I kinda liked talking at the DLG clinic so I thought I would give a few tips
to practice for better contest performance…
Coring your thermal
When I circle in a light thermal I talk to myself (in my head but you can say
it out loud if you wanna). Actually talking it out helps. Last weekend I
worked a few 2-man thermals. They were so light I asked Mike Smith, my timer, to
help me find the best part of it and we talked it out to find the core. I
like to divide my thermal turn into four and say better or worse as I pass each
quarter. It is easy to make corrections and open your circle to the better
side on the next pass. Especially in light thermals it is all about being
efficient so unless you wanna come down NEVER change directions, just open the
circle up a bit on the better side and pull in some elevator. When all four sides
of the thermal are lifting you up at the same rate you got the core. If you
are just practicing this is when you come home for some out and in, (more on
that later). In a contest you need to climb as fast as you can so pull on that
elevator and don’t stall it.
Consider your next move
Knowing where your are gonna find the next ride is almost all the task
strategy you need. During your flight you gotta decide if you can get back to that
thermal again. If you can then life is good so stay out of traffic and enjoy
the ride. Think about getting set up for the catch and focus on the
transition. If you don’t wanna go that far downwind and you have the altitude then get
home early and high to feel out the air. It is so sweet when you fly through
another thermal up wind and come in for the transition with the confidence
you are gonna chuck right into another one.
Practicing the out and in
I think this is the most satisfying part of hand launch flying. When you
find the core of a thermal roll out and see how fast ]you can get back into it.
Once there, work the quarters to find the best part
and then get out and in again. During the flying part of the clinic I took
the same thermal for a ride five times.
More on practice
If you are by yourself get one of those taking timers and
set on a one minute loop to work on the transitions. I like to start all my
flying sessions with at least 10-20 of these quick turnarounds before I even
start looking for lift.
A few thoughts on wind
Next time you get out to fly try pushing your plane
over right after launch to about a 45 degree angle to the ground. Let go of
the sticks and let it fly fast, this will show you what your plane wants to do
in the wind. By flying fast you get a better look at your trim settings too.
If the plane pulls up to quickly you are doomed to an off field landing. I
trim for the wind by setting up the plane to fly very neutral so that it would
nearly hit the ground if I didn’t pull up. I have to remember to watch my
speed (keep it slow) in lift and pull a bit more elevator than normal.