Thursday, August 2, 2012

A day in the life...

So yesterday was the first day we got to practice with all three pilots flying and all crew at the airport, and I have to say it went quite well! We really needed this opportunity to see what it would be like when the official contest starts and iron out any kinks that would come along. We seemed to have sucessfully  done this so fingers crossed it goes this smoothly for the rest of the contest! Here's a breakdown of today which was a fairly typical contest day minus the fact that they had a slightly shorter task then they usually would here (3 hours 15 min instead of 4+ hours).

6:30am : Alarm goes off and I contemplate throwing it across the room and pretending I never heard it. But I do manage to roll out of bed knowing the there is coffee in the somewhat near future.

7:15am : At the airport ready to get to covers off and water up ST.
Morning overcast (the best flying days here start off like this!)

8:30-9am : Pull out and head to the grid, pass over the scales to get weighed and pull into staging position off to the side of the grid.

9am : Breakfast at the Kettle, good food and fast service. There's always other tables of pilots around, including our good friends Sergei and his Russian team. They always come in just as we finish eating so the ongoing joke is that we only eat coffee and water...

10:15am : Pilots meeting in the gymnasium on the Southwest Texas Junior College Campus. Pilots and Team Captains sit at their country tables and crew sit up in the bleachers. I keep forgetting to bring my camera to take a picture so tomorrow I'll try and remember so I can put one up here-there's a whole lot of people in that gym! 

10:45am : Team Canada meeting after the main meeting to discuss weather, tasks, strategy, crew organization, announcements of the day, etc.

11:30pm :After the meeting it's back to the house if there's time to grab a quick break from the heat in some AC. Lately I've been getting back at the same time as the guys do for lunch so we pop on the Olympics for a bit and see what going on. The only problem is I can't find any Canadian coverage here at all! And they only have one channel of Olympics here (compared to the 10 I'm used to back at home) and the only sports I've seen them show so far is swimming and gymnastics with a slight break for a water polo game one time.

12:40pm : Grid time. It varies each day depending on the weather and when the sky starts "working". It was such a late grid time yesterday because of this (before it was usually noon).  
15m and 18m grid on the runway-and this is only about half the planes because not every flies on the practice days!

1:40pm : Begin the launch! All weather dependant again on what time it starts, but once it gets going it only takes about an hour to get all there guys and the open class that is gridded on the taxiway up and in the air. With 12 towplanes there's never a moment where nothing is happening. It also helps when the pilots already has the canopy closed, rope hocked up and wing dolly off the minute their towplane lands! The runway at the taxiway both launch at the same time so the towplanes are divided between the two, landing on either side of the runway.
You can tell by the clouds that this was taken on a different day, but I wanted to show the simultanious launch on both the runway and the taxiway. Here we've got an self-launching open class glider taking off at the same time as a 15m glider is being towed up. If you can see there is also a towplane taxiing into position at the front of the 15m class and another one about to turn final in the air.

3pm: Last gliders launched and it's back to Canada base at the airfield to monitor the radios for our pilots start times. We listen on 3 different frequencies at this point to make sure we catch everything: 1: our Canadian team frequency, 2: the airport frequency, 3: the safety and emergencies frequency. It's a good things there's at least 4 of us there because that's a lot of stuff to be paying attention to! Once the pilots call us their start times we e-mail them in to the scorers office and wait for the confirmation e-mail back. 

3:30pm: Our last pilot started out on course so now we head back to our Team Captains room to continue monitoring the radios, communicate with the pilots giving them weather updates and following their Spot trackers online. For those who don't know a Spot is a tracking device that send out coordinated every 10 minutes and plots it on a map, so we can watch this trace and see them as they move along on course. From here we'll swap out people while they're flying so we each get about an hour to get groceries, do laundry, run errands, etc.

6:30pm : ST was the first to start and is the first to call 30km from the airport so we pack up and move back to Canada base at the airport.
Glider passing overhead dumping his water in preparation to land. The weather is so good here that almost every gliders is filled up to full capacity to maximize use of the condition!

7pm : All three gliders are back safe and sounds on the ground and are being washed, getting their covers put on and being tied down for the night. The pilots download their flight logs and submit them online to the scorers office. The internet sure saves us a lot of running around to hand things in!

7:30pm : All the gliders are "tucked in" for the night (we seem to talk about them like people sometimes I'm realizing...) and everyone starts to make their way back to their respective hotels. Now today was a pretty early day, usually we don't finish up until 8 at the earliest, but it could be as last at 9 some nights if the daylight permits.

After that it's up to everyone what they do with their night. Some night we will get the whole team together for dinner but most nights everyone kind of just does their own things. That being said there will always be a little group of Canadians at one of the restaurants in town for dinner to join! I try and get to bed at a decent hour every night because I know that the next morning is going to start very early. I'm not always very successful at doing so though... And that's a day in my life here at the worlds! 

1 comment:

  1. Great story, Sonia! Keep it coming - you have a lot of followers.