May 19, 2009, EARLY! Getting ready for the 2009 World Air Games
The World Air Games (WAG) is only 3 weeks away. I'd really like to
make a professional, sound and hopefully winning appearance there. That
means practice. After flying morning and evening yesterday, rehearsing
all three WAG tasks, I really wasn't planning on flying this morning.
Plus, it's cold. My breath was condensing readily when I tasted some
outside air. Naahhhh, I'm not gonna go out in this. Wisps of vapor
wafted up from the neighbors pond. Brrrrrr.
But it was calm. Hmmm. Can I afford not to fly? I could always
use no-wind practice inflations, especially with this crazy speed bar
arrangement I'm using.
OK, here goes.
In the WAG tasks, you're racing both the clock and an opponent on
each task. The drill is for two pilots to ready themselves in their
respective start deck, and when a marshal drops his flag—game on.
Although each task has it's own time, the one who finishes second takes
a 5 second penalty. You want to be first.
That means you want to launch and get onto the task right away. Two
tasks need speed, ergo need speedbar. So I'm practicing launching with
the speedbar hooked into my foot so that, immediately after liftoff, I
can push the bar out with no fussing or losing concentration on my
flight path. I'll use Michel Carnet's method soon, where he hooks his
foot to the speedbar with a bungee, but for now I'm just hooking the
speedbar around my foot.
Launching like that, with the speedbar hooked, is different and I
need to practice. Plus, I just need lots of repetitions with my
equipment and glider to better insure success. Thus the motivation to
brave this morning's chill.
The wind aloft was forecast to be south and strong. But in my back
yard it was dead calm. My condensing breath went nearly straight up. At
least there was no discernible tailwind.
I launched down my taxiway northward (the only way I can safely
launch). Something was caught on the speedbar so I powered back to stay
a foot above the ground. Left/right brake control was normal and I had
solid directional control so I throttled up and pressed on.
Something on the speedbar pulley was snagged but it was easy to resolve
Yesterday's practice at the polo field and another site was fruitful
so I didn't feel the need and I didn't have a course setup anyway. So
the mission today was simply going through the drill of launching in no
wind, rigged with the speedbar like I will be in Italy. Once I got above
about 300 feet it was clear the south wind was indeed present. This
would need to be short. No worries there, i had about an inch of fuel.
I shut the motor off, picked a spot on the field and did a spot
landing on it, another task to practice. Then I got completely out of my
motor, unhooked and went through the drill again, this time launching in
the opposite direction. The Pluto 21 (extra small) is ridiculously easy
to launch. Mainly because it's lightweight and is so small that you
don't get slowed down much when pulling it. I'll take easy any day. This
launch had no hiccups.
After liftoff I immediately went into full speedbar and fast trim to
simulate getting to a task like the cloverleaf. Then some steep turns,
controlling the level-off climb with speedbar, and finally heading home.
I climb up high when crossing SR 59 to avoid distracting the rolling
human missiles below (cars).
Since I live at an airport, there is a runway to cross so I have to
be on the lookout for planes. But that's easy given our splentactular
On the way over and back I did get a moment to reflect on the
morning's beauty. Such an amazing craft to loft us so simply into these
scenes, it makes you wonder why there aren't more. I could see downtown
Chicago from here—clearly.
Turning south put me in the maw of the wind. It was perfectly smooth
but I was nearly parked. Applying brake did let me park which is such an
unreal scene. Here I am in perfect smooth, perched. 400 feet above the
ground it's blowing 18 mph and on the surface it's perfectly calm. Go
figure. Why on some days it's like that and other days it's just nasty
all the way down I've yet to figure out.
I let the trimmers fully out, eased in full speedbar and wasted no
time getting towards my house on the subdivision's south side. I shut of
the motor and just came in for a nice slider onto the taxiway. It's
nice, with no spot to worry about, you can maximize the slide which is
Ahhh, that was nice. I'm glad I went. Hopefully that puts me one
small step closer to success and it was fun in the process.
Thanks to Marc Damon who helped with the course yesterday, and to
Tim Kaiser for helping motivate me this morning.