May TD: Bill O Retains Early Season UNL Lead as 9 Brave Breezy Blue Sky Day

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By Dan G./ MVSA Webmaster

Foley, MO May 11, 2024
Bill O leads the fight for the 2024 Unlimited title in a dry and windy day in May – that’s what you want to read? Right? A reprise of April’s weather conditions brought nine competitors, two new member timers and two true spectators to May’s Thermal Duration Contest held at the Foley location. Click here for Year to Date Rankings

Dan G. arrived around 7:30am and parked next to above ankle high grass. His makeshift grocery bag strip windsock barely pointed northwest. It was a location the club had not flown from in recent memory. It was quiet and the air was nearly still with a 67F chill. He set a hi-start and soon launched his Xplorer 3. After a few flights – he smiled at his time – 14-minutes and change. Bill R. showed up at the normal field for a few flights and then parked next to Dan’s car.

Challenges of the day

By the end of the contest, it might have well been a different day. The air temp rose only 10 degrees to 77F, the humidity would drop from a local dry 57% to an arid 25% humidity and 12mph wind gusting to 20 mph created a lite desert condition. The windy dry would be the challenge of the day.

The Field Location
The field location led to a few challenges from how to get there to a field clearing pause for mowing. It also led to one dramatic off field landing requiring a moat crossing hike to recover the aircraft – which flew in the next round.

Kevin C (right) flying in the first round of Unlimited as Larry A time the flight.


Kevin C stepped up to launch his borrowed unlimited glider on his first real launch. The flight would be the longest first round in both Unlimited and RES.

Larry leant him the 3.5 meter electric Unlimited ship. Up until the first round launch, he’d only flown it low for testing. He stood there and launched it higher than he’d ever flown it before and soon found out it needed more trimming. It needed more rudder than he’d mixed in. Soon he was soaring much higher then he’d ever flown this glider at times getting disoriented. There wasn’t time to think about the relative sized of the glider to the altitude. He found himself getting into high speed circled and loops. Larry coached him and after 9 minutes and 50 seconds he landed it at 15 on the tape.

“Being a powered guy, I have a habit of yanking and banking,” Kevin said. “These guys are real smooth on the controls. If you have a real good thermal you can get a way with [yanking and banking]. Most of it is finesse and I need to practice that.”

“The Unlimited, it’s a monster,” Kevin said. On another sortie he was surprised by a 2M in the landing area. “Then it dawned on me to check the area before landing. Lesson learned.” It was different than flying the 2M at the Phantoms as well as the hand launch gliders with the club. “There is no real energy in the hand launch gliders,” he said. He was nervous about hitting someone. The traffic was intense. Learning the traffic patterns and watching out for other planes became a thing. “I was the odd man out because I hadn’t done this before,” he said. “I was watching others and followed them.”

He did his share of leading too. He led the first two rounds in his freshman attempt with a borrowed plane. He finished the day 6th.

Meanwhile the rest of the pack was catching up. The average flight in round one was 5-minutes with only 4 of 7 flights reaching the tape. Bob G. flew for 4:25 and Wayne for 2:55. They would both fly for 10-minutes in round two scoring in the 70’s and 80’s at the tape and again in round 3. Kevin would fall to 3rd. Wayne led Bob G. by 29 points at the end of round 3. The next competitor would be Bill O, trailing Wayne by a first-round average flight – 304 points. Bob G flew for the best sortie of the contest – 10:01 and 98 on the tape – 99.96% perfect. Wayne found himself downwind of the field and used the motor to return – returning the glider to the field but leaving a zero for round four.

This would be the chance Bill O needed to take 2nd place from Wayne. Unfortunately for Bill, he would go up and down in 3 minutes 24 seconds at 87 on the tape – just 18 points shy of second place. The score, not good for 2nd but he retains 1st place for the season in Unlimited – by just shy of 30 points ahead of Wayne and Bob G is not far behind.


What was the story in RES? Bob G flew the same plane for UNL but scored 566 points less? There was no real battle yesterday for 2nd place? Third 3rd place was determined by an off field landing? An inflight emergency flight scored the 3rd best time in round 1? Yes.

