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David Kinlan

David Kinlan

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PW-6 is back !

Posted by on in President's Blog

Our PW-6 has been out of action since it's ant-hill mishap in late January when it sustained significant damage. Thanks to the hard effort of our AWO Stuart Lutton and our glider repairer Roger Bond it finally returned to Warwick on Saturday 25 May. The rigging was very straightforward and it was DI'd ready for use. It was down to Denis Nolan and myself to do the evaluation flight. There wasn't a breath of wind, a fair bit of cirrus with a few wisps of cumulus here and there.

9 KT NIGEL was kind enough to tow us towards Bony Mountain with a high tow and we got off in light lift. I had forgotten just how nice the PW-6 is to fly. You can fly it with your fingertips, a perfect glider to train in as you really get to feel the lift get still very forgiving of any novice. We did the stall, spin and upto VNE test and it felt perfect. What I did notice was how quiet the front seat is with the new replacement canopy, a perfect seal, better than the original! Thanks to Ian Linke and Roger Bond's great craftmanship.

There was some nice lift around and we connected into a beautiful 7-8kt thermal between Warwick and the Range getting up to 8,500ft. A great day for a week before winter and only 6 weeks to go to the middle of winter.

With Denis flying from the back seat he put the glider right in front of the taxiway a short distance from the hangar. A truely great evaluation flight which will stay in the memory for years. It is now back on line and ready for clubuse again so come out and get flying!

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Warwick Aerodrome 60th Anniversary

Posted by on in President's Blog

Fellow Club members,

My first blog as new President.

Saturday 3rd November 2018 was the commemoration and unveiling of the monument in dedication to the local volunteers who cleared the land between 1955 and 1958 and established the aerodrome in memory of the fallen in World War II. The Aero Club organised a great bash and we were graced by many descendants of those volunteers and ex-Warwick mayor Ron Bellingham who recounted those early days. It was amazing to see the development that the aerodrome has gone through from those early days and it was apparent that the Warwick Gliding Club formed a key role in keeping it going after the aerodrome was not commercially viable for charter flights.


We were lucky to have 15 warbirds fly in from their AGM in Toowoomba after their Watts Bridge visit got cancelled. Planespotting heaven!

The Honourable David Litteproud was there to do the unveiling and he graciously invited me and Phil Goyne from the aeroclub to pull off the cover from the new monument. It was immensely satisfying to hear just how important the gliding community has been to the aerodrome and that we have been there since 1961 through thick and thin.

The aerodrome has been expanding rapidly through the construction of private hangers from 2003 onwards and more are slated to be built. Recently we as a club bought our lease so we have secured our future at he aerodrome for the coming decades

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Heaven’s highway – 25 March 2018

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Heaven’s highway – 25 March 2018

After having suffered Dan’s postings from the day before on Whatsapp which consisted of grinning selfies, sampled beeping vario’s and shots of cloudbase there was no option but to go out on Sunday to see if there was any decent flying weather left over.

Arriving in the mid morning the sky was going Orff in all directions and Denis, Lutsky, Andres and Bill were all busy prepping their steads ready for a day of chasing everywhere across the Downs. Phil was duty instructor and was busy getting his son Jack ready for an instructional flight..so good to start them young. Dan turned up late after enjoying breakfast in Kilcoy together with Brad in the POO cub and kindly offered me a go in the SZD-55. Its just as well he offered as Denis and I had secretly been DI’ing it in his absence. Mal was tug pilot with Val kindly running everyone’s wings I agreed with Denis to do some tag and follow flying seeing this was my first time in ZDZ. I launced at about 1pm as last on the grid.

Last on the grid.

Cloudbase was around 6,000ft and there was a clear wind pattern setting up short cloudstreets in a NE-SW direction and it took me a while to settle in flying the SZD-55 and get used to the instruments and handling but after a couple of thermals I linked up with Denis in the Discus and we set off north first to Clifton then onto Pittsworth having a nice lead and follow where we switched who pushed on and who followed. There didn’t seem to be much difference between the Discus and SZD-55 both are a joy to fly. On the chat channel we could hear Andres and Lutsky had gone Leyburn-Millmerran and as usual ‘jet-man’ Dan had disappeared over the horizon towards the Bunyas. Bill was in stealth mode as there was only one radio call the entire day.

Cloudstreets starting to join up

Just past Pittsworth Denis and I decided given it was 3pm to turn for home and gingerly made our way back in some quite soft air the 4-6kt climbs from earlier were now on 2kts but I could see that the broken cloudstreets were starting to form up so decided not to land just yet and extend the flight down past Leslie Dam. Denis headed home and landed.

I heard Dan on the radio that he was at Cherribah (how did he get there so fast and unseen!) and Erich the red gave a call that he and Noel were in the big wing ASH down at Gore and were heading back to join the cloudstreet which stretched for 70km or more from NSW up to the Range. Erich and Noel must have launched quite late in the afternoon so clearly the day hadn’t died off too early.

Dan suggested we head up the cloudstreet towards Pilton North and I set off first doing 80kts at 6,500ft maintaining the same height for 30km or more. Despite my early start I was quickly hauled in by the two of them who headed past me at a rate of knots. Impressive to look ahead and see that Erich and Dan were scooting almost to the Gatton side of the Range before turning back for home.

Highway to Pilton

Dying cloudstreet on the way back

We all landed just after 4pm. Dan managed a very credible 492.16km (just not quite 500km!) at 108km/hr and everyone else had very credible +200km flights. Autumn flying at Warwick can be a real blast so make the most of it as winter is approaching!

Thanks for the loan of the SZD-55 Dan, what a day!

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Christmas Convergence

Posted by on in Flying reports

The run up to Christmas is always a quiet affair at the club with most members focussed on preparing for the big day when the jolly red man visits from the North Pole. Both Denis and I decided to drive out for some local flying on the Saturday. Skysight was saying there would be showers mainly on the Range and the BOM forecast was for 70% chance of rain with a possibility of a storm, the drive out was showing good cumulus on both sides of the Range already at 9am so the worry was it might overdevelop quickly.

Arriving at the club we had a quick chat with Bill, Tony and Nigel and then got ready to launch by 12.30, the sky still looked epic in all directions. Dieter self launched in the ASH with Sandra on board for some local flying. Nigel dropped me off in a 6kt thermal which got me up to 6,000ft. Time to go north. I tracked towards Millmerran following a nice line of clouds and then headed to Pittsworth. I decided to turn there and head towards Maryvale staying fairly closely to home. Denis meanwhile was taking the first of his two passenger flights.

