Lake Keepit, flying gliders

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.

Do NOT drive this route at night!

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.

Cruisin’ around the blue skies over Keepit, swearing at the Oudie that seems to be suffering Amnesia of all data I try to give it.

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.

Looking down at one of the open pit mines north of Gunnedah, not the prettiest sight…

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.

Storm approaching from the first TP on Saturday.

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.