1/2 Wing “Magic” Windy Start to 2023

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Dan G., MVSA Webmaster

Monday, April 10, 2023

The 2023 season officially opened on Saturday with windy conditions and one or two wild incidents. (2023 Season Contest Results)

Seven members came out for Saturday’s sunny and blustery Thermal Duration (TD) Contest. The contest marks for the first of the new “No Self Timing” rule as well as the first contest event of the year. John H and Paul L came out to support the contest with winch ops and timing.

Half-Wing Thermal

Dan G stands for a picture after the left tip section separated from the plane during a winch launch. He continued to fly at time circling in lift. He landed shy of the landing tape with a time of 5 minutes and 41 seconds. The pit applauded after he landed. The plane had been repaired over the winter and deemed “hi-start ready”. The wingtip broke off at the glued spar break. The break has now been seen as fixable and he hopes to have it ready to fly soon.

“I’ll tell you what was magic, you [Dan G.] lost a ½ wing and you were going up,” Robert said in a phone interview today (Monday).

For 5 minutes and 41 seconds the contest stopped on Saturday. Dan G flew Rich R’s repaired Xplorer 3 in its maiden contest post-repair. Rich S captured Dave Q carrying the fallen wingtip from the field as Dan circled into lift using the good wing. He would continue his flight, spiral down in what he referred to as a “tactical approach” – a flaps out right-hand corkscrew followed by a long final landing short of the landing tape. Applause and well wishes can be heard on the video as Dan waved and picked up the plane.

Dave Q walks the recovered wingtip back to the pits while the rest of the plane is still in the air.

This is a story about Saturday’s contest and not this incident but telling one is telling both. This was not the only incident on Saturday however none of the others involved damage to aircraft. Loss of flying surfaces during flight has a high probability of secondary damage caused by ground impact. Much was said after the tip-less glider was walked back to the pit area about how it could have been much worse. The sight of the tip-less glider carried is hard to watch without holding one’s breath or gasping.

Was this caused by the wind or the “not for use on winch” repair? The reason being – wind would serve as a man and glider vs nature plot line the rest of the day.

The Wind

Robert S. sets his plane down to wait for 21 mph gusts to cease in the last round of Saturday’s Thermal Duration Contest.
Wind chart from Saturday – WeatherUnderground.

“The wind – it was one of the strongest wind days I have ever flown in and how easy everyone handled it,” Robert S said today in a phone interview “They just manned up and handled it. It turns out it was not as a big an issue one would think. You just wait for your time to launch and don’t do too far downwind.”

In the last round of the day, Robert S put his glider down and waited for the wind to settle. Weather Underground showed gusts up to 21 mph during this time. Bob G popped off the line twice around the same time – once because he lost balance and the second looked like he used too much up elevator and somehow looped off the line.

Rich R waits for a break in the wind flying RES in Saturday’s contest.

Rich R. popped off the winch line in a stall. The red winged Ava Pro dove back to the group of waiting pilots and timers – many seeking cover in a cover-less field. The Ava Pro would go into a series of inverted loops before regaining control. There were abundant on field but far from the landing tape landings including two long ones – one by Rich R and one by Bob G.

Yes, the wind was a factor in Saturday’s contest lowering times and making landings difficult. At the time Robert S waited, just 4 of 11 sorties in round 4 made the tape scoring an average 50% perfect.

RES and Rich  

Rich S. ran away with RES on Saturday burying the competition in round 1 with a 9 minute 41 second flight – nearly 3 ½ minutes longer than the next pilot – who was Art F – (a rare and welcome sight!).  By the end of round two, he was nearly 300 points ahead in a 1200 point to 937-point race – again Art F. He would put in three 9+ minute flights and when the wind began to gust in round 4, he would land at 5:54 with no landing points securing a well deserved first place by 650 points.

Now to the race for 2nd in RES. Rich R flew for the 3rd longest flight of round one but pulled into second place with 70 points at the tape. Art F took the lead for 2nd place in round 2 with one of the three 9+ minute flights of the round. Bill R would fly his best flight of the day – 9 minutes 28 seconds in the same round.

It was in round 3 where the race for second in RES became interesting. Rich R’s flying streak would lose steam flying for 4:41 and zero landing opening the door to a parade of Dan G, Art F and Bob G. Art F would score a N/A opening it up even more. Rich R, Dan G and Bob G walk into round 4 nearly tied for second – all within 20 points. Dan G flew for 1-minute longer than the other two and gets 96 points at the tape to seal a second-place win.

