Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brasil Trip

After one week of building gliders and test flying for Moyes my alarm wakes me up at 5am. As I roll over on the trampoline that I am sleeping on in Bill and Molly’s house to hit the alarm clock I know this will be a very long day. I arrive at the airport with 7 gliders and my gear to find out the plane has been delayed for 5 hours. Luckily I was still able to check in and then I returned to the Moyes factory where I then built Gerolf’s new glider. Had some lunch then it was back to the airport for the 24 hr flight to Rio de Janeiro I boarded the flight and there was not one empty seat so there was not going to be any stretching out or laying down across 3 seats for a slightly more enjoyable flight. I was informed that cause of the delay we would now have to spend the night in Buenos Aires because we would miss our connecting flight to Rio. I thought wow this could be fun as it would be all expenses paid by the airline staying in a nice hotel in the centre of the city. However when we arrived in Argentina they had delayed the connecting flight cause there were to many of us and the plane would have been empty. So it was now onto a smaller plane for the last 3hrs of the journey to our final destination Rio. I arrived there at 8 pm with my entire luggage 330kgs worth and managed to clear customs in less than 20 minutes. I was greeted outside by Nixon his daughter Leonarda and Edson another local pilot who would help to bring all the gliders back to the house. After arriving home I had some dinner a shower and then it was off to bed as I had been up for nearly 40 hours. The next morning I woke up knowing it was going to be another big day of assembling all the gliders and making sure there was no damage. After assembling 6 out of the 7 gliders I finally came to the one I would be flying for the comp. This was actually Edson’s glider and as I started to open it I had that feeling there was something wrong. Well yes I was right my glider had been damaged the front section leading edge had a nice big dent in it. This is just what I needed 2 days prior to the competition starting in Andradas some 7 hour drive away. Luckily Nixon had ordered some replacement leading edges so I quickly opened them hoping they had not been damaged otherwise I was going to be screwed. They were fine so I started to change my leading edge knowing this was going to be a pain cause of the stainless pot rivets you need to drill out and then put in with a hand riveter. This job is not to bad when have good equipment but here in Brazil this can prove to make a 1 hour job into a 3 hour job. So after finding the a drill and the right sized rusty drill bit I was off and less than 30 seconds later the drill bit broke and somehow I managed to put it half way into my finger. There was now blood everywhere and my finger was hurting like crazy. I quickly washed it with soap which hurt even more then taped it up to stop the blood for pouring out. I then went to the hospital where I got a tetanus shot to prevent anymore infections and got it bandaged up properly. So now it is Wednesday afternoon I have a glider that still needs to be fixed a finger that has a 11/32 drill hole in it and the comp starts on Saturday, oh and I still have not even test flown half of the gliders. I went home for lunch had a shower because it was like 35 degrees and 100 percent humidity and then for some reason I passed out probably from the drugs and little sleep. I wake up Thursday morning and am only able to bend my finger a little bit but I still have to go on. I start fixing my glider and soon well a couple of hours later it is all done and time to go test flying. I thought that I had better test fly the others ones first because I knew I would run out of time to fly my glider. I had a great flight on Andre’s glider flying over the favella’s in Rio and then landing back at Sao Conrado beach. Here is a picture of me flying over the Favela's in Rio! I then went back up for another test fly on Gugga’s glider and the conditions had weakened so it was pretty much a sled ride to the landing. I had some Brazilian guys to pack the gliders for me, so I just rested on the beach side in the typical Brazilian way. I almost feel like a local when I am here flying cause I know a lot of people and if I don’t know them they all know me. If you have never flown here it is a spectacular place for a free flight and if you’re lucky enough to get the conditions to fly to the Cristo some 15kms away it will be a flight you’ll remember forever. After sunset I returned to my Brazilian home for awhile before going out for dinner. I went across the road to the huge barra shopping mall where I went to my favorite fast food restaurant Spoleto a nice Italian cuisine. I then returned home for another restless night as it is so