Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zülpich 2009 - Allard van Wallene

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Eifelpokal, Zülpich 2009
Hurricane Bill traveled over the Atlantic and hit main land Europe to spoil a chain of several years of good flying weather. Luckily it had faded enough to keep the rain gear in our bags, but the wind was fierce at times. This combined with the sunny spells also made the turbulence levels sometimes hard to cope with. On F1B day, models could be seen doing all weird kind of stuff. Vicious power stalls, rolls, vertical dives… Despite the strong wind, thermals were easy to detect, even without thermistors. Sometimes temperature was rising for several minutes up to an additional 5 degrees. Needless to say, some of these trash movers would carry the models a long way: mostly into or even behind the town of Enzen on the far- east side of the field. The maximum duration was reduced to 150 seconds in the fifth and remaining rounds. On occasion the wind direction changed slightly more to the south, making the models land into a horse paddock. Horses, unlike cows, are normally not much of a problem, except for this bunch. The leader of the pack was a rather potent ‘alpha stallion’ and once he got wind of a flyer entering his ‘turf’ he meant business. Some models were kicked to bits, even one flyer got an unpleasant encounter with the stallion’s back horse shoe. It would approach you, turn around and just kick! A total of 8 F1B flyers had a clean score. The wind showed no sign of easing off, so the organizers wisely decided to schedule the fly off for 6.30 AM the next day. In F1C, Pieter de Boer was the only one with a clean score. Gerd Aringer was flying his new folder, but the wings refused to unfold and the ship came down like a cruise missile. The radio-DT saved the model from destruction. He repeated this exercise in round three, then decided it was wise to retire.

Binoculars, streamers and faces in directional synchronicity

Pim Ruyter launching in early morning fly off
Despite the wind forecast promising less wind on Sunday, the dawn welcomed us with a cool breeze. Before the start of the F1A competition, the 8 F1B flyers had to do their fly off. After having assigned all the required timekeepers everyone was soon winding their best rubber. First Mike Woodhouse launched, quickly followed by Pim Ruyter. Others followed in sequence. Despite the early hour there was apparently some good air passing towards the second half of the 10- minute slot. Those who launched last had the better times, with Bernd Silz topping the show with 338 seconds, followed by Rolandas Mackus 11 seconds behind and Michael Seifert only 17 seconds behind for third spot. Between the third and fourth place there was a gap of more than one minute.

French elegance, Myriam Morandini sends her ship off to Enzen
The first F1A round started 8 ‘o clock sharp with Victor Stamov towing immediately upwind. After a few circles he found a solid patch of air. A perfect launch followed and the model was gently climbing away for a safe 3.5 minute max. I was on the same pole, flying my newly designed and built HiBrid 2009. Also I found a nice patch of air. Despite the low turbulent levels, many dropped and the following rounds the wind increased further with gusty thermal in-fills. Only a few circle towed. The wind direction was very constant (straight over the horse paddock), so were the distances traveled by the models. I radio DT’d my model as far away from the horses as possible, but one flight the model landed on the south side of the paddock. I picked up the model and headed back towards the fence when I spotted two other models landing close by. After having picked those up, the alpha stallion got wind of the situation and started approaching, the pack quickly following their leader. Handling three models in the gusty wind was no easy task, and the stallion quickly caught up. I decided, instead of making a quick dash for the fence or scaring the animal away, to do some ‘horse whispering’. After some soothing words the horse apparently quieted down. Much to my surprise the trick worked. It turned around and headed slowly back to the pack. I continued slowly towards the fence. The alpha stallion probably thought this was an act of weakness or thought I now belonged to his pack, so he quickly turned around and headed straight for me again. The fence was still well out of reach, so I repeated the whispering act. Amazingly it did its trick again. I had to repeat this exercise once more to get the three gliders as well as myself over the fence. Mission accomplished!
Walt Ghio and Mike Woodhouse catching up during one of the 20 minute breaks
Starting poles were close to the camp site, Eggiman launching.
After four rounds, only five flyers had a clean score, Siggy Limberger, John Carter, Aurijs Plume, Alain Bochet and me. The conditions were not getting easier, and the wind picked up a few knots. Long periods of cumulus shielding the sun made thermal activity scarce. Then Limberger and Bochet dropped the fifth, Aurijs finally the 7th. I had to put up a fight in the 7th round, when the sun was hidden behind grey clouds for almost 30 minutes. Keeping the model on tow in the wind and turbulence, using a thin Spectra towline was no easy task, but finally the sun appeared again and so did the thermals for a clean score. Also John Carter managed well for a solid max.
Allard battling the turbulence (foto from Thermiksense)
The fly off was scheduled for 6.30 PM. While the contest director was counting down towards the start, the air was warming up similar to what I experienced the day before. Time couldn’t go fast enough for me to shoot the model up in this bit of undoubtedly rising air. At the sound of the horn I went up, and sure as hell, the air was there. I made one high circle to check the lift and positioning myself downwind of the starting line. Then, I made a circle to prepare for launch. The model shot up, nicely rolling into its turn to pull out of the bunt at well over 80 meters. John Carter was already on tow, but was too late to join. After a couple of more circles he decided to launch, but the air was not there and the model was coming down. After two minutes however it started climbing again but the air didn’t last for long. My model was gently circling at ever increasing altitude towards a safe max but also towards the woods at the far and of the field. I decided to radio DT the model the moment John’s timekeepers stopped clocking. I pushed the button and the model came spiraling down, in front of the woods and touching down at 5:02. A max doesn’t come any cleaner than that!

Gerard Willemsen launching HiBrid for 5 minute fly off.

At the price giving , Peter Mönninghof was given a poster of himself which every participant could sign to congratulate him with this 40th anniversary of the Eifelpokal. Trophies changed hands in the orange light of the setting sun. After the price giving I treated myself to a nice schnitzel and French fries at the field restaurant. After I finished, the generator for the frying oil and lighting was shut down. The end of an eventful flying day and time to drive home….