What a great day. We got there at 9am and had Russell and Stuart C in NP airbourne at 10 .They towed straight into the wave when we all got to Danniverke they were sitting at 8500FT north of Danniverke. Al had his first wave experience with me in NP. We got 1 hour 51 and up to 9000 ft. Patrick enjoyed the update via the phone!! Brian Lee also had his first 1 hour 16 experience in wave with Russell. Bill Dewar and Michael O'Donnell gave SA and HF a good workout - 2 hours 16 and 2 hours 27 respectively. Ian Rowe had 1 hour 11 check flight in the DG with Ian Sheppard and then went up in SA for 1 hour 20 and I also took Stuart C up in DG for 2 hours 40 (we didn't know our take off time!!). We also did 3 trial flights that came up from Otaki. It was an awesome day with everyone getting over 8000 ft in the wave. The wave wasn't really strong mainly between 4 and 10 knots. It was really good to get everyone flying again after a couple of months of sitting on the ground waiting for things to dry out. We aerotowed all the gliders back at the end of the day and they are sitting in the hanger rearing to go!!
Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!!
We had a fantastic days flying yesterday - 16 flights in total. The wave was working really well. Phil Pearce and Patrick Frame had the first taste of the wave and got to around 9500 ft for an hour and a half. Then Ron Sanders took Alex Chua in DG for a climb to 11000 ft. It was the highest Alex has ever been. Stuart Carwood took SA up for 3 hours and was blasting around at 9500 ft as well. Craig got 2 hours 25 in GG and hopefully got some really cool video coverage with the stick on camera mounted on the wing. I took Brian Lee up in the DG for 2 hours. When we released the vario just stayed sitting at 12 knots up for a while. It was awesome. Brian wanted to get higher than Alex did so we switched over to Ohakea and climbed to 13800 ft. It was the highest he has ever been as well and he was just wrapped. The wave got really smooth when you got above about 11000 ft. We got quite a shock when we were climbing through 10000 ft and looking out to the side and saw the good old K6 go wizzing underneath us a few hundred feet below. Ian Rowe took the old girl up for over 4 hours. I don't think the K6 had ever been that high before. You are a keen man Ian!! Ross Perry and Al Park also went up in NP for an hour and a half - like most of the others cruising around at 9500 ft. Phil Pearce and Bill Dewar gave both the Libelles a good workout with both getting close to 12000 ft. By this time Liam had turned up and not wanting to miss out on the action jumped in the DG with Ross Perry and cruised around in the wave for 2 hours 16. Patrick Frame eyed SA sitting on the ground and thought it needs air under its wings so jumped in for a quick 1 hour 10 blast around the wave. Alex Chua and Bill Dewar also took NP up for another flight. Meanwhile Ross Perry and Liam was still cruising around at 9500 ft. When I rung them up I said you might as well see if you can get back to Taonui as there was no point landing and getting a tow back. Ohakea gave them a clearance. They flew down to the gorge at around 7000 ft and were blasting back to Taonui at high speed when they remembered they had the stick on camera on the tail so thought they had better put in a quick loop just to show off for the camera. It would be good to see the coverage. Craig then took a launch in GG to the hills and flew back also. The wave had stopped working by the time Alex and I took off in NP and we towed back behind CIG.
It was an awesome wave day with lift everywhere. What really stands out about yesterday was how close the wave was to the eastern side of the hills and how easy it is to get into from this side. On Saturday morning Brian Lee and I released onto the ridge at 4500 ft and there wasn't even enough wind to ridge soar. We dived over the back and got straight into weak wave and spent 1 hour 50 minutes crusing up and down at about 5000 ft and Ross Perry and Liam showed how easy you can get back again so when we get a westerly with a high cloud base it would be great for the boys to get into the wave from this side a bit more often.
The weekend was an oustanding success with over 50 flights for the 3 days. A big thanks to everyone who helped out over the weekend.
I went to bed early on Friday evening with the chance of flying at Foxton the next day being more remote than the prospect of a Turbos win against Wellington. Saturday 6:30am and the alarm went off loudly in the bedroom. Saturday 6:32am. and with a well directed elbow smashing me between the shoulders blades I was awoken to the sound of "are you going to turn that bloody thing off?” and to the sound of a loud alarm clock going off in the background.
What a day. Clear views through to Kapiti in the south and Mt Ruapehu whitening the skyline to the north. Crikey, it seemed the Turbos may be in with a shot after all. One quick coffee, followed by three more quick coffees and I was off to meet Al at Taonui. Hitched up DG and SA and we hit the road. Al not wanting wayward giveway signs jumping out at us, took the lead, advising on danger sign locations. Of course Al new a short cut and disappeared down his "quicker" route while I choose a more conventional tried and tested path. 15 minutes later, as Al pulled onto the Foxton straights 3 minutes behind me; I had won my first dozen beers for the day. On a practical note once you get through 107kph GSA's trailer starts behaving itself and tracks a little better than the wild weaving experienced at between 100-107kph. (joke)
GSA was soon rigged with Ross Perry’s help and Al set about plying his trade. Meanwhile, soon after 10am, Ross Anderson and Bryan Li were towed up by Stuart Anderson in CIG. More than a crew to help them into the air, Ian Rowe, Ron Sanders and Bill Dewar. Apologies if I left anyone out there. Bryan at the controls of his first Cross country aerotow took NP overhead Foxton where Ross Anderson did what he does best! The Foxton crowd were all eyes skyward as he treated them to a fantastic demo of NP capabilities.
