Widespread morning cloud was accompanied by considerable skepticism that flying would be possible today. We duly gridded all gliders on the possibility that a clear area approaching from the west would yield enough solar heating for a task. And it did, barely, for just one class.
A curious feature was that initial climbs off tow were about the best of the day. Most pilots got to around 4000 feet, and probably assumed that the day would improve nicely – but in fact it was slowly and steadily downhill from there. The Club class pilots (always first to launch) set off on a short task and soon found themselves struggling. Contributing to their troubles was thin high cloud forming over the task area, and terrain near the western turnpoint unfriendly to glider landings. They pressed on cautiously, steadily dropping stragglers in fields, until just north of home when the day at last folded completely. The result was no finishers and a much devalued day that proved little.
With the exception of five (including J.P. Stewart) that chose the Szatymaz airfield (about 10km north of Szeged) all Club class gliders outlanded. There’s an incentive to stretch your glide as far as you dare, and (unlike under US rules) no advantage to choosing an airfield when you have the height to gain even a little additional distance. But the fields in this area are good, and I’ve heard no reports of damage worse than scuffed gear doors and dirt in wheel wells. Noah Reitter landed in a good field with difficult access, requiring that gliders be carried out piece by piece. But with 4 gliders in that field and 4 crews soon on the scene, the necessary manpower was available and the task was soon accomplished.
It was both worse and better for Standard class. Being later to launch, their climbs were not as good. And a start line some distance from home proved hard to reach (a few pilots outlanded between there and home). Some set off bravely, but none was able to reach the minimum distance (120 km) that 25% must achieve for a valid contest day. It became evident to many that efforts had become hopeless, and a fair number (including Michael Marshall) made the wise decision simply to return home and land.
This evening’s airfield event was a talk by Gavin Wills, who runs the world-renowned soaring operation at Omarama, in New Zealand. His descriptions of flying in the mountains of the South Island make an interesting contrast with the flatland soaring of southeastern Hungary. His presentation included many stunningly beautiful photos – the New Zealand alps, glacial lakes and the enormous variety of interesting clouds found there form a background for images of gliders that may be unsurpassed anywhere.
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.