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Räyskälä Masters & Finnish Gliding Nationals 2018

Friday 8th June 2018

After record warm and dry May, the temperature is almost 20 C colder just few days before the competition. This doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for the competition. Well, of course you won’t see that many bikini outfits in the grid, but the flying weather can be very good when nights are cold and days are warm(er). Let’s see how it goes.

Heikki Pohjola is our competition director, famous from WGC2014, I hope the weather will be better than in that competition. I noticed we are having almost same organization, just a bit smaller of course.

We had around 50 participants coming, but few of them unfortunately had to cancel, Janusz Centka and Adam Woolley being two of them. But I am really glad that we are still having quite decent size competition, 45 participants in total, 6 of them from Sweden and one of them from Austria, Wolfgang Janowitsch. I understood that this would be his first time in Räyskälä, I am not sure was it overall visiting Räyskälä or flying in Räyskälä. He arrived today afternoon and it was great to see what kind of welcome he got. People from behind the trailers and corners almost literally ran to them to wish them welcome to Räyskälä. I hope he and his crew is having good time here. Of course I hope that same to all of the pilots and their crew :-)

Safety briefing was in the hangar in the evening followed by organization meeting. The day ended late, but all pilots have been registered and we are ready for tomorrow’s opening ceremony.

So…here we go again!

Saturday 9th June 2018 – tricky day with high clouds and wave flying

The temperature in the morning was quite cold – or crisp – after a really cold night. Some high cloud was lurking in the horizon and slowly moving over us.

The opening ceremony was held in front of cafeteria, and we saw Phil Lawton flying aerobatics with Wiima over the airfield to wish everyone welcome. If you’ve been in any competition in Räyskälä before, the ceremony was very similar; short and efficient. Heikki also told interesting detail of the competitors, the average age is 53 years. Funny thing is, that youngest pilot is 31 years and oldest 75, and the average age of just those two is 53 years.

Towings started at 11:45, and the sky was looking already quite interesting, I would describe it – being an amateur – that clouds looked like wave-kind-of-clouds and not normal cumulus clouds. The task was 2,5 AAT, but day was tricky for many pilots. Some were able to finish the task, but average speeds were only 50-72 km/h, Club class being slowest and Open class fastest, and quite many outlanded or returned back from the task.

Usually gliding day continues with certain schedule: towings, starts, flying, outlandings, finishes. Today started like that, but continued with some landing back without finishing the task, some taking new starts after others had finished and some outlandings in between.

Markus Ganev told that they had taken a new start, which was good for them as the weather improved a little, but unfortunately it was really close for them to finish the task, they had to start the engine just few kilometers before the finish line. W (Hannu Halonen) was one of the pilots who took a new start quite late, I heard from his crew that he had reached almost 2800 m altitude in wave over Räyskälä and started the task again. Also I heard that the weather had basically died in the east, and Lahti is usually easy to reach from here, but today it had felt that it was further than usually.

We have a de-briefing in the cafeteria at 19.00, which is optional for everyone. I didn’t stay, and went to sauna instead – it felt like a long day.

I am glad that in the organization everything is working pretty well, and there weren’t those common mistakes on task sheets or printers/copy machines which are seen quite usually during first days of the competition.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks pretty good.

Sunday 10th June 2018 – Pretty easy flying day

What can I say, the day was good gliding competition day and Juha Sorri’s birthday.

Yesterday’s daily winners (top 3 in all classes) received small Räyskälä Masters medal, and as we expected, Wolfgang Janowitsch was the winner of his class. Let’s see how his competition continues.

The headline says it was pretty easy flying day. It was also easy day for the organization, I mean “straight forward” being easy. Briefing at 10, towings started as planned 11:45 and lasted a bit more than an hour, and after few hours pilots finished the task almost at the same time. For some reason most of them landed at RWY 12, and RWY 26 area was almost empty.

The gliding weather had been really nice, cumulus cloud base even beyond 2000 m. All the classes completed around 300 km tasks Easto from Räyskälä and returned with big smiles on their faces. The average speeds were over 100 km/h (117 km/h in open class), which is pretty good in Finland. We have

I’ve been in Räyskälä for a week now, so I decided to go home for a night and drive back in the morning.

