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 sun,
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 terrain.
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 the
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
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
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 faster.
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!