2004 DESS East Coast Handlaunched Glider Festival

2004 DESS East Coast Handlaunched Glider Festival

The 2004 Down-East Soaring Society East Coast Hand Launched Glider Festival was held in beautiful Wilson, North Carolina last weekend. Bruce Davidson, Brian Kopke and I (Ben Wilson) took the 10 hour drive down there!

Bruce managed a 2nd place win at the DESS East Coast Handlaunch Contest, with Phil Barnes beating him by just 96 points. Bruce came in at 14588 points and Phil at 14684! That’s only .7% off of each other over two days of weird weather and tough man-on-man competition.

I managed to squeak into 3rd place in the sportsman class, even after dropping one of my 12 rounds due to re-break of a pre-contest break.

Brian Kopke (the guy with the Bug) also joined us, and flew a previously un-flown Art Hobby Hyper DL. I’ve got to hand it to Brian — that plane was giving him fits, from funny servos to breaking his throwing peg in the first round to breaking the rudder in a couple of later rounds! Yet still through all that, he managed to fly in EVERY round (better than me!). In fact, with one of the rudder breaks I was timing him, and we hustled back to the Sandy’s Pet Shop van, made a quick repair and got back out there to finish the round. Brian ended up second from last, but as Bruce put it — “You really CRUSHED that last place guy!”

All in all it was a great contest with a great bunch of guys. Thanks be to Bruce for driving Brian and I down there, and I know the both of us are hooked on this handlaunch stuff now!

I was amazed there were so many “sportsman” class flyers there to compete, me being one of them. Out of the 24 pilots entered, 10 of them were sportsman, and many of them competing in their first HL contest (me, again, being one of them). DESS handed out awards for the top 3 sportsman along with the awards Oleg mentioned for the expert class.

The contest went very smoothly, despite Oleg’s absence on day one, and I have rarely met a more helpful, friendly crowd of folks as the DESS crew, not to mention the other pilots!

I’ve always enjoyed HL, but this competition really sealed it for me — the varied tasks that I’d always heard about from Bruce and others made for terrific competition and a level of strategizing that just doesn’t happen in TD competition flying.

The weather the first day was great competition weather — sunny then cloudy then sunny again, but with a pleasant temperature the entire day. Sunday was a little different, with some rain coming in the first few rounds, but that only made it more interesting! The rain started during our 1:10, 1:20, 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, 2:00 ladder round. The first two were easy for me to get, but by the time I got to the 1:30 flight, my plane was starting to absorb water, and with the cloudy conditions, no lift! Exciting and truly challenging stuff.

Lunches both days were provided by the DESS crew, with North Carolina BBQ the first day and a nice spread of sandwiches the next. Excellent stuff! We were even told we had to take food home there was so much :)

Like I mentioned before, DESS had provided for 3 “sportsman” class trophies (nice big LSF/DESS beer mugs), which I hadn’t expected before I arrived at the contest. I was just happy to be competing! Well, despite a dropped round I had due to broken tailboom, I still managed to squeak into third place, and win my first soaring trophy! So, not only did I have a great time, meet some great people, I managed to take home some wood, er, glass!

I’ll certainly be back next year — thanks to Dick Proseus (fill-in CD for Oleg), Oleg, and the rest of the DESS crew!

I’ve posted some photos from Bruce, Peter Jensen, Charles Frey and others in the 2004 DESS HLG gallery.

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