hot here and the house has no air-conditioning. Yes it was now Friday and it was time to travel to Andradas where I will spend the next 10 days flying. Somehow the day managed to get away on us and before I knew it we were on Brazilian time which meant the 2pm departure was now a 7pm departure. I tried to sleep as much as I could in the car but the roads were almost like 4wd tracks and I think one time we locked it in to 4wd. This was a shortcut I was told in my half awake state that I was in. So we arrived in Andradas at 2am on Saturday morning to see the place crowded with party goers, but I was in no state to party. I went to the hotel and went to sleep knowing in a few hours I would be waking up to go flying. I wake up to nice blue skies and a big breakfast, and then it was off to the hill some 40 minutes drive away. I arrived there walked around and checked out the launches, it is similar to Manilla except for it has all green grass and you need to walk less than 50 meters to launch in 3 different directions. This was a well maintained launch and it was looking like a great week of flying. I quickly set up my glider which had still not been test flown and gave it a good once over making sure everything was right. To my surprise I found out that today was actually not a comp day for their nationals but it was part of a 2 day regional comp. This was great news it meant there was no pressure on me and if the glider was not right I could land and prepare myself for the real comp which would start tomorrow. They set a 101km triangle task back to the landing field at the bottom of the south launch. I took off and got straight up and my glider was flying great so I was relived to know that the most important thing was all set for the comp. Here is a picture of the takeoff in Andradas as I climb out!! I headed to the edge of the start circle and got low before finding a weak thermal which would place me in a average start position when the clock ticked over. I was about 20th through the start and lower than the others but after the first glide this new Litespeed Rs 3.5 showed it’s performance and soon I was only behind the front gaggle of 4 gliders which had a much better start than everyone else. I then went a slightly different way and managed to get out in front and was the first around the turn point. I managed to hold the lead all the way until just before the 2nd turn point where Andre, Maskara and Lucinho joined me. We all did the turn point together and climbed out and headed towards goal. I was now somehow the lowest I made the mistake of gliding to fast so the others had me to find the last thermal again for them. Sure enough I see a group of birds circling 90 degrees to my right so I make a quick turn and hit the climb and the others will come in above me. I left thermal early trying to make a break but they all followed me and I hit one more climb 15kms out from goal. I had a slight disadvantage for the final as I did not know what goal looked like and I knew to win I had to leave early and try for risky glide. I was hoping they would not come as I have nothing to loose and they were still in serious competition. I was wrong Andre 50m above me and Maskara 150m above me followed me despite the risky final and I was unable to pull away being the lower one on final. Maskara won the day with Andre 2nd and me in 3rd some 12 seconds after Maskara. I crossed the goal line at about 2 feet doing over 100kph before turning around and landing into the wind. There were about 40 pilots that made goal and only about 5 of them managed not to crash it was a spectacular and entertaining afternoon. Day 1 The real comp was now about to start with about 6 Swiss pilots Andreas from Sweden Dustin from the states and me from down under, along with all the crazy Brazilians this was going to be one hard comp to win. The first day saw a task of 97km out and return called but the conditions were a little over developed. The gringo’s as the Brazilians call us being Andreas, Dustin and I had a great start upwind and much higher than the others. Here is a picture of Andre Wolf about 30 minutes before the start gate. We pushed hard to the turn point and as we approached it we got sucked up under a big dark cloud and had to fight our way out and find the turn point 2kms in front of us. I did the turn point and decided to head back more to the left of course and follow the same route that I used to get to the turn point. Andreas and Dustin went more on course line to the right and soon we were passing everyone that was still heading there. We had at least a 5-10km lead and I was now about 10kms left of course line under some dark clouds. It looked average on course line that is why I did such a big deviation but I was soon shutdown as rain started to fall in front of me. My only hope was to go even further off course into