Online Sources

This is a brilliant Facebook post from the winner of the U.S. National Club Class Competition 2018 in Nephi.   Key learnings relate to contest preparation, strategy, and execution.  The most salient points are summarized below:

Contest Preparation: acquiring local knowledge; reviewing OLC flight logs for the contest area;  researching land-out options; flying the local area in Condor; participating at another contest.

Strategic Goal Setting: it is best to fly consistently rather than take unnecessary risks in order to win a specific day.  Daniel tried to be among the top 10 every day, ideally among the top 5.  Statistically, the composite score of the 5th placed finisher for each day of any contest is sufficient to win the entire contest!

Gear Shifting: statistically that there are really two gears: Optimization and Risk Minimization. Daniel quantified the number and reliability of thermals one must have on a consistent basis in order to fly consistently over a competition. Daniel applied this research as the counterpart to MC theory in his decision making.

Cognitive/affective decision making: tactics should be decided intuitively and strategy should be decided analytically. Daniel says he pushed himself to reassess the big picture analytically: “Should I take this line or that line? What’s the risk of going deeper for those clouds? What is the lowest I should go in the band?” However, he did not second guess his intuition when it came to tactics: that cloud feels right! Having the right balance between both thought processes is key.

Weather: Daniel relied on Skysight for planning each contest day. It did a good job of predicting the weather, especially convergence lines. 

Execution: Whenever Daniel pulled back and loaded up the glider, he also pulled the flap handle. Vice versa when unloading the wing. As such, the flap handle essentially mimics the movement of the stick. Done correctly, this saves a lot of energy.  Furthermore, he used this effectively while employing dynamic soaring techniques. E.g., when flying in weak ridge lift in blue, he made sure to work the gusts as effectively as possible. In doing so and actively working the flaps, he meaningfully increased his L/D which allowed him to keep up with heavier and higher performing gliders.

Freely available on the Internet, this study guide helps prepare anyone for the knowledge test and practical exam to become a US glider pilot. Jim is a highly experienced flight instructor and FAA flight examiner. His online guide is succinct, well illustrated, and avoids some of the errors contained in the official “Glider Pilot’s Handbook”, which is typically used as primary reference for flight instruction.

Excellent training resource targeted at students of meteorology but easily accessible and understandable for anyone interested in learning more about this topic. Also available here as interactive training program. (The site requires registration but is free to use.)  You can also search for other training modules here.

Presentation materials from a seminar held to prepare pilots coming to fly a competition in Rieti, Italy.