2018 USA Unlimited National Championship Coverage

Two days of NATS Photos covering the Unlimited TD Contest.


Unlimited Thermal Duration National Championships

OMG! Soaring is the most fun segment of RC! I just wrapped up competing in my first ever NATS Unlimited TD contest. What an amazing two days it has been and this experience really shows me why I love soaring. The people are amazing! Everyone was laughing, Johnny was having fun with people on the flight line, but also being a rock star helping out the whole contest. Jeff did a fantastic job CDing the event and the LSF guys were really focused on making sure everyone was having a good time. Yeah sure it's a contest and it was extremely competitive, but on the flip side this is supposed to be fun. You are hanging out for two days with some of the greatest people you will ever meet including legends like Larry Jolly and Gordy Stahl. It was so great to see Gordy at the event and flying in it no less.

The weather was pretty great on Wednesday with lift everywhere (for the most part), but Thursday brought in the wind and challenging conditions. I heard more than one person say they were just trying to survive each round. There were multiple missed landings and 0 flights due to landing off field. From my perspective, I just didn't want to get buried, but man Larry Jolly put a hurting on me one round where he was the only one to hook up and max his time, it was an honor Larry! After that, I decided that if I wanted to stay in the top 10, I would need to take some risks, smart risks, but I needed to push the limits of the plane and my vision in order to keep up with the top guys. I had two memorable flights that both netted me a max time with Randy and we put a hurting on others that landed way early. The first one I started out in front as there had been some nice wave lift before. The wind was pretty high and I was ballasted up with nearly 2lbs of lead in the Supra. I went over the AMA Headquarters and found nothing, turned downwind and ran the tree line which is quite a ways away, and found nothing. I turned to cross back parallel to the field and it wasn't looking good. No one else really had anything, but but Randy was way down wind and in a thermal I had no chance of getting to. I said to myself "God I hope I find some lift" and just at that moment I saw a Hawk that came out of nowhere back by the tree line I had just come from. I did a 180 and made a B line for him and low and behold, there was my ride. The only problem was it was deep and moving away fast. I started walking to the far end of the field just so I could keep the plane in sight. I took it all the way up to cruising altitude and got my time and a decent landing. The second memorable flight was very similar. I had just easily maxed a 10 minute flight with some monster wave lift out front in the F group for round 12. I landed and immediately had to fly in Group A on Round 13. I knew I was in 8th place by a few hundred points after 11 rounds and just had to not get buried in round 12 or 13. With 12 being so easy out front, I went right back to it, but it had fizzled. Randy again went downwind and started turning just past the field in great lift, but with the wind speed so high it was moving downwind and away fast. I didn't feel great about the air I was in out front and no one else was looking good out front either so Scott Shaw my timer told me I could make it to Randy so I flipped it to speed mode ran downwind. I was sinking the whole way and was getting nervous that I missed the ride. Just when I was about to call it quits and look for something else, I ran into the lift and started turning. It went up FAST and was getting very far away again, so I started walking out towards the beans just to keep it in sight. Once again I got high enough to coast it on home and make the time. I'll be thinking about those two flights tonight in bed, just too much fun! The net result put me in 4th place overall. This was only my 2nd TD contest and I couldn't be happier to have done so well, especially with so many fantastic pilots in the group. Huge congratulations to Amy Pool for showing us how it's done and winning the National Title.

Regardless of doing well or not, this is just some of the most fun you can have flying. The air is different for every flight group and it is so fun to search out and find enough lift to keep you flying for 10 minutes. It takes skill and practice and there are tricks you can learn, but if you have never caught a thermal with a sailplane, you are really missing out on some fun stuff. A huge thanks goes out to all those who helped setup the winches, kept score, and volunteered their time to make this event so great. Thanks also to all the pilots who showed up, without whom there would be no event. Newbies are welcome and there is an amazing wealth of knowledge to tap into. You NEED to be here! Everyone involved wants to grow the sport and get more people soaring. I cannot wait to do it again and I won't have to wait long. Next up is F3J for two days and it is going to be blast. Good luck to everyone flying in J and those in F3-RES as well. The Soaring NATs is nearly a wrap and then we have to wait a year to do it all over again. I hear the schedule might be a little better some people too : )

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This thread is privately moderated by Jason Cole, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Jul 26, 2018, 09:59 PM
Dark Side of the Red Merle
Curtis Suter's Avatar
Excellent write up and Congratulations to Amy Pool!!!
Jul 27, 2018, 10:09 AM
Registered User
Great job Amy! Nothing like the whole field being given a lesson by The Girl.
Jul 27, 2018, 04:13 PM
Modeling Retread

Hope you got, or can get, a souvenir 2018 NATS shirt and have a big 4 embroidered over a sailplane. That seems to be your lucky number this year.
Jul 27, 2018, 05:31 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
That would be cool!
Jul 27, 2018, 06:18 PM
Registered User
What were the top four finishers flying?
Jul 27, 2018, 09:38 PM
Registered User
GliderJim's Avatar
Amy - Maxa
Gavin - Xplorer
Karl - Xplorer
Jason - Supra
Jim McCarthy - Xplorer

I couldn't tell you which versions or layups. I was just going through the AMA Flickr feed looking at photos to see what they had.
Jul 28, 2018, 10:43 AM
Registered User
Congratulations Amy!
Jul 28, 2018, 08:17 PM
Not landing late ever again
threcixty's Avatar
Congrats Amy! You earned it!

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