By about 10:30am Al and I were shrugging off winter woollies and donning sun hats. Al managed to sell two flights in quick succession. One to a person that didn't even want to sit in the static display! He bet her $1 she'd be comfortable in it. After 15 minutes of what can only be described wizardry in salesmanship he had her in his wagon and was off to the field. Another punter, of Anderson proportions, was having trouble fitting his masculine frame into GSA. Quick as a fox Al offered to take his wallet off him to create more room! Not sure he got a sale on that one but his Harry Potter magic had a couple more in the bag by the end of the day.
Anyhow, two trial flights in the air by 12 was not looking too bad. Sadly only one more got into the air by the end of the day. On a brighter note, two (maybe three) more bought Trial flights for redemption at Feilding. I would estimate that there was easily 1000 less people at the event this year than last.
Out at the field there was a lot more action. Bryan Li took to the skies like an Albatross. In fact he probably spent more time in that air than on the ground! After a check flight with Ross Perry he was away and completed his first solo; for the second time. For those who don't know Bryan already holds his CPL. On behalf of the Club Bryan, well done and congratulations. We look forward to seeing you crack that GQP before you return home. A couple of familiar faces from Wellington arrived and flew, Mike Thornbury, J Downer and a friend of Bill Dewar's, Ross, all had flights. My brother in law, Luke Turner, from Wellington took the last tow of the day and is hooked! Living in Wellington I think we may have to charge Paraparaumu a finder’s fee if he takes up gliding. He went home this afternoon having cleaned out my house, much to my wife’s satisfaction, of any reading material remotely associated with gliding. The filthy look I got from his wife as they drove away was priceless.
Running the ground operations as efficiently as ever was Ian Rowe. In support Jim Ennis and Ozzie ensured the gliders were turned around in quick time. Thanks guys your input and effort, as always, is greatly appreciated. Thank you Ross A, Mike Thornbury and Jim for packing up GSA at the end of the day so that I could spend time with my family. Much appreciated.
Due to the impending weather it was decided to ferry NP back to Taonui along with GSA. Sundays flying was cancelled; and rightly so as it turned out. I hope those that stayed on at Ross Perry’s house enjoyed their evening.
All in all it was a fantastic day. Including the 2 Ferry flights we had 16 tows. Not bad for a late winters day flying, and blow me if the Turbos didn't go and win as well.
Launching in NP just after lunch to 2500ft above Feilding I was comfortable in the ample lift that was about. Cloud hopping I was able to get to 2700, down to 1800 and back up to 2700 no problems. At 2700 above central Feilding I spotted the DG near or under a couple of dark flat bottomed clouds north of Feilding above Colyton Road.
"Sweet. I'll shoot over there and pick up under them. Plenty of blue sky between me and them, risky, but the clouds look promising so shouldn't be too difficult to get my lost height back." I put the nose down and headed off.
Reaching the clouds at Colyton road at 2000ft, only to watch the DG head off North West and away from the cloud! "Hmmmmm." I sauntered around under the cloud knowing that I'd find the lift soon enough, A couple of promising bumps and I was into a turn, a 2nd turn, getting the lift but soon dropping off it, a third wider turn, with the vairo now screaming at me that I was paddling up stream in a barbed wire canoe! Coming out of that turn and straightening up toward the field I was at 1600 ft. (Google told me later I was just over 5 ks from home.) Between me and Taonui was nothing but blue sky and the sink that I'd flown through to get where I was in the first place! A quick check to make sure my thumb wasn't on the radio button to ensure my expletive wasn't heard by everyone. I weighed up my options, quickly coming to grips with the fact that if I didn't get lift on the way home my first outlanding was inevitable.
Patrick Frame in GNP makes it home for tea and medals ..... this time!
I decided to head to North Feilding hoping to pick up lift either over the town or just to the west over the river beds and orchards near there; all the while looking to the South West eyeing up paddocks as I approached town. I spotted a group of 6 odd dairy paddocks in a row with a few other options around them. Above North Feilding at 1100ft(agl). A quick turn in some lift, and straight out again heading toward my paddocks. While I had the sense of mind I did prelanding checks here. No idea what the height was then as I didn't refer to the altimeter again, no need really. From there it was pretty much autopilot. Brakes out now and into a final glide? Nope, still plenty of height, do a circuit. Coming across the river I hit some lift, tempting to say the least but I'd committed to landing and any fooling around there would have had me committed to a direct landing with no circuit. I'd chosen the centre paddock of a group of 5 or 6. If my circuit was too wide I'd land in a closer one, too tight and I'd land in one further away. Into my circuit with a beaut limestone track as an indicator of the boundary I came onto final with a good hand full of brake. Coming across the boundary I watched in horror as the ground drifted away from me! I knew I had a fistful of brake and still in the distance the ground was moving away! The paddock was gently sloping down; 2/3's the way down it leveled out! I knew I couldn't afford to float even slightly and would have to push poor old NP into the dirt. My handful of brake then became every millimeter of leverage I had. A solid thump and I was on terra firma and thankfully stayed there as I rolled to a bumpy stop.
So that was it in a nut shell. Poor decision making followed by 10 minutes of heart pumping adrenalin fueled aviating and thankfully, due to great instructors, good decision making. An awesome learning experience in so many aspects of soaring. Till next time.....