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Programme and Project Management by Ed Johnston

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EGC 2011 Pociunai

Best Position, Greatest Frustration

10th August: Good flight, stupid mistake

My best result and least satisfying flight to date. We started by really not thinking we would fly. Although the skies were clear at breakfast, low scudding clouds soon formed and started to join at the edges and not very far away either. None the less the organisers provided us with a short area task and the promise of a front and thunder storms later. All in all the perfect day.

Conditions gradually improved in terms of cloud base but heavier convection showed the forecast was somewhere near the mark. The organisers had given us a task with a really poor final turn point so that was re-set and distributed at 12.15 at which point they announced a first launch for the 18m only at 12.30. Some frantic sorting of maps and loggers followed, and with the rapid launch due to more tugs being available, we were hastily on tow, and dragged through rain before clearing the boundary fence.

Once established we set off saw toothing into wind and then jumping the streets, avoiding the worst of the rain and getting 3-4 kt climbs. In the first sector we got separated, and while I ducked into the upwind (non-showery) side of the sector and repaired North to the safe side of the forest, Russell and Gary pressed on deeper into the first sector, fearing the north would not be soarable. In fact it was a good move on my part, pushing hard under streets then gently across large gaps and making decent head way. I got decently into the second sector, allowing 20 minutes over time, then went south again edging round a large shower that was dead on track for the way home.

Showers on the airfield after the finishers returnThis is where I made my most brain dead error of the competition. I had the cunning idea of skirting North round the shower and straight lining it home under what was clearly a very good run. However when I turned the final sector, I had to skirt 90 degrees from track, only to find the weather behind the shower had collapsed. I then had to back track around the shower and up the other side by which time I was low and needed more climbs. Eventually we got home, but only just before an enormous shower hit the field. Two other gliders in company going to the final sector beat me back by 14 minutes- that would have given me an easy day win.

The storm on the field was a good one, and just after the peak, 900 found a way through and home, rather scary for him but a great result for Chris.

I did come 3rd on the day, but I have always judged my flights not on how I did but on how well I had flown. This was one of the most annoying and unnecessary mistakes I have made at this level of competition making the flight thoroughly unsatisfactory.

Competition Day 10

This morning the weather looked rather poor. I was hoping for a scrub after the international evening last night, but the championship organization had other ideas. Instead, two-hour assigned area tasks with modest distances were set.

Out on the grid things didn't really improve much, with dark clouds hanging low. Clearly rain was on the agenda. This didn't deter the organization from trying to collect aerotow fees. The 18m gliders were launched whilst there was only a little rain, with the feeling that they were being used as guinea pigs.

After the 18m gliders surprised everyone by not coming back the 15m gliders were launched half an hour later. Another half an hour after that the open class was launched.

In the afternoon there was an almighty storm. Thanks to their earlier launch the 18m gliders were able to get round their task and get back before the storm came to the airfield. Ed had a fantastic flight, and stomped round. Only a mistake right at the end cost him getting first place for the day. He was beating himself up over this all evening; third place was no consolation.

Things were trickier for the 15m class. Nick Tillett landed out whilst Chris Starkey performed a dramatic final glide through the storm. The drive to retrieve Nick was complicated by his car having an electrics failure on the way back.

The late start for the open class meant they missed the small window of good weather. Less than half got round the task.

11th August: Scrub and tour of the LAK factory

With grey skies before breakfast, things did not look good. Indeed the long line of poor weather snaking from the Channel up the Baltic had arrived at Pociunai and steadily got worse during the day. At briefing there were no tasks and no grid, but hopes of a clearance, but that never materialised and we scrubbed at noon. The Lithuanian girls that adorned the airfield all week

We were then hosted by our assistant director Algimantas Jonusas, showed us round his business refurbishing and maintaining aircraft, including many Yak 52s of which he had 3 in hand at present in various states from near completion through to stripped to bare metal. A very impressive operation which will result in the aircraft coming out rated at zero hours throughout.

We then went round the Lak factory and saw the new Lak 17b being built. Originally the factory had some 600 workers, building and maintaining gliders for the whole area and Soviet Union. Now they have 20 or so workers with plenty of capability to expand production if and when needed. They should get full EASA certification for the 17b this year and have high hopes of new orders.

Later, a drive into Kaunas to get Nick’s car back from repair. Just a duff alternator, and fixed for a reasonable fee (from our point of view) and one that the garage owner seemed very happy to accept. A good evening meal at the hotel with our surly waitress rounded off the day, with the prospect of a similar turn of events tomorrow.

Competition Day 11

Day was scrubbed after re-briefing at 1200. Went to the Lak glider factory.
The Lak Factory
Building a Wing