IHLGF - 2004, Poway, CA
IHLGF 2004
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  • Jan Kansky
  • Phil Barnes
  • Joe Wurts

    Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 20:59:07 -0700
    From: "Joe Wurts"
    To: "RCSE", "SALglider"
    Subject: IHLGF remembrances (long)
    It is hard to follow all of Phils great posts.  Not only did he do a great
    job flying, but also in capturing the essence of the event in his posts
    afterwards.  I'll be capturing more of a personal note in the below, as Phil
    and others have already captured the overall event better than I can.
    Once again, the TPG put on the greatest of all HLG events that I've been to.
    And for yet another year, the conditions ranged from what I call "stupid
    air", to the other extreme, where the air makes you feel stupid.  One thing
    that was kind of neat to see, was that launch height wasn't really a
    deciding factor.  If you can read air, you can make it happen.  I watched
    one of the latter rounds on Sunday where Larry Jolly was flying an airplane
    that was only getting about half the launch altitude of his competitors, and
    he still won the round.  This is the essence of a good soaring competition,
    where it is the flying, not the launch.  And Paul Anderson, who finally beat
    me for the first time this year at the IHLGF (he has won in many smaller
    comps, just not at the BIG one), was flying a venerable full-house Raptor.
    Not exactly the top end of the state of the art aircraft, but in Pauls hands
    still makes the grade.  Once again, it was about the flying.  Of course,
    there were some cool new things showing up.  Bill Watson is always
    interesting with his unique and innovative concepts.  Phil Pearson has
    transitioned to all CNC parts for HLGs, you have to see them to
    appreciate them.
    There was an element of luck, as there always is in a large event.  Over the
    short term, it was neat to see the thrill of fliers that got things right
    and got a 1000 in a round.  Over the whole event, the luck factor tended to
    even out, although Oleg was dealt a disproportionate amount of bad luck in
    the last two rounds.  I felt badly for him, as he deserved to make the
    fly-offs.  What about providing a "bye" into the fly-offs for the previous
    years winner of the event?  I invite critical comments on this one, as I
    might not have an objective view on the concept...
    The east coast contingent has definitely come of age in soaring.  As I noted
    last year, the center of competitive soaring is moving eastward.  What I
    really enjoy, is that they have a great attitude about competition, and
    freely share information without reservation.  A great group of true
    One of the really enjoyable things, was in timing for Walter Windhagauer of
    Austria.  He had competed in European HLG events, and stopped by the IHLGF
    to see what we were doing in the US.  His aircraft were beautiful examples
    of manufacturing, all molded, and pristine in every way.  I timed for him
    for the majority of the contest, and really enjoyed watching his experiences
    in the strong Poway conditions.  Quite a bit different from what he was used
    In the past, I've always felt that my strength in soaring was in having a
    steady consistency..  This year, I was reduced to having bouts of occasional
    brilliance, followed by longer periods of mediocre flying.  This, even with
    the apt capabilities with Gordon Jennings as a caller.  Gordon, thanks for
    the great calling.  Guess I'll have to practice more for next year!
    One of the flights that I had belied the famous pilots quote, which I first
    heard from Ben Clerx, " a superior pilot uses his superior judgment so that
    he doesn't have to use his superior skills".  On a three minute flight, I
    launched upwind, but everyone else evidently knew of a thermal heading
    downwind.  They immediately hooked up, and by the time that I had figured it
    out, it was quite a ways downwind.  I turned downwind and chased it down.
    By the time that I got a solid hookup, I was about 2000 ft downwind, and
    maybe 50 feet up.  Definitely one of the "hero or zero" moves.  By the time
    that I needed to come home, I still hadn't climbed enough to get home, and
    had to work a couple of thermals on the way back just to get to the field.
    After the fact, I found out that an official was just about to call me for
    sloping on the hills (not the one to the east of the field, but the ones to
    the North of the field!) before I started to circle.  I lost sight of the
    plane several times due to distance during the flight.  This flight was
    strong evidence to me that I need to improve my judgment if I want to
    compete with the big dogs.  That and another experience downwind on Saturday
    on the east hill, of which I don't wanna talk about.  :-)
    The flyoffs were great fun.  I was happy to see that one of Seattles own,
    Jim Pearson, made it into the flyoffs, and his dad, Phil Pearson, of CNC
    Encore fame was in 14th (an unlabelled Eagle flier).
    One of the things that I went into the contest to do, was to fly my own
    course.  The times that I got into the precarious situations was where I
    chased other planes.  For the flyoffs, I resolved to "do my own thing".  I
    had a great feeling of satisfaction after the first fly-off round, where I
    nailed all of the flights, and nobody else maxed.  Mike Smith got real close
    with his usual quiet and talented flying though.  After the first round, I
    made a rookie mistake, and shorted out the battery on my primary before the
    second round.  Memo to self, insert the phono jack all the way in...
    Went to the backup with about a minute to go in the countdown, and put the
    primary back on charge so that it would be ready for the last round.  A
    savvy competitor would have flown with the group to preserve a lead, but I
    went with my resolution.  This was my downfall in the second flyoff round, a
    3x3 round.  The first flight, I maxed easily.  The second flight, I went
    upwind, and everyone else went downwind.  I died the lonely death, while the
    wiser pilots made their times.  The only way that I had a chance at this
    point was to go way upwind, and hope that the sink would be on the downwind
    part of the field for the third flight.  Nope, guessed wrong, and ended up
    with about 7. minutes out of the 9, a kiss of death with this level of
    competition.  I knew it was over at this point, although others weren't that
    The last round I once again flew my own course in a 1-2-3-4 round, and did
    it in the best order (4-3-2-1).  I was the only one to do so, and took
    chances to do it that way, but wanted the internal satisfaction.  As Dr.
    Drela put it, he and the other pilots got the pesky 1 and 2 minute flights
    out of the way early so that they could concentrate on the better flights
    later.  I did switch back to my primary for the last round, and ended up
    very lucky.  When making the landing approach at the end of the two minute
    flight, at very low level just before catching the plane, I pulled the flaps
    to bleed off the energy.  Evidently, the battery was on its last legs, and
    moving the flaps dropped the voltage at the receiver below its threshold
    value, and the plane went out of control.  I picked up the plane, saw what
    was going on, and decided to take the chance.  Threw it, and steered it for
    the last minute with just the rudder.  About five seconds to go, reflexes
    kicked in, and I pulled the flaps to bleed off the energy before landing.
    The airplane said "no-way", and the plane dove into the ground, servos
    quivering like a bug in a Raid bath.  Good thing that flew my flights in the
    right order, otherwise it might have happened at altitude when returning
    from a long flight!
    I did get the satisfaction of winning the final round, but knew that someone
    else was more deserving of the win.  The contest officials weren't telling,
    so we all had to wait for the trophy ceremony to find out.  I was surprised
    to find out that I had made up enough points to climb back to third.  Of
    course, when fourth was announced, I knew that it was between Paul and Phil
    for the title, two fine competitors.  What was really cool, is that any of
    the people in the flyoffs could have won with the right moves for three
    That said, I can think of nobody more deserving than Phil Barnes to win the
    IHLGF.  The people that subscribe to the SALglider listserver know what I'm
    talking about.  He spends a lot of time sharing his superb knowledge, and
    has the flying skills to match his building skills.  Two great competitors
    winning the IHLGF two years in a row!
    I'd recommend making this event a must-do on your calendar next year.
    Tradition has it on the first full weekend in June.  Mark it down for next
    Joe Wurts