The overnight weather forecast for western Lithuania was dire – it spoke of heavy rain, possible damaging winds and even dangerous hail. Most gliders here are left assembled with covers, but yesterday many crews spent the evening putting gliders into their trailers and even tying these down (in Europe, trailer tiedowns are by no means universal).
We were thus a bit surprised to wake to sunny skies and light winds. It even seemed that a task might be possible, and those same crews went to work assembling gliders. But by the 10:00 pilot briefing cloud was forming and it was clear Pociunai would not escape the troubled weather. Task sheets had been published, but the decision (approved by all) was to cancel all flying. Two hours later, the rain did arrive.
I wrote last year about the Lithuanian language, which is interesting in several ways – and difficult for English speakers. It’s the oldest language in Europe, deriving from proto Indo-European spoken thousands of years ago, and retaining many ancient word forms. The only similar existing language is Latvian, but these two long ago diverged past the point of being mutually intelligible. It uses Latin characters (except Q, W and X) and adds various accents and marks to make a total of 32 letters. Attempts by English speakers to pronounce the words are often (but by no means always) understandable by natives. It has some borrowed words that are understandable, such as kompiuteris (computer), gitara (guitar) and futbolas (football). Indeed, if you recognize a word, you can assume it is borrowed.
Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1991. It would be a serious understatement to say that the Russians did not manage to endear themselves to Lithuanians. They made study of the Russian language mandatory, so anyone here over the age of 30 will speak this (whereas many younger Lithuanians speak English). Daniel Sazhin’s parents are from Ukraine, and his family commonly speaks Russian at home. This has come in handy, especially during his two outlandings during the practice period. The catch is that it’s necessary to make the point that he is not Russian; once that has been established, folks have been friendly and helpful.
John Good has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director/ Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.