Forbes Flatlands 2018, day 7

Since I was first to tow I got to spend almost 2 hours in the air over the airport before the start of the task. I grouped up with Olav, Attila, Ollie, Tyler, and a few others, and we stuck around for the second start gate, 20 minutes behind the main gaggle.

We had a good run towards the first TP, but lost contact with Attila and Ollie around the first TP. After that we went on a long glide towards the second TP and got very low in shit air. We lost maybe 10 minutes slowly getting up there and, and when we got up there and glided to the second TP we were catching up with the earlier starters.

We went on a final glide at around 8:1 glide, and I took it easy with a conservative slow glide. We made good speed on the task, but without the leading points from the first start gate it was still a little to slow. That low save cost us a lot of points.

It was very nice to have a day where things work out without major mishaps. Olav and me flew together the whole flight.

At goal day 7

Forbes Flatlands 2018, day 6

Blue and windy conditions on day 6, late briefing and start due to the long task the day before, many pilots were not home until 4am. The task was 144km dogleg via Tomingley to Wellington, first downwind then crosswind.

Again there was no time for us back in the line to get up to take the first start, the first start clock passed as I lifted off the dolly on tow. The yellow tug I towed behind was misfiring and spitting black smoke while towing, I was a bit worried but hung on as I did not want a retow , it would be way to late.

At around 300m the tug stopped, I thought it just hit some sink at first and I dived down to stay in position, but soon there was some frantic waving from the pilot and I realized what happened and released. It was a major struggle to get up from that low, drifting away from the airport I found a few other pilots at the edge of the start circle as we took the third start clock 30 min after the main field.

From there I was alone again, and had 3 low saves with my harness open ready to land. I did get up again and found a nice 4 m/s lift just before the first TP and got to almost 2300m. Taking the TP and heading into crosswind it was quite late and I only found a couple of weak thermals and then had to glide downwind again to stay over landable terrain. I decked it around 40km from goal in the same paddock as Noma, and Olav was just a few km back so retrieve was quick and easy.

Outlanding day 6

Forbes Flatlands, Day 5, (k)not to be.

I could not fly yesterday, we had some logistical problems after the car broke down, and I did not get the retrieve seat I thought I would due to communications problems. I was ditched in our house, and spent the day there, bummer.

Since I scored 0 yesterday I was way back in the towing order today, I got a retrieve organized thanks to Sasha, and we got early out in the field to be ready in time for the long task.

Towing was way to slow for the long task, and I was still on the ground when the first start gate opened. I got a looong tow in sinking air, it took twice as long as normal to get up to release altitude and we still towed for 200 more meters without finding any usable thermal. During the tow I felt one of my harness zipper lines had come loose on takeoff, and was slapping against my thigh, I did not worry about it as it was the left one that I use to close the harness, and it is short and could not catch or wrap itself around anything. I did not want to take my hands of the speedbar while towing.

I released in a weak thermal, that died quickly, and glided downwind to search for another. As I was gliding I tried to close my harness, but felt something sticking and I could not get the zipper more than 10cm closed, it felt like a shoelace had jammed. I soon hit a new rough thermal and concentrated on getting up, the zipper could wait until I was higher.

I got up to 1800m and started to work the zipper problem again as the thermal got a bit weaker and wider. I could see there was nothing stuck in the zipper, and I could open it fully, but it jammed after 10cm every time. I know from experience it’s not realistic to fly a long flight with the harness open, so this was a major issue.

I tried standing up in the basebar to reach down and drag up the zipper manually, and try to find the problem, but it’s not easy in rowdy air to keep control and reach inside the harness boot. I could not find the problem and gave up standing in the basebar after a few scary loss of control moments in the thermal.

I had to land to fix the problem, but I had now drifted quite far away from the airport, and it was getting late. I took a weak lift and glided 15km back to the airport in strong headwinds, I arrived with some height to spare, and struggled to get down in the thermals kicking off the field (As usual when you don’t need them). By the time I was down the tugs were in the hangar, and it was getting too late to attempt the task.

The problem was that the handle to close the zipper had been flying in circles during the tow,  creating a massive twist in the zipper line inside the harness, so much that it wrapped around itself creating a loose knot. When I first tried to close the zipper I tightened this knot without realizing it, and the more I pulled the worse it stuck, preventing the rope from sliding through the pulley in the boot of the harness. I checked that it worked before takeoff as part of my pre-flight, so this was a new issue for me.

So the best day, world record longest task, cracking conditions, good chance to do a new personal best, and this happens. If I was superstitious I’d say I was cursed in this competition. At least I do not have to do the 6+ hours retrieve drive back from Manilla tonight.

Forbes Flatlands 2018, day 3, bloody eagles, outlanding, roostrike

Forbes Flatlands 2018, day 3, bloody eagles, outlanding, roostrike

Day 3 saw good flying conditions with fairly light winds and blue skies. We got a 176km task towards the south via two turnpoints, and first start at 13:30. I had a OK start with most of the field taking the second start time.

After a round 50km we stopped over a small ridge, where I lost the first thermal and had to search around a bit for the core, just as I found it and started climbing again I felt something hit my glider, and of course it was an eagle that was attacking me again and again. I tried all the tricks to scare him off, or at least avoid getting hit again, but I had to glide off to avoid damage to my glider.

I then had to take some weak lift and struggled for a while loosing contact with the gaggle and ended up flying the rest of the day on my own. I had to take it easy in the blue conditions, and ran out of day in the end landing around 18:00 20km from goal.

The retrieve was quick, and we stopped in Young for pizza, before heading back to Forbes. On the way there two kangaroos jumped out in the road just in front of us, and we could not avoid hitting one of them. The car radiator was damaged, luckily we got some help on the way from other pilots who took our gliders and gear, and a local farmer who stopped by set out some water for us in his driveway 12km ahead. So we managed to get home by refilling with water and taking it slow.  We do need a new car though, and that is not easy on newyears day when everything is closed.


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