Our Team in Rieti

Our Team in Rieti
The US Team and Crew




Monday, July 7, 2008

July 7, 2008 Competition Day 1

It's about 7:45 am here and it's the beginning of the first Official Competition Day.
A lot has happened since I wrote last and I'm going to try and fill you in on what's been happening. On Friday Pat was unable to fly because of repairs being done to his glider. The tail skid had split from the handling during the retrieve. Not in landing. Somehow we found a willing magician who worked his tricks and has Pat ready to fly today. On Saturday neither Pat nor Francois flew, but the other four took a tow. Unfortunately Manfred and Jonathan landed out to the south, while Chip and Mark arrived home.

Manfred's landing was uneventful, but Jonathan was not so fortunate. His left wing caught on a massive low stump and the resulting "ground loop" caused the glider to slide sideways into a ditch. The glider came to rest with the fuselage in the ditch and each wing off the ground about 6". Jonathan was fine, but his glider didn't fare so well. The leading edge of the left wing was crushed, and the wing pin bearings were broken.
We sent three people to get Jonathan but it wasn't enough. We were extremely fortunate to be offered help from the Russian pilot, who had landed in the same field, and his crew. Without their help, the retrieve could not have been done. A warm thanks to the Russians!!

Jonathan returned about 8pm and by 10pm the glider had been inspected--roadside--by Giorgio Ballarati. In the dark it was difficult to determine the damage, but it was thought that the repair could be done in 2 days. Further inspection the following morning revealed damage that would take 4 days to repair--and that would be a field repair. It would have to be cut out and done over after the contest was over and the cost would be prohibitive.

Giorgio had been in contact with Ricky Brigliadori at Glasflaser and Ricky offered to substitute a replacement wing from a Cirrus he had. That would entail a drive to northern italy, fitting of the wing, and a return drive to the contest. A discussion with the stewards and the competition director, and research into the rules determined that if we had the glider back Monday morning prior to the first pilot's briefing Jonathan could fly. That was logistically impossible. And then the impossible was replaced with a small miracle.

Our magician made a call to the Italian Club President, as did Giorgio Ballarati, and we were offered one of the club ships--a DG300 in excellent condition!! After the short and simple negotiations were complete, it was time to put instruments into the glider, go back through scrutineering and register the pilot with the new glider. And then--we needed another calibrated Flight Recorder since the one in SA could not be installed in the new glider. And again our magician pulled a rabbit out of the hat! He provided me with a Colibri and all connections as well as the calibration sheet. With Paul's help all the instruments were installed and the glider was ready for scrutineering. I took the logger to the chief scorer, Angelo, and we soon had an official backup logger.

And then we recognized that since this glider was registered in Italy, Jonathan was required to have an Italian license validation. More help and assistance from people I do not even know. We were assured that we could have a validation by Monday morning. And that assurance is coming on a Sunday afternoon, the day of the opening ceremonies, in Italy.

When I sat down and started this report, and had written the first paragraph, I was called by Leonardo to come to the scorer's office to assist in the license validation. When I got there he told me what paperwork he needed from me and then informed me that we had to go to Rome to get the validation!!! And then he told me that they would get one of the towpilots to fly us to Rome to get the validation. We were also required to buy two tax stamps and to wire a certain amount to ENAC. Now our Giorgio went into action. He went and got the tax stamps, wired the funds from his account and flew to Rome, where the office was closed normally, but had been opened for us. He returned about 12:10 and handed Jonathan his Italian License Validation! Jonathan launched about 90 minutes later.

I have no real way to express my gratitude to all the people who were so helpful, from the Russian Team who helped with the retrieve, to our stewards, to the contest organizers, to Leonardo Brigliadori, to Giorgio Ballarati, our Giorgio and the many people I don't even know. And a special thanks to our magician. I've pretty much given my word that I won't reveal his identity till after the contest, but I will give hints in future reports.

I'm going to end this report for now. The launch is finished and 4 of our pilots are on course. If you've been to http://www.wgcrieti.it/ you'll have seen the tasks for the day, and you know the weather conditions are looking excellent.

More later



Tim McAllister said...

Hey everyone from your former team captain and EY here in Montague, Califronia at Sports Class Nationals! We are thinking of you all every morning when we wake up and know that you are all out on course by then. Remember - don't do nothin' dumb!
And fly fast, be safe...
Susan McAllister

Penny said...

Hello Jonathan and Gigi from Alabama!

Derek, Caitlyn, and I are cheering you on. Sounds like you are soaring back ... (pun intended!) from your 1st day out. We are all so happy you are unharmed and can continue. Great luck on the new glider! Best of wishes and we will be checking back to see how you are doing.

Love to you both! Penny, Derek, and Caitlyn