Topic: My flight

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.

Some days are diamonds!

Saturday started out overcast with low cu, but which we expected to clear later. It did begin to lift and break up and by midday it looked quite soarable. A hint of shear wave was also evident with the streeting across wind and some cu’s showing a rounded or bread loaf look.
Pete Paine, Craig, Robbo in singles and Morgy & Graeme Parker in the Arcus M launched around 1pm and I soon saw the Arcus above cloud in wave. I believe Craig also contacted the system and had a climb to over 11,000 ft.
Morgy had recently competed the annual maintenance on the Duo Discus and asked if I could do the evaluation flight when I wasn’t busy instructing. I reluctantly agreed.
The singles and the Arcus returned at around 3 pm and from hearsay I heard that the wave system was now collapsing. It was after 4pm when I was able to tow the Duo out for a 4:30pm launch. I took a tow under scrappy cu to 2,500 and for the next hour struggled with broken 2 knot lift under ragged cu’s. It indeed looked as though the pattern was finished. After a long slow climbs, nibbling away at various clouds around the field I finally made it to 4,500 ft. A likely looking formation was building to the south east about 20k out, with what looked like a bit of wave in it.
A quick dash down wind may just get me there, with maybe enough height to get back if it didn’t work. A few new cu appeared on the way and once again gave broken 2-4 knots, but was enough to reach the main formation. As I searched and climbed slowly the cu suddenly began to grow back to the northwest towards Overland Corner and rewarded me with a 6 knotter to cloud base. Being underneath, I was unable to see what was happening overhead, but I used the technique of speeding up while circling at cloud base then pulling up into the wisps on the windward side. After 3 goes at this I struck gold – I was able to figure 8 in short runs up the side and around the valleys until I was about 2 – 300 ft above base, then it just went that classic smoothness with 2 – 4 kts steady for extended lengths along the cloud. The smooth edge of the cloud ensured I had cracked it and I was able to cruise at 40 kts for up to 15k NE and SW with the cloud dropping away.
At 9,000 I was 3,000 above base and about 1,500 above the tops of the tallest cu. A lenny had formed below me and looked like a beautiful huge snowfield. The other cu’s around had the most magnificent cauliflower tops and the system extended south to the horizon. Pete radio’d up to say everyone had packed up and gone home – I told him I was on the way down from 8,500 and would be back soon. Heading back through the blue gap before the next small line of cu, I was surprised to get another smooth 4 knots back to 9,500! This gave me plenty of height to check out the next line of cu and sure enough there was another 2 knot climb.
Working this I could see the next line building rapidly and moving my way with a huge lenny evident over the top. If I was to fly toward it I reckoned I’d have to fly through it. However my current wave when I turned north west on it got better and gave me a top of 10,300 which got me forward and around the northern tip of the new lennie. Once again, that beautiful smooth 2 knots and flying above another snowfield with my shadow in a perfect circle rainbow. How lucky am I! It’s now 7 o’clock and I’m still at 10 grand. Unfortunately I’d stowed my i-phone in the back seat so no photos to gloat over. A quick 30 minute glide down (with the required evaluation tests on the way) and landed at 7:30 pm. Good ol’ Pete was waiting to help put the Duo away. As we closed the doors, guess what – another lennie formed just to the east of the field – I could’ve still been up there at 8 pm!
Bill Mudge

Getting the “Come & Get It Trophy”