Tracking towards Maryvale I could see some convergence clouds on the Range starting to move out of the Maryvale valley towards the west so I decided to hook up with these. Convergence clouds have a distinct scraggly look which is always worth looking out for and they are a guarantee of lift being around. I arrived in front of the main band there being a clear 2,000ft difference between the main clouds and the convergence below. I connected with the convergence getting a solid 8kts to 8,500ft. From here onwards it was a case of soaring the front of the convergence as it slowly tracked out west.  I maintained height for the next hour keeping between 8,000 to 8,500ft by just soaring the front of the clouds not needing to 360 at all just doing long S turns in front of the clouds. At one point I had a whispy cloud condense in the middle of my turn jost off my wingtip, simply magical !

Denis connected with the convergence on his 3rd flight and his passengers were simply blown away by the experience. We were so lucky to have the convergence set up when it did. Convergence flying is something that can occur year round at Warwick in a variety of weather situations the key ingredient is instability and light winds from the west which allows the clouds to build up on the Range and then the convergence can then leave the Range to track west before the clouds overdevelop on the Range.

 The only rain we saw all day.

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Posted by on in Flying reports

The Ekka Day was slated to be a flying day just a few days before via the members email forum, forecast was for a warm 27C…(winter?!). Bill was going to work on WPS as well as the PW-6 wheel brake together with Mark and a few members elected to come out and help. On arrival after the drive out from Brisbane conditions were blustery with a 43km/hr WNW wind. Sid and Tony had launched by noon but quickly returned reporting challenging conditions with the strong wind. I launched at 12.20 and it was an interesting launch and tow in the crosswind out to the good air in the direction of Leslie Dam.

After release I struggled with trying to thermal with the strong drift, 27kt wind and seemed to get stuck at the quarry near Leslie Dam. The airfield looked a long way away into wind. After about 15minutes of struggling I hooked into a steady 6kts which got me to 6,000ft and from this height things got a lot easier. Small wisps were appearing now but quickly disappearing and the blue thermals were starting to street in a noticeable line WNW. The next climb was a beauty between 6-8kts to 9,500ft and the top of the inversion. 9,500ft in winter in thermal lift..who would have believed it !

From there I pushed into wind and flew 30km to the NW of the airfield maintaining between 6-7,500ft in the blue. The winds had eased to around 23kts which made groundspeed into wind painfully slow.

Both Sid, Dave Harris and Tony were also reporting similar climbs. Ekka Day is known for its cold westerlies usually but not conditions like this!

With just 2 weeks left to the end of the WWC things might get interesting, will Mal's 220km flight get beaten? If we have similar days to Ekka Day with less wind and a similar 9,500ft day then you can glide a long way...

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Sid's Report from the USA - Summer in New England

Posted by on in Flying reports
This weekend, I visited the Greater Boston Soaring Club at Sterling Airport east of Boston, Massachusetts. I had agreed to meet a colleague of mine, John, an aeronautics professor from MIT, who is also a pilot and glider instructor. The weather was hot, blustery and blue, so not a lot of people were out to go soaring that day. 
Sterling airport is about an hour and a quarter’s drive from Boston, a drive that takes you through little towns with lots of so-called ‘Five-four-and-a-door’ wooden colonial-style houses (with five windows on the upper floor, and a front door in the middle of the lower floor with two windows on each side), and small white churches, all spatiously dotted around bucolic, thickly wooded and slightly undulating countryside. 
The Greater Boston Soaring Club is heavily dominated by private owners (up to 50 gliders). There is no hangarage, so everybody’s glider is sitting in trailers. The season is from April to October, with the best months being April and May (which is often the case in the Northern hemisphere). Winters in New England are fierce, and long, and very cold, typically with massive amounts of snow. 
The club has three tugs (two Pawnees and a Cessna Bird Dog), and three two seaters: a Blanik, a Puchatek and a brand new ASK-21. I was offered to fly the latter with John. I am happy to report (or perhaps not) that a totally new ASK-21 flies like it did when I first flew one in 1984: heavy to control, slow to respond, but entirely forgiving and docile. And of course, flying something that is so new (and punctilliously German to boot) is always a pleasure. 
New England is heavily forested, and I mean very heavily. I recall a story of a Learjet that disappeared in Vermont in the 1980’s. It was swallowed up by the forest, and has not been found to this day. This thick tree cover is obvious as soon as you take off from Sterling (or even before: I asked John what to do in case of a cable break or tug problem. He assured me laconically that there was no option to land soon after take-off. Only trees. There might be a small orchard, he then recalled, which would offer some space in between the trees (of course you’d lose the wings, and you’d better aim really well)).
A veritable sea of dark green spreads before you when you get airborne. There is no end to it; neither in the west, north or south (Boston itself was to the east, but even that seemed lost in a sea of green until the real sea (the Atlantic) takes over). Almost any trace of human habitation is lost to the trees. The few towns that I recalled seeing on the drive over are lost to the eye, covered over by leaves. Only occasionally do you spot some evidence of human settlement; strewn through the trees as if it merely were some pieces of litter blown on the wind.
To the north, where most soaring flights go, forests get ever thicker (if, indeed, this is possible) and even less interspersed with roads. There are some (very occasional) airports, so ‘airport-hopping’ is one way to go cross-country. John has an ASW-27 with no engine. He told me that almost all national team pilots from the US come from New England: I think it is because they have no option of an outlanding, which probably breeds a pluckiness that doesn’t come from flying in the wide-open, thermal-pumping, drier West. Not all is thermal flying to the north: there is also ridge-soaring that happens at a couple of hundred feet off the valley floor (since mountains, such as they are, are not high in the Northeast). This sounds more reassuring than it is, however, since the valley floor is often as covered in trees as the ridge itself.
John shared plenty of stories of pilots landing in trees and lakes: insurance companies must have a different relationship to gliding in New England, I suppose. One of his buddies did indeed land in a lake during a competition (the trick, he assured me, was to not stall it on, but to have a bit of speed, as you will first submarine, and then resurface again… What a lovely prospect). This pilot did, and swam to the shore with his glider in tow (literally just pulling it behind him). The only problem was that he ended up, with his glider, on an island in the middle of the lake he’d landed in! This made a retrieve a bit challenging. And required more swimming. But, John assured me, the next day he flew in the competition again. I guess he might not have had to clean bugs off the wings that evening… The glider had undergone a whole bodywash, after all. I hope the pilot scored a fresh parachute somewhere, but with guys like that, who knows. Perhaps he’d simply hung it to dry overnight.
Given the weather, John and I were offered little option other than to bob around some shorn-off thermal bubbles that were blown in lines across the countryside. The landscape, for someone who is used to flying in more open terrain, is profoundly unreadable: with only trees, and more trees, there is very little in the way of clues to pick up on. Some bumps and hillocks in the landscape might give some suggestion of trigger points, but I was not able to establish a meaningful relationship between what I saw and what we experienced. 
With a hot, 20-plus knot crosswind over the trees, you can imagine how the approach felt like getting caught in a tumble drier. It made our Warwick 09-approach in a southerly wind almost a walk in the park. I have offered John a flight in Australia in return, so you might well meet him at Wawick one day. He can then explain to us what we need to do if we ever feel the need to land in Lake Leslie…
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Good (good) Friday

Posted by on in Flying reports

Having chosen to come up for just two days of the Easter long weekend the chance of suffering mediocre flying conditions on the days I had chosen is always high. Did I pick the right day to come out on Good Friday? The day was not looking good on the drive over Cunningham’s Gap and I was greeted by totally overcast, mushy conditions on arrival at the airfield. So I didn’t bother to DI my glider and run the wing instead for Dan who keen as ever was on the launch ready to get a tow into totally uninspiring air. I then spent the next hour or so in the clubhouse not bothering to look outside when I get a phone call from Dan which went along the lines of “I’m at 6,000ft in 4kts on the Range, get your arse up here you slacker!”

