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Old Dec 05, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Southwest Classic-I'm goin'

Two years ago I made the drive to Phoenix and had a blast flying in the Southwest Classic. Had a great time (in spite of getting dust stormed out on day 1 of the TD contest) and met up with some good people. It's a bit of a drive but to me it was well worth it.

So I'm going again.This year's Classic TD event (info here) is on Feb 23/24. I'm going early so I can watch the F3J event and see guys like Joe Wurts compete. The TD contest is a marathon 10-task event: Saturday: 6min, 8min, 10min, 10min, 10min, 8min; Sunday: 6min, 8min, 10min, 5 minute.

I'll make occasional progress and observation posts to this thread. Fingers crossed on the weather

Chris B.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 10:41 AM
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F3J real-time scores

By the way, the Classic F3J event scores will be maintained in real time and posted on the Internet here. This is a very cool way to be a spectator and watch who is doing well, and not.

Would be neat if the SVSS Summer Classic could do something like this. Simplest form of Internet posting would be to print a PDF of the scoring spreadsheet after each round and ftp it to the SVSS web server where it could be linked.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:55 AM
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Chris,

Have fun and good lift!

JPH
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 06:14 PM
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We would need web upload capabilities from the field, presumably via cell networks.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by awilmunder View Post
We would need web upload capabilities from the field, presumably via cell networks.
Yep, we could use a USB tether hookup to nearly any smartphone for a data link. My Droid X works fine for that, your iPhone probably would too. The connection would only be needed for posting.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 08:11 PM
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SWC report, day 1

Arrived at the Southwest Classic flying field at mid day. The drive down was uneventful with an overnight stay in "scenic" Blythe ~5 miles from the CA-AZ border. I say uneventful if you ignore the LA traffic at commute time. grrrr. Anyway, the rainstorm that was over CA on Tues hit Phoenix today and left puddles and mud at the field. More light rain is forecast for tonight but the rest of the days look good.

Guys were bungee practicing for tomorrow's start of the F3J contest. Honestly it was a cavalcade of the new X2 Xplorers. I kid you not. Had a chance to see Dave Webb's (rcg:webbsolution) brand spankin' new X2-4.0 and Tuan Le's (rcg:fnnwizard) new X2-3.8. Both beautiful planes. Webb's 4.0 is so new he hasn't had a chance to weigh it yet but when I picked it up I would guess it was in the low 60's. I mean r-e-a-l-l-y light. Tuan's X2 was also light and so new that he maidened it here minutes before I went over to say hello.

The highlight of the day for me was getting to watch up close as Joe Wurts flew one of his Maxas and ended the day with a long series of hand-launched launch-and-land practice flights. He had another guy timing for him and, as it turns out, Joe flies in almost tutorial fashion verbalizing things he's doing, or trying to do. Watching him thermal from both bungee and hand launches in windy chilly conditions was an educational treat. I also watched Daryl Perkins, Mike Lee, and others with similar excellent reputations. After watching these guys (and by watching I mean watch them for a complete uninterrupted flight) for an afternoon I see some striking similarities between their flying and landing approaches and our best guys like JT, Scott Meader, etc.

My plan for tomorrow is to divide my time between watching the F3J event and practicing myself at a nearby grass park field (also with puddles).

I'll try to post some pics eventually...

Chris B.
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Old Feb 21, 2013, 10:35 AM
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They are broadcasting a livestream from F3J in the Desert as well. 9:30am Phoenix time and it looks like the winch stations are all set up, people are milling and the action will start pretty soon.

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/2...events/1854308
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Old Feb 21, 2013, 08:37 PM
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SWC report, day 2

Divided the day between watching the F3J contest and practicing at a nearby park. Weather was chilly with light breezes in the AM but by noon it was nice with some occasional clouds and very good thermals.

You can see the day 1 F3J contest scores at the link I gave earlier in this thread. Pretty tight at the top, amazing flying by many. Spent lots of time tracking flights from several pilots including Joe Wurts and Tuan Le who decided to fly his brand new X2-3.8 in the contest. During one of the early rounds I was a spectator behind Tuan's group and was looking up during the launch when something unexpected happened. Before I go further it helps to know how F3J contests work. If you know you can skip to the next paragraph. Here it is in a nutshell: F3J is a man-on-man thermal duration and landing contest with a twist: the longer it takes you to launch your plane the less possible duration points you can get. So the emphasis on launches is to get off tow as FAST as possible. The average tow is 1.5-2 seconds. To get the highest possible launch you "pre-tension" the super-strong monofilament winch line with as much pull as your plane-launcher can handle so when the beeper starts the round you can release and whamo you let your plane climb for ~1 second then do a very aggressive zoom.

