Friday, March 11th, 2011

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

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