That was a call to arms and I ventured a peek out the clubhouse door to see that conditions had indeed improved and sun was on the ground with the clouds changed from the previous ragged, scuddy clouds to recognisable cumulus shapes. I got to the Bugs hangar pronto, DI’d and was on the launch to be met by Phil who was tuggie for the day who confirmed it was definitely “going orrf”. The radio chatter was about connecting with a cloudstreet which had set up going SW so once I got a decent 3kt climb I headed in that direction. Cloudbase was 6,500ft and I ran the cloudstreet for its full distance 35km SW from the airfield before turning and heading back along it to the NE.

Dan reported meeting convergence on the Range east of Clifton so I headed that way going along the now decaying SW-NE cloudstreet. I would turn back for home if the numbers above glide didn’t look good. Another 35km glide and I connected with the convergence as well. It was setting up and moving south as well as west with a clear step in the clouds. It was just like slope soaring turning parallel to the convergence in a zone about 500m wide. Simply stunning.

Time for a few photos and enjoy this unique form of flying. This was not the summer type of seabreeze convergence we sometimes get in the summer months when there is strong convection but a light SE flow on the main part of the Range meeting a light westerly flow on the other side. After a good half an hour playing with the clouds I headed back to land, an enjoyable 2hr flight which I couldn’t have imagined having done looking at the sky in the morning. So it just goes to show its not just about getting out to the airfield but not to be put off by what may seem like mediocre conditions, things change! (Val reported similar conditions the next day as well with nice climbs up the side of the convergence clouds).

I finished off the day by dropping in to see Dieter's hangar and admire it and the ASH we got to enjoy a classic sunset.

Thanks Dan for the kick up the arse !

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A day and weekend of two halves

Posted by on in Flying reports

Saturday 18 February was forecast for a decent days soaring ahead of a trough pushing up from the SW with a degree of uncertainty as to when exactly it would pass over. Skysight was predicting for Saturday a 9,000ft day with 8kts with lift starting by noon and the trough only coming through in the late evening. Sunday was forecast with very high (90%) chance of showers in the east, medium (60%) chance elsewhere this also included the chance of gusty thunderstorms (possibly severe), with possible heavy falls. So the plan was to make the most of Saturday. The PW-6 was heavily in use the whole weekend with new members Matt Sternberg and Mark Agnew with Peter Foxton post solo both Ivor Harris and Phil Southgate as instructors for each of the weekend. After a quiet few months with no new students it is good to see new members learning this marvellous sport of ours. Tug duties were performed by Paul Hogan. David Harris had booked the club’s Discus and was planning to fly local. An air experience flight was up first and Denis Nolan stepped up as AEI.

Conditions were fairly stable up to noon as the grid started to fill up with myself, Dan Papacek, Peter Plunkett, Scott Johnson, Brian Gilby and David Harris. I launched first at noon with Dan egging me on to launch and was struggling from the start, very weak, patchy inconsistent lift which petered out at 4,000ft. It didn’t feel safe to venture too far from the airfield and as everyone else launched we all struggled to avoid bombing out, this went on for a good hour and a half until clouds started to form around Clifton. The inversion broke and all of a sudden it was going gangbusters with 6kt climbs to 6,500ft. Time to head north. Going north to Clifton

I took a route to Wellcamp airport by which time cloudbase had lifted to 8,500ft. Next stop was DDSC where I got my best climb of the day a 12 knotter to 9,000ft.


12kter on the averager.

The DDSC and Kingaroy mob were on the chat frequency going west to Miles. Time for me to head back. The clouds included some towering castellanus cumulus but luckily they didn’t overdevelop and go atomic, rain showers stayed away. The run back was good as I took a track to the east and continued down to Killarney flying in some convergence on the Range. I heard Val on the chat frequency reporting a run from Killarney to Pittsworth. At 4pm I still had 6-8kt climbs so topped out at 8,000ft above Killarney and headed for home, a nice round 300km flight. Dan in the JS-1 flew north to the Bunyas and then turned for Millmerran and home all good for 435km. Gilby also headed north to clock up 282km. Didn’t hear what Peter Plunkett got up to. The students had a good solid days flying clocking up some decent flights.

So all in all a day of two halves, first half pure survival to stay up mode and the second half pure Downs soaring at its best with off the clock climbs. Gliding is all about being able to cope with changing situations and Saturday was a classic of that.

Towering catellanus cumulus

Come Sunday and the trough had gone through overnight bringing a sprinkling of rain. Dan was tuggie for the day and he gamely offered the JS-1 to Nigel for a fly, for how that turned out see Dan’s post(!). The students were under Phil’s tutorage. Time to make the most of the conditions before the storms brewed up.

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Hot as Hell Weekend - Update from George Brown

Posted by on in Flying reports
Saturday provided consistent and strong thermals and the only complaint was that the Cumulus cover was not extensive enough. Some long glides were often achieved in generally good air, but no tempting climbs.
North of Pittsworth the conditions were weaker and less consistent. Surprisingly, I did not notice any action on the DDSC strip and heard minimal chatter on 122.7.
Sunday kicked off slightly earlier and the cumulus showed similar tendencies to spread out and limited convection in the South.
Cumulus cover was far more extensive and there were still some great climbs to be had. Unfortunately, you still felt obliged to take weaker climbs to stay cooler (still quite warm at 10,000 feet) and connected to the high cloud base.
North of Dalby was weaker than the South of the road and there were some very disappointing climbs under enticing Cu.
Both days had another one to one an one half hours of useful convection available; and you can glide for a long time from 12,000 feet.
Whatever, I had two good days of gliding - where were all the "gun pilots"? Nice of you not to clutter up the airwaves and thermals for a change - thank you, but you did miss out on a 750 km day (only for the guns, not us mugs).
Many years ago, I managed a 750 out of Warwick on a similar day. Of significance I turned over the strip at 5PM for another 180km - but I knew that Michael would pick me up from any field as I was in his glider.
Sunday, I landed at 4:30PM having overflown the strip after finishing and noted that the conditions were better over the strip than they had been since Dalby. I am not convinced that Michael would collect me if I out landed - he's changed.
Remember that the hotter it is the better the thermals - heat wave, what heat wave?
Editor Note : George and Michael scored 7th and 8th on the worldwide OLC for the day showing that Warwick is certainly punching above its weight
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'Hot as Hell' Weekend

