Official Practice Day
"Phew, what a scorcher"
More water? Check.
Even more water? Check.
More ice? Check.
Even more ice? Check.
With warnings of temperatures reaching the high 40s today, there was increasing concern that the heat was actually going to become a major Health and Safety issue. During the mandatory pilot Safety Briefing this morning the organisers could not stress enough the importance of everyone keeping their core body temperature at a sustainable level - anything above 45 degrees and the body finds it hard to self regulate its temperature.
|A modest task to get the ball rolling|
|Rigging on your designated spot in line|
|Gary replaces a broken tipwand|
While rigging instruments, Gary heard a sudden loud crack from his glider and soon discovered that a tip wand had suddenly failed. With the Icaro manufacturer nearby a spare set was quickly sourced.
Tony was the first in line to be towed out of the Brits due to an alphabetical pecking order (come competition days, the first task launch order will be totally random, with subsequent days decided by the pilots preceding position). With the wind switching away from the forecast NE, the tow direction was moved around to a more westerly take off. Meanwhile as Carl was getting ready to launch, the cry of "dusty" caused the usual paddock panic with people grabbing gliders as best they could. As quick as it came, it was soon gone and Carl launched in to a blue sky, followed closely by Gary
|Gary launches in to a clear blue sky|
As temperatures rose, the ground and support crews, and pilots at the end of the launch line, took refuge under the Red Bull tent where copious amounts of complimentary Red Bull were being drunk. T-shirts, scarfs and hats were being soaked in ice water and then being immediately worn, only to provide short-lived relief from the intense heat. One of the competition organisers collapsed out of heat exhaustion in the paddock - it's a serious business...
|Johnny Durand, and Trudy Craddock enjoy the shade of the Red Bull tent, with scarfs and shirts soaked in ice water|
Having flown around for a couple of hours Tony landed to make some tuning adjustments to his new Moyes Rx 13.5. After a clear explanation to Noma Yasuhiro, Moyes' test pilot, a couple of adjustments were made, and then Noma took the glider for a test flight. Having watched him fly for well over an hour Gary called through to say that he landed some 40kms from Forbes. As I drove off to retrieve him, I left Tony staring wantingly at his glider that was now speccing out above the airfield.
|Noma makes some adjustments|
|Noma takes off, never to return.|
|Dragonfly tow pilot|
Retrieves here in Oz are pretty straightforward. With roads and gravel tracks stretching for miles and miles, driving is very easy and fast. As soon as we found Gary I approached the farmstead and spoke to the owner and took down his name and address for the "landowners draw" - a special raffle prize which goes to one of the landowners where a pilot has landed - a great community engagement idea. While derigging, Gary mentioned some of the problems he had had that day - tip wand, radio and a downwind landing. Looking up, I was not surprised that the wind had caught him out. A huge great "dusty" was spinning its way around the field where he had landed - a clear signal that these could strike at any time. Returning to Forbes I was becoming concerned that I had not heard from Carl, and with the time the wrong side of 6 o'clock, I was starting to get just a little concerned, especially due to the conditions I had witnessed earlier when, as if by magic, Carl phoned to say that he had just landed in goal...
|Carl enjoys a "Goal Beer" - a Hang Gliding tradition|
Practice Day over, and now the real fun begins. Roll on tomorrow.