Another non-flying day today, due to a weather pattern pumping lots of moisture into Europe, producing a solid overcast predicted to persist until evening.
We have updated information on Larry Timpson. The hospital diagnosed an intestinal blockage, possibly associated with some surgery he underwent in the past. Another operation will be necessary to put this right. He was cleared to fly commercially – indeed, he was in good spirits as he headed to Vilnius (Lithuania’s largest city and airline hub) for a flight back to the US, where the new surgery will be done. He’s certainly disappointed to be missing contest flights, but has hopes of returning here before the contest ends.
The ruling from WGC contest officials is that an entry in the 20-Meter Multiseat Class must have both registered pilots on board for all flights. This is distinct from the Open Class, for which only one pilot is required, even in a multiseat glider. So without Larry, Mike Robison cannot participate as an official entrant in the contest. He will be allowed to continue to fly hors concours – as a guest.
Very little rain today meant that the “kids’ gliders” operation could be set up and demonstrated. It consists of a long (about 1000’) loop of braided steel wire stretched between pulleys that are anchored in the ground. The loop is driven by multi-grooved pulleys on an aged truck, whose operator controls things. The purpose of the loop is to drag a heavy metal skid along the ground; attached to this is a short post that secures the short towrope attached to the nose of the glider. The short rope pulling at ground level means the glider can never rise high.
A typical cycle involves attaching the skid to the appropriate cable, then the towrope to the skid. The truck operator accelerates the glider to flying speed, then cuts power as the glider approaches the end of the cable loop. The power cut causes the glider to overfly the skid; it then lands and the pilot (if skilled) kicks in some rudder to do a 180-degree groundloop which aligns the glider for the return run.
Guests were invited to have a go, and several WGC pilots and crews stepped up. Included was Mitch Hudson, crew for Mike Westbrook. He’s a bit larger than the standard 10- to 12-year old pilot, but had a couple of fully successful flights. I suspect few glider pilots can walk away from this experience without a big smile; Mitch clearly isn’t among them.
One of the “staff” making things run smoothly was a small boy of around 8. He hasn’t yet been cleared for above-the ground flights, so for now can do only high-speed taxiing in the glider with permanent spoilers bolted to each wing. But he’s clearly an expert on most aspects of the operation. His particular job was to move the skid from the incoming to the outgoing cable, which he did with aplomb.
At 7pm clouds have mostly retreated to the east. A Puchaz (composite 2-seat glider made in Poland) is doing winch launches at the rate of about 10 an hour; our late sunset and long twilight leaves time for many more. We look forward to a flying day tomorrow.
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.