• Benj

Kawa beats me again! and story about oulanding...

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

This was a damn of a championship we made in France to prepare next year World. Many things went wrong, but this is the best to make you better next time. So here is my very tiny report about a pre-world in the middle of France where Kawa beats me again, but a bigger one about my recent experience in outlanding...

Gliding is adventure, for sure! Thank you all for that!

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No matter what, this year is (very) special, and we were finally lucky enough to be able to train on site of next world championship in France, in the area of Montluçon and Guérêt towns, right in the middle of France.

Why Montulçon?

After Châlons-en-Champagne, north-east France, cancelled to organise the Worlds next year, the club of Montluçon-Guérêt applied to make it and IGC let them the opportunity to organise the event.

This area of France is not really known for long tasks and many many french pilots did never ever flew around but they recently organised 2 french nationals and area has some interesting features on the ground and in flight. We enjoyed flying there in a technical weather, always good to become better. I will not talk anymore about this competition as there was no possibility to ballast gliders due to local enforcement related to very dry weather conditions. This turned definitely the competition into a big training and XCountry camp we enjoyed very much. After all it is not everyday you make a XCountry camp with Sebastian Kawa ;-)

2 very different areas of flight in 2 pre-world championships


I made 3 outlandings out of 5 flying days!... Not bad uh? For at least one (the first) it was fully my fault, starting too late. And this one was the most interesting as I made down the wheel 3 times on this day. The 3rd one was the "good one". So, 3 times I had to decide and analyse the ground to "make a plan". A simple one indeed : to land! We do that all days when we fly : take off and landing is the essence of the fun in between. But outlanding means a lot of things a normal landing at your homebase does not.

Outlanding is a "fail", where you know you lose the goal : coming back.

Outlanting is a "constraint", you already know it will be much less easy then just wiping the bugs on the leading edge after landing at homebase.

Outlanding is a "social pressure", if you had any plan, then plan is dead and you will have to "annoy" some people to help you.

Outlanding is "losing in competition", you know that you lose 66% of the daily points, which means a lot.

Outlanding is also meaning "sandpaper and eventualy bumps" on your beloved glider.

And perhaps it is your first ever outlanding so you don't know what to expect!!!

Are these things important for a "just landing in a field"? Not really, but at this moment in your brain this is a big drama event... so, you don't want to outland at all!

Even Sebastian Kawa outlanded!

Whatever, now I need to outland!

Anticipation to make the right choice will help you polish your mistakes.

All these pressures (which are all internal, you are producing them!) I just mentionned, will push you to not act properly : basically, you will push back the final decision to land. This is natural and I made it too and will make it again. So I will describe my outlanding soon, mine.

I have one and only fear in outlanding : being unable to land in the field. You should have the same. That's why in the process of choosing the "right field to land" I anticipate a lot to make it right. In France we learn what we call the "VERDO" which is a language trick as it sounds like a "glass of water, i.e. verre d'eau in french". This is one of this typical mnemotechnic wording related to a simple checklist.

Vent (Wind)

Etat de surface (Quality of soil)

Relief (Terrain)

Dimensions (Sizes)


This routine helps us to choose wisely the "best field to land". In my experience I saw some mistakes from pilots using this checklist and the typical one is to weight all the items as equal. For me, they are not. Example? For sure it is better to land straight to the wind, but a very nice field not well orientated is a better choice than a small one to the wind, especially as we all know how to land with sidewind, do you?...

Up and down, good and bad, dry and moist, pictures from Aude Untersee french team.

My brain and my experience, based on this concept, is looking easily from the air to an obvious thing on the ground : the biggest/longest fields with nice surface! Then I weight if wind is "compatible" (i.e. orientation and strength acceptable for me) and lastly if there are some traps with wires, holes, poles and so on. Terrain becomes very obvious when you are low so this point is very special as it needs to be anticipated way before being very low in some areas, and is close to nonsense in others. Still very local terrain can produce sink or lifts you must take into account especially to design the landing pattern.

As yes, analysing the ground to choose a nice site to land, does mean nothing if you don't figure out then how you will land in!

Covid rules during briefing, me and Meric

We are used to make only landing patterns so you will have to make a kinda landing pattern. It will rarely be the best one you made for many reasons and one is again obvious : you don't want to land... So you will make a low pattern with the typical risk of being too close to the field and finally too high at the treshold of it on final landing leg. This means a short field will not give you any chance to land if you do this typical mistake, so again chose a big long field!

You need normally few seconds to define a pattern, mainly to define the 2 keypoints : "I will turn to base around here and turn to final around here" and that's it! This is a plan, a plan which will evolve depending on lift and sink, wind, etc but a real plan, a very good basis for a good landing.

Landing speed will have to be close to accurate even if wind strength is difficult to know precisely. But if there is sensible wind you will feel it no worry... If you have difficulties to evaluate wind it must be weak.

Talking about this, on your airfield, do you still design a pattern or do it "like always"? Do you still define a precise landing speed or make it "with a bit of extra as speed is life uh?"... You know what I mean, again you need to train yourself and I suggest each landing you make on your airfield must be a training for outlanding, so precise, accurate in landing point and speed, do it!

