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Flying reports

This is the place to post reports on weekend flying.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
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Mid afternoon Wednesday just north of the aerodrome. A nice climb.
Image should be rotated to the right, I was not turning that steeply.

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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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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…
 
Sid
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One of the first fantasies of an aspiring glider pilot is, one day, owning your own glider. And, like those before me, after falling in love with the trials and tributes of what the skies have to offer, I started fantasizing about my first purchase. Those fantasies eventually dwindled to one stand out choice.

After studying all the literature I could find and investigating the Australian owners, I ascertained that it was unlikely that I could buy locally. With that in mind, and a glider in USA advertised, I asked a fellow Australian owner, who had imported one in 2012, what the market value was, to find whether importing was a viable option. I was pleasantly surprised he was considering selling his.

Lifting the veil on this little secret of mine reveals one of the finest examples of a Start & Flug H101 Salto. I uncovered these photo's through the use of social media and, needless to say, this was going to be in the high end of their market value.

She has been completely restored and finished in polyurethane. A labour of love spread over the previous 2 owners. And after an arduous journey transporting her from Mildura Victoria to her new home in Warwick, she was ready for rigging early Saturday morning. Thanks especially to Mark Agnew and Sid Dekker with this. Designed with full auto connect controls, it goes together easily without the possibility of incorrect control hook-ups.

Recalling a couple emails from mid-March, I jokingly suggested she would draw a crowd up to the club house. Well, she really did! So much so, that a scene developed when one member pulled up in front of the new hangar. Distracted by the crowd and a polished glider, he almost ran over a member riding a motorbike. I'm glad to report the motorbike rider was on the ball and avoided an accident.

After a briefing from Sid and Dieter, and a patient wait for the crosswind to die off on Saturday afternoon, it was time for my first flight. Much like a H201 Libelle, which they were modified from, you wear a Salto. Sitting in the grid, feeling snug, heart pumping away as the adrenaline started kicking in, the tug took up slack. The full power was called and the love affair began.

The short wingspan of 13.6m allows the Salto to roll at more than 45° per second. With such a quick roll rate, keeping wings level is available very early with full aileron and I'd convince you that they were fixed, parallel to the ground. Weighing in less than 300kg gross, the ground run was also incredibly short and she popped up and sat above the prop wash with little effort.

Taking a high tow allowed me to gain familiarity with how she handled before I joined down wind. With the Air Force Cadets operating, I knew I had plenty of people scrutinizing, but I'm pleased to report, it's very much like the club peewee to land. Once stationary on the ground I opened up the canopy, which is hinged and opens to one side, and ended up feeling very sheepish when I unlocked the hinge which doubles as the emergency release. I was left sitting with the loose canopy in hand, in a cockpit that really needs two hands to get out of. After a few minutes I was able to get out, and put the canopy back on and Nigel Andrews was kind enough to bring my car down to tow back to the grid ready to have another go.

While I was setting up for my next flight, one of the cadets complemented me on my landing. Mark Agnew, Tony Scarlett and Val Wilkinson also commented that the landings they saw were lovely. Over the weekend, I managed to wrack up 5 flights totalling around an hour and a half and I know I am hooked. I'm pleased that I was ready for the transition and I cant wait until next weekend.

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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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It has been a great few days. A generally good turnout and weather that again proved to be better than forecast.

I won't put many words to the blog this time - just a few images to convey the flying experienced.

Convergence near the ranges, good climbs on the side of great cloud development.

Note the 'step' in the cloud development.

Another view from the ranges.

On return from Pilton North via Cecil Plains - an interesting day with long periods of stable air interspersed with occasional good climbs.

See you soon,

Dan

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No outlandings to report.

But checkout today's (14th April) OLC

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Another great weekend in spite of very discouraging RASP predictions. In spite of this we enjoyed a great turnout both days.

Some highlights included:

Saturday - (from an aged memory) Sid instructed and also shared towing with Val

Matt went solo under the guidance of Sid.  I was not there to see him land but when I left on Sunday afternoon I could still see the smile on his face.

Others to fly included Peter Foxton, Ray Squire, Bill Wilkinson, Denis Nolan, Carl Jacobs and yours truly.

Ray outlanded in a paddock near Pittsworth. Apparently the keys to his car were in his pocket so he cajoled a local farmer to give him a lift back to base.

Phil now has the dilemma of selecting from two very memorable out landings for the coming AGM.

I had a particularly memorable flight to DDSC and return. It was a day where climbs above 4,500' were hard to find but distance between thermals was short. So I bob, bob, bobbed along having the time of my life.. In case you are wondering - the jet is currently out of service so any missed climb would have meant a paddock landing.

