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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!