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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Final report

Just a couple of hours left to WGC 2008 at Lüsse. With the competition period over, we naturally have beautiful weather. Some are planning to stay and fly today, but most, including the entire US Team, will hit the road early this afternoon.

Last night’s farewell dinner was a huge success. The briefing hangar was packed, buffet-style food of a quality far above what’s typical of such events was served in vast quantities, and a four-man saxophone band produced music that met the approval of all (and at a volume that allowed conversation, a rare and welcome innovation). In addition to barrels of beer and cases of wine, a lot of fiery liquids were being passed around. Paul Weeden had a liter of Jim Beam that attracted a lot of attention; the Russians had a bottle of vodka that seemed bottomless.

At the end of the meal we were invited out on to the runway (in rain that had continued all day, finally tapering to a gentle mist) to witness something no one expected: a short and very artistic fireworks display. It was a grand end to a festive evening.

Yesterday’s mission was to get equipment sorted out and trailers and cars packed for a quick getaway after today’s ceremony ends. Steady rain put a premium on hangar spaces into which a fuselage could be rolled for work. This to some extent conflicted with preparations for the party, but all work was completed and, as I’ve noted, the party organizers achieved complete success.

This morning the big issue is the disappearance late last night of the banners lining the briefing hall (where, in just 20 minutes, the Closing Ceremony is scheduled to start). Officials are Not Amused. No one seems to have any idea who is responsible. I suspect this has something to do with Annex Z (see the reports for August 5th and 6th) which seemed to suggest that something would happen within 24 hours of the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony is now over. Winners have received their trophies, national anthems of Hungary, France and Germany were played by a small (and very competent) orchestra. Trailers are flooding the streets leading out of Lüsse. The well-trampled grass where trailers and gliders were parked (you can easily see their outlines) will now have a chance to recover. Club gliders can at last emerge from their hiding places

I’ll close with compliments to Competition Director Herbert Märtin and Deputy Director Natalie Lübben. For an event on this scale, many dozens of people will have worked hard for a very long time. But few of them will have done as much as Herbet and Natalie. It must be very satisfying for them to see their efforts lead to this success.

As for the banners, their fate remains unknown. A rumor was going around that Team HW might have been involved (what there could be in Heinz Weissenbuehler’s past that would allow anyone to believe such things I’m unable to say), but this proved entirely unfounded. I’ll post an addendum to this report if and when I learn the solution to this mystery.