Thursday - Day 8 SAFECON 2011 Ohio State University
Thursday forecast was for clearing skies and isolated showers, but before long the skies closed out the sun that had poked through briefly Wednesday afternoon. Then it opened again with liquid sunshine – the kind that makes everything, you know - wet. Even so, NIFA was able to complete 5 rounds of Power-Off Spot Landings. SDCC pilots did well with some close to the line and a few long in the box. We had a couple out of the box.
The "box" is a 300' long chalked box with the landing line located 100' from the front end. Judges line the runway and mark where each plane lands. They look for wheel movement and measure the distance from the landing line. Wheels are painted with white markers to make them easy to identify motion. If the plane bounces, they mark where both wheels touch down and stay on the ground. Penalties are given for irregular patterns, excessive floating, forcing the plane onto the ground etc. Pilots are disqualified for any technique considered unsafe by the judges.
The judges switched to Message drop at 6pm – determined to get as much flying as possible. But the weather would not cooperate. Visibility lowered, rain increased and flying was cancelled around 1830. The team was scheduled to meet with LeTourneau University and Liberty University for dinner and fellowship as they do each year. But fatigue was beginning to show on our young aviators and they decided to return to the hotel and go to bed early. Friday would be a long, busy day and the long trip from San Diego combined with a week of mostly sitting around watching the weather took its toll. One cannot discount the cumulative effects of fatigue – regardless of the source – in the course of these marathon competitions.
Friday is forecast to be foggy in the morning, with some clearing by noon. The plan is to get as many Message Drop rounds as possible. There are 5 rounds scheduled with 7 heats in each round. The judges will switch to the Navigation Event as soon as weather permits. Navigation requires higher ceilings in a 100 mile arc north of Columbus because the waypoints for each of the 3 NAV routes are 90nm (102 miles) long. The Nav routes loop around the area mostly north of Columbus so the judges have to verify adequate weather throughout the region before switching to NAV.
Watch: Paul Martin Power Off Spot Landing ...
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