Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Team is on-site and (almost) ready

The Team members, Sarah, Joy, and François, met at the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport on Tuesday morning, arriving from various places in the USA. The four-hour drive to Issoudun went uneventfully and we were able to meet the owner and collect the glider, a Standard Libelle 201B, right at our arrival at the Issoudun field. Despite the long trip and jet-lag, we started working on the glider immediately, as several instruments had to be changed and connected.
We worked until sunset, then happily retired to our wonderful lodging quarters, a "Rural Gite" that is run like a bed and breakfast by a farming family. The place is a little bit farther than most from the airport, but is very quiet, which is a definite plus for the rest and sleep that we will be looking for after the expected long days at the airport.

We continued our work on the glider and other preparations on Wednesday, and managed to get the glider ready just in time for Sarah to take a first test flight at the end of the day. A few more tweaking after her Wednesday test flight and we were ready for the mandatory practice day on Thursday. The practice task was to the North and West, and revealed the two major issues that the contestants will face: A very difficult airspace structure, and the near-zilch outlanding possibilities aside from airports and strips. Although the task area is agricultural, with non-stop field after field to the horizon, none have been harvested so far. The poor weather in the area during the Spring has delayed the local harvest that typically takes place in June. After talking with a few local farmers, including our hosts at the "Gite," the landout situation is not expected to improve any time during the period of the championship... These two issues have already led to some "mishaps" during the practice days, with a few airspace intrusions and some bruises on a couple of gliders, fortunately repairable. Sarah flew well on the practice day, finishing second in her class.

The rush to get the glider ready by Wednesday evening was due to the forecast of poor weather for Friday and Saturday and our desire to get at least one or two flights in before the first contest day. Indeed, the weather turned rainy on Friday, which allowed us to focus on all the other needed items, such as scrutineering, final registration, input and familiarization with the new airspace file issued Thursday evening, maps, SIM cards for phones, radios and antenna, etc. We continued preparations today, Saturday, which is a no-fly day, and are now almost ready, with only a few minor items to wrap up tonight.

I am just being reminded that the Opening Ceremonies will start in about half an hour, so I will close this post now and go get "uniformed," and will report some more at our return.

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