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Flying with a sustainer....

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On Saturday I launched around midday - as did many others, including David Kinlan in the 'Lectric Lak'.  The first hour was a struggle, a real struggle. I spent most of that time between 3,500' and circuit height and used the jet engine at least three times to keep aloft. David was in a similar predicament. Finally we met in a thermal near Boney Mountain where we gained sufficient height to make a start to the north. From there we both enjoyed  cross country flights. I managed a very satisfying 310km at 104 kph. This with a beautiful stint near the ranges late in the day. 

Sunday looked promising at the start but soon proved even tougher than the day before. Carl (WA) and Matt(VTS) were the only other starters. Mal was the kind tuggie who got us airborne.  Carl and Matt had planned a task but soon decided this was not the day for it. Correctly so. I headed off after a reasonable climb to 5,000'. The next couple of hours were gruelling. I managed to get a bit beyond DDSC and back and spent most of the flight between circuit height and around 4,500'. There was a serious inversion at around 5,000'. It was not till I was close to Clifton on the way back that I stumbled across a half decent thermal to 6000' giving me glide home. 

I am the first to admit that I would not have had the courage to embark on either flight without the knowledge that the 'flick of a switch' would get me home if required. On Saturday the jet saved me from a relight but once on task it was no longer required. On Sunday, in spite of the tough conditions, I did not use it once. In fact, in all the time that I have been flying the JS now, I have only actually needed to use the sustainer twice to get home. Each time for no more than 5-10 minutes. It amazes me how often there really is another thermal ahead if one has the courage to push on. So often in the past (I realise now) I have 'parked myself' over a paddock in weak lift only to thermal into the ground.

Having the jet has allowed me to explore the skies on days when I would either have left the aircraft in the hangar or stayed local. It has also allowed me the opportunity to go cross country on Sundays when I know I have to be at work early the next morning. I realise it is not everybody's 'cup of tea' but I must say that it has enhanced my gliding experience immeasurably. I feel unbelievably fortunate to be able to fly such a beautiful piece of aeronautical excellence.

By the way, if you weren't there on Saturday evening you missed another splendid feed care of Val and Matt ('with a little help from their friends'). It was another great social occasion for our friendly club...

Saturday afternoon near the ranges in convergence at around 8,000'

A couple of shots of Matt in the Salto as we worked a thermal near the airfield on Sunday