Monday 11th June 2018 – No task today

My friend Teemu posted Räyskälä web camera picture of thunder nearby on Masters facebook in the morning.

I had forgotten the skylight open in my caravan and it looked like on radar image that I would have some drying to do when I arrive. The weather was nice in Helsinki, very nice summer day and sunshine, but it changed at Hyvinkää, I could see dark high cloud and rain showers all around.

But it had not rained that much in Räyskälä, which is a shame as it’s so dry but good for insides of my caravan... The air mass is very warm and it feels like thunder would be possible, but as I am writing this, there is no sign of that.

Heikki is also our meteorologist, he sent his met man Jarkko to North Korea from WGC2014 (if you remember), so he has to do the weather alone. He said that the air mass is very stable and warm, and there might come some weather window for local flights, but there won’t be competition task today. Some cold front is moving towards us, let’s see what it brings us tomorrow.

We also have new tracking, so there’s two of them, OnGlide and LiveTrack24. Of course during non-flying days there is nothing to see.

Tuesday 12th June 2018 – As good as it gets?

The original task had to be changed a little due to confusing information from the air traffic controller (the danger areas being active or not), otherwise there would have been too narrow flyable area and too big risk getting in danger area. Also the weather didn’t develop as hoped, northern wind was quite strong and sky was blue and because of that the task was changed again. Original tasks were more than 500 km, but in the end all distances were less than 400 km.

This was first day we had to postpone the towings, but after an hour of waiting, towings finally began. As you can see from the average speeds (top speeds in Club 92 km/h, Racing 117 km/h and Open 128km/h) the flying weather was pretty good.

Heikki told in the evening that the weather is as good as it gets in Finland.

Wednesday 13th June 2018 – Like in text book, but spreading out

We are going to have a dinner party today, as in “Masters” competition brand belongs. This time it’s not barbecue party, it will be arranged in the cafeteria, we call it Finnish Evening. It’s not going to be “black poison” (Salmiakkikossu) and rye bread, but a proper dinner instead.

But before that, it was going to be flying day of course. Usually the weather is tricky if there is some dinner plans for the evening, and everybody ends up landing out or finishing the task late, but this time it was different story.

The sky was like from a text book already in the morning, from chapter “perfect cumulus”. Although it was looking like the clouds would spread out later on, so that’s why the tasks were assigned area tasks. 3 hours for Club class, 3,5 hours for Open and Racing class. The weather was good and developed as forecasted, but was again clearing out later on, so it ended up being really good flying day. You don’t see +130 km/h average speeds that often in Finland, but today we did.

We all had quick sauna and shower and gathered in cafeteria at 19.00 sharp and enjoyed oven baked salmon and BBQ pork with different salads and Finnish new potatoes. There wasn’t any special program arranged, which ended up being good solution. We should remember it, people are very happy just enjoy good food and drinks together and just enjoy each other’s company, that’s more than enough.

I talked a little with Wolfgang, and hoped for some analysis of flying in Finland, but he gave just short friendly comment of weather being nice and all being as nice as promised. But what we all like to hear is comments of our country and especially the people. Wolfgang and his team all said that they are surprised how warm welcome they’ve got as Finns tend to be quite “distant” in international competitions, and based on that they were surprised how different we (Finns) are here in Räyskälä.

Thursday 14th June 2018 – Legendary RWY 12 final

In the morning there was high cloud above us, but it was expected to dry during the day.  Towings were postponed only a little, just 15 minutes, and we were able to start at 1145. The task distances were quite moderate, 279 for Club being the shortest to 459 km for Racing class which was the longest. This also tells that Racing class launched first, Open after them and Club class was launching last.

The sky was already clearing during the towings and everything was going smoothly until our tow plane “HG” towed IKI. Suddenly the tow plane was losing the power and told IKI to release, we heard “release, release, release” from the radio, immediately IKI released the rope and started landing. We were on runway 26L, and if you’ve been in Räyskälä, you know that in the end of runway is a hangar and just forest. It is difficult to see from the beginning of runway how far the planes were and we were nervous if IKI would be able to land on airfield or would he be forced to land in the forest. Luckily their position was still over airfield and IKI landed safely. Of course he had to do drastic maneuver to get down immediately, but he landed safely and was towed again. Also HG landed safely back and taxied immediately to the hangar for inspection what was wrong. The flying day ended up being good, except some pilots said the day was challenging and tricky, but the speeds were again on both sides of 100 km/h.