Landing precision is mainly related to last leg (but last leg precision is related to base leg, and base leg to downwind leg...), but again being around 80m above ground for last turn, with around 30 seconds still in flight before touching the ground, is probably the keypoint to land where you wanted at the speed you wanted. Outlanding should be same.

Landing always on your airfield makes you full of habits, and another one si to simply skip the pre-landing checklist :

Gear down?

Wind evaluation for landing speed calculation and choice of strip?

Flaps settings?

Ballast dropped?

Trim according to landing speed?

Radio is loud and on the airfield frequency?

You will do same for outlanding and announce on radio that gear is down and you outland. This way, any pilot on frequency will check you after landing to know if everything is ok.

Stress will be there (I can tell you, even 25 years after my first outlanding) and you will do mistakes, tiny, middle, big, but one thing will help you polish these mistakes : the right field, the biggest one! You can do a lot of mistakes if you have a big fat field!

The metman was very god but frankly screen and presentation were not readable at all...

My last point before exposing one of my recent outlanding, the keypoint to make the decision to STOP THE GAME... It's now a while you are becoming lower and lower. You decided to head to a bunch of good nice fat fields and being lower you chose this one, the most beautiful one. Then still searching a lift, you tell yourself that to land on it you will turn there and there for base and final legs. Ok, done? No... You know and feel there is a lift around, you can touch it, you can still avoid the risk to outland, your brain knows that and it is pouring sugar in your synapses each time the neddle of the vario is above "0".

You will have to get something which tells you to STOP and this must be YOU... For me when I feel around 100m above a super nice field, game is over and I go for base leg. It is too late (low) for sure and I try to avoid that but this is my bottom line where I feel in my spine that my pilot technical skill becomes erratic, danger comes, time to land.

I can tell you gear is down for a long time (around 300m AGL, I put it down), field is chosen or at least group of fields together and choice is focussing to one of them seconds after seconds, wind is analysed way before and I know pattern I will use. I have anticipated all these before making decision to stop the game.

I can't tell you what limit you will have. I strongly suggest 200m to start a pattern but I know the reality. I better wish you make a long and steady final leg than a "downwing for nothing". But still you will need something deep inside your brain to turn the game from a "I will find a lift for sure" to a "now I land precise for sure".

My recent outlanding

After a long fight in the air with one turnpoint where I had to wait for the cumulus in an airspace to come out of it to climb, then I recovered 150m above next turnpoint (an airield), then 10 minutes after it was same but above a nice field... A big rain was finally there blocking me the road to "home". Moreover, the air was washed away after the rain : let's fly in dead air...

too low but big field and a plan, this makes room for unperfection

But still some expectations were possible : I made very high before entering dead air, and some small and low cumulus were in front of me, around 10km before finish line, and perhaps I could reach them so let's glide and see...

The Ventus-2ax is a good glider, a legend, very light, so you can grab the tiniest thermal other gliders will not be able to use, so I was "optimistic".

The ground below becomes less and less landing friendly the more you go further the airfield of Montluçon, but I could spot a very nice bunch of fields together where I can feel I will be low. And there is a nice stone carriere just on the right of the fields with a bit of a small slope to the wind, all ingredients to make a happy end?

Eventually I arrive under first "cumulus" but it is gusty and bumpy with nothing really usable even for the crazy light Ventus-2a. Next one is no better and I am now very low, still the nice fields are down there and one is also with a tractor working in to prepare (me?) a nice quality landing field... I don't want to land!

Ok anyway if I need to land it will be this one with the tractor and I will it do this way. It is long to the wind, approach is cleared except farm at entrance but so long it is no problem and no wire inside or dark trace of damp area and holes.

But still I can find this lift it is there, so I try again and again but at one time I feel it is the one turn too much : I am very low and I need to act now to get at least tiny downwind and base legs. I open the circle to the wind, to be not too vertical of the landing field, then few seconds of downwind, few of base leg with a simple question in my mind "how to not scare the guy in the tractor" (he did not see me at the end, focussed on his job, we are non events ;-) ), I open airbrakes, manage acceptable speed and finally make for last seconds a gentle off axis to land in best area of the field and that's it!

Glider rolls few short seconds and stops, heartbeat comes down gently, time to say hello to the guy in the tractor and figure out what to do to get back these 15m of carbon fibre back to the airfield :-)

Analysis of trace confirmed me I started too low my pattern but then made it right for what it was and that the field was so big it gaves me plenty of room to make mistakes.

Thanks to Claire and Méric for the fast retrieve and thank also to the very nice family who welcomed me in this nice field! 3 days after, we decided with Méric to land (again for me) in the same field and welcoming was warm as ever, we will come back! If not by air, by road....

A little help for a fast and friendly retrieve, I will come back ;-)

Oh did I talk about Seb Kawa? No? ok...

But I can talk about my team mate Méric Morel who won the championship! Bravo Mémé! And thank again to the Morel team for all the comfort you made us with Claire and Chablis the cat (first time the cat was with us for a full 10 days adventure!!!)

I hope my mistakes will help you for your next outlanding!

Many happy outlandings from me and Méric!

Our cool cat was part of the adventure!

Claire is best driver with trailer than without no?

See you for next adventures soon!

All results of the championship here : Soaringspot

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>>>> You like our reviews and reports? Buy us a coffee! <<<<

\\\\\\\\\ Or buy something in Claire's e-shop, all the best for the pilots! //////////

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