Dan G. walks his damaged Xplorer 3 back to the pit after losing a wingtip on a winch launch. The flight was the most watched flight of the day round before retiring the plane. He went onto finished 2nd place in RES with an Ava Pro.

I know we talked about Dan before with is wingtip loss and safe landing. His round 4 flight was his only second place flight time. On a windy day with shorter than normal flights in RES this guy averaged 91.75 points per landing – the only to score landings in all four rounds and look at this – 97, 92, 82, 96. This fact would be a cool piece of club trivia had Art F continued and Bob G had a typical Bob G. day.

“Landing points are worth a minute and a half in the air,” Robert S said. “You fight to gain 10 seconds of flight and blow your landing.”

UNL or “The Bob G. Show

Bob G. squints into the sun on his last RES sortie launch as Rich R. times.

Club contests are fun and an opportunity for pilots to get together and enjoy the hobby. It is said a sailboat race is whenever there are two or more sailboats on the water. Competition is a natural byproduct of social.

Having said that, Bob G flew three perfect flights after three rounds – 10:01, 10:05. 9:59 – 43 points from perfect (full points for each flight). As the windy round 4 came – his time fell to 5:33 and zero landings. It would be enough to secure 1st place honors for Unlimited and 85% perfect for the day. – On to the battle for second place Unlimited. Dave Q came out swinging with an 8 minute 9 second flight but zero at the tape. Robert S flew for 7:44 but grabbed 93 at the tape propelling him to second place. In round 2, Robert flies for 5:38, the second longest flight of the round. He debated whether to run the plane’s motor to return to the field. In the end he landed far from the tape without the need for the motor. It was this decision to that would prove itself later. Dave Q also landed off the tape with a 2:43 flight. They both come back with near perfect flights in round 3.  

Going into the final round, Dave Q trails Robert by 267 points – 3 minutes flight time + a good landing. Robert S walked at the launch area, stopped and out of character places his plane on the ground waiting for the wind gusting 21 to die off. They launch. Robert flies for 7 minutes 38 seconds and nails the landing with 85. Dave Q flies for nearly two minutes longer (9:30) and lands off the tape scoring the best of the round, 27 points over Robert but not enough for second place. Robert would take home second place leading Dave by 240 points.

Dave Q (left) flies in the last round of Unlimited on Saturday as Robert S. works as his timer. The “duo” battled all day for 2nd place in Unlimited as they flew and timed together. “We just like timing each other,” Robert said. “Dave tells me what I want to know and what I like to know.”

Timing for “The Competition”

Dave Q and Robert S could be seen throughout the day seemingly taking turns – flying and timing – again – as they competed for second place.  

“We just liked timing each other, it just worked,” Robert S. said in a phone interview. “Dave tells me what I want to know and what I like to know. You see guys who appear to be fighting it out for a place timing each other. No one knows which place they are.”  

““We just liked timing each other, it just worked. Dave tells me what I want to know and what I like to know. You see guys who appear to be fighting it out for a place timing each other. No one knows which place they are.”

– Robert S.

Robert went on to describe what a good timer does. It needs to be enough info but not too much, Robert would go on to describe. Chris L was famous for giving too much data – to how leaves were moving on trees. For Chris, who processed information faster than anyone else, it was normal. For everyone else, it was too much.

“No one liked Chris L to time because he could see the air and process a tremendous amount of data – every falling leaf,” Robert S said.

If camaraderie was the goal for no self-timing, from Saturday it looks like the goal was achieved.

Paul L, the hand launch star, drove up in his two-seat convertible. All eyes looked inside for a glimpse of the plane he could fit in there. It was a hand launch but he was not there to fly. Paul came out to time and time he did. – Another face seen but not heard in the sky was John H, who ran the winch. Always at the ready and busy throughout the day, retrieving the line as well as fixing winch issues throughout the blustery day.

Next Saturday is the “FFFF” (Food Folks and Fun Fly). A few weeks ago the club invited the Aeronautical Engineering School at SLU to come out. The school has made it a field trip and hopes to build a club around it. All of this balances on the weather for next Saturday. The forecast for next Saturday is “Scattered showers and thunderstorms, especially early in the day. High 73F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” (Weather.Com)

Weather Underground Historical Weather for Saturday’s contest

Full Contest Results