Monday, December 31, 2012

Everything has a name

Sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the official names, so here they are.

The town is called Adolfo Gonzales Chaves, which everyone calls "Chaves" for short.

The contest itself is named in honor of Rolf Hossinger, the 1960 World Champion.

Rolf Hossinger, 1960

The host club is the Club de Planeadores Otto Ballod, named after the aviation pioneer who established gliding in Argentina. The club has been flying gliders here since 1931.

Otto Ballod, 1925

Light lunch

While we were waiting for the day to be called, we repaired to the cantina tent, which seems to be open for business 24 hours a day.

Peter wasn't all that hungry, so he ordered the "light lunch," which turned out to be a ham-cheese-veal-egg sunny side up-full salad sandwich.

I didn't stick around to watch him eat it.

Blowin' Forty

Today was a bit of a dud.

At Briefing, they told us we could expect a late afternoon Task, but it was not to be.  The wind strength increased all day, until it became obvious to all that there would be no flying.  Gliders were disassembled, hangared or hidden in the campground, where you could hear discussion in many languages about the likelihood of a tree falling on a glider (or a campsite, for that matter!)

It will be windy all night, and the pessimists think that we'll lose tomorrow also.  The optimists are saying that we'll be able to fly tomorrow, and that all this wind will help dry the runway. The weatherman, who is neither a pessimist or an optimist, cannot be found.

Our pilots, crews, and sailplanes are all ready.  Crews are instructed to send their pilots to bed shortly after midnight.

Happy New Year!

SPOT Tracking

Follow the US Team in real time via SPOT Tracking.  There are several versions available; try all of them and see what you like the best:

Google Maps
Google Maps (Large)
Google Earth KML

Reminder: takeoffs occur approximately 1630 UTC and landings approximately 2130 UTC.

Thanks to Mark Hawkins and Frank Paynter for setting this up.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Much fettling, some flying

Phil made the Team's first practice flight today and reported 6 knots to 5000 feet. Everyone else stayed on the ground working on their gliders. Peter came close to flying, but decided to take it easy one more day. Sarah, Sean, Tom, and Bill worked on instruments all day, and are close to ready. We're hoping that everyone will fly tomorrow.

The crews worked hard all day establishing our presence on the field, shopping, programming mobile phones, exchanging currency, and raising the Stars and Stripes over our base camp. We are getting a lot of help from the friends we met at Uvalde in August.

They will call a Task tomorrow at the 1130 (1430 UTC) Briefing.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Registration is a process

The guy in the foreground is Jacek Dankowski. He was first in line when the registration desk opened 45 minutes ago. He's almost finished. Phil is second.

Saturday update

Sarah and Sean have arrived with their gliders.

The runways are drying out, and they called the first task of the contest. It's unlikely that many will choose to fly since most of the rented gliders are having their instrument panels overhauled. The work is taking place in the campground, in the shade. It is an unusual campground: tents and caravans interspersed with fuselages.

Registration opens this evening at 6pm (we are UTC -3). Announcements are made in English and Spanish on the PA system.

Friday, December 28, 2012

No internet on the field

But they're working on it.

Update 12/29:  It just started working.  Thanks, Guy on Tower!

It has been a bit wet

As we all know, when you show up at a gliding contest, the locals all tell you that "You should have been here last week!" Not so at this event. Apparently, we are at the end of an unusually rainy Spring.  Today the weather is beautiful, but there is a lot of standing water in the fields.  The optimists are saying that it will dry out quickly.  The weatherman is saying "We'll see."

Reflecting on a wet Spring

More Arrivals

Congratulations to the Standard Class contingent for solving all their arrival problems, and I look forward to seeing them here at Chaves.
Sean and Sarah will arrive at Buenos Aires tomorrow and will head for local clubs where they will pick up a pair of ASW-20s.  Sean needs to stop at a government office to claim his Argentine pilot's license.
Bill and Tom will arrive the next day, the 30th, take care of a few things in Buenos Aires, and then travel directly to Chaves where their PW-5s are waiting for them.
If all goes well, the Team will be fully assembled in time for the New Year's Eve party at the airfield.

Standard Class Team - Successful Arrival in Buenos Aires

Race Fans,

A quick update on progress - Pilots Phil and Peter and Sean arrived yesterday, with Rick Sheppe (manager) , despite bad flight delays from the US and pretty horrendous lines in custom- this involved 6 hrs of waiting for the first arrivals (Peter and crew Agustin Cirino) ) before we could all leave for the port of Zarate where we were staying prior to picking up our gliders.

Rick's arranged car blew a head gasket on the way to the airport but Sergio Reinaudo (Argentinian team manager) was able to find him another ride from Zarate gliding club to Chavez the same day - a very long day for Rick but by all accounts he is in Chavez right now on schedule.

Today we had our appointment to pick up the  gliders at the port at 10am - the broker showed up by 11am and we were able to get into our container which was in the loading bay waiting for us.

