Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Getting back to Waikerie with the trophy.

Well after a nice sleep in my own bed Kim dropped me out at ASC on Sunday the 6th March. According to SSU the day was looking like being quite good with cu predicted in the riverland and heights up to 10’000 feet later in the day…you beauty! I prepared the glider and chatted away to a constant stream of ASC pilots. I then ended up in Brian Rau’s hangar looking at his new Pilatus that he recently bought along with the Super Pup (??) he has bought with Terry Cubley. A catch up with Clifty and old WGC member John Brook and I noticed the day was getting away from me. Rob Moore towed me out behind his car (thanks to the twins…Reg towed me in the afternoon before) and I was in the line with about 8 gliders in front of me. I launched at 13:30 and took 3 knots to 4200′ and headed off before running into  a great thermal…5 knots to 5500′ and I thought the day was well and truly away! I was hoping for a 500km broken leg triangle for the day…Peterborough – Lindsay River – Waikerie and it looked like it might be on but a  scrabbly climb at Kapunda and a struggle in broken thermals in the barossa Valley (again) put that thought from my mind. By comparison the ASC boys were flying Brinkworth – Burra – Gawler and again were finding much better conditions over the plains west of the ranges like I had encountered the day before. I spoke to Pete Robbo at this point in the Nimbus and he told me conditions were reasonable in the riverland but that they had only just launched. I scored a couple more climbs back to 5000′ in relatively weak thermals while still heading north over the top of Marrabel. At this stage I was thinking about getting to Burra and then heading back to Waikerie over The Gums and Morgan as I once again had a 20 km/ hour head wind as I headed north. I flew onto the ridge at Waterloo which is the state’s newest wind farm and had a bit of a desicion to make. I was low and looking for a climb, the windmills line up directly along the crest of the ridge. The NE breeeze was against the ridge but the valley on the east of the ridge has a couple of farms in it while the township of Waterloo sits in the valley to the west of the ridge. I played it safe as I thought at this stage I was probably going to outland so tracked up the western side of the ridge as close to the wind farm as I could while maintaining a safe distance from them. The problem was that every bubble I stopped in I had to turn downwind away from the windfarm and generally into the sink. I eventually gave up this game and flew to the sub station wherre I got nothing then to the quarry where I got 0 – 1/2 knot which kept me in the air while assessing my choice of paddock right next to town and straight into wind. I joined downwind and put the wheel down when I flew through a bubble so around I went still in 0 – 1/2 a knot but drifting downwind of my paddock. So I kept assessing paddocks downwind and kept chasing the broken, weak lift. Anyway thios went on for 40 minutes, and about 50 minutes after I entered the valley at Waterloo I left it and headed east. During my climb out Graham Parker in his ASG29 pulled up in the thermal about 100′ higher than me and kept going! The DG1000 with Alex Wallis and Peter Temple also came across and joined me in a thermal I was leaving over the Black Springs ridge…everyone heading for home. Another decision to be madewhen I was just NE of Robertstown…head for the landable strip at the Gums or head back to the Morgan to Eudunda road which was the route I had come the previous day. I chose to do this due to an easier retrieve along the main road. I had found that once back on the plains east of the ranges now the conditions had improved again with consistent, smooth thermals back to around 5000’…much nicer than the rubbish in the Barossa Valley. A couple of thermals later I was at Bower and again tip-toeing out over the last patch of tiger country but like the trip west the day before there were consistent thermals every few km’s. I crossed over the river and stepped the speed up a notch due to persistant sink…I climbed to final glide at least twice when east of the river only to lose it due to widespread 6 knots of sink…something going on just not sure what?? I ended up just slowing down in lift and took iot easy when over Waikerie. A nice 400′ run down 08 at 130 knots and pull up and around for a circuit & landing onto 02 right on 17:30 PM and that was the end of another tough day in the office. A big thanks to Syd, Craig, Pete Paine & Pete Robbo who had hung about waiting (with no comms from me for a couple of hours) for me since they had landed…I really appreciate it and llok forward to returning the favour in the future. It was a great weeekend and something we should look into doing as a club sometime in the future…something along the lines of a safari calling in @ clubs along the Murray and north into NSW would be a great little adventure.

Grant.

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