By Matt Neumann
Wednesday greeted pilots with cloudy skies (some clouds were even a bit dark), cool temps, and a light breeze. We were fortunate that for most of the morning we had God's curtains blocking the sun. This made flying much easier since the prevailing winds were basically blowing towards the sun.
I again got there early at 6:30 in the morning, only to find even more early birds this time. I still got in my practice flight, however. As time went on, more and more people showed up filling up whatever available spaces were left. This year, you certainly had better get there early or you won't get a practice flight in.
Today was the second day of qualifying. The best score today gets added to the best score of yesterday. Since the Open class is divided into four groups, the top five from each group get to move on to Thursday for top 20 day. The Advanced group is divided into three groups, and the top four from each group get to move on to Thursday. Those twelve get to have a flyoff to determine the winner in the Advanced class.
The day started off well with beautiful temperatures and low wind; it was a pleasant day to fly, and the scores showed it. They were higher than the day before because of the nicer weather. This also made the competition fiercer since no one had to contend with the wind. This evened up the odds a bit.
As the day went on, the temperatures started to rise and at times the wind calmed down even more. I saw some fliers having to back up to stay out of their wake. Unfortunately, God's curtains also moved out. That is when the temperatures really started to rise quickly. Fortunately, the sun at that point had risen in the sky high enough that it was not quite the pest that it was the day before. It was still an issue in certain things, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Overall, it was a pleasant day to fly while the competition was going on. However, right now as I write this, the clouds are back and the wind is picking up. Looks to be a front coming through, so we dodged a bullet there.
There are normally a lot of pilots who pass on the second flight on Wednesday. This is due to the pilot feeling that they are in it for tomorrow and cannot be bumped out. So, they pass. This is normally the case when the winds pick up and there is no hope of increasing your score. However, today that was not the case. Yes, some did pass, but not nearly the same percentage as in previous years. It was such a nice day out, the fliers wanted to fly.
We, unfortunately, had two crashes today. One was caused by mysterious circumstances. The pilot was flying upside down and the airplane suddenly went down and pancaked in inverted. I don't know for sure if it was a freak wind current or pilot error. It had bounced a few times before that the lap before. So, it is possible a rogue wind current or something got him. The other happened in the outside loops. He just got a little low and again pancaked it in. It is a shame to see this happen. You never want to see that much work get destroyed.
Tomorrow is probably the hardest day of the week. Even more so than the finals on Friday in Open. Tomorrow, the fliers that moved on will fly two flights and both will be added together. No throwaways like the past couple of days. If you have a problem, you are out. One out of 100 bad flights can also put you out. Of all the days, this is the day you have to really bring your A game. Tomorrow is never dull. You are never in it until it is official.