Anyway, as I'm watching a member of Tuan's group launch all of a sudden there's yells followed by a sickening and very loud crash from the group next to where I was standing. The result: all 6 planes in that group were damaged and instantly unflyable. Several sustained severe damage. The cause: as explained by one of that group who was watching from down the winch lane the plane launcher person could not hold onto the plane due to too much line pre-tension and his outstretched arm holding the plane collapsed toward his body. This caused the plane to release at a bad angle with a huge amount of stored energy. Because the pilot was not expecting the early release the plane looped around, down, and sliced through all the other pilot's planes neatly lined up on the ground behind the launch area.

It's always sad to see any of our expensive planes crash but to see 6 trashed like that was sickening to see. It was a miracle that no one was hurt.

More practice and F3J waching on Friday, then the TD contest on Sat and Sun. Weather forecast is for mid 60's, 5-10mph breezes, and partly cloudy like today.

Did I mention yet this is desert country? Lots of cactus and rock lawns. And their public parks are not infested with soccer kiddies. Instead I had a nice chat at the park where I practiced with a wintering old guy from South Dakota who was whacking golf balls up and down the park lawn.

More soon.

Chris B.
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 09:53 PM
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SWC report, day 3

I did lots of practice today at the nearby park so I did not watch as much of the F3J contest. Bottom line: Joe Wurts won in the flyoff of the top 14 pilots. That guy can fly (and land!). He's also going to participate in the TD contest that starts tomorrow.

I found a great timer for the TD contest: Rick B. the handsfree winch retriever guy. He also was kind enough to give me a personal tour of his retriever products which I video recorded and will share when I get back home.

When I got back from my practice session the field had just opened up for fun-flying so I put my X3.8 together and flew some more including some flights with Tuan who was glad to have some time in calmer air to continuing tweaking his X2-3.8 setup.

TD contest pilots meeting at 8am tomorrow. The first round or two will be challenging if conditions are the same as today.

More soon.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 10:30 PM
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SWC report, day 4

Day 1 of the TD contest started with frost on the field but by mid AM it warmed up and turned into a stunning day for soaring. The sky was clear with 3-4mph breezes most of the day, just enough to give good launches. A total of ~60 pilots participated in the open class that I was entered in. My timer Rick Bothell did a fantastic job and had some great flights in the open and res classes.

We had time for 6 tasks: 6,8,10,10,10,10. Landing was a short tape to 50 points (tape graduations were 100,95,90,85, etc every 5 inches so a 95 on their tape was ~98 on ours) and there were no restrictions on having to stand behind a safety line. Thermals after the lunch break were v-e-r-y strong.

At this point I either wax philosophic on the day's flying or I just disclose how I did. Hmmmm. Okay, how about this? After the first 3 rounds I was in 3rd place with Joe Wurts in 1st. Can I stop there? No? Okay, I didn't make my time in the 4th round which after all my other flights put me in the middle of the pack. Ugh. I tried to range too far right off launch and got caught too low. Since the entire field is lined with tall trees I made a command decision to save the plane and get back to the field. Truth be told one of the contributing causes was not getting enough launch height compared to other Xplorers. Always something to work on.

On the last flight of the day we were treated to a rare experience: watching Joe Wurts almost miss his time flying low and dangerously close to flying below the tree line and thus losing sight of his plane. But.... as he was flying back toward the treeline presumably to land on the field he hit a very noticable bump and worked it like the master that he is. Slow controlled steady-as-a-rock thermal turns without missing a beat. He got his time and is still in 1st place.

Since the wx forecast for tomorrow is moderate to high winds we may not get a chance to fly on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

Chris B
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Quick side note before I head to the field. Quite a few I have met up with here at SWC have said they are very excited about flying in our Summer Classic. I've actually answered quite a few questions about our club and field. If this is a representative sample our contest should be well attended this year by out-of-towners.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 01:54 PM
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Chris,

Looks like you are doing a good job representing SVSS at the event. You got off to a great start. Good luck today pulling back into the top group.

