"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"
After the short drive over to the motel to see the team, I gathered the troops for the Sprog training and measuring session that was being held at the local school gymnasium by Denis Pagen. Prior to the event there had been quite a few emails and postings on the Facebook Competition Pilots Page concerning sprog settings and penalties being imposed for gliders with sprogs set more than one degree outside of the manufacturers settings so I was very keen to get a firm understanding of the process.
Denis ran a training session to ensure that all team leaders or managers could measure the tolerances as accurately as possible. Grant's glider was used as the demonstration glider which seemed pretty sensible as all bar one of Team GB are flying new Moyes RX 13.5 gliders - Gary's Icaro being the exception.
Through out the process it became clear that two different people measuring the same glider could actually come up with different measurements, sometimes the difference being quite small ( eg 0.2 of a degree), but in other cases the difference was quite marked.The majority of the new gliders settings were very close to the manufacturers specifications with only a few having small tweaks made for tuning.
The situation became more challenging with gliders that had been flown for a couple of seasons and had a string of changes made. We experimented with trying to put the glider in to a flying state eg wires tight rather than slack - this made a big difference to the measurements. So how dependable is this process? Well, perhaps it is a useful guide, but to impose penalties based on this, something CIVL are considering, will surely be challenged.
With all gliders measured and the results logged for submission to the competition organisers, most of Team GB headed over to the Forbes Airfield for some more practice flying, accompanied by retrieve driver Steve. I stayed back at camp while Gary rested (attempting to get over the jet lag), and I set up my GPS with local road maps using Tracks4Australia and airspace, and checked radio frequencies.
|Grant climbing out from Forbes|
After a good tow behind the Dragonfly, Tony struggled low down for sometime, but with dogged Brit persistence, managed to work some weak lift which rewarded him eventually with a good climb. I think this will be something that really makes a difference in the competition - when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
A sign of good things to come, perhaps?
Gary took off in to a sky that looked increasingly inviting - with the wind calming down and a few Cumulus popping up it was perfect for a first flight out in Oz.
After about three hours flying Grant, Carl, Dave and Tony all landed back at the airfield, with many of them having flown the most part of the practice task. Gordon, like the rest of the team, had got low a couple of times and had drifted quite a way to the South West trying to get back up. Gary stayed high above the airfield to relay messages, eventually telling us that Gordon had landed some 15km from the airfield, having survived another attack from a Wedge Tailed Eagle.
While Steve stayed with the rest of the crew, I went off to retrieve Gordon. The pictures tell the story. A beautiful sunset, a damaged wing, but a happy Gordon! Apart from the exhausting sunshine, what really shone through today was the hard work, team spirit and excellent flying skills of our team. A very encouraging day!