Day 8 at Minden

Off again into the blue, blue skies over Minden.

JOY launches on Day 8 of the 2012 US Open Class Nationals

Photo by Stewart Tattersall

What a great photo—thanks, Stewart! Unfortunately, this photo also shows the moment when JOY was experiencing some of the best lift it would see all day…

Contest weathermancers Doug Armstrong and Stewart Tattersall put a bargain on the table: if temperatures could rise enough for thermals to punch through a layer of already-warm air blanketing the region, we could get a day a lot like yesterday’s. Better than nothing. Oh for those days last week when we could easily climb to 17,000 feet!

Once all the gliders were ready on the grid, contest director John Godfrey sent up F8 (Bill Gawthrop, ASH 26e) as a “sniffer” to see if lift conditions were sufficient to start the contest. F8 managed to wallow away from the airport in weak conditions: he wasn’t climbing much, but he wasn’t sinking either. After a time, John sent three more gliders up: YO (Dave Nadler, Antares 20E), 98 (Rick Walters, Arcus), and 7V (Ray Gimmey, ASG 29). Of these, YO and 98 returned soon, while 7V enjoyed the same “success” as F8—local loitering in minimal lift.

The launches were a reasonable gamble to take: there was always a chance that the ground heating could produce thermals capable of breaking through the pre-warmed layer. If that happened, it would pay to have as many gliders already airborne and ready to start the task as possible. A bit later, John rolled the dice again and sent up JOY and DDX (Russell Holtz, Duo Discus X).

We did our best, but we would lose 400 feet for every 200 we’d gain in weak lift. Eventually we found about 100 feet per minute over a subdivision of Minden:

We worked this for a few minutes while John checked with the sniffers to see how things were going. F8 was descending from an earlier high and was back down to 8,000 feet. 7V, and DDX were doing little better. Shortly after I stopped recording the video above, John came in over the radio and recalled the sniffer fleet individually:

“Fox Eight, the day is cancelled. Yankee Oscar, the day is cancelled. Niner Eight, the day is cancelled. Seven Victor, the day is cancelled. Juliet Oscar Yankee, the day is cancelled. Delta Delta X-ray, the day is cancelled.”

Mike landed JOY and rolled it to the side of the staging area to make room for the other returning ships:

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