The beginning of the competition
This is second gliding competition in Räyskälä with international guests this summer. After Räyskälä Masters in June and having Swedish and Austrian pilots here with us, the season continues with guests from Denmark and Norway. We have altogether 6 junior pilots in “NJGC” (Nordic Junior Gliding Campionships) and I am glad to tell that one of them is from Finland. We warmly welcome you all here in Räyskälä.
Danish team actually arrived here already in the beginning of the week, and Norwegian team couple of days later, but unfortunately the weather has not offered its best, just the opposite actually. We’ve been more or less in constant rain in Räyskälä while it’s been quite nice and sunny for example in Helsinki. I hope the teams has seen some other attractions in Finland than just rainy airfield. You know how rainy airfields are, they are like amusement parks in autumn rain, meaning sad and empty.
The organization has been preparing for the competition since spring time and last adjustments for the office etc. has been done this week. I am working in the office with Tuula, Otso is doing the scoring and Ken “Keni” (Eklöf) is the competition director. Tapio Tourula is our meteorologist and he also flies in Open class. Our field marshal is Hannu “Hontsi” Ansa. Our field runners are Otto, Viivi, Martta, Tatu and Linus, we do have some additional plans for them, as they are having quite long experience from the competitions and they are clearly showing that they are able to do something else than just run ropes. So we hope there is growing new generation for volunteering in gliding competition organization.
Originally we had three classes in the competition, Open class or “Kuuma Ryhmä” for experienced pilots, Jannen Kisat-class where the tasks would be a bit easier and of course the NJGC2018. Both Jannen Kisat and NJGC classes are now flying together, as they would have had same tasks anyway. Now we have two classes: Open class and Nordic class, NJGC and Jannen Kisat combined together. 12 pilots in both classes, 24 pilots in total, but Finnish pilots are flying as “HC” in Nordic class and the championships points are calculated only for the junior pilots.
Friday 6th July – safety briefing
The sky started clearing out during the afternoon hours and temperature was rising. Competition office opened its doors for registration at 16.00, we had safety briefing at 18.00 in Hangar I. Keni told important things like recognizing dangerous attitudes, what to do in case of an accident, and also how to land safely on a lake. Landing in lake is never good option, but it’s always better than a forest.
Registration continued until 20.00 and Tapio (the met man) had quite positive thoughts of tomorrow’s weather. It would be great to start the competition with good flying day, instead of waiting in the rain, I bet you agree.
Opening ceremony is at the cafeteria at 10.00 Saturday morning followed by 1st briefing in Hangar I.
So…here we go again!
Saturday 7th July – 1st competition day
They day started with sunshine and temperature was in the camping area (=shadow) 19 C already at 9.00 in the morning. Usually during the opening ceremony I am in the audience instead in front of them. This time I got a task – actually put myself in the situation…the opening ceremony starts always with raising the flags and we were going to raise the SIL (Finnish Aviation Associaton) flag with Tuula and I was able to recruit our two tow pilots Kari and Väiski to take the Finnish flag. But I ended up rising the Finnish flag, which is a huge one, meant to be used on much taller flag pole than we are having. The wind was strong, so I ended up struggling with the flag, at one point it jammed totally and all the time it was nearly escaping from my hands. Luckily Kari was helping me and was holding the other end of the string. This would have been much pleasant experience if there wouldn’t had been that wind.
First briefing was short and efficient, but as the procedure of first day competition “requires”, the task sheets needed some fixing afterwards. Both classes got assigned area tasks (AAT), task time was 2 hours for Club class and 2,5 hours for Open class. Weather forecast promised some cumulus clouds with few cumulonimbus and possibility of spreading out. In the afternoon it looked exactly like that.
The tasks seemed to be a bit challenging for some, as quite soon they were announcing on radio that they are coming back, and also we received few outlanding phone calls. The first outlanders had flown only some 20 km, so we were wondering will this be a valid competition day. 3 or more pilots has to fly 100 km (or more) to make the day valid on Open class and 2 is enough in Nordic class. But we are trusting on our Nordic Championships pilots, they are not here only for fun I assume, they are here for flying.
Pilots who returned back from the task told that the weather looked really challenging especially in the west. Finnish pilots’ attitudes I understand very well, it’s quite common that people are returning back from the task if the flying isn’t fun especially in Jannen Kisat, which is more relaxed competition than Nationals are.
Tomorrow’s weather is looking to be very similar than today, we are in between two air masses, one in east and other in west, hopefully the westerm air mass will win :-)
Sunday 8th July – Same procedure as yesterday
Same procedure as last year, James (it’s from a movie “Dinner for one”). This time the procedure is the same as yesterday. Pretty much similar weather as yesterday and same type of task and same task times as yesterday.
