Our task for the day was to head crosswind to the northwest to a small town and then downwind west southwest to a small airfield. We expected the first leg to be the most difficult part of the flight.
Being last had a huge disadvantage today as the lake effect shadow from Lake Apopka carved a huge blue hole over launch and that only got larger was we struggled as a team to get up.
Although we finally got high enough to move, we had drifted southwest of Quest, almost in the opposite direction of our first turn point. The only remaining cumulus were nestled up against the Green Swamp. We made our move.
Rich was the only team member that escaped by climbing over the trees.
Once we were far enough north to escape the lake effect, we found plentiful strong climbs and had an easy trip to the first turn point.
The first glide and climb after the turn point was ok, but high cirrus approaching from the west was choking off the sunlight powering our climbs. We worked to stay high but the climbs were weaker and further apart.
I pushed on and parked in a weak climb downwind of a prison. I climbed, drifted, pushed back upwind to step up, but it wasn't looking good! Rich eventually found a strong climb and glided in at my level as we started tip-toeing towards goal over trees.
We took a long slow glide with a few stops towards goal. We passed over a glider in a field inside the goal radius but had enough altitude to easily make the goal field. Of course there was lots of lift over the LZ and it took us both awhile to get down.
Even though we were slow, we made it. Rich flew a much more difficult course than most of the competitors that missed the lake effect and shading.
Me and Rich
My adventure wasn't over once packed up. It was Davis' glider we saw in the field on the way in. I was shocked, as was Davis, by the height of the weeds in the field. He had a fine landing, but lost his glider after walking out looking for a path to the road.
Davis and Greg
Davis, Greg, Michael, and I reentered the field using Google Maps to rediscover the glider. It felt like we were on a safari! Yvonne said we looked like "the children of the corn" as we disappeared into the brush. I was literally 10 feet away from the glider before I saw the nose rising above the dead plants. All part of the adventure!
Flights: 1, Duration: 2:38, Distance: 50.4 km