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‘Hot as Hell’ Weekend

With temperatures in SE Queensland set to soar into the low 40C’s for the weekend of 11-12 February it was going to be interesting to see how the conditions would pan out for gliding. My fears were for a blue day, hot and stable airmass after an infuriating working week of really soarable weather so conditions just like the weekend before but according to Matthew Scutter’s ‘Skysight’(subscription) website Warwick was set for booming conditions on Saturday with 12,000ft cloudbase above the Granite Belt and 8-9kt thermals starting by 12,30 and soaring conditions lasting to 5pm with cloud developing first on the Granite Belt before the Downs got going. RASP seemed to be saying the same but with its usual prediction of a 3pm shutdown which I tend to take with a pinch of salt these days.

Arriving on the airfield at 10am the PW-6 was already out and ready to take Matthew the first student up with Ivor instructing and Val on tug duty, rather than hang round in the heat (already 31C at 10am) everyone retreated to Bill & Val’s hanger to get out of the sun. I DI’d my Discus and loaded with 140 litres of water ready for a big day. George Brown and Peter Plunkett were the only other private owners present. The PW-6 was just maintaining height so I delayed my launch deferring to George who launched at noon, we’d not really set a task other than to agree to head south to Stanthorpe where the only clouds in the sky were forming and after that play it by ear. The launch was interesting as with the heat and water on board it took far longer than normal to get airborne but thankfully the power in the Pawnee is enough even on such hot days. I released at 3,500ft and struggled at first trying to get used to thermalling with water on board. After 15 minutes of bumbling around I finally connected with a 6 knotter which took my to 8,000ft so enough height to glide to Stanthorpe where George was already reporting 10,000ft.

To the south the clouds were developing nicely and George called in to say he was heading further south to Tenterfield, A quick look at my waypoint database revealed I didn’t have it so I decided to fly 25km south of Stanthorpe before turning north. This was the furthest I’d ever been south, interesting granite hills below which must have had thermals ripping off them in the 40C heat, nice 12C temperature in the cockpit. George had already turned at Tenterfield and was heading back to Warwick by this stage. The run back to Warwick was quick with 100knts at 10,000ft(!).

Clouds were starting to form to the north so I agreed with George to head towards DDSC and see how conditions were like on the Downs. There were long glides of 20-30km between thermals and it was clear that the Downs were taking a while to get going it was 2pm and climbs were 6kts but hard to find. I took a track towards Dalby following a nice line of clouds with George heading towards DDSC. The only call of the day from Peter Plunkett was to report he had turned Pittsworth and was heading to Millmerran.

I got to Dalby at 3pm so decided to turn and head back to Warwick and maybe extend the flight to Killarney if I got back with enough height. George flew a straight line back to the airfield. The run back was again long glides but never lower than 7,000ft, I hooked into a nice 9 knotter at Clifton which got me back to 10,000ft again so enough height to head for Killarney, it was 4pm by this time and ahead I could see the clouds were disintegrating with little to no lift underneath, wind was 20kts from the SE. The PW-6 was still busy on my return with Ivor kindly advising that there was a 5-10 tailwind on 27 so I switched ends to land on 09 into wind. Seems both Peter and Simon went solo on the day and enjoyed some decent thermalling on their own so big smiles all round. Looking at the trace I flew 447km (my longest flight to date) at an average speed of 104km/hr, only 21% of my time thermalling. Still well beaten by George’s 114km/hr without water!

So lessons learned, if there’s a good forecast set the tasks before launch in the Nano and just go flying plus I must still fly faster!

Sunday saw Michael O’Brian, Scott, Denis and George out. I had persuaded Denis to go out given that Skysight was reporting the same high cloudbase, these are days not to be missed. By all accounts conditions were similar to Saturday with clouds first developing over the Granite Belt before the Downs. Michael O’Brian headed to Tenterfield before going north past Dalby all good for 545 km. See trace below. George also flew 500km, trace to appear on the OLC. Denis had issues with his Oudie so unfortunately no trace.

Reports from Boonah were that both days were cancelled as being too hot and stable for their tug to launch off their strip so it just goes to show its worth the drive up the Range rather than staying by the pool on the ‘hot as hell’ days!

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Xmas – New Year Break

Posted by on in Flying reports

The Xmas – New Year period is always a strange holiday period where after the festive family necessities of Xmas Day and New Years Eve everyone’s thoughts turn to want to go gliding at Warwick. Via the members email posting it was obvious that there was interest in enjoying some decent cross country weather permitting, without a tug roster it was a little uncertain who would be out but luckily there was someone always available to jump into WPS, so thanks to Val, Dieter, Paul, Brad and others that I may have missed.

The week of 26 Dec to 29 December saw difficult conditions for the first few days with only local flying with Carl Jacobs doing a decent 200km on the Thursday but by Friday 30 December it was forecasted by the weather gods to be “Going Orrff” with Carl Jacobs declaring a 300k FAI Goal flight of Killarney -  Pilton – Leyburn in his Astir with everyone else scrambling to get on launch and get going. I arrived with no particular plan but it quickly became evident that going north first was the way to go so with Lutsky, Andres, George and Peter Plunkett we set Dalby and back and would see how we got on. Erich and Noel in the mighty ASH were going to do Carl’s flightplan. Launch was a fairly late 12 noon but conditions were immediately obviously good with the first climb at 6kts to 6,500ft.

Clouds were popping on the route past Clifton and Pittsworth with cloudbase lifting to 8,500ft. On the radio we were joined by the DDSC crew who were out in force with strangely enough just a single pilot from Kingaroy. They had set a task with Warwick as turnpoint so there were plenty of gliders traversing the Downs in various directions. Having got to Dalby in reasonable time Lutsky and George elected to push further to Jandowae, I met up with Peter Plunkett at Dalby and we turned for home feeling confident the day had a lot more to give we could go to Killarney having got to Warwick.

The trip home was in a blue hole with little usable lift so it looked like a straight in approach to the airfield but north of Talgai I hit a 10knotter at 3,000ft which got me to 10,000ft in no time so with this height Killarney would be a no-brainer. It was evident that there was convergence cloud forming on the Range and I connected with this just north of Killarney soaring up the side of it for a few extra three hundred feet, simply magical. On the radio Andres made a call that he was still at Pittsworth having almost landed out at Dalby but he got a good line of lifting air home. George was in stealth mode and after Jandowae had made a track further west and straight down to Stanthorpe to get over 500km for the day.

