Morning weather fooled us today: we awoke to sun and mostly blue skies. But clouds quickly marched in and all forecasts said to expect much more. They were correct: thickening cloud led to rain by evening. With no possibility of tasks, flying was cancelled at the morning pilot briefing.
The rain has made problems for the airfield. Low areas are now showing a lot of mud; some are close to being unsuitable for car and glider traffic. Those unlucky enough to have been given a parking slot in a low area have been allowed to move their trailers to better areas – which in many cases are simply those that have not yet suffered enough traffic to turn them to mud (there are many advantages to a giant airfield). Needless to say, we’re all hoping for some dry weather, which is the only cure for this problem.
A couple of days ago I noted that Lithuanians over 25 typically speak only their native language. This is incorrect, as almost all of them would have been obliged to learn Russian. During WW2 Lithuania was occupied both by Germany and the Soviet Union. Many Lithuanians naturally expected that with the end of the war, their independence would be restored. But the West handed over control of eastern Europe to Stalin, and a notably brutal Soviet occupation lasted from 1944 to 1990. No doubt a good many Russian-speaking Lithuanians are happy to only rarely have reason to use that language today.
The big event of the evening here was International Night, a tradition of long standing at World Gliding contests. The idea is that each team will set out food and drink typical of their country. All pilots, crews, contest organizers, helpers, etc. then circulate, eagerly consuming anything that seems appealing. The spreads set out in the large hangar were impressive, and it seems unlikely that anything like the full array of food and drink could have been consumed. The US Team offered grilled hot dogs, Coke with optional Jack Daniels, and s’mores (toasted marshmallows and chocolate on graham crackers) – all of which seemed to move well.
Plenty of hard beverages were on offer. I’ve learned that those who value their morning mental acuity do well to take only very small tastes of any of the various forms of firewater, and not too many of those. The hazard seems to depend on longitude: the further east the country, the more careful you should be when offered any clear liquid in a deceptively small container. If you hear mention of a name that sounds anything like Slivovitz, alarms bells should go off: this tasty plum brandy is dangerously easy to underestimate.
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.