Saturday evening we enjoyed a great BBQ and social evening with the RAA and the astronomy group. Val and Kayleen Williams did a great job with preparation of terrific salads and deserts while Carl and I manned the BBQ.

Thankfully skies were clear for the stargazers.

Sadly Noel could not make it due to a nasty squash injury (dangerous sport that).

Today started clear but soon overdeveloped. I offered to tow so that Phil could get into his glider. This turned out to be a less than generous gesture as poor Phil (not so lucky this time) spent his time sheltering under the wing of the Cirrus waiting for showers to pass. Others to launch included Paul Hogan, Peter Plunkett, David Kinlan, Michelle Dodd (in WA), Carl Jacobs, Stu Lutton, and 'beam me up' Scotty Johnson. Casey Dwyer took a friend for a passenger flight and Matt returned for another solo flight(s) in the PeeWee. David Chinchen also continued his training - this time under the guidance of Ivor. Phil, Ivor and I shared the towing for the day. Good air to the north attracted a few of our more adventurous members but all were back in due course as the weather closed in.

Saturday skies. Low could base but rewarding climbs. This was a real experience for me.

Late Saturday afternoon, soft conditions but just beautiful flying.

A delightful sky to finish a great day's flying.

Sunday overdeveloped and "Un'lucky Phil had to take refuge under David's umbrella and the wing of Oscar Papa.

Mark Agnew is similarly poised waiting for the skies to lighten up. He was present both days but I am not entirely sure that he managed to get a flight.

Lets hope he cracks a ripper next weekend.

Catch you all soon.

Dan

 

 

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The forecast was for 'doom and gloom' and we expected little.

However, once again we are reminded just how good it can be in spite of predictions to the contrary.

Time is short so I won't go into much detail. Nevertheless several launches and much good gliding was to be had Saturday afternoon.

The highlight was that our Jen Llewellyn went solo. Her smile on the image below shows it all.

Sunday was training flights only. Lucky Phil was our dutiful instructor and yours truly did the towing.

Most flights managed to include some thermal activity and several were of 30+ minutes in duration.

A heavy shower early put a temporary stay on proceedings but detracted little from an otherwise great day.

An indication of the climbs to be had on Saturday. The vario peaked at 5.5 knots at times.

Jen is all smiles after completing a successful first solo - well done!

The PeeWee working hard on Sunday.

Yet another of several great flights for the day.

Catch you there next weekend. Don't worry about checking the weather first - just turn up and wait for it to happen!!

 

 

 

 

 

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When I asked a highly respected member and self-confessed weather guru what the weather would be like on Sunday I received a mono-syllabic 'rubbish'.

Apparently this was due to cyclones near Broome, the phase of the moon and a whole lot of other influences that I didn't quite understand. I very nearly hopped on my motorcycle and headed home.

Some 587km at 115kph later (a PB for me on both counts) I still can't quite manage to wipe the smile off my face.

Overall a great weekend. Lots of activity and great soaring to be had. Saturday saw a great line up on the grid to be followed by a similar effort on Sunday.

Towing was commendably performed by NKN on Saturday and by Dieter on Sunday. Instructors were Clyde and Tony respectively.

We enjoyed the company of several Boonah members this weekend including John Tucker, Stewart Campbell and Brian Gilby.

Noel and Bridget with able assistance from Erich (and I am sure others) organised a great feed on Saturday evening. The local aero club were well represented and it was a top evening.

I am sure I have forgotten important detail here but time is short and other can fill in the gaps I am sure.

Catch you at the field soon - don't listen to any 'rubbish' reports about the weather:-)

A sample of the skies from this weekend.

Looking back on the grid today...

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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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Sunday was a complete turnaround from the day before. Rain overnight and a complete overcast in the morning.  I was on towing duty and Lucky Phil had put his hat in the ring to be our diligent instructor for the day.

Nige had been dropping hints for some time so I said - 'time to take the JS1 for a fly'.

Lucky Phil with Jen and Matthew about to launch in the PeeWee. Note the rather unexciting skies in the background......

 

My view from the tug.  NKN about to launch - note the rather uninteresting skies in the background.............

Half an hour later I get a call from Nige - the conversation went something like this.

'Uh, Dan I have landed in a paddock.  Despite the fact that it was a totally unsoarable day and we had a heap of rain last night, and...I have never flown this glider before - I did think I might get to the Bunya Mountains and back.  I know you are on towing duty today but considering I have cleverly selected a black soil paddock it would be good if you could get here to pick me up in the next 15 minutes or so as there is a big squall line moving in and we may not get the glider out for a week.'