The Saturday 31st December saw Dan out no doubt after seeing the flights on the OLC. Dan clocked off a decent 400km flight with Peter once again doing well in his Cirrus flying Pittsworth – Killarney.

All in all a nice way to end 2016, let’s hope the summer continues like this and the good days match with the weekends!

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Aerobatic masterclass - Michal Ombach

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I never knew that fear and courage were so closely related. When Michal Ombach, coach of the Polish National aerobatic gliding team and Engineering Director of Allstar Glider PZL, was visiting our club for two weeks in September and October this year, he told me that he’d only had two instructional aerobatic flights in his life. The rest he taught himself.

“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.

“Oh absolutely, absolutely,” he said, with the thick Slavic ‘l’ and ‘lute’ coming out as ‘loot.’ He’d been scared.

But if he ever had been, there was nothing visible of it any longer. On a demonstration flight in the SZD59 Acro early in his visit, he casually performed an outside loop, a Lankowich tumble and seemingly more time hanging upside down in his belts than some people in our club spend on a 300km cross-country.

There is very little in the way of an aerobatic gliding community in Australia, so we have to import our talent.

Michal Ombach has talent, and experience, in spades.

For two weeks, we hosted him at Warwick Gliding Club, offering members the opportunity to fly with a master, even in the humble PW-6U. It helped that Poland’s gliding manufacturing community is relatively small, and that all relevant people—including Michal—know each other, and each other’s work and each other’s engineering backgrounds and proclivities. He quickly showed that he knew the PW-6U better than probably anybody in Australia, with easy references to those who designed it, engineered it and built it. Even if his current company is not involved in the PW, Poland has a relatively fixed group of aeronautical designers and engineers in ever-shifting alliances and employment relations against a back tapestry of mergers, closures, bankrupcies and re-openings, hooking them into glider-producing companies with names that contain so many consonants that they befuddle any attempt at pronunciation (if you’re not Polish).

Those who flew with Michal were universally impressed with the intense accuracy of his flying, with the precision of his maneuvers, with his unfazed coolheadedness, with his unruffled posture—whatever the G’s, and in whatever direction. The man is simply very, very good.

Michal’s English was much better than any of our club members’ Polish, and he was able to communicate his briefings and instructions in ways that were simultaneously disarming and phlegmatic. As the weeks progressed, he got down to coaching me. The Arresti diagrams came out. Sitting at the edge of the field, he explained the aerodyanmics of both positive and negative flick rolls out of either inverted or right-side-up flying. And he challenged me to fly figures I had never dreamt of performing.

“What I’m not happy about, is you have not performed inverted spin,” he said one day.

“But, but,” I protested lamely, then referring to a pathetic twirl on top of a positive loop earlier that week that might only have got Val’s dog to believe it was an inverted spin.

“That was nothing,” he dismissed. “Nooothing.”

And so I went. Without a two-seater capable or certified to do such a figure, the first one was going to be by myself. Up to 3000 ft AGL, off tow, checks, roll inverted, slow down and then full opposite rudder and stick.

Can there be beauty in violence?

Because this inverted spin was both.

Michal had wanted to see at least a turn an a half.

My ability to deliver on this was predicated on two assumptions. One: I can count. Two: my hands and feet would follow the instructions from my head. Both assumptions turned out entirely too generous.

If you haven’t done it yet, you can take my word for it: counting turns in your first inverted spin can be no more than a heroic attempt, and it hardly is your first priority. The first priority, indeed, is getting it to stop. I had no idea how long that would take, and so my hands and feet decided for me. The stick went neutral, as did my feet. The Acro thought about it for what seemed like a lifetime, while bucking and rocking itself back to level flight (not straight-and-level, more like straight-down-and-level). I thought the adventure had eaten up a phenomenal amount of height, but, of course, Michal’s unflappable opinion in the debrief not much later was that that was really “nothing, nooothing.”

Michal is a hard task-master. He wasn’t completely satisfied with the inverted spin. I will have to practice more.

I started to find that the tow is actually the scariest of maneuvers in glider aerobatics. Not because it is, but because it affords you the time and headspace to let fear climb onboard. If I’d measured heart rate during the typically short aerobatic flight, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be consistently high during tow, simply because I was getting myself worked up over what was coming. And then it might be elevated in episodes during the actual figures not because of fear, but because of their physiological demands.

When you are actually flying the figures, you are simply too busy watching far ahead, observing the horizon, investing in accuracy, trying to get things right, flying the plane, checking the altimeter (“Forget about airspeed, forget about airspeed!” Michal would keep saying. “Is nooothing. Instrument is too late. Feel the glider, feel the glider!”)

And once all that is under control, it is time for aesthetics. It’s called “harmony” in aerobatic flying, a big term with fuzzy edges, but which includes everything from staying inside a particular piece of airspace to balancing each figure with symmetrical portions of flight before and after, and a demand for gracefulness and elegance that are not typically on your mind when you first perform any of those things. “Don’t be in hurry, don’t be in hurry!” Michal would mentor me countless times. I’d just wanted to get the bloody thing over with, or preserve enough energy for the next figure, so as to get into it without wasting either height or speed.

No longer, though. The best thing about soaring—my first love in flying since the age of 14—is, after all, its grace, its beauty, the elegance and suppleness of its performance, whether on a long cross-country, in competitions, or upside down. I find it a fantastic invitation to try, each time, to overcome the fears, to succeed technically in performing a figure, and to then invest in the aesthetics of that performance, like when I play Schubert for other people on the piano. I will not be done learning for many decades.

And then my 13-year old joined me for the last day of Michal’s visit. Her name is Evelyn and she’d just turned 13 the week before. She’d never been in a glider before. After two flights with me and one with Michal, in all of which she had shrieked with pleasure at the various rapid accelerations and decelerations (in whatever Cartesian plane), she insisted on yet another flight with me toward the end of the day. Immediately off tow, she asked for the controls and performed a beautiful loop, then various ranvers (stall turns) and additional figures that would have made grown men in our club cry. I was stunned, and humbled. What had I been so worked up about in my own aerobatic flying? And did doing it well really require my thousands of hours?

To her, flying all this apparently was (to borrow Michal’s phrase), “nothing, noooothing.” Perhaps 13-year olds are merely courageous, simply because they are anatomically unequipped to be scared. Without a fully developed frontal lobe, perhaps they are all courage, and no fear. And so, floating in on a final approach with a gentle, honey-coloured sun at our backs, shadows lengthening, the air softening and thickening and the wind gone home for the day, having been upside down more than I anticipated, I landed with my 13-year old in the front, contented, proud and elated all at the same time.

