Junior World Gliding Championships 2015 – A Crew Perspective (More Blue)
Thursday 3 December 2015:
3rd Competition Day, 2nd Task – Variation on the Theme in Blue
This morning the mostly blue sky was dotted in places with fast cycling cumulus clouds which progressively dried up. Thermals were predicted to be slightly stronger and go a little higher, some in the blue and some CU in parts of the task area. A mixed bag that may require some gear changing.
Starting 12:30 the entire fleet of more than 60 gliders was launched in almost exactly 1hr. Big gaggles milled about mostly in the blue over the airfield and the town before the start gates were declared open.
So whilst the boys are out there on task having fun let me tell you a bit about the normal routine of a day in the life of a crew dad.
6:00 or thereabouts:
get up, clean up (myself and the mess in the kitchen sink);
dress up (well gliding garb needs to be of a ‘certain’ standard at a World Championship);
brew up (I like my coffee strong);
cook up (is it just Nutella bread today or maybe bacon, eggs, baked beans… some fruit perhaps? I know I’ll get a nasty comment from Rachel about how I serve up a fried egg but it was an accident – I swear);
eat up (breakfast is important – a crew dad never knows what he might be called upon to perform before the sun sets – or even after).
7:00 to 8:00 (or even 8:30 in the case of my pilot in particular):
take the batteries and radios off the charger and put in the car;
check that water, sunscreen, hats, Camelbacks etc are ready to go – if not, replenish;
hassle mum to get the lunches ready… and cop a load of **** to go and ****;
check on pilot whether he is coherent yet – no? go back and repeat a step or two, maybe have another cup of coffee…(?)
… (repeat some of the above as required) …
put lunch and other supplies in the car;
finally: pilot awake, showered, dressed, breakfasted and in a hurry – spring into action and chauffeur him to airfield;
prepare glider whilst pilot is in briefing or busy with more important things (like catching up on Facebook or team briefings or – well more important stuff).
9:30 or more generally 10:00 Briefing:
listen to important people tell everyone about stuff and predictions that are abundant on the internet and may or may not come to pass;
hydrate (thanks for the lovely tea Joanne);
catch up on Facebook etc – the WiFI and internet access here is finally improving (thanks Gus!).
10:30 to 11:30 (or whatever the competition director dictates to be appropriate):
tow out the glider, get it weighed and grid in designated position for the day;
clean the dirt off and polish;
have a chin wag with other crew (not that we have time for that);
pick up pilot from internal team briefing and cop a load of **** about this and that;
apply the ‘go faster’ polish du jour (as deemed appropriate by the pilot) to the glider (not that it makes a difference – but don’t tell him that…);
clean the dirt off the glider that other teams disperse liberally on everyone’s gliders and neighbourhoods surrounding the airfield by roaring around the dusty access roads at speeds that might be more appropriate on Autobahns…
11:30 to 13:30 or close to 14:00 (times are very approximate at this point in the routine):
clean and polish some more dust and possible microscopic remnants of yesterday’s bugs off the glider;
another chin wag perhaps…;
fuss over glider and pilot until his launch is imminent;
run through pre-launch checklist;
last minute as the tug arrives rip canopy cover off and stow behind pilot in designated spot, whilst minding to keep hands from being guillotined by rapidly closing canopy;
catch Tost-ringed end of tow rope that is snaking around in the swirling dust storm produced by the tug, dive to the ground precisely such that the small ring aligns with the belly release of the glider whilst being peppered with everything that the tug’s propeller can possibly throw at you, insert the ring into hook giving well timed “open” / “close” commands, check proper hook-on, jump up, race to wing tip, raise it precisely to the required ground clearance depending on cross-wind component and prop wash (this takes years of experience to get right) and as the accelerating tug tries to snatch it from you, run alongside and in full sprint give it final minute adjustments like a Curling thrower (after that it’s the pilot’s job to keep the wings level and if he drops one then it is always your fault!).
After launch (I give up on times as it depends on how far forward or back you are gridded):
monitor radio traffic and wait until pilot is established and will definitely NOT need a relight;
have lunch if that couldn’t be fitted in earlier;
check on start times and estimate finish time;
depending on available time replenish supplies, blog, follow the team’s progress on the base radio (providing tactical info gleaned from other teams – strategic support etc is the team captain’s and coaches job and the weather man throws in his latest djustments) or actually take some personal time out (as if that will ever happen).
17:00 to 19:00…
await finishing pilot at runway and position where he will come to a stop (and be prepared to catch the call on the radio if he changes his mind…);
get glider off the runway in a hurry and tow back to hangar;
remind excited pilot blubbering about his flight and checking incoming results to upload his trace;
at the hangar wipe bugs off and put glider to bed;
general catching up at the club;
organise dinner and chauffeur pilot home;
After all that: edit and publish blog, wind down and go to bed early.
Then repeat on the following day.
And if you actually read this far you deserve a medal.
Links to the scores, lots more blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and videos are on the JWGC 2015 Organiser Website.