Saturday, 7 July 2012

Issoudun Friday 6 July 2012

We went to bed early last night because we were all so tired.  However it was with a sickening heart as the airbed gradually deflated.  We were so exhausted however, that we just slept though it and cursed the airbed in the morning.

Today was classed as a ‘Training Day’, so with glider rigged and everything ready to go, we went to the briefing at 10:30 with all the other competitors.  The briefing is a strange affair, because although English is the world-wide language for flying purposes, of course the French have to do it in French, they then had someone translate the sections they thought important into ‘Frenglish’.  So in the end, I came away from the briefing without actually knowing what height we’d be towed to on launch, or whether they operate a maximum start height, and I certainly didn’t understand fully, exactly which bits of the airspace were prohibited for this particular day.

We received a briefing sheet with a 107km racing triangle, but Dave, Kay’s husband thought that it would be far better to have a go at an Assigned Area Task that one of the other competition classes had been set, that we switched over to that instead (Issoudun – Aignant – Orcay – Issoudun, with 30km sectors at the two points, and a set maximum time of 1:30). 

The weather forecast was for a suitable slot of weather between 12:00 and 17:00, but that there would be some showers and it would all stop by 16:30 due to heavier showers.

So with Steve fussing that we needed a new airbed urgently, we pulled onto the gird and grid squat for a while whilst several showers went through and the organisers launched the Libelle class and the Open class gliders.  As showers were going through, we dashed to the village of Issoudun to purchase a new airbed, and whilst there Steve realised that he’d mislaid his debit card.  So at least we now had the makings for a comfortable layer between us and terra firma, the worry was now the possibility of fraud….  What else was going to happen?

We eventually launched after the Open class between heavy showers.  This was the view to the East of Issoudun Airfield:-

However, this was the view to the North West, which was the direction of the task:-

All we could do was stay airborne – the lift was surprisingly good – I’m climbed to over 4000ft and had to open the airbrakes to descend beneath the cloud and to land.

Issoudun is a very large airfield and reminds me a lot of Gransden Lodge, both the airfield shape as well as the surrounding farmland.  The fields are huge; they appear to be much bigger than those in the UK.  The bonus is that there are very few hedges and many more fields have already been harvested, therefore providing suitable landing out options along the way.  The locals have stated though, that the weather has also been very poor in France this year and that normally by now, all the fields would usually have been fully harvested.

I floated around the local area taking in the airfield and surrounding area, before being forced to land in the pouring rain.  When I say ‘forced’ this was nothing in comparison to the Mosquito which I flew in last year that would literally fall out of the sky in rain; this Cirrus appears to be much better.  I did however over cook it, in that I decided to go out to 3km which is the boundary of the finish ring to check out what it looked like, only to suddenly find that I wasn’t going to make it back to the airfield!.. Luck was on my side however and I managed to scrape onto runway 18.

As we towed back to the parking area, there was a judder and the tail wheel collapsed because the piano hinge had snapped.  Great. 

First things first.  Steve still hadn’t found his debit card, so we cancelled that with the Bank.  We then rushed back to the ‘BricoMarket’ (a type of B&Q) where we purchased a piano hinge, hacksaw, screws and nuts and glue.  Or we would have with Steve’s other bank card, only to find that the transaction was refused – had the bank stopped the wrong card?  Back at site, Steve found a vice in the workshop and very successfully managed to repair the tailwheel – without this, we would have had great difficulty in towing the glider to the required places.   

I wiped the rain off the glider (third time) put on the covers and packed everything up for the day.

I think that both Michael and I are missing Django tremendously, so we found a surrogate dog (Maisie 6 months old) and took her for a walk around the airfield.

Tomorrow is the first day of the competition; let’s see what the weather brings this time….

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