More smoke and flatlands

The forecast for task 4 was that it would be northerly and unlaunchable at the Pines. But when we got there it was fine, and quite good conditions. We got a long one way task of 160 km, as the next day would surely not be flyable with strong northerly. I’m back on my old Brauniger/Garmin 12 combo as the display of my Galileo have failed.

I found it hard going from the start gate, the smoke was really bad and visibility almost none. I feels like being inside a cloud all the time, the ground barely visible from 1000 meters and up, impossible to spot other gliders ahead. I got the lowest save so far just outside Warangaratta, I was searching an area where the air felt good but nothing was kicking off. It was looking bad, and i was trying in all corners of the field over the treelines and shouting at the sheep to make them run and maybe set off some movement of the air – Nothing. I opened my harness, set up for landing, and just as I’m straightening up for landing I hit something. I’m below the trees, but it’s a huge field and plenty of room so I do a few turns keeping between 20 and 50 meters, until it kicks off and I slowly get back up to 400 meters. I then could search around a bit to find the core, with got me back up to 2100 meters. Gliding across some small hills near a lake i get hammered in sink again, something big must have gone up nearby, and I’m falling out of the sky with -9 m/s on the averager for a long time. (At least it feels that way with such strong sink) It looks like I’m ending up in the trees for a while, but the sink slows down to “only” -4 m/s and I get out over some fields and farms. The area is dead, nothing going up and I land on a farm. The farmer’s really friendly and invites me in and supplies a cold coke while I wait for Else Britt to pick me up. Only 40 something km on a 160 km day, bomb out again. Olav does really well and gets 19. place 43 km from goal. Gordon in goal. We get back around midnight.

Yesterday the Pines was still on, the forecasted northerly did not come through until very late in the day. The task is 119 km out and return, almost no wind. I did not get drawn for the alternate, and launch quite late, conditions around the hill were quite slow for most people throughout the day, the high pressure and smoke making it’s impact. I meet up with Olav inside the start circle, and get back up to 1500 meters in some broke lift, Olav a few hundred below me. I spot a gaggle of 20 gliders and join them for the first glide out. 10 pilots land below me before I find a weak thermal at 700 meters, we all climb up to 1000 meters before it stops. The next glide is a killer, 8 more of us land, but I’m highest and manage to get maybe 50 meters of some turbulence. I glide low over some huge power lines, and finally find a 2 m/s thermal that take me back to 1500 meters. My GPS batteries have failed, they were charged, but I can only turn on the GPS and have a fix for 10 seconds before it switches off again. My backup is on and in my harness, but I cannot take it out as the datalogger is connected to the backup and might fall out. As I glide along in the direction I think is towards the TP I suddenly spot another glider circling up, joining in the thermal several more gliders materialize out of the smoke. Seems like I was not too far off the course line. These guys are being a little to slow for me, the day is running out, and I glide off together with a German on a Climax when the thermal starts slowing down in the inversion. After we got low over some hills 20 km from the TP we mark the thermal for the main gaggle coming back. It’s a lot easier getting up when there’s 20 odd gliders to mark the best parts of the lift. I spot Davis and John Jr below me, too bad I’m heading the other way. I get over the area where I think the TP is, and find a good thermal getting back to 1850 meters. I turn on the GPS again and find that the thermal actually was directly over the TP, and I’m inside the 400 meter circle. The clock is now 18:00 and I suspect the day is shutting down. Alberto and Chris Muller is below me on the glide from the TP and we work some weak lift but not gaining much. I land with Alberto 35 km from goal at 18:35. Nice flight, and as Alberto said “When you land at 18:30 on a blue day the job is done”

It’s good to get back into flying shape again, it’s only the last few tasks that I can say the “feeling” is back. I’m not struggling to keep the glider going straight, I can get back up from low again, and gaggle flying is not as scary as the first days. Matrix harness is pretty good, tilt is a little harder than the M2 I had, but with the right technique it’s quite nice because it does not move in turbulent air. I hook directly into the glider with a bolt through the dingle dangle, so the position is perfect.

The glider seems to be good except for the fiberglass tips that are too soft. They bend in the heat and makes it important to set them back in the same position every time so that the glider goes straight. Moyes have promised to send out a new batch to Hay. Otherwise the glider seems good. Plenty of bar pressure as the sail sets on the frame, and I will make some adjustments to have less high siding before we go to Hay.

Today the northerly came, and we have nowhere to take off as the fires are still burning on Buffalo. Might be better tomorrow, at least the smoke will be pushed away and the air clear again.