So another Nordic flying season comes to an end, I even got to have one memorable (and personal best XC open distance) flight in Norway from Espesetra to Hamar, in between cancelled competition tasks and generally unpredictable weather.
I got to fly in Australia in January, Italy in April, Norway in May, July, and August, Germany in August, and Arizona in September.
The flatlands in Germany were pretty good, almost like Australian flying.
The Norwegian season end meet at Tronfjell was really nice local flying in blue and weak conditions with over 50 other pilots.
So it’s all over, flying muscles are sore, but I wish we could start all over again tomorrow. We had a great time in the sky and on the ground, thanks to Vicki, Moyes, tugpilots, all the voulenteers and all pilots and crew, you made it all possible, what a great comp it was!
Another day with chance of storms and stopped task, but it turned out good in the end as the storms stayed just far enough away for us to complete the short task.
I broke a weaklink towing, and had to land an get another tow, I then found very weak lift and could not get up in time for the first start, so I had to take the second with a small gaggle. From there it was an OK run until goal where I had a 12:1 final glide into headwind, but hit very strong lift on the way in and passed goal at 1200m.
Difficult to predict the weather in the morning, and the first triangle task was changed due to much more wind than forecasted. We got a dogleg task south-west of 158km.
I got a OK start taking the first gate, and flew in a gaggle with Atilla, Gerolf and a few others. I did not see either of the Olav’s or Thomas all day in the air.
The skies soon started to look ugly, and we got rain and thunderstorms building to our east, while we could easily escape to the west where the skies were nicer looking. At the turnpoint I could see it overdeveloping on both sides of the track so that left no good escape routes if it did overdevelop quickly. I decided it was unsafe to continue and circled down to land at the TP. The safety committee stopped the task just then. While some pilots flew on towards goal, most landed at the TP.
Day 4 and 5 were cancelled due to bad weather, we had lots of rainfall soaking the ground, and that made conditions a bit slower than previous days.
The task was 250km heading west, with 2 turnpoints to keep us out of the worst bush without roads. Very little winds, and low cloudbase at the start of the task.
I got OK conditions in the startgate, hanging out for one hour under 1700m cloudbase, but after taking the second start we took a few long glides into extremely weak lift where I lost Olav Olsen and the main gaggle after a few thermals. I then flew mostly alone for the rest of the task, catching up with some pilots now and then, but we could not get a good gaggle forming, so it was way to slow.
After 150km it seemed we would run out of daylight before reaching goal, but late in the day the cloudbase started rising up to 2700m and thermals were a bit better formed. The last 80 km I could hop from cloud to cloud and had a slow 12:1 final glide.
I flew for 7 hours, and after a long drive home without any food on the way it was good to lie down in bed.
Olav Olsen did a really good flight and came in 4. place, great effort on such a difficult day.
We get a rest day today, the weather has turned ugly with a trough and associated thunderstorms passing over us today. It was windy from the morning and building clouds already at 8:30.
The dustdevil that tricked me on day 2, this photo is at around 1300meters, and that dustdevil is 4-500 meters high, so it should have been very strong lift in that area, I probably just could not find the core, it was turbulent enough!
We woke up to blue skies, but quite windy conditions. The forecast was for winds to die down during the day, but strong chance of overdevelopment near Forbes. So the task was set to take us away from the bad weather, 185km.
I took the first startgate at 13:45 to get away from the building weather and rain, and had a very good run all the way to 35km from goal, where I was out in front in a very good position for a fast final glide, I just needed one more thermal. I spotted and went 4-5km 90 degrees of the courseline aiming for a large dustdevil that I was sure would give me the last strong thermal I needed to get fast to goal. But it was not to be, it was just weak lift and I had to take a 1-2m/s thermal from 1200m to 3000m, loosing a lot of time. Too bad, had it worked I would have been very fast.
Olav and Olav were just before me in goal, while Thomas took a day off. Zack smoked the course and were the fastest by a good margin. We were hit by major weather on the way home, a massive gustfront almost ripped the gliders off the roof of the car.
Newyears day, and first task of 145km via two turnpoints to Manildra north east of forbes. We got good conditions, mostly blue but some clouds towards the end of the tast.
After hanging out in the start circle I took the second start gate, but “my” gaggle wanted to hang back in weak lift for 2-3 minutes after the clock, so I had to go back again to not go alone. After that it was an OK flight all the way to Goal, but I had to take a slower thermal and lost some time between the first and second TP. After a skinny final glide into headwind I got in to 8. place.
Olav Opsanger, Olav Lien and me made goal, Thomas had to land after around 75km. A good day for the Norwegian team with 2, 4, and 8. place.
I landed in Sydney at around 07:10 yesterday, met with Thomas who had some problems getting his glider through customs, and helped him to get all that sorted and loaded so we could drive to Forbes.
We met the rest of the team there, Olav Opsanger, Olav Lien Olsen, and Kurt Opseth, who had arrived the day before and had a nice day of flying while we were driving.
It’s around 28 degrees here, which is nice and cool for mid-summer Forbes, with blue skies and almost no wind today. I got my new glider set up and had the first flight today. Glider goes great, handles like a dream, it’s by far the best hangglider I’ve ever flown! I also had new harness from Skyline, which was perfect as always. Only problem today was a leaky camelback, so it was a bit cold with 2 liters of water running down my back at 2000 meters.
Today was official practice day, with a 100km triangle, but since this was my first flight with new gear I stayed locally and just enjoyed the air. Only Olav Lien flew the full practice task from our team, and he came back quite late so it may have been difficult and slow at times.
The last day, and finally I get the glider going straight, and my GoPro started working again after playing dead for a week. Wohoo!
The task was a triangle of 102km, going southwest and then northeast away from the potential overdevelopment over the hills and near goal. We got lots of dustdevils on the ground while setting up, so it felt like a more unstable day than earlier in the week. I had an uneventful tow behind Bobby in the tug, and got a slow climb just in time to take the first start. Thermalling up we could see overdevelopment around us, and there was rain and shade moving towards the first turnpoint.
I took the first start with most pilots, and we did a fast glide towards the first TP to try and get there before the rain, but it turned out to be too late as the rain moved in, and we stopped to wait in some weak lift over Casa Grange mountain. It was really nice to be able to glide straight again without fighting the glider, my glide ratio improved a lot the last day! :-)
As there were some small spots of sun we tried to slowly go towards the TP and find some lift, I was in a gaggle with Chris Arai, Larry Bunner, Joe Bostik, Mitch and a few more, and spent some time drifting towards Eloy airport which is a very busy parachute dropzone, so it was not the best place to hang out above deployment height for the parachutists.
We did not get much lift on the way to the TP as it was shaded and some rain in the air, so it became a slow glide to the ground as the few sunny spots were too short lived to give us any lift. I saw lots of gliders on the ground at the TP, and turned around for the sun as directly as possible after taking the TP. There was no lift, so we all landed one by one. I was the highest in the last thermal, so I got the furthest from our gaggle, just beaten with 1,1km by Michael Bilyk who had been in front of us, so I got 2. place on the day score and moved back up a few spots in the toal.
Everyone landed pretty much at the same time, which was good as there was gustfronts moving through the takeoff/goal are as well as on courseline towards the second TP.
All in all this was a great competition, I had a great time both in the air and on the ground. Its a super nice and relaxed spot to fly, and making it back to goal where you park the glider overnight and just walk 10 meters to jump into the pool is just unbeatable.
Thanks to our team with driver, Moyes and Kraig for great support, tugpilots, and Jamie and all her crew for organizing it. I’ll be back next year!