Day 5 (remember, we’re counting from 0 on this blog; it’s the sixth day of racing). It got windy, but that didn’t keep us out of the air, or these birds for that matter (you may have to click to see them).
We spotted those guys northbound while flying south to Desert Creek Peak at the end of today’s task.
Today’s turn area task (c.f. the second practice day) kept us close to airports and close to Minden:
Doug the weatherman warned us yesterday: wind was coming from the north, and plenty of it. Strong winds can disrupt the thermals and other ordinary lift sources, making them difficult or even impossible to use. A contest director wants to put up a challenging task each day, but never wants to declare a task so difficult that all of the gliders fail to finish. So, we stayed pretty close today.
Here is what we flew in JOY. Remember, a turn area task doesn’t require you to visit each of the turn points directly—instead, you just have to get inside of large circles (“turn areas”) described around each of the turns (not shown). It pays to fly deeply into a turn area if you can do it quickly: you get more points that way. If you can’t, though, best to just graze it and try to achieve speed and depth somewhere else.
That little lobe north and east of Mono Lake can mean only one thing: team JOY was seduced by the siren song of the Sierras again. This… did not pay off. Here is a profile view of this exploration from Google Earth. We are moving from right to left (click to enlarge):
Mountains are neat places, but sometimes they just have crazy amounts of sink, even if the clouds sitting on top of them suggest good thermals. Oh well. Decisions about where to go are part of what makes soaring a challenge. (Download this KML file if you’d like to see the entire flight in Google Earth, as well as the car ride back to our hotel. I forgot to turn off the logging for that part…)
Despite our detour, we managed to do okay, claiming fourth place for the day and retaining our usual third place spot. And of course I never tire of posting photos like these:
We were descending pretty quickly when I snapped those, heading down into the valley north of Mono Lake. The Sierras may not work for soaring each time, but they certainly are great to look at.
By the time we returned to the airport, the predicted strong winds were indeed in place. We had been keeping JOY tied out on the airport ramp essentially since we first arrived, but today we would have to take it apart and put it in its trailer. For such a big glider, it’s a surprisingly quick job. Take off the horizontal tail, remove the wing panels one by one, and slide everything into the trailer:
See you on Tuesday, JOY! No flying tomorrow: it’s a rest day. We’ve flown six days in a row, not counting practice days. The winds will keep blowing through the day, so we won’t be missing much.