For all those who are both scared and fascinated by this sort of flying, there is of course a solid “don't try this at home” piece of counsel. But in a sense, do try this at home. With help and support, that is. There is something deeply satisfying (and of course a great investment in flight safety) in getting to know the outer reaches of your aircraft’s flight envelope. Most of us stay comfortably inside of a tiny portion near the middle. If we can help it, that is. We can’t always. So an introduction to other parts of the envelope can be very healthy and informative. Talk with me, talk with your instructor, and if you have the sense, sensibility (and means), invite Michal back over. The trip to Australia to him (only 16000 km or so) is, after all, “nothing, noooothing.”

Sidney Dekker - CFI


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AGM 2016

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AGM 2016 Warwick Gliding Club’s 2016 AGM was held at the clubhouse on 10 September with quite a few members making the trip despite a rather dreary looking forecast for the Saturday. Val did the catering for the AGM dinner ably assisted by Jen Llewellyn with Clyde chairing the AGM. He reported yet another strong financial year for the club even given a so-so flying year and the major capital expenditure of the new club hangar. It is a big credit to both the committee and the members that the club is running with a sizable positive cashflow as can be seen from the club accounts submitted by Clyde. A big thank you to the clubs volunteers especially Bill and Val who do a lot of unreported work behind the scenes and make the club the success it is. The old committee stood down and the same candidates were re-elected with Ivor Harris again elected as club President.

The AGM is also an opportunity to recognise club members flying exploits and achievements with various cups, plaques and trophies being awarded.

The most memorable outlanding was awarded to Clyde Stubbs for his high crop/stubble landing. Witnessed by Ivor who retreived him!

Most meritorious cross country flight and Best Distance by a club member was George Brown for his 709km flight at Narromine.

The outstanding competition award went to Dan Papacek for his competition flights at the Easter Regatta.

The Gus Mauch Cup for most outstanding student went to Carl Jacobs who also picked up the trophy for Most Improved Cross Country pilot, quite an exceptional achievement in the space of one year.

The award for the most meritorious cross country flight in a two-seater went to Denis Nolan and Tony Scarlett for their 257km flight in the PW-6 at the Easter Regatta.

The President’s Shield was awarded to Val Wilkinson for her outstanding support to the Club.

Both the Warwick Winter Cup and the Warwick Winter Distance Trophy was awarded to David Kinlan who scored 45 points and 208km perhaps proving that coming out as often as possible through the winter months eventually reaps its rewards. David was just 4km in front of Dan Papacek so a narrow victory.

The AGM is an excellent opportunity to catch up with members who may not come out to the airfield so often, swap stories and plan for the flying season ahead so its well worth the effort to attend. See you all next year!

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David Harrison goes solo!

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The weekend of 20-21 August was fairly poor weatherwise with no one having a realistic chance of WWC distance points however the good thing was Sunday was great weather for training. Sid Dekker took David Harrison (ex-Qantas and tug pilot) through his paces in the PW-6 with various emergency situations which David handled in his stride. So by 2.30pm David was ready to go solo. Meanwhile Phil and Dan were enjoying the challenging conditions (1kt lift to 4,000ft) and staying within safe glide of the field

Solo ! Smiles all round.

After his instructor duties Sid took SDE up for an acro thrash.

David took another solo flight and got an enjoyable +1hr flying on his own in the light thermals before bringing the PeeWee back down. Hopefully we will get to see David out at the airfield in the coming months when the real thermals start ! Thanks to Dieter for the tug duty..   

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WWC 3 weekends to go things are warming up!

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The forecast for Sunday 7th August was looking reasonable for a change with NAIPS reporting cumulus and stratocumulus 4000/9000ft, only a slight chance of a shower. The launch was the usual 12 noon as it always takes a while to get going in winter but by this time clouds were starting to pop in all directions. (Hopefully new member) David Harrison came out to fly in the PeeWee with CFI Sid, Peter Plunkett got his Cirrus back from its Form 2 and Phil and Les were out with the family. Ivor was tug pilot.

It was nice unstable air and the first climb out in 4kts gave enough height to connect with the cloudstreets forming out of the SW. My plan was to head as far west as possible whilst still staying within glide. The cloudstreets were working well with 8-9kts on the averager..how good is that for winter! Cold at cloudbase 8,600ft though just 1C...it felt like a spring day in Europe which made me think that it was likely to overdevelop and the stratocumulus spread out to kill the lift.

So with plenty of height in the bag I headed towards Stanthorpe. Its not often we get to fly in that direction and certainly not in winter but with bags of height and lift it was fairly easy.

David Harrison had a great +2hr flight with Sid whilst Phil was flying Sid's acro glider with Sid then jumping in his own glider to do some radical flying. Les flew using the cloudstreets heading SW before the call of nature meant a return to the airfield. By 3pm the stratocumulus had spread out  completely and it was safer to stay closer to the airfield.

I managed to clock up 208km doing a 'extended circuit' heading towards Killarney after Stanthorpe which turned out to be the longest flight in Australia for the day. DDSC and Kingaroy also suffered from the early shutdown due to the stratocumulus with a few pilots reporting just managing to scrape home.

So all in all a great day. With only 3 weekends to go to the end of winter things are starting to warm up, literally!

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Winter Wonderland

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Sunday 17th July 2016.

Conditions so far this winter have not been your classic WWC weather with rain and/or high winds coinciding with most weekends and this weekend seemed to fit this pattern with a decent amount of rain falling on Saturday however Ivor Harris mentioned by email that he was keen to go out Sunday and that got myself and Carl Jacobs motivated enough to make the drive out from Brisbane. On arrival at the airfield on the Sunday it looked sombre, low cloud was scooting by in the strong wind with RASP and NAIPS saying conditions would improve by 1pm but the chance of lift was described as zero. I considered just getting in my car and driving home again not wanting just a sledder but Tony Scarlett broke the dispondency by saying he would fly the PW6 and Carl asked for a mutual so he could fly from the back seat. I got our Discus out and as I towed the glider out the cloud was starting to break up and looked like it was starting to street. Ivor very generously volunteered to fly the tug.

Tony and Carl launched first and Ivor quickly returned and reported good lift with what looked like 4000ft cloudbase. As no one else was around I did a wing down launch and Ivor towed me towards the north of the airfield. The air was buoyant so I took a high tow just in case it turned out to be a sled ride. Between the airfield and Talgai a line of wispy clouds were forming and these were lower than the cumulostratus above so I headed for them.

It looked and felt like classic standing convergence with a glassy smooth 1-2kts to the north side of the line of clouds, so both the PW6 and myself in the Discus able to fly up and then above the first cloudbase. Maximum height was 5200ft which was a full 1000 ft above the lower convergence.

We were able to fly along the convergence line which stretched to halfway towards the Range. Simply stunning to soar the standing clouds like it was a ridge line. The clouds pulsed and dissolved and then reformed. It was a strange airmass as there were three cloudlevels with the highest being a thick layer of altocumulus.