After the towings, we had time to do normal stuff, have lunch, visit Loppi for groceries etc. I had forgotten that we had the “epic” final today, the final 12L, runway which basically starts from the lake. So this would be day for “smoke on the water” photos. Competition director called me on phone and basically yelled (with friendly tone on his voice) at 16.15 and asked “Katja, are you in caravan, get out with your camera”, then you could see me running into my car, stopped it in front of the competition office (engine running, door open), ran inside, picked up my camera and the big lens and hopped back into my car and drove to the Särkijärvi-lake. Some other photographers ended up coming there as well, and after some 15 minutes of waiting first pilots approached but to our disappointment only few of them really took advantage to have fun above the lake. In one point I was trying to take video with my phone of several planes which were approaching at the same time, as I knew those wouldn’t fit into same picture because of my lens angle. While concentrating on that, I overheard from radio Kristian saying to these other planes “look out, here is coming a plane fast and underneath you”. I didn’t have time to grab my camera and instead I was able to get about 1,5 second video of Kristian’s final glide, also my comment “Perkele” was recorded on the video. Hmmh.

Anyway, we ended up having few good shoots of video and pictures, but sadly not spectacular and new type of photos.

Friday 15th June – Day off

Briefing was postponed until 11.00 this morning, as Heikki was following if there would be a weather window for us later in the afternoon. But frontal system and high cloud didn’t give us any chance of flying and the day was cancelled.

After the briefing many interested pilots gathered together in the cafeteria, as there was arranged informal meeting called “Q & A with Wolfgang”. I had some work to do so I couldn’t stay there long, but as I left, the feeling was very relaxed and many eyes were following Wolfgang who sat in front. Someone asked if there would be any document or report from this event, and I can answer: unfortunately no, perhaps you should come to Räyskälä Masters next time :-)

Saturday 16th June – Nice flying and The End

Since it is not appropriate for me to go in to men’s sauna, the flying stories are usually told somewhere else than where I am, so from today I don’t have that much to tell – except what you can see from the results. Luckily I have a friend, Kimmo, who is new Club class Finnish champion. He told about his last day:

“Being on second place in overall results on last day causes inevitably some amount of excitement, which you can feel in the pit of your stomach. But I tried to put that feeling aside, and just concentrate on the flight and do my best. The weather was very good, actually it was best gliding weather what I’ve seen in years. The lifts were quite often 4-5 m/s and it was easy to maintain high altitude, 2300 m on its highest and 1100 m was my lowest altitude during the task.

The third leg from Riisikkala to Vierumäki was 116 km, I think I could have chosen better route and flown a bit more straight line, then I would have reached a bit faster average speed. But I decided not to worry too much about the speed, and just fly well. After the flight I was happy in general, but I didn’t immediately know how Juha Vainikka had flown that day. Soon I heard that I had enough points to win him.”

Prize giving ceremony and farewell party was at cafeteria in the evening. The weather was what summer evening can offer on its best, people enjoyed the dinner and drinks. Keni arranged a “pub quiz” with some funny questions like “Which of the following is not tow plane in Räyskälä” a) OH-PIL b) OH-PDW c) OH-WTF d) OH-PEW and “Who is flying Tango Alfa in this competition? a) Janne Nord b) Janne Syd c) Janne Väst d) Janne HitochDit”

Prizes were given to 6 best in Räyskälä Masters classes, and then medals were given to three best in Finnish Championships. In racing class two Swedish pilots (Richard and Janne) were in top three and in Open class Wolfgang won (like we expected…) and two Swedish (Börje and Peter) were on the podium with him. Finns; we have to beat them at Uppsala!

Dancing and music continued until late, and it was time for farewells. Actually I noticed I didn’t say that many goodbyes, but I am usually bad at them as I tend to burst in tears. So this is my good bye to you all!

This time I can’t end this competition story telling how empty the airfield feels after the competition, as on Sunday good weather continued and our Pawnees were working hard all day. (OH-WTF is not a tow plane in Räyskälä, it is Cessna 182 at Vaasa skydive club)

Thank you all, organisation and our international guests and everybody else in Räyskälä. See you!


more Katja's photos and stories at www.gliding.fi