Saturday, June 3, 2023

Why Does Piet Fly So Slow? Mifflin Day 1

I never really had time to analyze every flight at the contest.  Now that I'm sitting at the comfort of my home, I can download all of the log files and pull them up in flight analysis software. 

I know I have a lot of work to do to get to be a better competition pilot.  I suspect seeing what the fast guys are doing might be one avenue for my improvement. 

The first day was a setback for my position on the score sheet.  At the end of the flying day, I placed 11th, and had no idea how people went so much faster than me.  After watching the "worm races" in SeeYou, it's incredibly obvious why I was so slow. There were many reasons. 


Day 1 had kind of an overcast over the area.  The clouds were really hard to read.  The winds were about 265 at 14.   There were good thermals, and I climbed to 6400 feet before the start.  I descended to just under 6000 feet to cross the start gate.   

It was at that point that I had lost.   So soon into the adventure and I had already lost the day. 

I'm the glider in orange with the ∑ shaped ground track on the right of the screenshot above. The winner for the day, "Hotel" is the cyan colored track heading almost due south.  While I decided to tank up on more lift after crossing the starting line, he's headed for ridge lift.  There are two other gliders cruising toward Shade Mountain at speed.  I've already lost! 

Before I had even made it into the first turn area (orange line at the 1 o'clock position on the circle), these three guys had made it deep into the turn area, and were on their way back. They haven't made a single turn.

How did I miss this?

 I should have gotten a better understanding of which ridges work with which winds.  When there is a westerly wind, flying to the south is more advantageous.  When there's a northerly wind, the ridges to the north and east are most lined up with the winds. Just because the ridges aren't really lined up for ridge lift at the start area doesn't mean that the winds won't work with the ridges elsewhere. 


  • Look at the task on the map. Note the winds, see if there are any ridge "highways" we can use along the way. 
  • Forget about getting into the wave.  The task is designed with the assumption there is never any wave.  The wave lift around here isn't good for long stretches like it is near Front Royal. 
  • If you're all alone, there's probably a good reason.  Everybody is somewhere else, going faster than you. 
  • Plan a course deep into the first turn area, if possible. 
  • I should have an idea how fast I should be going, and refer to the average speed so far. If I'm below it, stop whifferdilling with every small scrap of lift. 

It Could Have Been Worse:

  • It looks like 98 and EL their motors to get home. They still outscored me, and they used their motors at the very end of their day.  
  • At least I didn't land out. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts:
1. Highest KIAS we saw is probably 95, so our average will NEVER be as high…math doesn’t allow it. However, the real lesson is to fly at highest KIAS for as long as you can.
2. However, it’s actually highest average GS that wins the day. So, every single turn in a thermal is dragging your average down.
Regardless, we had FUN!!!

Weezy sends