After a very enjoyable 2hrs cloud soaring it was time to call it a day and return to terra firma. Quite a suprise for the middle of winter on a gloomy looking day to experience convergence. Just goes to show it is always better than the forecast and if you are out then aviate! Thanks to Tony for committing to fly despite the lack of motivation on my part and Ivor Harris for driving out to tow us up. For Carl it was valuable experience of what convergence flying has to offer and guided by Tony he got a hands on lesson on how to fly it.

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Finally a decent Cross Country Day which coincided with a weekend!

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The past few months have been fairly mediocre flying wise with the best looking flying days not falling on a weekend we've had many weekends of windy, stable conditions so Saturday 12th March was another day out at the club hoping the weather was going to be favourable for flying despite the not so promising forecast. Work around the clubhouse, new hangar and caravan site are progressing well do to the hard work of Bill and Val, Peter Plunkett and many others so things should be looking good for Easter. Thanks to all your hard work!

There was a decent turnout of club members with Lutsky, Andres, Greg, Mike, Carl, Ivor, Erich and young Dan all keen to get in the air. 9Kt Nigel was tuggie for the day.

Lutsky was first on the launch line followed by myself with the grid being added to fast. Lutsky suggested flying the developing cloudstreet to the Range down to Killarney then via the Dam going north and then decide further. Seemed like a good plan to me. 9KN dropped Lutsky under the cloudline and I was next. During the climb I was joined by a Wedge-tailed eagle which followed behind my right wing as we connected into a 6 knotter, the eagle kept about 6ft behind the wind and was surfing the leading edge boundary layer with its wings tucked in, absolutely fantastic! Lutsky giving a commentary from above.

Once up at cloudbase Lutsky scooted off towards Killarney and I followed having difficulty keeping up with his LS8 with water as I had none. Note for next time get some water in if the conditions look good. Conditions were soft at Killarney with lower cloudbase and a lot of very green paddocks below. Lutsky tracked towards Leslie Dam whilst I decided to go north towards Allora where a good cloudstreet was developing, halfway back I hit a nice 9knotter which got me back to cloudbase and the better air above the Downs going north. Andres was also heading to Killarney and was also struggling so he took a route towards the airfield. Mike called in later from the Range

The suggestion was to fly to Cecil Plains which suited me as the cloudstreet gave me a nice run north with some 9kt climbs and cloudbase at 8,000ft. Carl meanwhile was doing his 150km local triangle gaining some valuable xc practice. Greg had tracked towards Wyreema and then headed west towards Cecil Plains. Mike also headed north towards the now chosen Cecil Plains turnpoint.

Once at Cecil Plains I tracked towards Millmerran mindful to not leave it too late before heading back.

The glide back was into wind and the clouds were starting to thin out so final glide was looking skinny at the start but improved tracking over the scrub around Leyburn meant it was all good about 20km out. I landed with Andres shortly after followed by Greg dumping water on final (see below).

What a great flight in excellent conditions (finally). Let's hope we get similar conditions for the Easter Regatta in just two weekends time.

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Team Flying 6 December

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The weekend of 5/6th December was fairly quiet at the club. I came out on Sunday with the hope of some good flying given the forecast for 8,000ft, SE winds and pre-trough weather. Carl, Laurie and Lutsky were out and I was first on launch with Val doing the tug duties. After pinging off at 2,000ft agl I struggled to stay up in the broken thermals. Laurie launched after me and that increased the chances of finding thermals but it was not easy, the piggeries seemed to be the usual thermal trigger which got Laurie and me to 5,500ft which was enough to head towards the Range where the only clouds of the day were forming.

Heading for the Range










Laurie made a break towards the Range but soon came scooting back low back towards the piggeries, clearly it was not a day to be too brave so we teamed up and flew together for the next few hours. We connected with a good thermal at the edge of the Maryvale valley which made the valley crossing to the clouds in the south a lot easier. It was certainly a good experience for me to fly together with Laurie and hone my centering and thermalling technique. We headed deeper onto the Range and got south of Cunnninghams Gap before heading back. Laurie was to my left and turned to his left into the best thermal of the day, a 10knotter which got us to cloudbase in an instant. I headed up the Range towards Wellcamp whilst Laurie went back to the airfield. Listening to Wellcamp it does seem to be getting busier as there was plenty of radio chatter from inbound aircraft.

Laurie ahead

On getting back I spoke to Carl who said both he and Lutsky had a launch and didn't connect with anything so it seems Laurie and I had a bit of luck launching when we did but I have no doubt the tag team technique definately increased our chances of searching and locating lift. All in all another day to remember in flying paradise. At the Junior Worlds at Narromine they had a blistering day with 13,000ft cloudbase and task speeds of 150kmhr so plenty of smiling faces down there.



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Weekend Report 25-26 October 2015

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With the prognosis for both days of the weekend with showers and a very iffy looking RASP showing 2kts at best for less than 2-3hrs the turnout at the club was looking like everyone was going to stay at home to earn brownie points with even the Kingaroy chat forum saying “why bother to go out(!)”however our members are made of stronger stuff and always the optimists so on Saturday Ivor in the tug still had a few customers with Dan and Matt off to try some extended local soaring and Sid and Brad flying in the PeeWee.

Matt and Dan had fairly good flying venturing down to Killarney then flying to Millmerran and back clocking 260km & 230km respectively in 3hr flights with no one scoring anything at all on the OLC at either Kingaroy or DDSC so seems like they believed their own doom and gloom chat. Those Warwick club members looking at the timelapse webcam for Saturday got to see it wasn’t a bad day after all with decent cumulus clouds and sun with no rain.


Sunday was forecast the better of the two “worst” days so more club members came out with Laurie, Scott, David, Brad and Bill coming out to try their luck. Val was tuggie and the sky started to look good from 11am onwards. Once airborne there was two camps the “go north” mob of Laurie, Scott and David and the “try the range” duo of Dan and Matt. It quickly became apparent to the go north mob that going north of Clifton the lift was softer and cloudbase lower than above the airfield so Laurie and David turned tail and headed towards Killarney after hearing Dictator Dan reporting good climbs to 6,500ft. Scott decided to persevere on his own in the “white ant express” and pushed on to Pittsworth. It was definitely a Range is best day and everyone was soon tracking along it with Dan and Matt going to Pilton before turning towards Cecil Plains and out in the weak lift on the Downs. Brad reported lift upto 7,500ft in between and above cloudbase which was being brought on as towards the end of the day a wall of showers had started tracking between Warwick and Killarney. Matt got to soar the benign but evil looking cloud reporting 12kt lift along the rain front. Dan and David being less brave souls kept a respectful distance. Dan clocked up a reasonable 328km distance with everyone else having good distance flights of +200km with Scott parking AC at Clifton airfield after getting in a blue hole on the way back.

