Engineered Systems Ltd

Programme and Project Management by Ed Johnston

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Day in the Life of WGC 2012

Having just got over the nervous moments of the final glide, you are now holding altitude at 1600ft plus safety while the speed bleeds away from 120kts or so over the last two or three Km towards the finish ring. Eventually the ring is crossed and you can slow up, the air vent hair dryer effect easing its intensity then call your finish and join the wide, left hand circuit to land long on Runway 15.

The normal procedure was to roll to the very end of Runway 15 where the Uvalde team cleared you from the runway before leaving the cockpit.

Talking with the other pilots in circuit, you slot into the pattern, then that long flat final approach to land 2/3 down the 1.6Km runway. Rolling out to the very end, the WGC ground crews wave you forward till one catches the tip, another leans on the nose and spins you backward and off with you still in the cockpit, canopy open.

Soon enough you can get out and help the crew fit the tow gear while the Uvalde team politely hustle you onward to make room for those behind. Then it is back to put the glider to bed as the adrenalin slowly seeps out of the system and you start to feel the fatigue and heat.

The room was reasonably inexpensive but basic. Cant help feeling it was a little over-priced

As you go back to the room you start to cool off in the air conditioned truck while getting some bottled water down your neck- the second camel back is unpleasantly warm and the first finished. By the time the traces are uploaded and you are back to the glider, your crew has done their magic and it is only last little jobs to finish off.

You finished about 6.45 and now it is getting on towards 8pm, so it is back to the VIP tent to get a snack, something to drink complements of WGC Uvalde and make plans between other pilots and crew for dinner.

Heading to the restaurant a little before 9pm you can see the outside air temperature has just dropped below 100F (37C). You are meeting 4 others for dinner so there shouldn’t be a big wait until everyone is ready to order, which is starting to be important with fatigue fighting hunger to see which will get the upper hand.

Decent, inexpensive food served with never-ending iced water or soda comes along and we start to properly unwind with a bit of banter and chat, sometimes about the day, tasks, fettling and sometimes away from gliding entirely. The bill is divided up and off to home where by 10.30 you are ready to drop so you do!

Staging required the gliders to be arranged beside the runway in grid order

6.45am and your crew dutifully is up and at it. With some feeling of guilty you try to get another hour or so of rest while he gets the glider ready and staged beside the runway before it gets above 80F (27C).

Breakfast and a quick look at the Met shows a day likely to have some cloud under a ridge of high pressure- means weaker thermals but less chance of thunder storms. Your team mate turns up and you discuss plans for the day before leaving for briefing at 10.15.

Excellent weather briefings were provided, though in best traditions, a great deal of time was dedicated to what actually hapened the previous day. Educational...

Prizes are awarded, notices given of social events, the inevitable points made on safety. We all stop and listen to an excellent met briefing, which confirm expectations for the day but leaves uncertainty about what time we need to be finished. Maps are drawn and computers programmed, notes compared with the rest of the team then it is back to the room to look at the met and chill (literally and psychologically). You are now well advanced on your 2nd litre of fluids.

When the briefed time arrived, all gliders were pushed onto the grid in their required order

Eventually the witching hour arrives and we go out to form the grid at mid day. At the appointed hour the airfield is officially closed and we can move gliders from the side of the runway onto the centre line then return to the car to keep cool. We continue to chat through potential start times while getting slowly geared up to fly.

Launch is due to start 30 minutes later but is delayed by 15 minutes. As it gets under way, you try to keep clouds of dust off the glider. As the launch drags on you keep an eye on conditions which are now developing well- may be more cloud today than forecast. Maybe a later start time too. Getting into the mood now, you steel yourself to stay in the car until only 5 or 6 ahead are still waiting ahead.

Trigger temperature was 37C and by now it is 1.30pm and nudging 39C in the shade, a lot more on the runway and in the cockpit. You go through your routine steadily and carefully; reset the loggers, zero them and altimeter to QNH, confirm the task, in with two camel backs, turn the Spot on...

Canopy open there are 2 gliders ahead but the last tug throws up a cloud of Texas dust which gets everywhere inside and out. Crew does their best but there is only so much. One ahead and the Uvalde launch team is offering me a rope- one for each glider is laid out on the side of the runway with rings under the wing shadow.

I check the rope is clear of the glider ahead before hooking on. The glider in front is rolling and my tug is on the way. Thank goodness it is not the red Cessna but one of the Pawnees and a decent rate of climb. It taxis in front and as the launch team hooks on to the tug I close the lid and start to stew.

With every glider having their own rope, the ground crew took great care to ensure none snagged

The glider picks up speed, starting to pump warm air round the cockpit from the DV panel. It gets lighter then is off the ground, struggles for a while in the heat inversion and finally you manage to get her fully laden mass up into clean air and you are away on the next day of the WGC.