First SSB Condor Flight from Boulder

15 SSB pilots joined tonight for our first flight out of Boulder!
You were awesome – and thank you so much for sending me your ICG files so quickly!
This link goes to a Google Sheet that shows the results.
SSB pilots racing gliders above the foothills. The Flatirons are in the background on the right.
Here are a few observations from today:
  • 11 out of 15 pilots finished the task.  Congratulations!
  • 7 pilots finished the task without using miracles and one just accidentally hit the thermal helper button once but turned it back off immediately.  There is a big penalty to using miracles so if you want to score well, practice flying without when you can.
  • As expected we had a few in-flight breakups due to flutter.  Thank goodness for “Q” to repair the plane on the fly and hitting “F1” to get back into the cockpit.  But more important: be careful with the speed!  Especially if you fly with water ballast, something most of us are not used to, speed builds up very quickly.  And remember VnE at altitude is well below the red line on your ASI… You’ve been warned 😉
  • The ranking is based on points, not based on raw speed.  There are two important factors that account for the difference:
    • First, scores are handicapped based on glider performance.  (It obviously is much harder to get around the course as fast in an ASK 21 as in a Ventus 3 and you must therefore be much faster in a Ventus to score higher than the ASK 21 pilot.)
    • Second, the use of miracles results in deductions that show up as penalties.  If you had a positive point score, you can add your penalties to it to see how well you might have done without the use of miracles.
  • I noticed some gliders coming back to the finish pretty high above minimum altitude.  If that applies to you, try to take a closer look at the final glide calculator.  You can save the time it took to climb higher than you needed to. (But obviously don’t ignore any high terrain that may be in the way.)
  • If you are wondering what you could have done differently to be faster, the following factors played the biggest role tonight:
    • Your mean climb rate in thermals (look at the column mCR in the spread-sheet).  This is a function of:
      • What thermals you decide to stop and circle in (not a huge factor tonight because most thermals worked quite well).
      • How quickly you center the thermals.
      • How well you kept them centered while maintaining a consistent (slow) speed and a consistent (40-45 degree) bank angle.
    • Your inter-thermal cruising speed.  Use the flight computer and adjust the MC setting to the expected climb rate in the next thermal to determine the optimum speed to fly between thermals.  (If I look at mIAS it seems several pilots were flying too slowly for their own mean climb rate.)
    • The extent of your course deviations.  Take a look at the Detour% to see how you did.  For the most part, detours were quite small tonight.
    • The choice of flight route over terrain was not a big factor tonight because there was very little wind and there was not much opportunity to follow steep and sun exposed slopes.
  • Some have asked about flying with flaps and what flap positions to use.  Condor is a great way to practice this.  If you fly a flapped glider, there are markings around the ASI that show you what flap positions to use for your given speed.  (These assume that you fly with water ballast – if you fly dry you may need to shift to negative flaps sooner.

If you are new and eager to join next week for the first time, please take a look at the following:

We will do another task next Thursday at 5:30 PM.

If you don’t want to wait that long and are keen for more Condor racing, there is a nightly race series called US Nightly Soaring starting at 7 PM MDT every night.  Just fly an whatever days you want to.  (There’s no expectation that you join all the time.) You can sign up here.

At the finish line in Boulder. More racers are coming back above.


If you want to practice this flight, you can find the flight plan here.