Monday, February 14th, 2011

Horsham week 5-02-2011 to 12-02-2011

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Friday 4th XOK Greg Jackson and XJB Peter Paine depart with the crew John Ridge from Forreston around 8:30 in a convoy for Horsham. Coincidentally we met VNL Craig Vinall at Bordertown for Lunch. Arrived at the aerodrome around mid afternoon and decided that we would not rig the gliders due to the expected overnight and early morning rain. We made the same good decision in 2009 when during briefing the hanger almost lifted off the ground. Did some food shopping and went for a swim in the Wimmera Lakes great new pool. The crew provided dinner in the form of a homemade Ridge Lasagne.

Saturday 5th We had an early morning get up to check weather and set up our borrowed Colibri loggers; thanks to John and Grant Hudson. 10:00am briefing was not very hopeful of a task and we were to reconvene at 12 to be informed the expected temp would not be achieved and the practise day was cancelled. We tuned into  the ABC news and the whole of the North East of Victoria in a line stretching from Mildura to Melbourne was experiencing flooding and huge down falls of rain this was a spin off from Yarsi which was now moving towards Alice Springs and down onto the Nullarbor.  We rigged our gliders in expectation of flying on the Sunday. We had a delicious Kangaroo mild curry for dinner with 90 second Sunkist rice which is surprisingly good. Craig served a rare 2001 Rockford Special Vineyard Selection Shiraz pressings that was drinking to perfection.

Sunday 6th Tasks were set for the 4 classes of gliders – to make up the numbers Peter Paine XJB agreed to fly in 15M racing. Open 18 metre class was won by Craig in his AS29 VNL the other two Waikerie gliders came 4th and 4th – numbers of entrants are down this year. Peter prepared a BBQ. Steaks, nice and rare with a couple of good red wines.

Monday 7th Craig declared a lay-day as he had business in Melbourne and we all gridded in expectation of a low blue day with a max height of 4000ft – over night cool air had come in over the area. Half way through the Performance class launch the day was cancelled. Not much lift and only going to 2500ft. Later in the day the temp improved and it seemed as if may have been flyable. Gourmet Pizzas with a bottle of 2006 Serafino Sharks tooth Shiraz.

Tuesday 8th Similar weather as reported yesterday but an AAT task was set and again Keith in the Pee Wee was the sniffer he reported slightly better climbs than yesterday and so they launched the whole fleet. We milled around under 3500ft before the start, things improved later in the day with a few climbs above 4 thousand. The 2 hour task stretched our endeavour however the winner of standard class did it at an average speed of 81kph. Well done Mathew Scutter. For dinner Butter Chicken with instant rice was enjoyed with a couple of bottles of aged Riesling.

Wednesday 9th We had our  morning coffee and weather briefing in our cabin and the outlook for the day was disappointing Yasi has moved down into the Great Aust bight and was now caught up in a Jet stream and the high cloud was expected to cover Horsham around mid day keeping the temp to 27 deg and the strong inversion was still present. We are running out of opportunities to get a contest because we know rain is on the way. 1400 the day was cancelled. Back to the swimming pool a beer and prepare for dinner.

Thursday 10th Today we expected to fly if the heavy overcast high cloud thinned out to allow some sun through. After the start the first leg to Jeparit was good but around the town lift was down to around 2 knots due to the wet conditions and cool Nth Westerly breeze blowing over Lake Hindmarsh. Those that went to the east of the turn did well as they were able to reach a row of Cu east of Brim. I struggled in zeros to 2 knots for about 20 minutes managed to climb up and struggled all the way home for an average speed of about 46kph what a joke, gained same number of points as Mathew Scutter who outlanded. Another challenging day at Horsham. John cooked a lovely Pork dinner and we celebrated with a couple of top shelf red wines.

Friday 11th The task for today was cancelled due to continuous morning rain. We set our own road task Great Western with a turn point at Halls Gap. Enjoyed a tasting at Best’s winery and tour of the historic cellars; fantastic. Did a flight of special wines at Seppelt’s, with a delicious cheese platter. By mid- afternoon the rain was starting to clear so we took a pleasant out and return 2 hour task on one of the few open walking trails at Halls Gap. Many of the roads and National Parks were closed due to washaways. As we looked into the distance from horizon to horizon all we could see was water everywhere. We had the had to evacuate HSMWK 09 due to fires and this year 2011 we have had rain and floods. What weird weather glider pilots have to overcome on the ground. Dinner put on by Craig was a cold selection Atlantic salmon and salads, enjoyed with a 1995 Sparkling Hardy’s ARRAS – not only was this a rare bottle of wine to have available for drinking but is was shared in great company with friends.

Saturday 12th Morning coffee around 8 and a very close look at the expected weather for the day which indicated another low day was possible – with this exciting news we headed out to the field. Briefing confirmed a task was possible but the day would be spent under high cloud which would keep the temp’s down and the lift to around 4000. From the previous days flying I learnt all about perseverance and just keep on going no matter how slow the average speed appears on the score sheet, made my plan after briefing and flew to the best of my current ability. Won the day (1000pts yah ho) Derigged the gliders and packed up for our road trip back to Waikerie; lost a borrowed EPB lesson learnt attach it better to parachute next time (the highs and the lows)

Sunday 13th We left the caravan park just after 8:30 CDST for a distance of about 520klm back to Waikerie arriving at 2:30. Spent a couple of hours rigging gliders ready for the next club flying weekend and finally that worn-out feeling drive home. Another challenging but difficult fun week of travel patience and 4 days flying at Horsham. What will be the challenges next year?

Greg Jackson

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