the mountains or do a 90 degree turn and head out the sun and the main road to goal that everyone else was following. I was indecisive and then I saw a gaggle out there in the blue circling so I thought there must be lift in the sun. If I went straight ahead I would get wet and definitely land or I had to risk going into the middle of nowhere in hope of going around the rain to the left like 25kms off or course line. As I climb in a light thermal I weigh up the options and decided to go for the sun and the main road in hopes of finding lift and avoiding the rain. Well I flew out there and wasted all my height to find out there was no lift and they were circling in zero’s trying to avoid landing. I was however much lower and spent nearly 20 minutes trying to get up slowly losing height until I landed. About 5 minutes later I see Dustin fly over my head and land just up the road, but many others flew over higher and the winner was Gugga on his new RS 3.5 some 15kms further in front of me. Maskara will be 2nd 500m behind him on his T2, apparently they were together but Maskara mentioned that at the lower speed the RS had a better glide which showed with an extra 500meters. I will end placing 26th for the day with nearly 300 points from the leader. Here I am with scova in the retrieve on the way home from a outlanding. Day 2 Today was looking great with a little less over development they called for a 102km task with 2 turn points and goal about 40kms away from town. There is ever only one start in these Brazilian comps so you have to make sure that you are in the right spot at the right time, which can prove difficult some days. It was my turn to have a bad start today and I was immediately 10 minutes behind the lead gaggle. I pushed hard as I had lots of markers in front of me and nearly caught the lead gaggle by the first turn point. I was only about 4kms behind them after rounding the turn point but decided to go a different way than everybody else to get a jump on them. After gliding through what I thought would be some great looking clouds and getting nothing but sink, I was forced to slow down and take some slow climbs. After watching about 20 gliders go past me I started to get impatient and pushed on low toward the 2nd turn point hoping to get a strong climb. Well I was wrong and I soon found myself at 200m agl at the 2nd turn point and was only able to go down wind searching for a climb. I managed to find some light lift and maintained a slow climb out watching nearly the whole field pass over the top of me. I eventually got to base and saw another gringo Dustin who had a really bad start which made feel a little better. I was on radio with all the Brazilian team as they are practicing for the worlds and was informed that I was now 25kms behind the lead gaggle. I set myself a goal to beat the two gaggles that were only less than 10kms in front of me into goal including Dustin. Dustin and I caught the first group pretty fast and we were now 22kms out from goal needing and extra 1000ft to make it. I detoured to the right of course line and Dustin went straight line along with everybody else. I thought how can I be wrong more than once in a day and finally it paid off with a strong climb 12kms out I was able to beat both the gaggles into goal placing like 21st for the day. Andre Wolf will win the day on his new litespeed RS 3.5 5 minutes ahead of Maskara and lucinho. There were about 40 odd pilots in goal and a lot of happy faces pigging out on cold fruit that is supplied in the goal field. We landed at and airport and they had some amazing looking aircraft there for us to look at. It was Gugga’s birthday so about 20 of us went out for dinner and then partied on when we arrived back in Andradas. Here is a training Gyrocopter that they tow behind a truck down the runway. We thought about towing Dustin up but he was to scared, Im not sure why? Another picture for you to look at. Day 3 With conditions being a little more stable today they were not hesitant to call a dogleg task of 101kms with the last leg being into a 10kms cross headwind making things difficult for many pilots. The start today was very cloudy with about 40 pilots trying to stay out of a big dark cloud that sat right on the edge of the start circle. I will lead the gaggle out of the start as I look behind me I see a sky full of gliders hot on my tail. The conditions look a lot more stable in front of us on the flats with only one more decent cloud a few kilometers in front of us. Andre hits the climb to my right and I make a sharp turn but arrive lower than many of the gliders that were following from behind. We top out and race off into the blue sky’s now 25kms from the turn point I am behind and lower from the main gaggle but there is still a long way to go. We all get low and I managed to find a better climb than the main group