Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rough Riders

Alex and I do not know how these top guns can do this every day. Competitions usually have a few weather days to give pilots a break. But this one delivered perfect weather conditions every single day, that's seven straight days of thermaling and flying cross country over the desert of eastern Washington. Each of those seven days was full to the brim with competition activity. We quickly fell into a routine where the only thing missing was enough sleep. Maybe we can catch up on our sleep on the flight home!

Our typical day:

6:30 a.m. wake up find new muscles that are sore. I think it was Saturday morning when Alex tried to wake me up, I rolled over saying, "No, I don't wanna go to school today."

7:00 a.m. Go to the Apple Cup shack and get coffee. I am up to a triple shot Americano just to get started. The southern accent on the gal in the shack also helps. Then to the Apple Cup Cafe for breakfast.

8:00-8:30 a.m. meet at HQ. Pile your bag in the U-haul, squeeze yourself into a van with 13 other pilots and head to launch.

9:30 a.m. Get to launch start think about the day ahead, which always gets my stomach turning. 

10:00 a.m. Go to one of the little blue houses to relieve stomach.

10:30 a.m. Pilot meeting, enter another grueling task in GPS, get your gear ready and stand in line. 102 degrees, sweat then freeze at 12,000 feet.

11:00-2:30 Launch is open. Go early your up for a longer time.  It didn't seem to matter any more.  An hour in this air at first was brutal.  It was never enough time for me to finish a task. Saturday my Goal Closed alarm went off as I was dirting out short of goal at 7 pm.  

7:00 p.m. hike out to main road. Wait for van. take a 1 1/2 hour ride in van to HQ.  No shower, go eat at whatevers open.

11:00 p.m. get back to room. Have glass of wine, argue about who's got to write in this blog. 1 day Alex made it really far and did not get back till 1:30 a.m. The next day two retrieve volunteers quit.

A slight re-cap on our pilots. Jorge was Mr. Go Low and somehow always got back up to the heavens and made goal several times finishing as Hawaii top pilot and 37th in the over all. Bill Morris didn't even score on 3 of the days but still landed number 72. Scotty Gee broke a stabilo line got it fixed and then broke the other side the next day which put him in the dirt. When he did fly he racked up points to put him at 80th. I was next at 84th. Roy Morris  only flew 2 tasks and still came in the top 100 at 85th  Alex had some instrument issues and got a lower score on the last day which plummeted him below me at 86th. Chris Langan 95th and Dave Taratko 102 with a mystery minimum score on the last day which he was not even here. Dave was would have most likely been in the top 50 had he stayed. Bill and Bonnie were only here for the first weekend. Motorhead is nuts he volunteered at Rat Race and the Nats as a driver. The drivers racked up over 1500 miles each in a week here. The Reaper the most giving guy. With out him and the Bronco there would be no comps. Safety director for both Rat Race and Nats, thank god Pemby was cancelled or he would be up there too. Oh, Doug 'Sky God' Hoffman was here with the family. On one particular day he did the entire task beating most all in the running and instead of landing at Goal he continued on to IDAHO racking up a flight just short of the State record.

All the big names were here and willing to give pointers to us mere mortals of the flying world. Jack Brown gave me one think to try and my thermal coring improved huge. It was great to see them all,  Nick Greece won with Josh Cohn and Eric Reed next to him on podium.

Overall, it was an experience. Grueling schedules. But the weather was perfect every day.....unfortunately.  I had dreamed about doing the Rat Race then drive up to Chelan for the Nats then drive up to Pemby for the Canadian Nats. No freaking way. Some of the pilots here did the RR, Chelan XC Open and then the Nats. I am not sure how they could do it. Although they also finished the tasks in a quarter of the time.

I always say that I will never do another comp but they are addicting. Possibly heading to the Nepal Open in February for my birthday.

There were a bunch of events that were story worthy but this will have to do until we can rest up. Even Alex said he may not fly for awhile when he gets back but we know that is bull.

It's Time to Fly, on a Jet home, Get Your Gear Stowed and REST.


  1. Nepal in Feb? That just happens to be my vacation month. I'm in!

    1. I was hoping for a Hexican revival. Lets start planning. We flew with 2 Nepali pilots that were really cool and said they would be honored to help us out down there.