Showing posts from April, 2006

Let Live

The comps have ended. My friend is still gone. Every so often I think of him and my heart goes into momentary freefall. Gotta keep moving…

For a little change of feel, I decided on an adventure-rally-style flying trip in the South of Brazil with some long time pilot friends. No pilot meetings, controversy, or GPS timed finishes. Out here in this –World-, does a second mean 10 points lost? It means absolutely nothing, not even the word itself.

Packed my glider with foam sufficient for a parachute drop, to protect my all-carbon frame, and rode with the Colombians down to Miami to catch my flight to São Paulo. First a night in Miami, which is always nice.

Strange… suddenly I was in São Paulo at 11pm and dragging my 100lb glider through the airport. My friends were waiting, we loaded, and were doing 120km/h into the interior in 10min flat. Along the way we drove over a part of a truck transmission and it tore up our ride. Looked like Godzilla had gone to town on the chassis. Nothing that a l…

Flytec Task 5

The Winners

Rock On

A 100km out-and-return task that turns ugly as a massive apocalyptic thunderstorm blackens the sky and puts the whole field on the deck. A lone pilot, Jack Slocum (AKA Slow Come) started the course late and cruises in light lift kicked up by the gust front to be the only pilot in goal.

The following day, the chance of tornados in the forecast convinces the task committee to cancel the day.

Final Standings:

1st Oleg Bondarchuk
2nd Brett Hazlett
3rd Jonny Durand Jr.
4th Robin Hamilton

Flytec Task 4

Chris Smith goes for a evening flight after making goal

A 120km course surrounding the Green Swamp in classic Quest weather. The convergence setup over the swamp, creating an isolated area of buoyant air, light winds, and towering cumulus. We raced the course in just under 3h, with Oleg taking the day once again.

Flytec Task 3

Crossing goal last year

Some real Florida flying today with conditions that accelerated from 1m/s and 1000m to 4m/s and 1400m towards the end of the 100km task. It was like an explosion of atmospheric energy. The converging sea breezes created this warm compression zone with super buoyant air and towering cumulus. With each glide, the bar moved slightly more rearward as interthermal speeds begun at 60km/h and increased to 80km/h.

The usual match race during the last 20km was fun to watch and be a part of. Oleg and I raced side by side to the goal line, seconds apart, at 120km/h. Oleg got me by a couple of seconds as we skimmed the tree line into Quest, but it was a fair fight.

Flytec Task 2

Quest Air

Yo from the Master Jim Lee

On Course

At Base

Boys At Goal

After losing a day to wind, all of us were ready for a big day of flying. A cross tail 108km task to Avon Park would be our task.

Lots of puffy liar clouds to confuse us, all the more difficult with the initial 900m cloudbase. Conditions continued to get weaker for the first half of the course, ending with Jonny, Oleg, and I drifting for 5km while slowly losing 100m of height. Oleg said he was down to 260m AGL at one point. A bit tense at times but most of it was just a test of patience. As I drifted across a large lake, and watched Oleg's glider juxtaposed against the ripples of the water's surface, I was reminded how cool it was to be here and now exploring Florida's waterscape from the air.

The last part of the task contained a little convergence, as a small gift for our hard work thus far. Still we climbed fully and glided only a little faster than best glide to finally over-fly the developed urban terrain pr…

Flytec Championship Task 1

A 30km/h Westerly made the task call difficult, with Orlando airspace close downwind of Quest. The 102km crosswind out-and-return task was never completed. Myself, Oleg, Curt, and Bruno landed together to tie for first for the day.

It was one of those challenging days, where 5h of rough windy conditions drain your physical and mental energy. But once you're through it, you're glad you put in the effort.

The last little bit of the flight was really cool... a low save at 500ft near a forest but we had to follow it way downwind before getting any height. Then we were fighting straight upwind for the rest of the flight. Drifted over a couple of turqoise lakes; having something pretty to look at made the exhausting flight a little more pleasant.


Aerotowing at the US Nats

The wind finally weakened for the last day, so we flew an 82km task, starting with a difficult 15km upwind leg to the edge of the startgate. It took about 1.5h just to get in position for the start and required lots of patience and planning to fight the 30km/h headwind.

A blimp crossed our course line, which was interesting to see. Goal was a large airport on the west coast. The view of the ocean was spectacular.

Oleg, myself, and Jonny crossed goal, with a bit of a time gap before the next wave of pilots came in. The overall positions for the comp were:

1st Oleg
2nd Brett
3rd Curt
4th Jonny

Day 2,3,4,5,6 of the US Nats... wind and more wind. Too much for a picnic, too much for the beach.

Some went canoeing in the swamp, looking for gators, others went on fan boat tours of the glades. Bruce, Rob (crazy Dutch bastard), and I found a gym in La Belle to kill some time. Then we played with a blow cart (windsurfer and a 3-wheeled cart) at the airport, each of us nearly kil…

Welcome to Miami


Frog in Shower

Swallow Tail Kite

Florida from the Air

On the road once again. A long flight to Miami, where my buddy Marc Harrison picked me up and we drove to Orlando to start training for the coming competitions. First a week of advanced XC instruction then 2 back-to-back weeks of racing. It'll be exhausting, but in a good way!