8/19/17: My first XC flight since Refugio. The winds were light and Nate and I had set a 100km triangle task. Wharton, East Bernard, Garwood, Wharton. I was able to keep up with Nate to the first turnpoint and when we got there I lost sight of him. We had radio communications but they were jammed by people on the ground using our freq. Anyways, I got to East Bernard and the clouds were few and far between. Also, many clouds were developing quickly and dissipating rather fast. It took me an hour and a half to make it to East Bernard, at 4 o’clock I thought I was going to be pushing it to try and make it to Garwood, then fight a head wind home. So I decided to just make it an out and return.
This flight was challenging, anybody can drift downwind, when you add upwind/crosswind tasks to you XC you have to really be on your game! I made some good progress back to Wharton and on this flight I made a pretty cool realization. I was more aware of my surroundings than ever before. As I was up in the air I could look around and recognize all the towns and roads, even ones way off in the distance. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but I realized how much I have become familiar with this area where we fly. Anyways, I was almost back to Wharton and I sank out. One thermal away, so I found a nice landing field and then another landing field. At,700′ with a couple of good options I decided to land at the field that offered some shade to break down the glider in. Both fields were equally safe to land in, I just went with the one that had shade. Did I mention that it has been BLAZING hot down here in south Texas!
I used my groundspeed indicator on my Garmin to help reassure myself of the wind direction while I circled the LZ. There was a scrappy little thermal coming off the barn but it wasn’t sustainable. 300′ a guy in his truck pulls off the road and rolls down his window to watch my landing. On final, the wind had pretty much disappeared and I flared and ran a few steps. Downtubes came down and rested on my shoulders, I give a thumbs up to the guy in the truck and hoot “whoo hoooo”. The guy in the truck gives me a thumbs up and drives off. I then break down in the shade of a HUGE cottonwood tree! Thanks Mark and Carl for the swift retrieve! Congrats to Nate for completing the 100km task and gliding into goal at dusk, WELL DONE NATE!
Here are some photos from my whatsapp group. Photos by Omer and Christopher