After some quick-fire negations with both Paul and Val we engineered a solution whereby Paul (who had cleverly elected to fly locally) came back to land, did a quick launch in my stead and jumped in the car and trailer combination with me while Val then dutifully took over the towing for the remainder of the day (why is it that I am always so indebted to Val?).

We scurried to the black soil paddock that Nige had so cleverly selected watching all the time as the weather became increasingly ominous.

As we drove in Brad (who had landed the Bearhawk beside the JS1 to give Nige much needed encouragement) promptly elected to depart again just when we needed him the most.  This was of course because the sky was about to dump on us under the most challenging of circumstances. 

Paul (bless him) Nige (damn him) and I, battled for the next hour to get the glider into the box and get the whole combination out of a very wet black soil paddock with the thinnest of margins.

Somehow these sorts of days are what gliding is all about.  We remember them much more vividly than the 10 Knot 10,000' days somehow.

The good thing about all this is that everything turned out well and Phil does not have to think very hard when he works out the 'most memorable outlining of the year for our next AGM.

Note the totally unstable skies in the background.  This after a couple of heavy showers.  

May I recommend to all that you don't select a black soil paddock during wet conditions............

 

This but a small sample of the mud that one acquires in such an adventure.  We all gained about 3" in height during the exercise.

Catch you all son - happy and safe soaring,

Cheers, Dan

 

 

 

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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?
George
 
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

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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Last night Nigel suggested 750K was an easy option - that's when I should have realised it was a good day to stay on the ground.

Ivor very kindly offered to fly the tug so I felt I should take the opportunity to do a serious 750 (just like Nige said).

Everything was very hot and incredibly stable so we waited.... and waited - finally launching at midday.

As Carl was landing for a relight I took a launch and the struggle began.

Following a climb to around 5,000' I headed off and decided to try to complete what was supposed to be the task for the day.  WCK-Leyburn-Tipton-Killarney-WCK.

At 700' over Tipton I started to dump water and had my trigger finger ready to light up the 'noisy coke can'.  I did not have to resort to assistance but it came close many times.

Several bubbles later I finally got a climb and eventually made it home via all turn points.

It was a very rewarding day and uniquely satisfying to complete the task under the most challenging conditions.

Nevertheless - give me a 10,000' day with nice Cu development and 8 knot climbs anytime :-)

For those wondering - I am very pleased with the JS-1 - it is a nice piece of plastic.

The jet frightens the living daylights out of me but it does allow me to venture where I otherwise might not have gone.

Better than 4 knots late in the afternoon. Nice finish to the day....

Killarney - late in the day.  Nige was probably watching TV while I was working hard to get home.....

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Flying reports

Well RASP didn't say the weather was going to be any good, and for the most part it wasn't! Except for a brief but very interesting bit in the middle.

The day started with low scrappy cloud (2000' AGL), with high cloud above that. The PW6 had some student flights (with Peter), so that was going up in any case - with Clyde as the instructor. I was in the midst of doing the DI for VH-WUN as Clyde landed back, so I asked for a weather report - which he gave as being "as smooth as a baby's bottom". This caused me to abandon my DI, deciding instead upon what was likely to be a sled ride in the PW6.

I drove to the launch point where Paul was getting his ASW20 ready for a day of soaring - and I felt a little guilty for leaving my glider in the hanger.

The next bit ran something like this:

Nigel towed. Clyde launched. Paul launched. Time passed (although not much). Clyde landed. Paul landed (and packed up). Carl launched, and landed not much later with a hanger flight. Soaring done! Time to pack up under a gray sky.

Although not quite, as another late arrival student (Mark) was wanting a flight. Clyde towed the glider back to the launch point which started part 2 of the day.

Around this time Denis arrived at the club, showed no interest in getting his glider out, but was interested in doing a mutual with myself. Very quickly the high cloud disappeared and revealed a large expanse of blue above the airport, with sun on the ground!!

Clyde and Mark launched and landed back about 15 minutes later, but declined the offer of a second training flight straight away - opting for a lunch break instead.

Denis and I departed from runway 27, flew around for 42 minutes, had over 6 knots on the averager at one point, got to 5500' and landed on runway 09 into a stiff cool breeze. It was the flight of the day, and flown just at the right time to catch the change of direction in the wind.

Final flight of the day was for Clyde and Mark doing a windier takeoff and landing.

So in summary, a pretty rubbish day for going anywhere. But what a little gem for Denis and I! The clouds where crazy weird as the winds blew though, and we got to fly the change. The pictures don't do it justice.














 

 

 

 

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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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Weatherbomb indicated Sunday to be "the" day for the weekend.
Saturday was a mixed bag for flying. However, we had a nice combined BBQ with the Aero Club in the evening.

