Saturday, December 27th, 2014

1051km’s on 21/12/2014

On the 21st December both Hiro Yamada and I flew our first 1000km flights. I thought I’d share a little bit about the day and the flight.
I watched the weather most of the week leading up to Sunday 21st and from about 7 days out it “looked” like Sunday was going to be a possibility for a long flight. I mentioned this to Hiro when I saw him Saturday morning an we discussed a couple of possible 1000km routes but he wasn’t convinced that Sunday would be the day.
On that Saturday RASP predicted about 7-8000′ but things didn’t feel right on the ground. It was very still so I stayed on the ground and dug the holes for the weighing stations for the upcoming multi class nationals then went and looked at RASP for the next day. After flying I spoke to Haidyn and Craig who flew 200 odd km’s on what turned out to be a typical SA blue day – 5-6000′ and tricky to climb. I remained hopeful of better weather the next day.
For Sunday RASP predicted an early start which was proved to be correct although similarly to the day previously the heights achieved early weren’t realised until later in the day. The 2 options for a long flight were to run across to the hills and fly up and down the trough in strong / high but relatively confined conditions (quite a narrow band of good weather) or head east where a much larger area of good weather was predicted although not quite as high as the ranges. I thought the 1000km’s was on due to the early start and I wanted to fly a triangle so set WKI – Horsham – Maude – WKI for 1051km FAI. I self launched at 10:00 on the dot and crossed my start line about 8 minutes later with the engine still in the cool down position. The 1st leg went as expected although I was 20 minutes late leaving as my first thermal was weak, broken and difficult to climb in. I had scheduled 100 km/hour for the first leg to Horsham and a nice tail wind helped me achieve this speed in the weaker conditions. I was by myself but feeling in the groove and enjoying the solitude. Frustratingly cu were popping east of my track in the Sunset Country which I hadn’t crossed before (its a long way across the un-landable scrub) but I found enough climbs to keep me at a comfortable height. I connected with the first proper cu near Dimboola which averaged 10.4 knots for 4000′ and I was up and running however I still arrived at Horsham 20 minutes behind my schedule.
The 2nd leg to Maude looked very good but it appeared that the northern part of the leg would be blue so I kept the pedal to the metal. This was a good fast leg and I stayed high all the while keeping an eye on the high cirrus streaming in from the west and blocking out the sun on the ground for the final leg. There was a lot of good dolphin soaring on this leg and the 313km’s were done at 150 kph. Approximately 25km’s short of the 2nd turn with clag thickening I turned for home figuring that this would still give me over 1000 km’s.
The next few clouds were a bit ragged and the climbs had weakened. Being east of Balranald with 380km’s to go with the day expected to shut down at about 18:00 I was getting nervous! There were still spread out cu on the direct track home under the gloom but the trough looked to be working well on the SE corner of the sunset country so I changed track away from home and picked up the trough near Hattah. This decision saved the flight as I think a direct track home would have had me starting the engine near Renmark. The cu were still working well and the final climb on the border under the last cu gave me 5 knots average for 3000′, put me back at cloud base and a safe 3000′ over glide just to make sure of it. The 120km final glide home past Loxton was in silky smooth air and completely uneventful.
Thanks to Bill Mudge for providing beer and Mark & Di Morgan for coming out to greet me out on the 08 grass pad. Hiro landed about an hour after me and managed to achieve 1077km cats cradle at 111 kph.
The plan is to now get the ASW20 KYA back in the air and do a “real” 15m 1000km!
Stats for the flight: 1051km’s OLC, 1017.8 km FAI Triangle @ 116.6 kph. 9 hours 09 minutes flight time. AVG Thermal strength = 4.3 knots, 26% time spent circling. AVG glide = 20.1 km’s with a mean L/D of 56.

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