I have been keen to collect the SAGA President’s Trophy better known as the “Come & Get It” trophy for quite a few years now. It has been stuck @ Balaklava since 2008 so I figured Saturday the 5th March was the perfect opportunity to go and get it. I didn’t realise at that stage what a saga this little adventure was going to become!
I took a launch around 12:15PM and struggled early with weak climbs of around 2 knots to 3200′ locally but thought to myself this will get better and headed west. The thermals were close together and easy to work so with confidence rising I tiptoed out past the last paddock just west of the Murray and headed for Mt Mary / Bower. Again consistent thermals every few km’s allowed me to top up regularly and I never felt in any trouble over the scrubby areas and once I was at Bower well the paddocks start up again. Eudunda township gave me a nice climb and I contemplated doing a loop over the bowling club where I knew my father in law was playing that day but pressed on instead of mucking around. From this point into the Barossa Valley things got very soft with a couple of low saves around 1000’AGL and climbs only working 800′ – 1000′ before quitting on me. I was lucky at this stage that I had a very nice 20 km/hour tailwind pushing me towards Balaklava all the time. Once at about Rhynie and on the western slopes of the Skillogalee Hills the conditions improved dramatically with a 4 knot climb to 4000′ giving me final glide into Balaklava. Bernard and Roger were in the air just west of the field climbing in about 6 knots and I held in a good climb while waiting for the ASK21 to land and be pushed off of 13. I landed at 14:45 and leapt out and as we pushed IID back to the launch point the boys mentioned some winch trouble! The starter motor had died, they had a big tangle with one of the cables and there was talk of the drums being seized…all in all it was sounding rather grim for getting back to Waikerie! Lou took me down to the clubhouse and I grabbed the Come & Get It trophy from behind the bar. Then Wal turned up and grabbed another trophy…the “Mid North Shuttle” Trophy and said to get rid of this as well. This is also known as the take it away trophy and the idea is pilots take it with them and give it to another club…it is the trophy that no one wants! Back at the launch point the guys had managed to start the winch but still had a tangle to deal with and the “seized” drum to deal with. I went up with John Wheatcroft and gave Tim Lacey & John Bradbury a good natured hurry up but I’m not sure that they were in the mood for it at that point of the exercise 😎 Anyway we sorted out the tangle and then found that the winch drum wasn’t seized but a weld had broken on a drum spoke and this was making a horrible sound as it hit a section of the chassis on the way around. So the winch was back up and running but they only had 1 drum in action. A quick ride back to the launch point and strap into IID. The ASK21 launched in front of me and went well but then I had to wait for the winch to re-lay the 1 operational cable. So 10 minute later at about 15:50 I took a winch launch…my first in the LS4 since re-installing the C of G release. The launch was fantastic…the LS4 is beautiful and balanced on the wire with absolutely no tendancy to rear up at all. To my dismay though I got not a bump till late downwind but was already committed…my first circuit in the glider after 70 odd hours of flying it. Next launch at 16:10 put me straight in 4 knots to 4800’…my best height for the day and my confidence was getting going again but still with a big task in front of me. I glided away from Balaklava with Roger in the Mini Nimbus keeping me company. My confidence was again waning however with a dead smooth glide down to about 2500′ and then a 2 knot thermal back to 4300’and I figured the day was dying. It was at this stage I started thinking about the promise of good weather tomorrow, the weak conditions in the Barossa Valley and the strong headwind I was flying directly into plus the scrub to cross very late in the day if I made it that far. All in all a relatively easy desicion was made to fly to Adelaide Soaring Club @ Gawler where I could get a launch in the morning and it literally 10 minutes from my front door. A relatively easy flight had me rolling to a stop at 17:30 in front of the club house. I had heard Jarryd call downwind in our ASK21 when I was abeam Roseworthy so had got in touch with Mudgey on the radio and when on the ground I followed this up with a phone call to dad while Reg Moore gave me a tow to the tie down area. I tied the glider down to a couple of cement blocks they have there as my pegs wouldn’t go into the ground and had a couple of beers with the Gawler mob while waiting for Kim and the kids to drive out from home and pick me up. I also managed to present them with the “Mid North Shuttle Trophy” which wasn’t appreciated when I explained to them what it was 😎 And so ended one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had since starting flying nearly 17 years ago…3 gliding clubs in 1 day and I had my hands on the Come & Get It Trophy. Now I just had to get back to Waikerie! to be continued.

Grant Hudson

Saturday 6 November

For the record we set a task of WGC – Peebinga – Lindsay River – WGC for a 300km triangle. There were 7 single seaters flying plus Mudgey instructing in the ASK21. Craig went around at 125kph in the ASG29, Robbo went round at 115 kph in the Nimbus and I think Pete Paine in the LS7 and Greg in the LS4 went round at about 96kph.

I also managed 96 kph for the 300km which I was very happy with given it was my 1st flight in the LS4, VH-IID, it was the “evaluation flight” (not test flight thanks Nigel) after the form 2, I didn’t put any water in which I was very tempted to do and it was my first flight in a single seater since I had a jaunt in the club LS4 back in about April (also the last time I flew x/country). The stretch up the scrub from Peebinga to Lindsay River was fantastic with 1 glide of 40 km for an achieved LD of 228 😎 I found the whole flight quite interesting with the cirrus slowing things down at times requiring a gear change…especially between Lindsay River and Renmark.

Back at the airfield Sam Doecke had his first 1 hour solo flight, I think Stu Cassidy had a couple of solo’s and Bill Mudge had a few instructional flights with Alannah Jones and Michael Conway while Cath Conway flew the tug for us all. Dad, Nigel Baker and John Ridge played with the ASK21 and LS4 trailers and sprayed some locusts and a fantastic day was topped off with another great meal prepared by dad.

Grant Hudson

View from 7,500ft on Saturday

Saturday started off with Alto Cu forming to the North with no sign of any ground based Cu. Around midday some beautiful wave clouds formed underneath the Alto Cu as a result of an Easterly wind on the ground and a North Westerly up top causing shear wave.

It only took another 1 hour for the two air streams to mix and the Alto Cu to connect to the ground at which point the temperature had reached trigger point and we were launching. 6 to 8kt climbs were available to Cloud base (7,500ft) and I spent some time trying to find a climb up the side of the cloud without wanting to dump my water.

Interestingly the climbs were on the downwind side under the Cu which makes sense given the mixing of the two air streams. Pete Paine, Craig and I blasted around under the cloud streets until we got separated and then did our own thing.

View from cloudbase

As the day went on the sky overdeveloped and as Craig was landing I had a long glide from 7,500ft  down to 2500ft in still air back into a sunny patch, thinking that the day maybe finished when things started to bubble again finding a 4kt thermal which quickly turned into 9.6kts all the way to cloud base. A line of cloud then formed from Waikerie to Blanchetown. I had dumped all my water just prior to this thermal which was ideal to see if there was any thermal wave in front of the cloud. I found myself half way up the side of the cloud at 8,500ft using the momentum from the 9.6kts as I approached the base of the cloud. I found 1 kt as I ridge soared the cloud for around 10mins which basically maintained my height as I flew up and down the North Western edge.

The cloud street to Blanchetown drew me away and I zoomed off to Blanchetown at 100kts without turning then back along to Notts Well then Maggea and home.

It was well worth hanging on at 2500ft instead of heading for home and landing as this last part of the flight was most enjoyable and very relaxing. 340kms for the day flying under cloud streets and only going below 5,500ft once.

Peter Robinson, 13 March 2010