Apparently Eva's wild ride in the sky made the news around the world. I was in the air that day, but choose to go land early. It's a competition, but responsibility for safety rests with the pilots. It was dead obvious that conditions were totally out of hand--if I were free-flying I would landed earlier, but at some point reason still kicked in. About ten pilots were flying about 5K from me (toward the storm cell), I was pretty surprised to see them there. Apparently of these ten only a few hundred meters decided who got sucked up and who didn't (the organizer has the track logs). A Chinese man died, Eva lived. I hope all of us in the air use the experience to think carefully about what's actually important to us as pilots and humans.
Yesterday was epic, with many, many pilots going over 200K. I had a decent day until I got stuck low for an hour, which allowed the field to catch me. Ended up landing with the pack at about 220K, lots of good flying fun. This place is awesome.
The protest was resolved, I've pasted the text below. I was on the protest Jury, and the discussion was a long one. I felt strongly that conditions on the first day were safe--those of us who flew North made a bad decision. Many pilots flew south, where they had a fine day. The premise of this competition was open distance with pilots choosing their own lines, which means the organization has no responsibility for pilot decisions. Many of the pilots here are used to flying in competitions, where the organizers make a decision about course safety. With no official course line there is no chance to make a decision on the safety of it. Still, it has to be recognized that a large percentage of the field, myself included, did not make a great decision by going North...
Protest text (slightly different than final but close enough)
Re: Protest, 2007 Manilla XC Open
The protest brought to the organizers was just about the first day of competition, but it raises much bigger questions. This XC competition is based on the idea that pilots will take responsibility for their safety in the air. A tragic fatality and a several near-fatal situations on the first day prove that pilots need better guidance. The ultimate responsibility always rests with the pilot as described in section 7 of the FAI sporting code, but:
To improve pilot safety in future tasks the organizers and protest jury have decided on the following:
All future tasks will be along a defined course line. This will allow organizers and the safety committee to more closely monitor conditions, and also to set a line in the best possible direction for the day. In the event of a missing pilot this will greatly increase the odds of finding the pilot, as well as keep pilots looking out for each other in the air. Distance will be measured at 90 degrees to this course line. Pilots must still make good decisions about flying around hazards and thinking of retrieve, the course line only sets the general direction for the day.
The task may be stopped by the meet organizer or safety committee if the conditions on the course line are judged unsafe. Scoring will be done 10 minutes prior to the stop time. This encourages pilots to get out on course early.
Pilots will also have the opportunity to express their opinion of the day's flying at the mandatory evening check-in time by marking "Safe" or "Unsafe" on the check-in form. If more than 20 percent of the pilots believe the conditions were unsafe then the day will be cancelled. It's important to note that this puts a large amount of responsibility on the pilots to make an honest and sporting judgment on the day. This system has tested in some German meets, we will test it here now. Even pilots who do not launch must write a check-in form.
Tonight's check-in form will also have spaces to mark "safe" or "unsafe" for the first two tasks. If the majority of pilots mark the first or second task as "unsafe" then they will be cancelled. If 20 percent or more pilots mark the third or any future task as "unsafe" then it will be cancelled.
We hope that the above system will improve pilot safety.