A flight report from Lucas

The following is a flight report from a day during Tennessee Tree Toppers’ Team Challenge. Just like the Women’s Hang Gliding Festival, Team Challenge wasa huge success. The fall is just a beautiful time of year to fly around here, and Team Challenge is such a fun time for pilots of all skill levels. Thanks for the update Lucas and congratulations to your team for taking first place…
Today was a later day, as usual for this NW facing site. My team was able to launch around 3 after about 20 other gliders. The day was called to be a good, albeit blue, day with the inversion rising to 6,500′-7,000′, which is good for this site and 500 avg fpm climbs. Early on it didn’t seem to be that way. I was able to launch in a strong cycle and get up fairly quickly. Terry Presley substituted for Eric on our team who had to go work in Nashville, and hadn’t slept in 36 hours so may or may not be back tomorrow to fly for our team. But Terry was able to get in front of the other teams before they mover over in front of the rest of our team, where we were second to last in line.
So I was able to get up and meet Terry who had been boating around waiting for us to launch. Our C pilot was able to get up and Terry worked down just to work with him and help him climb back up. It was an excellent example of what this meet was about, if you could hear what was going on the radio – nothing beats having a former World team member core down to help you climb out and talk you through it on the radio! I know our C appreciated it, and made it to their goal! Terry was then able to scratch low from helping our C pilot, Bill from FL, and continued on to the A goal and back to land at the C goal (which was the lz of the A task as well). I stayed back with one of our B pilots who was struggling and tried to help him as best I could and spiraled down from 6,500′ to about 3,000′ to try and help him out. It was a bit more challenging to help someone – I have a lot of respect for the clinics Mike Barber has done for people for so long when he flies with them and tries to coach them. It is much tougher than it sounds, and probably more frustrating too. Needless to say the B pilot I was trying to help sunk out, and I had spiraled down several times to help him but to no avail. By the time he was landing out, I was also struggling so I floated on down to the C goal where a keg was eventually brought to the delight of all. The selfish part of myself (usually too much of myself) was frustrated that I had spent my time trying to help someone when I could have made my goal. But the altruistic-self reminded me that is what this meet is about, besides, Terry was able to help a pilot and make his goal! One of the scariest things I saw was a mid-air collision. I have talked with both pilots and neither of them knew they hit each other and maybe no one would have never known. I was less than a hundred feet over them and barely caught the incident. Luckily they both were turning right which was what was called by the task comittee. I was busy making sure I was hitting anyone when I looked down just at the right time to see the lower pilots wing left wing tip tap the right wing tip of the barely higher pilot and they just ‘boinked’ and kind of bounced off each other. It was barely a touch but it was there. I know there were some other close calls too, but overall another safe day. Tipp Rogers had one of the best launches of the day despite him having one leg and he was off after two hops off the ramp, it was amazing to watch. At the end of the day, it sounds like only maybe two or three A pilots made their goal, possibly no B pilots and several C pilots made it. Tomorrow I will post the new scores.
There is also the topic of a new scoring system that was brought up this morning because there is the concern that the C pilots are not being scored as heavily as they should be since this is what the meet concentrates on – helping C pilots learn how to go xc and so they should get the most points, which would reflect the most involvement and teaching from the A pilots on their team. So the scores may change so that the C’s are more heavily weighted, which makes sense to me. There is also the discussion to have a different format or teams for those who want to go to bigger comps after this one. Which I would have enjoyed last year to prepare me for East Coast and Big Spring. That should be a big draw for those intermediate pilots next year who are looking to attend those bigger meets.

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