Bob G’s RES Ava Pro sorties scored 1650 points vs 2299 in Unlimited. He would fly for 82% perfect in Unlimited but only for 59% in RES. He flies the two classes back to back, RES followed by UNL. Accidentally, the lessons learned from RES help bolster his UNL sortie. Despite this, Bill O would trail Bob G by a margin started at 141 points and end the contest 522 points behind.

Bill R, in his 3rd contest season, launches his Ava Pro yesterday but something is off. The white rudder seemed to look odd. At launch altitude, the rudder seemed to be hanging on by the bottom connector. He was able to turn the glider – but it was not normal. He kept it pointing upwind until he decided to bring it around. Slowly the glider descended and came land with no secondary damage within the contest field boundaries. The time was 3 minutes 56 seconds – far from the tape. The emergency flight was 3 points shy of Rich R in 3rd place and 35 out of Bill O in 2nd. He would try to tape the rudder in place but grounded the plane after just one round.

The real battle yesterday in RES was between 3rd and 4th – Rich R and Dan G – who are also 3rd and 4th for the season in RES. One can only imagine how frustrating yesterday was for these two in RES. The shortest flight between them was Rich’s 4th round flight time of 1 minute 48 seconds. We might consider this a “no lift” up and down flight. Based on this, the round 1 times were only 40-50 seconds longer – that is – they found 40-50 seconds of lift. Rich would fly for 2:30 and land at 89. Dan G. would trail by only 10 seconds with no joy at the tape. This would be reversed in round 2 – Dan flew for 3:47 and land at 82 and Rich would land 1-seocnd behind with no joy at the tape. Dan’s 82 – would be the best RES landing of the round.

Rich R walks his glider back after landing off field in round 3.

Enter round 3 – Rich would catch lift and follow it down wind. The 3.5 meter plane would get smaller and smaller as it came closer and closer to the ground eventually leveling out far downwind and off the contest field boundaries. Could Dan use this to put some points on the board and secure 3rd place? At the end of two rounds, Dan trailed Rich by a good landing – 85 points. Dan would fly for 2:40 and land short of the tape. It was enough to take 3rd place by 146 points

Enter Round 4 – Rich would go up and down with no lift, 1 minute 48 seconds, scoring 58 at the tape. The flight would be good for 166 points. Dan flew for 2:45 with no joy on the landing. 165 points. Dan would take 3rd. They would score half of their points from April’s contest. Dan retains 3rd place after two contests. Rich is in 4th.

Kevin C negotiates an approach with his 2M glider around Bob G’s RES/UNL glider mid contest.


Bob G took 2-Meter with his familiar Radian – again. Despite the winds he completed a near perfect flight in round 2 – 5:53 / 94. His nearest competitor landed out in the first round and could not come back after a hard landing in round three – that was not Bill O.

Kevin C. brought a light 20oz 2-Meter with a Radian wing to the field with a sage piece of advice from fellow Phantom Flyer, Larry A. “You want to get it down. you need to get the plane down and get it safe.”

The wind proved to be too much for Kevin’s light 2M in the first and third rounds. In the first round he was making his approach – “I realized it was going backwards and I wasn’t going to make it in,” Kevin said. He landed out of bounds and took a zero. In round 2 he got tangled up with Bob G’s round 2 RES landing. He landed safely and scored the second highest 2M score of the day – 5:09 and 71 on the tape. Round three would be his last 2M flight. A gust caught his plane on final and threw it about. The landing caused damage to the wing body connection and bent the v-tail control horn. “If I’d had super glue I would have fixed it but figured that was enough.”

A Day at the Field

Apart from this, there was no other damage to aircraft. Rich R’s Ava Pro landed out of bounds with no damage. Kevin’s 2-Meter did get damaged on a hard landing and Robert’s Volo could have had it not been for a club member.

“Kevin was going to throw it for me,” Robert said. Kevin stopped and walked back. “He said one of your v-tails was flopping around. If I had launched, I would have had an interesting flight. Kevin saved my plane.

Robert hobbled across the foot wide field drainage gully entering the field where he flew from his swivel chair. While he wasn’t flying, he would watch and give advice – like it or not – from the sidelines – the contest could be seen on his reflective futuristic sunglasses. Last year he was a contender for top 3 in Unlimited. Yesterday he was more than happy finishing last.