So once again this weekend goes to show that despite the doomsayers and ‘average’ weather forecasts it is always worth the journey out to the airfield. If this was Europe everyone would have been out and doing decent distances, we don't realise how lucky we are as I saw a dutch guy on the OLC flying 275km xc on the same day between 1,500ft and 3,000ft agl in late October.

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Flying (really high) by Denis Nolan

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Cowley Alberta  located in the eastern foot hills of the Canadian Rockies  is such a windy place that the local joke is “once the wind stopped blowing here and everyone fell over”.

October is a very windy month with the predominant winds from the west to the south west and always strong with 25 kt winds considered quite normal. The geography and the wind combine to be a great place to do some mountain wave flying. Statistically wave occurs on 50 percent of the days in October.

The CuNim gliding club, from Black Diamond near Calgary, hold two events here each year. The summer thermal camp, with the possibility of wave and the ten day October wave camp focussed on wave flying (there is a slight possibility of thermal but they just mess up the wave).

I arrived at the Cowley field about 7pm on Thursday 8 October five days into the camp, just in time to watch the last two flights landing. Bracing myself against the wind I was glad I had just finished two months of flying in very windy Winnipeg as I felt slightly less intimidated by these conditions. They were reporting that the wave had been here all week so I was a bit worried about the 50 percent statistic for October wave occurrence.

Friday 9 Oct. I arrived at the field nice and early to register and get my name down for a flight. I was sitting on the bench talking to Chris Gough (Canadian junior worlds competitor and member of the Edmonton club) about his flying time in Benalla Australia when their Perkoz 54-2 landed. He asked would I like to go for a flight. We took off in 35kt winds and spent the next 40 minutes being beaten up in the rotor and then landed back at the field. This flight, despite being in less than ideal conditions, proved what a beautiful ship the Perkoz is to fly. In all phases of the flight it never felt that it was nearing its limits. Flying with Chris was a true pleasure.

Saturday 10 Oct. Similar conditions to Friday but slightly stronger winds (about 35kts on the ground) I flew the CuNim club ASK21 with Phil Stade. Again 30 minutes of rotor and we were back on the ground.

Sunday 11 Oct. The wind had picked up to about 55kts on the ground. The tugs could not turn around at the ends of the strip so we had a non-flying day. It was nice to be out of the wind sitting around in the various motor homes chatting about how good tomorrow was going to be. We eventually left the field and drove to Calgary to visit friends and stay the night.

Monday 12 Oct. Thanksgiving day holiday in Canada. I left Calgary at 7am to arrive at the field by 9am. I was the first to arrive but very soon we had a workable group and we d.i.’d the gliders and filled the oxygen bottles. The day was bright and sunny but very little wind. This changed by 10am and we soon had the regular 25 -30kt down the strip.

The first to launch was Darin and Peter in the dg1000 they were soon reporting 10kts at 7000ft They eventually climbed to 17,000 ft  where they had to stop due to  the clubs self imposed height limit on their dg1000.

I was up next in the ASK21 with Phil Stade and well prepared for a good flight. It was 9 degrees C on the ground and windy with wind increasing steadily with height and temperature dropping. I was prepared for the cold wearing thick jeans and socks and insulated shoes, two layers of shirts, two layers of jackets, a woollen toque and gloves.

Cowley strip is 3900ft asl. and we purchased a 4000ft tow and released at 7800ft.  I was pleased to note that at 5000ft the oxygen system automatically switched on and worked well. The tow was a very fast learning curve on how to tow in big rotor, I was very pleased to have Phil with me and to be in a tough as nails ASK21. The day was shaping up to be great for wave flying. Just nearing the 8000ft mark we hit some smooth air and we were going up fast. I released the tow and started to fly north along the line of a big lenticular sitting above us. Very soon the altimeter went wild, the varios were stuck on the max stop and we were actually doing close to 30kts vertical, almost stationary across the ground and so smooth there was no detectable movement of the glider. The 30 kts soon dropped to about 13kts but still smooth so we kept on surfing along the face of a lenticular looking for patches of higher lift with the Rockies on one side looking smaller and smaller and the lenticular on the other side looking bigger and bigger.

The lift slowed down a bit at 16,000ft but soon picked up again and we were then at just over 20,000ft. With all of the excitement of such a flight I had to constantly remind myself to breathe deeply and as normally as possible. The continual sound of the oxygen coming in was re-assuring.

With this much height we could safely go to explore our way along and over the Rockies for the next 30 minutes. It was then time to hug the face of the lenticular looking for a better climb rate and take a look at a strange mist column that had formed just to the west. This column offered no extra lift but iced up the canopy a bit. I moved further out into the sun to de-ice and to warm myself up a little. I was really starting to feel the cold and needed to spend as much of the flight as possible in the sun.

The main task then was to work on climbing as high as possible (28,000ft ceiling) as soon as possible. This took another 20 minutes of very smooth very cold flying with the vario between 2 to 8 kts . My feet were aching and my hands were shaking from the cold and my lips were frozen but I could not help smiling.

The feeling at that height is quite unusual, with a massive lenticular near the wing, the air above as clear as crystal and the Rockies looking like small hills below, the glider responds beautifully to minute inputs on the controls and the ride is smooth and quiet. I had an overall feeling of awe and of being a little detached from the earth. At this point my thoughts were that I had better do some self-checks, so,  check oxygen, check breathing, check no tingles in the fingers, all ok and brain seems to be functioning well. The fact is that at such a height in a tiny plastic plane you are slightly detached from the earth and should be full of awe so the feeling was not misleading.

At 28,000ft and still climbing it was time to put the nose down, get the brakes out and try to head down to some warmer air. A fairly rapid descent down to just above 10,000ft took only 10 minutes. Another strange feeling here at just 6,000ft agl I felt like I was in circuit height. At this point I levelled out and waited for a better perspective to return to my brain. Then a radio call to Cowley ground for a condition report at the field, there was wind down the strip at 35kts and gusting higher so not much change from the launch conditions, then another rapid descent to join the circuit with a base leg at the end of the strip and with approach speed of 80kts it all felt good.

I parked the glider on the edge of the strip, got out to let the blood run back into my feet. Ten minutes after landing my body had warmed and the feeling had come back to my feet but now five days after landing I am still smiling.

I am putting this on my calendar for next year. No guarantees of achieving such a flight again but the chances are quite good. The camp itself is a lot of fun and anyone looking for the chance to fly in these conditions should seriously consider attending. The camp is run by Phil Stade and  the CuNim club with the Lethbridge club the Edmonton club and the Winnipeg club all joining in. Phil does a fantastic job of organising this and if you get the chance he is great guy to fly with.

If anyone is interested in more details just give me a call or email.


Two Happy Pilots



Near top of climb 28,000feet

The trace of the flight can be seen here :




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