’23 One Last Time

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The first contest of 2024 is on Saturday just 48 hours away. As we get ready to fly a new season, this an appropriate time to take one last look back at our club in 2023.

In 2023 we made 899 flights for a total flight time of 2 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes.

In 2023, March through November (not January 1 to December 31 or late-November to late-November) we made 899 flights for a total flight time of 2 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes. The average flight time was 3 minutes and 56 seconds. We flew 17 contests averaging 5.2 flyers per glider class. Our most attending class is Unlimited with a high of 9.

How do we define a year?
Before we get started, this is a little aside. Recently we debated as a club when 2024 began. Does it begin on January 1 or does it begin after the last contest of 2023? The issue surrounded the annual “Longest Flight” award – a prestigious 2-foot-tall trophy with a wood base and a bronze-colored bowl. (Not sure if the bowl is metal or plastic). For a week the debate carried on with two long flights hanging in the balance.

‘It’s my award and I say flights after the last contest count for next year,’ wrote Dave Q. who donated the award to the club. The morale of the story is part of our club began 2024 in late November and the other part began it in January. It’s the passage of time that counts here.

Our most popular contest day continues to be Thermal Duration. Last year at TD contests we made 292 launches using electric motor, winch and hi-start launch devices flying three classes of gliders (Unlimited, RES and 2-Meter). Our total flight time was 1 day, 4 hours and 12 minutes – an average of 5 minutes 48 seconds per flight. Our average landing score is 46.2 points.

Our next most popular contest day is ALES where we average 5.2 flyers. Last year we flew 139 ALES flights for a total of 19 hours, 12 minutes and averaged 8 minutes 18 seconds per flight.

On Hand Launch / DLG contests we made 468 flights totaling 11 hours and 24 minutes with an average flight time of 1 minute 36 seconds.

Our gliders range from 1.5 meters to 4 meters in wingspan, $200-$4,000 in price with birthdays ranging from the early 1970s to 2023. The gliders were designed by aeronautical engineers to hobbyists from Europe and the United States. Our flyers were born between 1940 and 1980.

We all strive to fly perfect – not to be perfect. A perfect flight is getting all the possible points – flight time and landing. We get a point for each second up to either 6 or 10 minutes (depending on the task) and a point for each line on the landing tape closer to the stake. A perfect flight would be a full flight time ending at “100” on the landing tape. But if you land outside of the designated field perimeter – you get nothing but a walk in you near future.

One of our best flew 97% perfect at a contest last year. The club averaged 56% perfect for the season. Another flyer took home 93.7% of his possible landing points in a four-round contest.

One flyer lost ½ a wing on the launch, continued the flight for a flight time of 5 minutes 46 seconds but landed short of the landing tape. There are many more stories from 2023.

Every year a few of us travel to “The Nats” – an annual national glider contest. Google it.

Another one of our best fliers missed the last three contests due to back surgery. “With all the help I can get,” he said recently, hopes to be there. From his chair, a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia in white shirt and pants, tinged with the scent of vanilla to keep away the gnats – he’ll be heard once again – the familiar counsel – “Turn you’re in lift.”

March Club Events
Saturday, March 2 – 1st Hand Launch / DLG Contest of 2023
Saturday, March 9 – 1st Thermal Duration (TD) Contest of 2023
Saturday, March 16 – 1st Fun Fly of 2023
Saturday, march 23 – 1st ALES Contest of 2023

By the numbers – On Contest Days

899 Flights
2 days, 9 hours, 36 minutes – Total Flight Time
3 minutes, 38 seconds – Average Flight Time

Thermal Duration Contests
292 Flights
1 day, 4 hours, 12 minutes – Total Flight Time
5.2 – Average Flyers per class
46 points – Average Landing Score
93.7 – Best Contest Average Landing Score

Hand Launch / DLG Contests
468 Flights
11 hours, 24 minutes – Total Flight Time

139 Flights
19 hours, 15 minutes – Total Flight Time
8 minutes, 18 seconds – Average Flight Time