Usually on a good flying day, the competition office is pretty quiet after the starts, and people usually go for lunch or grocery shopping etc. Today the quiet time on radio didn’t last very long, because the weather didn’t co-operate with us. First outlanding report came quite soon after the start time announcements, and 6 pilots in Nordic class arrived back from task after quite short flight. Rest of the pilots were able to visit on both turn point areas, but the gliding weather in Räyskälä area was really poor, the clouds had spread out and killed the sunshine totally. In the end, nobody was able to finish the task, as the last turnpoint was Topeno, which is about 10 km east from Räyskälä, and pilots were arriving from the west, so they decided to land directly to Räyskälä without visiting the last turnpoint. We were a bit worried in the beginning if this would be valid competition day, but that was in vain, since the rest of the pilots were able to fly around 200 km.
And usually when the task is assigned area task, pilots usually arrive within the given task time, but not today, the flying times were much more than that.
I went home (Helsinki) for the night, I had to do some laundry and I had possibility to have nice Indian dinner in good company.
Monday 9th July – in a need of cloud jack
Today was Tapio’s birthday and we sang Happy Birthday to him in the briefing. Well I didn’t, as I was on my way to Räyskälä after good night sleep. During the drive, I was looking on the sky and around Hyvinkää area the clouds looked like stratus clouds and seemed to be very low. Around Riihimäki, high cloud appeared as well and I was wondering how this day would go. At the time when I arrived, the grid was already on runway 08, but towings weren’t started on time as the cloudbase was really low. Keni was talking with Honzi that there would be good use for cloud jack now. You all know what jack is, the little equipment you can lift your car when you have flat tire or something, so then cloud jack is equipment which you can use to lift the clouds. Too bad that has not been invented yet :-)
Both classes got same task, distance 224 km and it was traditional speed task. Towings were postponed for 45 minutes and finally we were able to start at 12.15, between classes we had 10 minute pause as the cloudbase was still low, this break gave possibility to Open class reach better altitudes and start the task.
I really don’t know the reason why some of the pilots are coming back from the task quite soon, some of them are coming back to the airfield from the task and others are flying as long as possible and really fighting their way through the task. So to some pilots the trigger point for “giving up” is lower to others. But I must say, those guys who are the first ones to give up – I mean pilots who will arrive back from the task - are not the first ones to be seen at the terrace of the cafeteria, more likely you will see them waxing their planes or jogging around the airfield. Of course some of them are hiding in the privacy of their own caravans, perhaps the reason for them is the Football World Championships.
Tuesday 10th July – Day cancelled
We have had some birthdays this week as I’ve told you, and today was the birthday of our competition director. It was agreed that Tapio would use the possibility to announce Keni’s birthday in the briefing, since Tapio would have the microphone already as he is our met man. Of course we sang Happy Birthday to Keni and then the briefing continued like nothing had happened.
Grid opened at 8.30 and closed 11.15 like every other day, runway 08 was in use. But there was low pressure with thick high clouds coming towards us. Funny thing was that the cloudy area was really wide and thick in the east and as it was coming towards us, it looked like it was pushed through a funnel as it got narrower while coming towards us. So the weather was nice in Helsinki and very nice north from Räyskälä, but not good in here. Task was finally cancelled at 12:30.
The day was good for other activities, like waxing planes and football match and fishing. Few of our international pilots was taken fishing. In the evening Viima was flying our field runners, this was Räyskälä Foundation’s way to thank our youngest workers of their contribution in competitions Räyskälä Masters and Jannen Kisat this summer. I ended up sitting the whole day in the office with three computers, so it was normal working day for me.
Wednesday’s weather doesn’t look that promising, let’s see how it goes.
Wednesday 11th July – waiting
Yep, the weather forecast for today didn’t look that promising. The cloud mass above us looked like it would clear out, and it was looking really positive. But that didn’t last long, as the cloud thickened back again quite soon. Also the task area was under the cloud mass. Again we would had flown if we would have been at Jämijärvi.
This was almost same procedure as yesterday, meaning that grid opened at 8.30 and closed 11.15, briefing was at 10.00. Towings were postponed until 12.00 already in the start. This wasn’t that long wait, as the day was cancelled at 13.00. People were waiting at cafeteria terrace and once the decision of cancelling came, I went to the terrace and told that day was cancelled, immediately people jumped up and rushed towards the grid.
Some went flying, and some left to the adventure park HugoPark in Hämeenlinna. I spent my day again in the office, and now Mari has a brand new computer! So it was very useful day, of course I had to do my normal job in addition to everything else, but luckily it’s very quiet season.
Tomorrow looks just a bit better than today.
Thursday 12th July – New day, new things, old weather
The weather changed in the evening, it’s getting warmer and more humid. People said in the morning that sleeping isn’t easy as the weather is so humid. Nothing is moving, wind is 1-2 m/s, so it doesn’t mean good things to gliding weather.
