The 2021 Season is officially underway in the Northeast. Last weekend, 17 pilots, including a few first timers, braved the winds and had a great time at the 2021 Pegasus FMAC IMAC Classic. Held each year around the end of April or beginning of May, we can never seem to figure out what the weather is going to be. Friday practice was a complete no go, with wind gusts approaching 60 miles an hour. Winds didn't calm down until early Saturday morning, and it was still quite breezy. Luckily, winds were mostly right down the runway (maybe a little cross?), but we like the challenge, right?
With winds predicted to reduce over Saturday, we opted to begin with Unlimited, and fly in reverse class order to give the new guys a little break on the winds. By early afternoon, winds had died off significantly, and with winds predicted to increase on Sunday, we opted to keep going on Saturday to get all three known rounds in. After polling the pilots, though, we planned to do another full round on Sunday after completing the unknowns.
Sunday morning, the winds started up again, this time seemingly the reverse direction down the runway, but we soon figured out there were really strong crosswinds about 200 feet up, which made for some very interesting unknown flights.
We completed the unknowns, and just as we got started with round 4, the winds kicked up again, with gusts pushing around 20 mph. This time, the upper classes got the break, and by the time we got to basic, the winds were blowing even harder. We finished round 4, and called it a day.
There were a couple mishaps, with Bill Lawson losing his prop on a landing after his engine wasn't running well on his first sequence. Bill decided to sit out the rest of the weekend. Steve Brentson was flying well on Saturday, but plumbing problems at home called him back, and he didn't get to finish. Jackson Baynes moved up to Sportsman this year, but his first contest in Sportsman proved problematic as he spent most of the weekend trying to diagnose repeated deadsticks on uplines.
Skip Messick was probably the best prepared Advanced pilot for the weekend, having competed already in two contests in the Southeast. Phil and Durrell Leister were probably the least prepared for the weekend, as they finished repairing a plane from last October on Friday afternoon, and then drove down on Saturday with zero practice time.
Some new faces showed up and demonstrated some talent. Peter Cooke competed for the first time in Basic and demonstrated a lot of skill. Vincent Musser competed in his first IMAC contest, opting to fly Advanced. He ended up placing Third of six, just behind Kirk Adams, by a difference of 9.6 points, attributable to Vince's lack of a pilot and panel. Other first timers include Ed Kerkhoff, a Pegasus member that has been planning to try IMAC since our regional finals last year at Pegasus. After some adjustment to throws on Saturday Evening, Eds flying smoothed out well for Sunday.
We also welcomed Ken Velez back to IMAC. Ken is a master Pattern flyer, and after flying Advanced in a couple contests last year, he moved up to Unlimited. Once we get him through a judging school, he's going to be a real contender!
It was a great start to the season, and a hopeful return from last years restrictions. We're all looking forward to more contests!