, and hooked to the car in about half an hour. Why so early? With the runway here relatively short, the organizers smartly decided to save space on the grid by packing each class from the back, first come-first serve. (Overall, the Opens are always at the back, the 20m in the middle, and the 18m in the front.) Show up late, and you’re going to be at the front. Since we launch as early as 11am, and thermaling near the airport/release area is verboten, being one of the first launchers seems a little risky for relighting. So far, 70 and I have been able to grid next to each other and smack in the middle most days.
Paul and I tidy up any loose tape, bits needing wax, etc., then head to the team huddle at 9:25. There Captain Pete leads us through administrative issues, a wrap-up of the previous day, new task sheets, weather, and airspace. This takes us up to the pilot briefing at 10am in the main hangar. With first launch as early as 11am, there’s not much time afterwards for revisiting the mission together before heading out to the line. Upload and verify the tasks in the glider, change into flying clothes, and then enforced relaxation while we wait for the day to develop. The contest meterologist does the sniffing in his AS-W 20 (ID appropriately “WX”–yesterday he treated us to a low pass complete with water dump) and John Kamis interprets his radio reports for us. They push the first launch back fifteen minutes at a time until it’s a go, then the whole vibe changes as the radial and turbine Cmeliks fire up. It’s noisy and smells of jet-A and if you close your eyes you could be walking from the gate to your regional commuter bound for some small city.
If you win the towplane lottery, it’s a huge yellow turbine Cmelik that hauls you to the release altitude abeam your takeoff point in one quick 180-degree turn (yesterday, JP Stewart timed one at 4.5 minutes from takeoff to next hookup). If you lose, a radial takes you for a prolonged and variably alarming treetop tour of the countryside, outside the 5km finish ring around Hosin, and eventually back to the release area.
From there, it’s time to work your way up and over to the 18m start line. They open the task 30 minutes after the last glider in the class gets launched, and depending on the day there can be a lot of gaggling and start gate roulette.
We fly the task, which looks on the tracker like a well-organized bug race but in the cockpit is something else entirely, and then all finish from the same direction and get landing instructions from the CD. Paul’s there with the tow car before my wing hits the ground, and we get the dollies on and hooked up quickly to make room for the next glider. I usually walk with the wing to help get the legs moving again, and if there’s no one behind us we’ll pause abeam the tent city so I can download my flight and take it to Pete for review and submission.
Meet the glider and crew back at the trailer, where they’ve gotten the bugs (many!) off. Tuck the cockpit, clean the canopy, covers on, and then to the team tent for debrief. Then dinner in Hluboka or Ceske Budejovice and back to the house to hook up all those chargers, look at some traces, second shower of the day, and to bed.
A big public thank you to everyone back home, and the amazing contest personnel here, who have made it possible for us to be here and have such a stupendous race. Here’s to the second half… Erik
“International Accord” Katrin Senne (flying IG in the 18m Class on the German Team) is an admirer of the US Team uniforms, so she traded hats with Sarah Nelson of Team 5E Erik Nelson) and donned the US Team shirt! Katrin is the daughter of Klaus Keim, a great friend to many in US Soaring and she is a multiple time champion. #gogirls #ussoaringteams Pete Alexander took this pic. Did I mention that Sarah was a nationally ranked US women’s Lacrosse player in college and on the US Team and recently inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame???
Good stuff girls.
Since there is no flying today… enjoy these general videos from the competition organizers:
WGC Opening Ceremonies
Competition Day #1
Competition Day #2
Competition Day #3
Competition Day #4
Competition Day #5
Competition Day #6
Competition Day #7
Rest Day Official Video
Melanie is strictly ground crew (N1K), but is an avid lover of the sport. She is the ussoaringteams.org web master and loves new ideas so feel free to ask questions, offer suggestions, and give her additional content!