Qualification round; this was flown on Tuesday. In the early morning hours the thermals were not very strong and therefore the longest flight in the first group was only 201 seconds. The second group had better conditions and two pilots were able to fly for a full five minutes.
The thermals grew in strength along with the rising sun and in the second part of the qualification three pilots reached the three-minute maximum three times. Two pilots managed to reach the maximum time in two flights out of three. But even though many stayed in the air for the full permitted time period, not all landed exactly on time. Some landed one or two seconds earlier, some one, two or three seconds later, meaning the scores were not tied.
The best pilot was Richard Swindells from UK with 2000 points, The second being Oleg Golovidov starting for USA with 1948 points and third Ricardas Siumbris from Lithuania with 1932 points.
10th June 2009
The semi-finals took place at noon. The thermals were fully developed due to the sunny weather and time of the day and therefore the majority of pilots succeeded in staying in the air for the full three minutes. Four of them also landed exactly on time. Sine the top eight semi-finalists moved forward to the finals, the actual order of the top places was not important.
The best pilots who received the maximum 1000 points were: Richard Swindells, Oleg Golovidov, Massimiliano Sacchi and Alan Smith. The remaining finalists were Ricardas Siumbrys, Francesco Menozzi, Toni Merritt and Vitalijus Pilkionis.
On Friday in the finals we can expect more displays of great pilot skill because the competitors at the World Air Games are the world's best who know to gain the maximum benefit from the weakest thermals in order to fly the longest. We can look forward to a very strongly fought final.
An explanation of the Hand Thrown Glider competition:
Hand Thrown Gliders, also called Hand Launch Gliders (HLG), are small radio-controlled model-gliders with a maximum wing-span allowed by the rules of 1.5 metres. Thanks to their weight and dimensions, these models can be easily launched by hand. To get a good flight, competitors must throw the glider as high as possible. Some years ago the competitors have thrown their models like a javelin, but today they prefer a discus-like throw (DLS) with which the skilled and trained competitors can reach a starting height of about sixty metres.
The aim of the competitor is to keep his glider in the air longer than his competitor using the rising air contained in tshermals. These thermals are in fact bubbles or columns of warm air rising in the surrounding colder air. Finding these bubbles may not be easy but skilled pilots can find them. On sunny days the thermals can be very intense and good pilots are able to fly for several hours in these conditions.
In competition the flight time is limited; five minutes at qualification and three minutes at semi-final and final. A series of elimination rounds decide the finalists; in each round the pilot which lands first goes out. Sometimes the thermals are extended and easy to find, then if all competitors are able to stay in the air full three minutes the round must be repeated. At the beginning of the final round, eight pilots start at the same time within a window of three seconds. The pilot who flies for the shortest time is eliminated and the next round is contested by the remaining seven competitors. This knock-out system is repeated until only two are left. The winner of this head-to-head final round is then declared the World Air Games Champion.