Thursday was blown out, but many of us attended a landing clinic sponsored by Wills Wing and conducted by Ryan Voight. I was prepared for another repetition of traditional material but was surprised by how much I learned. Ryan led a refreshing and non-confrontational discussion that kept drawing in more and more pilots. Some of us continued discussing landings later that evening while enjoying a spaghetti dinner, drinks, and live music. I even drifted off to sleep reviewing my landings and visualizing how I would change them using the new insights I picked up.
I talked with Ryan Friday morning as he recorded landings in the calm morning air. I decided to chuck my responsibilities and take a short pattern tow to see how my technique looked on the screen. Ryan spent the rest of the morning reviewing each landing in front of the class, prompting the group to provide most of the analysis. I highly recommend his clinic for all pilots, especially those pilots like me that typically land far from the critical eyes of seasoned instructors.
Flying overhead in my new glider. Photo by Steve Pearson.
I missed the afternoon soaring session picking up Amy at the airport. Some pilots flew for 3 to 4 hours but most flew for about an hour. Friday night we were treated to smoked turkey, plenty of drinks, and more live music. I was beginning to wonder if I was a flight park that threw good parties, or a concert park that happened to offer flying. ;-)
Chilling in the shade.
The forecast for Saturday looked good so just lots of people arrived early. I wanted to land back at the Ranch in time for the dinner and party so I thought a trip to Sheets airport and back sounded about right. Cliff and Roger hadn't flown that course before so we decided to make the trip together. We launched early but I pinned off into a strong 600 fpm (3 m/s) climb to cloud base at 4200 feet (1280 m). I immediately lost my team and a short while later heard Roger say he was on the ground. Bummer. I flew downwind looking for Cliff and came across Riker, who was sporting a long pink streamer attached to his keel; a gift from the launch crew. He was pleading for someone to dive in and yank it off, but I told him it looked "cute". Everyone, including Riker, enjoyed a good laugh at his expense.
I never did find Cliff, but assumed Roger would tow back up, so I pushed upwind looking for another climb to park in for awhile. I plowed as far upwind as possible but couldn't find a climb. I was forced retreat back to the ranch low, with my tail between my legs. I found two little climbs at the edge of the field that only delayed my inevitable landing, but allowed me to watch a couple "scary" landings before coming in for a nice "no stepper".
I considered going back up, but wondered back to the tie-down line and folded up the glider. Pilots continued soaring until the sea-breeze passed through, including a few from that flew in from up north.
Shortly after the sea breeze passed through.
I gobbled up great barbecue, collard greens, beans, cole slaw, and topped it off with a long-time favorite, strawberry shortcake served up by Malcom's mom. We were treated to a movie advocating the preservation of natural outdoor playgrounds, a stunning teaser for the movie "Dreaming Awake" presented by David Aldrich, and a photo history of Wills Wing. Afterwards we danced, talked, and listened to music into the "wee hours" before collapsing for the night.
Sunday was breezy and the deluge started on Monday. It has rained, rained, and rained. Wading birds now wonder across the fields. Ditches are full and spill onto the roads. We even had tornadoes nearby that destroyed planes at Sun n' Fun. Needless to say, I've had enough "liquid sunshine" for awhile. Tomorrow, Friday, looks drier although windy.
Flights: 3, Duration: 0:52