The Dragonfly for Hanggliders, and Pawnee for gliders. Photo from last flights of the season, late October with cold but nice weather.
Today’s weapon of choice, Discus 2b, and a lazy 190km flight under beautiful active clouds.
After the days flying at Rainbow Beach I headed back south to Lake Keepit to fly XC in a glider again. I drove from Rainbow Beach just before noon and had a quick stop at Canungra to deliver gliders and gear back at Ollie’s place. The 6+ hours drive from Canungra to Lake Keepit meant that I would be driving at night when the kangaroos come out. I was aware that it would be risky, but I was not prepared for the infestation of kangaroos along the roads. I drove the shortest route via Texas – Warialda and down through Manilla, but in retrospect going the New England Highway through Armidale and Tamworth would probably have been better.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I saw thousands of kangaroos on that drive. It was like driving through a slaughterhouse in some places where dead kangaroos littered the road every tens of meters. I slowed down to walking speed at some stages, and even then I could not avoid hitting roo’s that jumped out in front of the car. I hit 5 or 6 kangaroos, most at walking speed or less, so they did no damage and the kangaroo just jumped off again. But a big roo jumped out from behind a tree and landed in the grill of the car, damaging the grille and bonnet. I hope I never have to drive those roads again at night, it was insane. The locals said it was especially bad this year due to the dry conditions, as the only place the kangaroos find a little green grass is along the road and they flock there every night. It’s been extremely little rain in the area the last years, the Lake Keepit dam is down to under 1% of it’s capacity, it looks like the surface of the moon in places.
Having arrived late night/early morning at Keepit I got a few hours sleep and then prepared paperwork, and took the check-flight and so on to be able to fly the LS7 glider I had booked at Keepit.
The first few days we had some windy conditions, with gustfronts and duststorms every afternoon. Here’s a timelapse of one front arriving at the airfield.
I flew 5 days out of 7, and we had some OK conditions, but none of the classic days with high cloudbase and nice streets into the horizon that I had hoped for. The first few days I had issues with the Oudie flight computer not working as it should and I did not want to venture too far out with no glide and navigation aids, but I still had some good flying.
For the weekend I joined the Keepit GP competition, it’s a fun low-level XC competition, perfect as a first comp in gliders for me. Saturday we got very weak conditions to start with, and I had to take 4 tows to get up and away on the task, I had problems staying up, and got away way to late for the task. At the first TP we met with showers and lightning from an approaching storm, I did not want to fly into that and turned back with a few other late gliders to get to the airstrip before the gustfront came through.
Sunday and Monday we got better conditions, still some OD around us, but I finished both tasks. Saturday was a very slow day, I got stuck and had to stay in weak lift for way to long on the 300km task. Monday was a little shorter 250km task, I was still slow, but much faster than the day before. It’s a learning curve similar to flying hanggliding competitions, you never realize how efficient it’s possible to fly until you start flying competitions, it’s a steep learning experience.
All in all it was a great week of flying gliders, meeting up with old friends again and making some new. I drove from Keepit under a perfect looking sky the 8 hours drive up to Brisbane on Tuesday, and I saw some great flights were logged on OLC that day, including Tomas Suchanek flying over 1000km OLC flight from Narromine.
Now I’m at Brisbane airport waiting for my flight back to Oslo, via Bangkok.
I’ve heard about this flying site on the Sunshine coast in Queensland many times, and I’ve always wanted to fly the sand dunes at the beach. When Zhenya mentioned she and Andrey wanted to go there after the competition in Forbes I was super happy to join the team. We met up in Sydney and drove around 12 hours to Gold Coast to pick up a couple of Malibus at Ollie’s place, and then spent the night at Kirsten’s house who very generously had offered us a place for the night.
The next day we headed through the rain for the 3 hours drive to Rainbow Beach, it was flyable when we arrived, and we got a nice afternoon of flying over the Carlo Sandblow. We set up some cameras on the gliders, and also took some good pictures from the ground.
The following day Kirsten and Marcin had joined us, and we hoped to fly the whole day. We carried gliders up again, it’s a 500m walk on a forest track, but we got stuck in rain the whole day and had to pack up when the sunset came.
The last day we carried up again, but the rain stopped the early flying, so we had lunch and went back up to fly when it cleared up a little. We got great conditions again, wish we got better light for photos, but some were great despite losing the good light.
Rainbow Beach is not really a traditional sand dune, but a sandblow in the ridge a hundred meters or so over the beach and sea. It’s however a great flying site with awesome toplanding and lowpass potential.
A selection of pictures and videos by Zhenya, Andrey, Kirsten and me.
When we first came to Forbes and looked at the forecast, it did not look very promising at all, so I’m happy we got 4 out of 8 competition days. The training day was good, and the weather was ofcourse perfect for a comp day the day after the comp ended, with almost no winds and high cloudbase.
Totalt results are at the Forbes Flatlands website
Now I am in Sydney after delivering Olav and Crystal at the airport for their flights home, while I will stay a bit longer in Australia. The plan is to go to Rainbow beach to fly the dunes, then I will head back down to Lake Keepit and fly Sailplanes for the last week.
The last day of the comp, we got windy and blue conditions with forecasted weak lift. I needed two tows to get away, and flew the task alone most of the flight. It was a very quick 95 km flight with a good tailwind.
I got to goal with an OK time, I lost 8 minutes at the start gate due to retow, and ended up at 9. place in the total results for the comp. Quite happy with that result after no comp flying for a long time.
Windy and hot conditions, day cancelled, not safe at all. Massive duststorm came through last night. Here’s how the street outside after dinner was, the photo does not show the 40knot gusts and 43 degrees heat at 21:30… It was not a pleasant place to be outside.
Made goal, but it was slow going. Had some problems with the harness before takeoff and had to get off the dolly twice before I fixed it. Not very nice to struggle with stuff like that in 40+ degrees.
After a rowdy tow up I met up with a few other pilots and we had a good thermal or two before taking the start gate from cloudbase. I found out that my VG cleat did not lock the VG rope with any tension, I tried to clean it out from sand and dust, but no go. It was hard to fly the task with almost no VG, but I made it in the end.