What would turn out to be the final day of the Midwest 2017 HG comp. was a beautiful day with cu’s developing early. For the Sport Class we were headed to a goal labeled “BONG”, as it turns out there is a wildlife refuge there called Bong.
Like I said, it was another beautiful day and the cu’s were getting higher and higher. All the pilots waited in anticipation as I chatted with Bart on the flight line. Bart said “With the moisture in the air, you might want to be a little bit cautious.” There were some pretty big gaps in between the clouds. Anyways, I get towed up and I find myself under a big gaggle of people, and way up at the top of it is Tiki.
We all drifted and topped out and went on glide to the next cloud. This was going great for the first few clouds, then I got a little bit too eager to start racing away. I caught a glimpse of a glider way ahead on courseline and I made a B-line for him. It turned out to be Knut’s green Discus. I discovered that Knut wasn’t really thermaling but instead he was struggling to stay up. Now I’m down underneath him and I’m really struggling.
As I got down to 800′ I had lots of LZ’s to choose from but I thought I would try and cruise over the top of a barn and silos that had been sitting in the sun. By the time I made it to the silos I was at 600′ and sure enough, there was a workable thermal there and I was able to salvage me flight! I worked the thermal up to about 3500′ then I decided to make another gamble. It was a fire, a couple miles away downwind. I decided to leave my strong low save thermal and try to speed up and hit the next thermal coming from the fire.
Once I got the the fire and I could smell the smoke, I realized that it was a bad idea. The thermal there was weak and soon I was struggling again. To my relief I saw another glider like mine, a U2, but this one had a blue top to it. We both were drifting along scraping, flying together, right at a treeline before a lake I hooked up in a strong thermal. For some reason my fellow pilot couldn’t get the drift of the thermal I was in and he slowly sank out. I had a decent climb and then my thermal drifted me right into a BIG thermal that was coming off of Walmart. I skied out!
Once I saw that I had glide to goal, I pulled in hard to speed into the finish. The lift was so strong that I was climbing even as I was pulling in all the way. With the full VG, being pulled in all the way, the strong thermal was tossing me to and fro. I made it to goal! I caught a glimpse of Kelly landing his Gecko and I was happy that I did because the wind direction was 180degrees the other direction. Then I caught a glimpse of Sara, doing big wingovers with her Sport 2, in celebration of making it to goal!
More and more gliders made it to goal. Some just barely made it in!
Lucky for me a professional wildlife photographer captured my whole landing on film! I had accidentally left the VG on full for my landing. Thankfully, I had a good headwind to make it easy!
WooHoo good times! Kelly saw me and said, “DUDE, I thought you were landing for sure!” “I did too!” I said! Couldn’t have asked for a better day. The Midwest Comp was a ton of fun! I had only just got a taste and just like that it was over! Time flys when your having fun!
BY THE WAY!!! My fundraising goal of $50.00 has been reached! My newest donor Mr. Fabshaft has made a humble donation and I have now secured funds to keep the thermalcowboy.com up and running for 2018! Yeehaw! My most sincere thanks!