Pilots that logged their flights on OLC for Sunday:
(as listed on the map)
Noel / Erich - ASH25P BE (red)
Michael O'Brien - Discus A BK (yellow)
Scot Johnson - BG12a - GAC (green)
Laurie Simpkins - Open Cirrus MO (turquoise)
Peter Plunkett - Std Cirrus OW (blue)
Dan Papacek - Discus CS WA (Mr Pink)
Flew, but did not publish:
Clyde Stubbs - SZD55 ZDZ
Bill Wilkinson - LS8 15m IKZ
Brian Gilby - HPH 304

Task: Warwick - Tipton - Wyaga Strip - Warwick 340Km. FAI for the ASH; 30K circles for everyone else.
Parallel to scrub-line was the usable trigger between Tipton and Wyaga Strip. Scrub crossing perpendicular on final.
Airstrips between Warwick - Tipton and Tipton Wyaga Strip as well as freshly harvested paddocks (finally dry and land-able again).
An Ian Fleming thermal type day: shaken - not stirred. Even in the ASH Noel and myself got a few
"triggered by an Earthquake" thermal punches that indicated 12 knots momentarily on the open Richter scale.
Usually, it is nice and smooth in the big bird - not on that day. Everyone else got thrown around as well.
Day topped out around 9000ft. Slight shear @ 7500ft. Wind NE 14-17 Knots.
The overall averaging MCReady got up to over 4.6 knots for the good part of the day on XCSoar - apart from the roughness: what a day!

OLC is good for sharing flights but does not score realistically.
Best performance, when "scored" in SeeYou with task assigned: Laurie Simpkins
Awesome effort from Peter Plunkett - very nicely done!
Same for Dan!
Michael outed and returned on the first leg.
Scott checked out the condition of the Pittsworth airfield. Clyde gave him a hand with that.
Great effort by everyone!

In hindsight, I should have taken a final glide route South of track. CU's on that line.
We pushed "the button of shame" 60K's out, one and a half mistakes high - just in case the whipper snipper wouldn't fire up.
I also kept it running until I could have made it to Warwick with the engine out and not running.
(How did the saying go about 'old' and 'bold' pilots?)

Triangle courses are a nice challenge: different wind directions for each leg and flying into different air masses - great practice.
The airmass from the NNE kept things interesting with fast cycling CU's. North of the Toowomba line clouds were a bit more permanent.
Cirrostratus from the Southwest moved in slow enough and the boundary air created more permanent CU's to the South (the track I should have chosen).
Good conditions to the East of Warwick - just a bummer about the airspace. But it can be task'ed as well.
Let's see what the rest of Summer has in store for us.


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Hi All,

Just a quick roundup of Saturdays flying and comments on Sundays as I wasn't there but saw the OLC results. Saturday was predicted to be quite a good day. Turning up early saw the sky covered in Cirrus and smoke everywhere. By lunchtime the Cirrus had opened up and I was the first single to launch. Off at 3,000ft and climbed to 5,500 albeit in very un organised thermals which were hard to centre. Not much wind but I think the sky cover and smoke helped make them very gusty and tight. There was myself, Dan senior, David, Peter , Brian Gilby from Boonah and later on we heard Michael Obrien launch. There were also training and passenger flights. Val did a tow and then Brad took over. David, Dan and myself managed a flight out to Cecil plains and back. It started out good but the return leg past Pittsworth had Dan and myself scratching in on skinny glides. David was test flying his new Kobo e reader running XC soar and it sounded as if he really likes it so maybe he can report on this as I know a few want to use them. Erich has had a lot of experience in the installation of these devices as well and largely inspired David to go ahead and get one ( and myself and possibly Dan).

So Saturday was good despite the difficult last final glide, I think Dan got over 7,000ft during the day as well as Dave, I got there once.

Sunday looked a much better day with Cu forming. I did a test flight in Geoff Bradocks newly built RV8, the tests so far have been taxi and small hops, the final real flying will be hopefully before xmas so looking forward to that. I saw BG12, Discus, ASH,LS8 and Cirrus all lined up and heard Phil in the tug. Looking at OLC Dan did a good 300 plus flight (389kms) as well as Michael, The two cirrus's did well, good to see Peter P doing a set task and getting around :) However, I did see the ASH25 nearly beaten by these old gliders but absolutely pounded by Dan and Michaels performance in the discus's and noted some sort of excuse for not doing so well but did note no thermals Noel was driving under supervision of Erich the red - if you guys need any coaching let me know.

So make hay while the sun shines :)

9KN

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Posted by on in Flying reports

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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