The Inagural XC Bohl – Part 2

Coming back to the hangar saturday night, the party was already in full swing.  The grill was on and the days stories were being told while we laughed out loud.  We all could feel the absence of one laugh in particular, Jeffs’.  He was a guy that enjoyed the post flight camaraderie and sharing the stories.  Tiki put on a slideshow of Jeff and  that was heartwarming to say the least.  It was a great party and Efain and Ana’s margaritas were top notch.  

Day 2 of the XCBOHL.
Jason Radcliffe from Corpus Chrisiti was up early Sunday morning making pancakes on his coleman stove!  Not just pancakes, Jason was serving up eggs(any way you wanted them) and sausage too!  He was a savior!  Also, whoever made the coffee, it was on point!!!  So, after his volunteer duty of making breakfast for everyone was over…Jason went on to deliver an amazing presentation on SKEW T/Log P charts and understanding Soaring data.  I thought I had a good grasp of what was going on in this data…well Jason pretty much verified that I really don’t know jack, there is so much more to interpolate than I imagined.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…Team USAs Zac Majors from Wills Wing was in the house for the whole weekend!!!  Zac led us off on the 2nd day pilot meeting and he set a task that was a little bit more along with the wind than Saturdays. Wallis gliderport was the task.  Back in June I teamed up with Niki to try to make there.  I ended up gliding past on the west side of it, not even seeing my goal.  This time, I had a GPS that showed me where I was and where I needed to be going.  Jeff Kannard took off first again, and strangely, he sunk out and was back on the deck…”wait for it guys, not yet” he said to the rest of us as we stood around in anticipation.  It reminded me of the peloton in the Tour de France.  Everyone sticking together, a sprinter might shoot out front, but usually the peloton catches him again.  Everyone was waiting for someone to make the move.  Waiting to be at the right place at the right time.  I knew from todays weather forecast and forecast models it was going to be great.  I committed to going XC on the ground, and I was the first one to get on the next cart.  LJ was right behind me, and Ingo was moving his glider up in line too.  With 2 tow planes running I was able to hang around a bit for LJ to get up before I was already drifting away.
We topped out and LJ and I went on glide…and they were some tasty glides indeed.  Such a beautiful day and clear!  We could see all the way to Houston.  The could street we were on was more like a boulevard, wide with plenty of shoulder.   We were making excellent time, never getting below 3000′ just bouncing cloud to cloud.  It was freaking AWESOME!!!  Bright sunny day lit up the ground and really contrasted the shadow of the clouds.  We picked up climbs right along HWY59 and it was by far the most relaxing XC I’d ever had.  I was really enjoying the flight, from where we were, I wasn’t even thinking about landing zone options because it didn’t appear that we were going to be coming down anytime soon.
After a while, we came up to a stretch that got us past a blue hole, we got down to 2500′ for a bit.  I wanted to try and find a thermal better than LJ’s, so I went to the left of the cloud and searched.  LJ connected to a boomer and he was up.  I was in search mode still pushing downwind and suddenly im just not getting in the lift.  “Oh crap” I thought.  I glanced at my GPS and I was only 9 miles away from goal.  I kept searching, searching, and I found some broken up stuff, but I just couldn’t stick with it.  Suddenly, LJ come up on the radio for the first time the whole flight.  “Hey Ty, if your getting low just head out for the sunshine” .  “Easy for you to say” I though as I looked up with a crooked neck at LJ.
All this looking up and thermaling got my head turned upside down, suddenly I didn’t even know where the heck I was.  “what the heck is this road?” I thought…I had to blink my eyes and look at my GPS.  3 miles to Goal.  I looked up and right ahead of me there was the Wallis Gliderport!  The bad thing was, I was down to 1400′, and I thought…”I may be able to glide in from here” but no, I wanted to come into goal with altitude.  So I refocused and looked ahead…In a sunny patch of land there were two farmers plowing a field.  I made a B line for them and set my glide right over the top of them….nothing!  “Where could it be” I no no no no…..I was about to give up on a thermal being there then Bang!  I was banked over and climbing up to cloudbase again!!!  Wooohooo!!!  I could see sailplanes thermaling downwind from me having a good time.   LJ came on the radio and asked if we should keep on going.  I really wanted to.  But at the same time, I knew I had obligations on Monday and flying all day and landing out real far would put me in a bad spot.  So we spiraled down and landed at the Wallis Gliderport.  GOAL!!!   Here come INGO!  GOAL!!!