just to their left and soon they all come in above and we climb out in 1.5 m/s. Andre leaves first and soon everyone follows, with conditions looking a little average I am not keen to push as hard as these guys are. Andre finds a good climb and I come in about 300m lower and don’t seem to get the climb they have and soon they have pulled away from me now 12kms from the turn point. They do a long glide and end up having to go down wind from the turn point to for a strong climb. I went upwind and hit a climb and this managed to get me high about 3kms from the turn point. I am now on the final leg of 58kms to goal and about 4kms behind the lead gaggle. Here is Lucinho flying his Aeros about 40kms out from goal. As I watch them getting low in front of me I stop for a climb as there seems to be less headwind up high. I keep a close eye on them and soon watch them hit a strong climb and race off after them but arrive low into the bottom of their thermal. We have a couple more good climbs before hitting a big blue hole about 30kms out from goal. I managed to catch up within a 100m of the leaders and then push on low for a cloud that looks within reach. Andre and Maskara follow a little higher and soon we are getting down to about 250m agl I hit a broken strong core and call Andre over but it does not turn out to be much and Maskara was higher and pushed on a little further and hit the good climb. I got there lower than Andre and he managed to get it stronger than I did and pulled away from me in the climb. He actually swapped his glider for the RS 4 today so maybe in this broken stuff it was a slight advantage in climb. The others manage to glide in above me and I am now about 8th for the day. We top out and push on for one more cloud about 15kms out from goal and hit a good climb taking it to base for the final glide. I am about 7kms out and I see the first gliders crossing goal and I will arrive in 6th place about 5 minutes behind Maskara who will win the day a few seconds in front of Andre. Gugga the current leader will come in 10th place about 10 minutes Maskara which will mean a swap of leaders. Andre would be doing great except that he had a bad first day placing 64th for the day and is moving up fast he is now 11th and I am 10th with only a few points separating us. There will be 30 odd gliders making goal again despite the difficult conditions. Day 4 So far the weather has been pretty nice to us but today was going to be a manufacturer’s nightmare as they were calling for more instability. They decide on a 105km task that will have 2 turn points and have us landing out in the flats where there is less chance of thunderstorms. Most of the pilots had a good start with two separate gaggles today about 5kms apart. Here I am on top of the stack above launch! We all ended up gliding to the same cloud once the start opened and I was king of the castle. I was actually flying with Gugga’s video camera as I know in previous flights that this can bring me good luck. So I top out and race off with Andre just on my left and Dustin just on my right with about 40 others just behind. We start to get lower and Dustin hits a climb to our right but I keep pushing on with Andre and everyone else will go to Dustin for the climb. I hit a strong climb with Andre and soon they gaggle comes in below but we pull away from them as they have to deal with a lot of gliders at the same height and don’t get the good climb like us. I push on high at base and get a great glide flying my stock aluminum RS 3.5 and top out 5kms from the first turn point some 5-8kms in front of the big gaggle. Andre and I make the turn point and head for the 2nd turn point and get a 2m/s climb 45kms out. I tell Andre that I want to push upwind slightly under some clouds before making a long glide to the next big clouds. We got a strong climb and soon we were heading for this storm that was towering to about 25,000ft which made me hesitant after the recent episodes in Manilla. I keep a good close eye on it as I approach and notice it is starting to rain about 5kms to my left. I see some rolling white clouds below the big dark base and take a slight detour knowing that this will be the lift line. Sure enough I hit 3m/s and climb to within 500m of base and decide to leave early knowing that I don’t want to get sucked up in this thing, Andre to my surprise some 250m lower decides to stay and climb almost to base. I get a few heavy rain drops as I exit the side of the cloud now 20kms from the last turn point. I get a thermal low about 5kms short and Andre will come in above me after leaving the cloud higher. We get the last turn point and head left of course line for the same thermal we just left and climb out. I see the gaggle low and about 10kms from the turn point still so I am in no rush. I hear that many of them are landing so I decide that I will not