It’s amazing how weather can change rapidly here in Finland. In the Grand Prix – during the last week of May - we had just over +10 C and super windy weather. It didn’t take a week for the weather to change into heat wave. So we all have been confused, as suddenly we had to change our warm clothes to t-shirt and shorts. Well, the weather has been so hot that any clothing is too much - except the bikini of course ;-)
So this Finnish Gliding Nationals has started in really strange weather. We have been used to fairly cold (and unstable) weather during June and our Gliding Nationals. Now it is +29 C warm and sunny, and there are pretty nice cumulus clouds also.
The day started traditionally with raising the flags and short welcome-speeches of competition director Hanski and Riku, who is the general director of Räyskälä-Foundation. I am not officially working in the organization, I’m only helping them to get started and I promised to take pictures. So for now I will put the pictures on competition website, and move those here later.
Unfortunately I didn’t see briefing, since we had to make some last minute settings in the competition office. Launches were anyway supposed to start at 11:30, but those were postponed until 12:45. When we were waiting at runway 08 for the towings to start, the sky was blue, no clouds at all. Anyway all gliders which had gone flying in the morning, managed to stay up. So people felt that towings could have started earlier. Standard class had 401 km and 15m+2 seater class had 416km task, so pilots wanted to leave as early as possible so that they wouldn’t be back so late. There were really nice cumulus clouds when launches started. Finally pilots landed back after 17:00. I had really lazy afternoon during their flight, having lunch, sitting in shadow and of course swimming in the lake.
Kimmo and Arto, the pilots of NIL (daily winner in two-seater class) told me that big part of the task area was blue thermal – no clouds at all. But anyway they could keep up pretty good speed, since their average speed was 112 km/h. On the other classes winners had pretty fast average speeds also, 119 and 120 km/h.
Temperature in the shadow was +17 C in the morning at 8. The day continued as hot and nice gliding day, launches were postponed only 15 minutes, and so day started at 12:15. Even our met-man Kristian had said in the morning that there will be only blue thermals, we saw cumulus developing during towings. After towings we had lunch and enjoyed the day, and calculated that as they had just over 200 km task, pilots would be back just before 17:00. When I got up after having a nap, I saw a text message asking “what has happened and are pilots ok”. Of course I hadn’t heard anything. I started calling and during following hours we got most sad news. This is something I hoped I wouldn’t have to ever write: Two 15m class pilots had an accident in the air, other pilot survived with parachute, but the other pilot sadly didn’t make it.
News started calling even to me, asking would I like to sell my photos for the news. Of course I couldn’t give any photos, as all information in these situations has to come through only the competition directors - and police later of course. The day was cancelled in 15m and two-seater class. The feeling in Räyskälä during the evening was most sad and quiet.
Somehow the weather changed during the evening and it started to rain.
This day isn’t competition day because of the happenings of yesterday. The weather is really poor as well. There are two low pressures around us, I guess other one is for our Nationals and the other is for Women World Gliding Championships in Sweden…
Day started with briefing for pilots, their crew and organization. Competition directors and Tapio Pitkänen, President of the Finnish Aeronautical Association sent their condolences to the family and friends of both pilots. There was a crew from crisis support telling that all people are going through this happening on their own way, and as we are a tight croup, we should process the accident as much as we want to and support each other.
This is exactly what we are going to do. Being together and talking about what happened if we feel like it.
I don’t know about you or other countries, if everybody knows each other in gliding. But as Räyskälä is pretty big and busy place, we usually know the names and faces, but can’t always connect the right face and name. Just today I learned who the lost pilot was, got a name and face together. I know that here are several good friends of him and I can see how sad everybody is. Why this had to happen?
We are trying get back to normal life, and briefing was at 10:00. I think it might have been good thing if this would have been flying day, but it isn’t (or wasn’t) as cloudbase was so low that even birds were walking.
I worked in the morning and in the afternoon we went to KeppanaKellari and tried their own green beer. After a walk it was time to go to sauna, and I spent evening with potato chips, coca cola and a movie from TV.
Bad weather continues, Kristian told us in the briefing that this day is so poor that there isn’t any possibilities to even have a grid. When he ended his slideshow, pilots asked him about tomorrow. He answered that then there will be possibilities for a grid. I hope we will have flying day tomorrow.
This day has been again dedicated to working and eating.
Finally it was a flying day! Weather looked good already in the morning, even there were quite big clouds on the sky already. Kristian told us in the briefing that there is a risk that clouds might overdevelop, and that clouds might spread out today. Originally the task was 3 hour AAT, but one turnpoint was taken away and the time was shortened into 2 hours. That would mean devaluation on results, as the task time is so short.
Anyway I like to think that most important thing was that it was finally a flying day, I think everybody needed it after what happened on Sunday. As the task time was so short, and I was working, I went back to the airfield too late and didn’t get any finishing pictures.
Pilots told me that the weather during task had been surprisingly good, clouds did spread out, but they told me that still they had flown really long distances without turning at all. There are familiar names on top of the results, but there are only few point differences.
Friday will be my last day on this competition, as main air show of the year starts on Saturday morning in Turku.