The customs official arrived with a large pair of bolt cutters and broke the seal. With some trepidation we peered inside - the excellent work by Ian Clark and helpers had done the job perfectly and the gliders were just exactly as we expected to see them. This was a huge relief. Not only that but in only 4 hours, thanks to some careful planning and design of the tooling, we had both gliders out with their axle remounted, fenders on, and trailers packed and ready to roll. We had a lot of help from Argentinian team pilot Santiago Berca (who flew John Godfreys QT at Uvalde and is flying club class at Chavez - 2 WGC's in one year is pretty good going!) He left us this evening to take a bus to pick up his glider and drive to Chavez tomorrow as well.

John Goods flight was cancelled yesterday from the US so my crew Agustin went back into Buenos Aires again today to pick him up this morning - Johns customs experience took 3 hours today and he and Agustin arrived at the port just as we were putting the finishing touches to the trailers. We  parked the gliders at the nearby Zarate gliding club (a very nice facility - it would be the envy of many US clubs) and fixed a lot of tow vehicle wiring problems (3 hrs of John Good and I patiently debugging some very wierd light behavior) but now we're good to go. Nothing to eat all day but we made up for it tonight with an excellent meal in a restaurant a few yards from our hotel in downtown Zarate - a very lively little town. 

Tomorrow we leave early for Chavez and have a 500km drive followed by setting up crew  and supporters in the campsite , getting into our estancia and getting the gliders ready - I have some work to do on YG to get it ready for flying and scrutineering- nothing major - just normal  systems checking and installation.

So far so good - some major delays and events but everything has worked out well for us so far - talk to you soon...

Peter Deane (USA Std Class)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You can help

The US Team is grateful for the financial support of the Soaring Society of America, the SSA Foundation, and the individuals who have contributed directly to the US Team Fund.  Your generosity has made it possible to send six excellent pilots to Argentina to represent the United States at the 32nd World Gliding Championships.

If you are one of the 320 million Americans who have not yet made a donation in support of your Team, we have made it as easy as possible for you to do so.  Just click on the "Donate" button in the right hand column of this blog.  [Since removed] This will take you to a PayPal page that will allow you to make a secure contribution using a credit card (or your PayPal account).

The amount is up to you.  It doesn't have to be much.  After all, there are 320 million of you.  Tell all your friends.

A record of your donation will be forwarded to SSA at the end of the contest.  Click here for more information about US Team funding, and THANK YOU.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Update on Preparations for Argentina                                  

Heres an update on our extensive preparations for the big contest - just 10 days now until we depart!


Club and World Class are able to rent gliders in Argentina (Sean and Sarah fly rented ASW20’s in Club, Tom and Bill fly rented PW5’s in World) but there are no competitive standard class gliders available.
This is why Phil and I had to ship two gliders to Argentina.  Adding to our transport complications was our significant separation just within the US – I am in San Francisco while Phil is in Boston – We had four  options;
  • Ship Phil’s glider to Oakland and ship our gliders from CA
  • Ship my glider to Boston and ship from NY  
  • Find a loaner glider in CA and ship that and my LS8a ‘2T’  
  • Find a  glider in Boston and ship with Phils glider ‘PG’
We ended up settling on option 4 due to the great trust and generosity of Allan Adams, a member of Phil’s club in Boston, who loaned us his newly acquired LS8-a ‘YG’ – all I had to do was pay the extra insurance – a great saving over the transport costs for my own glider – Thanks Allan!!
Next, we had to get these 2 gliders with their trailers into a container somehow – it became obvious that to make things fit the wheels would have to come off – you can see pictures of the packing process in Boston in Phil’s earlier posts- A big thank you to Ian Clark who was instrumental in getting our container packed – Thanks Ian!!

Housing, transport, logistics at the Port, crew etc.

The airfield at Chavez has an excellent campsite and facilities , though for those who don’t relish the idea of camping, hotel accommodation can be patchy.  I was able to locate a farmhouse for rent while I was at the PreWorlds in January (these are like Hens Teeth – ie very rare) but not large enough for the whole team - we are planning on housing the Standard class and support team there , while Club and World are in other accommodation we were able to find in town during the PreWorlds.  Team captain Rick Sheppe decided to camp at the airfield in order to be available for early team captain meetings. We have a team office in a portable trailer which Tom McKnight has graciously organized at the field.
We have been able to arrange a set of pilot and glider transportation from Buenos Aires, to the port at Zarate, to Chavez and back again. The World Championships has been a bonanza for Argentine clubs as about 50 gliders have been made available for rent in the Club and World classes from the profusion of Argentine gliding clubs.

The Airfield

This aerial photo shows the large grass runways and the camping are in the trees near the hangars and swimming pool and tennis courts.

Cars and Crew

Phil is going to Chavez with veteran pilot, crew and past team manager John Good, while I am relying on the generosity of the Argentinians for crew – my original paid crew could not make it due to expecting his 6th (!) child in January.. but we are delighted with the cooperation we have been able to achieve with the Argentinian team in helping us with cars and crew in exchange for the loan of gliders to the Argentinian team for the Uvalde World Championships earlier this year.  Collectively, team USA should not be lacking for crew support during the contest.