push the final as it will be hard to beat Andre given that his above me by 100m. As soon as my 4030 race tells me I have goal I see Andre leave I do one more circle and follow him and will cross the goal line at about 5 m before turning back into the wind and landing on the wet red dirt. Andreas will be next in nearly 15 minutes us followed closely by Gugga and then Klaus a local Rio pilot. Only 3 from the top 10 will make goal and only 11 pilots in total with the rest getting severely wet about 10-15kms before the last turn point. Gugga will now be leading followed by Maskara, Klaus, Andre and now me in 5th place. It has turned from a T2 and Aeros top 5 to having 4 Litespeed Rs’s in the top 5. Day 5 After some pretty decent rain yesterday we woke up to blue skies and calm winds. I notice as we take the scenic drive to launch that the day is already starting to develop much earlier than any previous day so far. By the time we reach the top of the hill there is a sky full wet cumulus clouds. I decide to set up so that I have a good launch position despite the ordinary looking weather. Haraldo the comp organizer is keen for us to fly and will set a 100km task but as the day goes on concerns about the towering cu’s are starting to be noticed. There is no such safety committee here so it was difficult to express your concerns except to the meet head that did not see a problem with the day and was not willing to listen. I watched patiently for awhile and then decided that the conditions in my eyes were not suitable for a comp task and the risk of someone getting hurt was quite high. I talk to some of the top pilots to see if they could influence the decision but many of them tried and still could not get the message through. I made my own decision and started packing up my glider which made many people think twice, especially the ones that were still keen to fly. Haraldo was only moving the window opening time back to see if the conditions would improve. Some pilots decided they want to fly anyway and takeoff before the window opens. There is plenty of lift out there with cloud tops reaching more than 25,000ft so these pilots will cruise around while we sit on launch and argue that our lives are more important than another comp day. One of the pilots that launched early came back over launch and decided he would start doing some aerobatics and show off to the 70 pilots standing on launch. I looked up to see him enter into a flat spin that looked to me like there was not much experience hanging below the glider despite the 20 years of flying. He exits the spin in a very unpleasant way and then starts into a wingover. I was trying not to watch as I knew that it was not going to end up happening the way he probably planned. He comes out of a shallow wingover still in a dive and goes straight up for what appears to be a loop with hardly any airspeed and soon stops. He tries do put in a weight shift and nothing happens and soon the glider rolls over onto its back and starts a quick couple of tumbles. He manages to get his parachute out fast as he needed too cause he was now only 200m above and to the left of launch. The parachute opens fast and he comes down and lands about 300m to the south of launch with only a scrape on his chin. The glider was not into bad of shape with broken sprogs and a tear through the top surface where he hit the small bushes. Apparently that was enough then to cancel the day so we went back down the hill for a relaxing afternoon in Andradas. Day 6 We flew a task of 105kms getting good climbs low base and some overdevelopment towards the end of the flight. It was quite a difficult day having a strong headwind at the end of the course causing many pilots to land out. There were only 5 pilots in goal with Nick from Switzerland winning his first ever competition day 30 minutes in front of me. Maskara, Nene and Gugga will be the last pilots to make goal another 30 minutes after me which means I will now be within striking distance on the last day. Day 7 We arrive on the takeoff to find cloud base on the flatlands lower than takeoff so nobody is in a hurry to set up. At launch the cloud base was about 100 feet above launch and there were about 20 Para gliders flying just buzzing hill and we waited and watched hoping for base to lift. The launch was packed full of spectators and pilots and slowly the cloud base lifted but only to about 800 ft above launch then it started to rain so they day was cancelled. Results 1º Gugga Saldanha 4288 (Bra) (Terminal X) - Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 2º Leonardo Máskara 4189(Bra) (Rotor) - Wills Wing T2 3º Jonny Durand 4151 (Aus) (Moyes, Red Bull) - Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 4º André Wolf 4010 (Bra) - Moyes Litespeed RS 4 5º Nenê Rotor 4004(Bra) (Rotor) - Wills Wing T2 For the total RESULTS CLICK HERE!!