While you are there, I'm intrigued about the Handsfree retriever from both a safety and convenience perspective and would appreciate hearing anything you learn from your timer.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Great reporting Chris! (much better detail than what is on the main threads for these events) I look forward to reading your Sunday installment which was a very windy day from what little I can gather.

Bob
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 11:13 AM
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SWC report, day 5

Well, it turns out it was windy today. And then it got very windy. But it turns out that didn't even come close to ruining the day. In fact it made day 2 of the TD contest a whole new ballgame in terms of flying strategy which many found challenging but more than worth the effort. And as a preview of the results, yes, Joe Wurts knows how to fly and land in heavy wind .

At the pilot's meeting the ground-level wind was 10mph with gusts to 12. After a vote to move the winches so they headed into the wind (without the retrievers since manual retrieving in this wind was faster/more reliable), an hour had passed. By then the wind was whipping to ~15mph. The weather was cool but sunny/clear. I should also mention that the wind forecast thinned the herd to 1/3 less pilots for Sunday. The final open class scores were listed for 43 out of an original 65 or so pilots.

On the first round (6 min) thermals had not started cooking yet so your only realistic option was to launch as high as you could and then find wave lift. This was a case finally in favor of all the trees outlining the field. And, as it turns out, the best wave for the winds out of the NW was from the trees and outbuildings on the north edge of the field. The trick was to keep your plane above the minimum wave line which you would know if you have ever flown the SVSS eucalyptus treeline wave.

The contest CD Ian wisely decided to call the day's flying after 2 full rounds due to the wind. I'd estimate the wind speed for most of the 2nd round was 18-22mph with gusts to ~25. Clearly the most wind I have ever flown in.

A few month ago I decided to use the Xplorer 3.8-ST as my windy weather plane. It outlaunches my X4.0, is more maneuverable in the LZ, and is less sensitive to gusts on final approach. So I loaded it up with a "whopping" 8oz of ballast and flew. I would have used more but I made 1-piece ballast bars so I didn't have any other options. On round 1 I got a great launch, found the wave, and cambered up for best lift without drifting backwards. Remember, wind on the ground is one thing but at 800-1000 feet it's ~3x the ground speed for the type of ground objects this field has around it. Anyway, I got my time (10sec short) and got 25 landing points on their short tape.

Second flight (8min) was harder. Thermals had begun to cycle but, and this is a big but, if you were not heavily ballasted, one or two turns and you're waaaay downwind and past the treeline point of no return. In the entire day's flying I only saw two planes even try to thermal downwind of the field: Joe Wurts was one of them and only because I later learned while talking with him that he had ballasted his Maxa 72oz 4.0 with an additional ~2lbs. Holy crap. I know Bob McGowan flies with that much ballast too.

Anyway, I got a good launch (about 30 seconds after Wurts) and was able to work wave in the center of the field until about 2min to go, then it got much windier and harder to stay up. I ended up doing some very careful low altitude wave & bubble flying and (barely) made my time. Actually I landed 14 sec short due to my landing pattern paranoia about not wanting to land short in 20mph wind. Also got better landing points: 60 this time. My timer Rick said that both Joe Wurts and I followed a very similar profile in terms of flying height throughout the 8 minute flight. So I ended up feeling pretty good about Sunday's flying.

As predicted Joe Wurts came in first and he certainly deserved it. Even after missing one flight time on day 1 I finished in 21st place. CASL will post the final scores on the RCG thread soon. No regrets at all, I learned a ton. I'm really glad I decided to fly this event. Made even more soaring friends and looking forward to coming again next year.

Final closing thought: CASL put in a bunch of work to make this event happen. Many of you SVSS'ers may not know but their flying field is not "theirs," it's a commercial farm that rents out the field to a variety of events. So, they have to trailer in all their equipment. It really underscored to me how lucky SVSS is to have a permanent home field with nice landing grass, storage containers, and a wonderful shade structure.

Until next time...

Chris B.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pics but when I get home I'll post some.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 11:16 AM
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Great reporting Chris! (much better detail than what is on the main threads for these events) I look forward to reading your Sunday installment which was a very windy day from what little I can gather. Bob
Hey thanks Bob, I appreciate the feedback. Yes, day 1 and day 2 were entirely different. I didn't mention the boomers on day 1 after lunch but Joe W did and he's right, they were strong.

Ciao,
Chris B.
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