1999 Region 8 Contest
What a contest week at Ephrata!
First of all, there were (at one time) six HP (or RS) gliders on the field. Four in the contest, one HP18 flying recreationally and my HP16. Unfortunately, I was so busy launching the birds that I didn’t get a chance to see who owned the HP18.
So, for a guy who had never even watched an HP fly until a month ago, just having all these airplanes active was exciting all by itself.
A few words about Ephrata for those of you who haven’t been here. The state of Washington’s license-plate motto is "The Evergreen State". This is a lie. Sure, Seattle is green and lush and we have rain forests but most all of the eastern half of the state is a desert very similar to the ones you’d find in Nevada, Utah and parts of Oregon and Idaho. Ephrata is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the state and the Canadian Province of British Columbia lies about 100 miles north.
North of Ephrata - past the scablands - there are rolling wheat fields where farmers plant only ½ of their land each year... allowing the other half to lie fallow to soak up enough of the 8 to 10 inches of precipitation each year to grow a lush crop of wheat the next. These "fallow" fields make ideal landing fields for gliders running low on lift.
South and west (and a little east too) of Ephrata lie lush farms and orchards irrigated by water from the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project which was created when Grand Coulee Dam was built. Three percent of the flow of this huge river is diverted to agriculture and this part of the state accounts for several billions of dollars in apples, cherries, peas, beans, wheat, corn and alfalfa hay. Much of these crops are exported.
So you can understand that Ephrata provides almost perfect soaring in the spring, summer and early fall. The Region 8 contest is well attended by pilots in the region (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana) as well as by our neighbors to the north in B.C. (which is not, of course, included in Region 8).
The weather this year was strange; very strange. High temperatures in the mid-70’s every day when one normally expects ten to fifteen degrees more. The first two days of the contest were not flyable and the third dawned looking cold and dreary (but became nicer later). The last three days were quite nice with mixed conditions including six landouts on the second contest day. The third contest day included thunderstorms and over-development in the area. Several contestants reported flying through snow and one reported ice buildup on his wings!!!
The delays in the first two days allowed Paul Tolson to discover that his Terra radio was no longer usable and to order and receive an Icom handheld which he used to good effect the rest of the contest.
All three of the HP’s in sports class were flown by Canadian pilots (who are ineligible to receive Region 8 championships) so you may not see the same result in "official" channels as here.
Sports class was where most of the excitement lay. On the first contest day Paul Tolson flying Udo’s old HP18 (ET) finished in front of the pack thereby showing that Udo did, indeed, have a clue. The HP contingent in this class continued to show well, finishing 1, 2, and 3 on at least two of the contest days.
When all was over, the HP’s had swept the first three spots of Sports Class with Tony Burton in his bright yellow RS-15 (EE) taking first place. Second place was Mike Thompson in his HP-14T (XH) and third place was Paul Tolson in the HP-18 (ET). This was great flying in conditions which saw landouts in all three (open, 15m and sports) classes.
Just to add to the fun, one the final day the HP’s finished one, two, three with Lothar Schaubs in his Ka-6E (also from B.C.) coming home third. What a wonderful day! Sunny with puffy cu all over and high temps in the mid 70s.
In 15-meter Class Brian Case flying his HP-16T (V6) was plagued by electrical problems which required several relights. Brian didn’t win his class but his effort was creditable and it was a joy to see his ship mingled in with all those expensive gliders.
Let me finish with a listing of some of the gliders in the Sports Class:
an ASH26E, a DG400M, a DG-300, a mini-Nimbus, a Ventus B, an ASW-19, a Ka-6E, two Standard Cirrus, and two Russias. In this illustrious grouping of some of the most modern gliders in the world, sailplanes designed by Richard Schreder over 20 years ago and available for prices between $8,000 and $15,000 were more than competitive. Talk about "bang-for-the-buck".
HP-16/18 N3943A, HP-14/11 N328FE
Royal City, WA