are at Arboga airfield, in june 1983. The sun is shining and the sky is
blue. It is morning on the last competitionday in the Swedish
Championships in soaring. We have had a very nice week with a lot of
flying in all kinds of weather. This time I´m flying a borrowed
"Hornet" and have the lead in the standardclass.
is the final day. Just 14 points behind me in the list is Börje
Ericsson from Uppsala. 14 points, that´s basicly nothing, maybe one
minut during one single flight. We are well aware of the situation,
Börje and I. Today all is about coming ahead of the other one.
meteorologist promises dry thermals. That means no cumulus to aim at.
But the thermals will be strong and reach the 2000 m level. We get a
triangular task on 340 km. It lookes like a worthy finish of a good
before takeoff. The nice hat provided good protection for the
and something to talk about for my fellow competitors.
in the air I notice that the thermals are just as good as the
meteorologist promised them to be. I don´t wait very long, and pay
little attention of what the other pilots do. Tactics of the type of
intrigues is something I let other pilots practice. I normally fly my
own race. On the radio I can hear that many already have started, so I
pass the startline and go north towards the first turningpoint, some
100 km away.
some 10-20 seconds later I hear Börje pass the startline too. He had
been on my tail without me noticing it. His tactics seem to be to try
and disturb me, and make me loose my balance. Well, I wont fall for
such simple tricks, I try to convince myself.
I see Börjes LS1 gliding under me. He has higher speed then me, but
seems to get a better glide anyway! How on Earth can he get that glide
on his LS1? Now I start to fell the stress coming.
Börje finds a climb and starts a steep turn. I reach the thermal just
above him, but he passes me almost immediately. I very rarely gets
passed in a thermal, but this time I have no chance! ”What the h-l?”
Now I´m cursing loudly in my cockpit, while I can see Börjes LS1
dissapear upwards and get smaller and smaller. At this moment Börje is
the Swedish Champion.
down, Mats. Calm down.” The mental part of myself slowly regains
controll over the emotional. ”There is nothing you can do about this
right now. 340 km is a long way, and we have barely started. Do your
own flying now, and forget obout this.” I decide not to even look where
he is going, and instead tries to choose a path over dry and high
find a good path. With 160-170 km/h on my glides, and 3-4 m/s climb
every time I circle I reach the first turningpoint in about one hour.
As I approach the photosector I notice that Börje hasn´t reported
turning on the radio yet. I got here ahead of him, that feels very
good! I take my pictures and quickly report on the radio. I want Börje
to hear this. He can always get a little disturbed. Now we are fighting
over a champion titel, and no one gives anything for free.
passes the turningpoint a few minutes later, but now I have the
psycological advantage as I´m ahead of him, now going sothwest. We soon
reach the so called 70 km forest, an area with absolutely no place to
land except a few lakes in the forest. With dry thermals up to more
then 2000 m it should be no problem to pass it.
now everything starts to go wrong! Here is nothing but sink, and I can
see my altimeter rapidly go downwords. On 1000 m it´s no fun anymore.
The ground is about 200 m higher then Arboga up here, so my real
altitude is 800 m. Finally I can see a sailplane soar high up ahead of
me. At this point I have no idea that the pilot is Ove Engström, who is
going to win this day because of the strong position he now has been
able to reach.
800 m indicated altitude, some 600 m above the ground I get 1 m/s. If I
start climbing in 1 m/s when there are 3-4 m/s it means I will probably
loose my title. But if I don´t climb now there is an obvious risk of
having to land in a lake. That would be a disaster! I need less then
one second to decide, and I start climbing.
takes time, and as I approach 1400 m I leave the thermal and tries to
find something better. 15 km ahead I´m rewarded with 2-3 m/s and soon
reaches 2200 m. Now I can leave the 70 km forest and have the second
turningpoint straight ahead.
comes the next problem. A cirruslayer has drifted in from the west and
is now covering the turningpoint area plus another 20 km. Cirruslayers
has a nasty habit of killing all thermals, and I once again reach 2200
m just as I reach the layer. Now it´s a matter of being careful, and
try to climb if an opportunity is given.
I go for
right in the photosector, everything happens at once. There is a 2 m/s
climb, as a gift from above, and at the same time a whole gang of
sailplains reaches the place at almost the same altitude as I have. And
look who is coming there, Börje Ericsson! Obviously he also encountered
problems over the forest, and now we will have a race all the way to
regaining altitude we all glide towards the sun again, and towards
Arboga. The cirrusshield has reached even further now, but after a 30
km glide we reach the sun. Here are no thermals though, and we have to
glide almost another 20 km before we ger 1 m/s. It´s not much, but it´s
starting to get late now, and we all climb to 1200 m before the thermal
are some 8-10 sailplanes, and nobody seems to be interrested of flying
alone. The weather is poor now, and at such times it can be wise
tactics to be many, if you want to find thermals. Now it is all a
matter of getting home, and it seems we all sense we are the ones who
have a chance doing it. Those behind us will have a difficult time in
the now rapidly subsiding thermals.
a couple of more 1 m/s thermals we are 40 km out from Arboga, and we
once more get 1200 m. A final appraoach with no margins is possible
now, if we don´t get to much sink. Everyone seems to feel this will
probably be the last thermal we will get, and with maximum glide we all
start the final approach. Now it´s only a matter of reaching the
There are no
more climbs, but when we are 10 km out of the airfield I can see Börje,
who is now a little higher then me, increasing his speed to reach the
finishline a few seconds earlier. My altitude is really to low to speed
up to much, but I too start building up speed. I don´t want to give
Börje too many seconds. I level out a little as I pass some industial
chimneys outside of Arboga, and then follow the terrain towards the
airfield some 2 km ahead. When I reach the runway my altitude is just a
few meters, and I lower the gear and pull the brakes just as I pass the
finishline. I´m 6;th for the day, Börje is 5;th, maybe half a minute
are both uncertain of who really got the title. I congratulate him, and
he congratulates me. When we get the final score we can see that Börje
got two more points then me this day, and I won with 12 points in the
total. This may be the smallest margin anyone has ever won a Swedish
Championship. It feels as if we were equals, after one weeks flying.
But it is a competition, an with the points on my side I could once
again call myself a Swedish Champion! Jummy!