And in the briefing when it was time for Tapio to tell about the weather, he started with “New day, new things, old weather”. I’ve told you about how the weather is past couple of days and unfortunately yes, it’s the same. Except it's even calmer than days before. Towings were supposed to start at 11.30, but soon postponed until 12.00 and then to 12.30, task was also changed to B task. Nordic class was decided to launch first at 12.30, and then have a break and after that – perhaps – tow the Open class.
Around 13.00 first ones landed back and the air was very still, it was something we call in Finland like “cow’s breath”, hot and humid and sky didn’t look very good, actually it was very dark even it wasn’t raining. The start line for Nordic class didn’t open at all, Open class was not towed and the day was cancelled on both classes.
And that means that I got some “water dumping at grid” pictures.
Later when I was in the office again, I could hear strong water shower dumping water on us. It didn’t last long and the evening was quite sunny and sky was again clearing out for the evening.
Friday 13th – Very good after all
The weather is getting warmer. I went to the office in the morning and asked for Keni to comment something of coming day as a competition director. He said that the risk of thunder storms is so high, that the task setting is very difficult. He said that the finish ring is large and high today only because of the big risk of rain and thunder. The forecast looked like the showers and thunders are starting in the west quite soon, already around noon. Keni even booked the airspace for Hyvinkää, so it would be possible for people to land there if the weather gets tricky.
Weather didn’t do what we thought. While I am writing this and waiting for sauna-time, it’s still sunny and warm here, but there are quite strong thunders in the west, but much norther than where we are. Towings were postponed only for 15 minutes and pilots were able to start their tasks immediately. Tasks were area tasks, 2h for Nordic class and 2,5 h for Open class. The weather was looking really good on the task area and Keni was thinking that the task was too short after all. But I don’t think that, as I think it’s very good that we got really nice flying day and besides, some pilot commented that this was really good as the weather would have been trickier if the task would have been any longer to the east. So think this went very well after all.
We had 12 final today, which offers possibility to have a final on top of the lake, and of course dumping water for photographers. Somehow my equipment stopped co-operating with me, I didn’t hear anything from the radio, I had a camera but it didn’t focus on anything and I took some videos with my phone, but somehow one video became blurry and one video was upside down. Also SE was doing very nice maneuvers, but I was just daydreaming and wondering about bad radio and battery loss on my phone and standing behind the trees, so I didn’t have any chance to take photos of him. Perhaps I should have chosen just one camera to shoot with and concentrate on that. So the end result was a bit frustrating.
But I am glad my mom visited me here, and came to meet her old friends as well.
Saturday 14th July 2018 – last day, the end of the competition
Warm weather continues, sky was blue in the morning, but some middle cloud was forming above us. After cumulus started “popping”, those became big quite fast. Nice cloudstreets were forming towards Jämijärvi, and towings were able to start at 11.45, just 15 minutes later than originally supposed.
Surprisingly pilots reported in our Pilots WhatsApp group from the task that the flying weather wasn’t very easy in southwest, thermals were weak and clouds were drying out. The weather was just the opposite in Räyskälä, there was heavy rain shower at 13.00 and it was pouring rain for half an hour.
We had only three outlandings, and scoring had all the igc-files returned back just before 18.00, and today - on a last day - the protest time was only 2 hours, so we were able to have the price giving ceremony at 20.30.
In Nordic class it was obvious that we were going to see some changes in the results, as CN and HP landed out, they were first and third in total results. So it happened that RU Oskar Minds on second place won the competition and CN Martin Bjørnebekk became second, and SE Emil Dalboe-Pedersen had a really good day and became third, being fifth day before. Well done!
You might have noticed that there aren’t that many daily pictures from the competition. But I have taken some videos instead, and I am going to build something of them. SE (Emil) had taken video of his final glide on RWY 12, the epic final glide on a lake and then landing on runway, parts of it will be seen on the video as well.
Price giving ceremony was in front of the cafeteria. We had few Finnish pilots who had to return the club owned planes they had used at the competition back to their home airfields by Sunday, so other club members were able fly again. So for example IU Mikko Ylihärsilä wasn’t able to pick up his trophy, if he would have waited, he would have arrived to the airfield in early morning hours. Also CN didn’t make it in time unfortunately, and they missed the ceremony only by half an hour, but they had substitute pilots on podium picking up the medals.
The atmosphere at price giving ceremony was very relaxed and warm. Of course jury gave its report that there hasn’t been done any protests and then competition director declared the competition closed. I am glad Finnish summer weather gave its best to us, and it was beautiful way to end the competition.
I want to thank all the competitors, co-workers in the competition, and especially the international guests, I hope you all enjoyed your time in Räyskälä. See you again!