Tom and Mimi McKnight and Bill and Nancy Snead are representing both the US and the great state of Texas in World Class in Argentina – we have 2 California pilots in Sean Franke in Club, with his Dad,  Manfred,  as crew,  and yours truly in Standard class.   From  Tennessee ,  Sarah Arnold  in Club class, ably assisted by husband Jason , and from Massachusetts we have team mate Phil in Standard class.


We are all arriving in Argentina shortly after Christmas – Phil, John, Rick and I all depart the day after Christmas Day to arrive on the morning of December 27th – and will depart immediately in 2 cars for the port in Zarate to unpack the container – Club and World class teams arrive a few days later as they are renting and their gliders are being delivered to the airfield. We hopefully arrive in Chavez with 2 gliders on Dec 29th in time to register, finish glider scrutineering and then up in the air for orientation and practice flights.    The first contest day is Jan 6th, last day Jan 19th – Wish us luck!!

 A good day in Argentina – last day at the PreWorlds

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Boston send off

Boston area pilots met for a World Championships send-off event in Princeton MA last weekend to launch me on my way. I received a lot of well wishes and advice from an enthusiastic gathering.

This event also marked the conclusion of a World Championships fund raiser organized by Juan Mandelbaum (pictured below). Apparently the local glider pilot community was prepared to give very generously to have me out of the way for a few weeks, even during the off season :).

Bob Fletcher, Phil Gaisford, Juan Mandelbaum
The Standard Class trophy, festively adorned

Tracking Ships

The Standard Class team equipment is traveling to Argentina via ocean transport.

Much like aircraft and FLARM-equipped gliders, ships and other marine craft carry automated collision avoidance devices. These devices transmit current position, course, speed, rate of turn and so on. If the transmitters are in range of certain land-based receivers then they can be tracked using the web site It was interesting to track the progress of the container across the ocean. It struck me how little time a container ship spends in port – just a few hours, then on to the next stop.

Here are a few screen shots showing progress. Our equipment arrived in Zárate on Thursday.

Leaving New York
Calling at Charleston
Fort Lauderdale
Passing Montevideo
Really close to the destination, Zárate

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This leg of the journey commenced one New England day late in October. We had an appointment with a 40' shipping container which had been trucked up from New York the day before.

Ian arranged access to a suitably sized facility to handle the task of loading the two standard class gliders. After some initial prep the glider trailer can be lifted, the axle removed, then shepherded toward the container.

The overhead traveling cranes made this part of the operation quite easy.

In we go. The in-container lifter and stand are ready in the foreground.

We didn't find a use for the Cat D8 (large bulldozer in the background), though it looks like Bob wouldn't have minded having a go :). Once in, the first trailer gets elevated up onto the custom-made stand (described in an earlier post).

Then after similar preparation the second trailer can be inserted.

Cranes are fun

The end result looked something like this:

Doors closed -- thanks for the help lads!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The club and world class pilots have all elected to avail themselves of local glider rental options, however the standard class team needs to bring all its own equipment. Shipment options include roll-on roll-off and standardized containers. Roll-on roll-off service is available to Argentina, but for our strange vehicles offers little cost advantage over a 40' container. Since two 15m glider trailers can be made to fit in one container this is the more cost effective solution, so that's what we decided to do.

Ian did some measurement and modelling and determined that the following configuration in a 40' high cube container might work.
The wheels were going to have to come off, and we needed some way of elevating one of the trailers in the container, and of holding it securely in position. Any tools built would have to be reusable for the return journey, and safe to use in the hands of, well, the pilots.

This was not too much of a challenge for Ian who designed and built all the necessary tackle over the course of ten days or so.

The problem

Sparks fly

Test lift

By the end of August we had some equipment ready, but would it work? It was time for an experiment. The weather and a presidential TFR conspired to suppress activity at Sterling airport one day, so we gave it a tryout.
Wheels up?
Ian elevates the front end
The system is comprised of a crane at the front, a central configurable stand that attaches to the axle mounts, and a rear stand. The pieces work in concert to allow incremental elevation until everything is in the desired location. 
Intermediate stage

All the way up
 We were confident it would work...

but did the first run without the glider in the trailer :).

All back together again

And finally, we were able to reassemble a roadworthy vehicle.

Next time: loading the shipping container.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The sport of Gliding includes competitions at regional, national, and international levels.  International competitions are sanctioned by FAI, the governing body for all sport aviation records and competitions.

One of the responsibilities of the Soaring Society of America is to select a team to represent the United States at international gliding competitions.

Our next competition is the 32nd World Gliding Championships, which will take place in January at Adolfo Gonzales Chaves, Argentina (we call it "Chaves" for short).

Our team consists of six top-notch racing pilots whose biographies you can read on the US Team webpage.

With this blog, we will keep you informed of our team's activities as we prepare, travel, and compete at the World Championships.  We look forward to reading your comments and emails.