Category Archives: Competitions

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.

Flatlands in the smoke

The thunderstorm that passed on the second day set off lots of fires to the areas around Mount Beauty. The Emu launch has been burning, Buffalo is on fire, and there’s a huge fire near Falls Creek just up the valley. The Corryong cup have also been threatened by the fires, last we heard the town was in danger of being evacuated. We are OK down here, but the valleys are filled with smoke, visibility is down to less than a km in some areas. It’s quite a sight at night, when you can see the flames over huge areas. I’ve got a few pictures of the fires to upload once I can get to a decent internet connection.

Our driver Carla had an accident on her motorbike. She was showing off doing wheelies, lost it on gravel, hit a ditch, and broke her leg. She is in Albury hospital after an operation to fix up the knee. Else Britt drove for us a couple of days, and two other local girls the last few days. All the drivers that are normally available are out fighting fires.

We still get to fly. All tasks so far have been off The Pines launch, which is a small 300 meter high hill near Myrtleford, 70 km drive from Mount Beauty. From there we have had task out on the flatlands, since there’s no way we can get back into the mountains with all the smoke and fire fighting aircraft around. For task 2 we all signed up for alternate launch to get off a little earlier, but that was before I knew we were to launch from such a low hill. With my luck i got drawn to be number 2 after Davis. Olav got 3 and Gordon 4. Suspicious… The task was 109 km out and return, back to the Brown Brothers airstrip. Davis was not ready so I got to get off as the first one. The conditions did not look very good as a few paragliders had all gone straight down. I waited for a while, but a pilot further back in the line started a push. Then all pilots ahead have one minute each to launch (one minute of launchable air), if you don’t launch you go to the back of the line. I took off and went to the right where I saw some of the wind dummies had found something earlier. The wind was quite string on the hill, but it was not possible to ridge soar, so i slowly lost height following the ridge. I turned, and told Olav and Gordon on the radio to try going left instead. Just over the trees in the bombout field I found some lift and managed a few turns in zero before I lost it. Landing in the bomb out I could see Gordon getting up to the left, and Olav fighting to get up in the same lift I had over the trees. I packed up, went back up and launched as one of the last one of the hill. I got to the TP and halfway back to goal before the day ended, it was quite hard with strong headwind on the last leg. I landed 33 km from Goal, Olav 26, and Gordon in Goal.

The next day was a much shorter triangle task of 65 km. After last bomb out none of us went alternate, and Olav and I got off and got up after being down on the treetops again. I made a mistake and misread my Galileo in the startgate I read the time as 15:32, we were circling up at the edge of the start circle, and thought we better get going as the day is getting late. The original plan was to hang around and go with the main gaggle. What i had seen was the timer for the start gate, showing 0:32, as the start opened at 14:30. The main gaggle had just left at 15:00, but it was impossible to see them because of the smoke.

Olav and I flew together most of the course, I glided ahead near the second TP and got away, only to get stuck low just outside the city of Warangaratta for a long time. The rest of the gaggle caught up with me and I had to glide cross and back on the course land to join up in the lift they found. I lost nearly 30 minutes there. The rest of the flight was good, the gaggle stopped to turn just before the last PT, while I went for it directly as the others would mark the lift when I went back. I got a good climb, and started on the final glide with my Galielo showing 300 meters above best speed glide. The air was really good, and I could not get down fast enough in the rough air. I passed the goal line with at least 400 meters. Olav 6-7 minutes behind. Our time was a little too slow, wish I had waited for the 15:15 startgate.

Big air in Kiewa valley

We arrived in Mount Beauty and found a great place to stay, a big house with large kitchen and apartement units. We met up with our driver Carla who drove up from Melbourne on her motorbike. After a disorganized practice day we went up to Emu and had a really nice evening flight. I took off first and found nice smooth lift, it felt claustrofobic with all the trees around takeoff, and strange to foot launch the glider. It’s a big difference from the wide open flatlands around Denni. I crossed the valley and flew around for one hour before landing on the airstrip. Quite nice to derig the glider on grass again, with a cold beer to cool down in 35 degrees.

Otto decided to leave us yesterday, he went back to Sydney to catch a flight back home. I think he got very tired, flying these comps is not exactly vacation, with dehydration, long retreives, and no food until late at night.

There’s 87 pilots in the comp here, last year it was very cramped on the take off sites with only 63 pilots. Tove is running this comp, and it seems like she let everyone who wanted in.

Yesterday the first task got underway, we went up to Emu, where the pilots got split between the two launches. The task was 119 km up the valley, and then out on the flats. Forecast was very warm, over 40 degrees, thunderstorms over the mountains and weak winds. I got off the hill after the early birds did not take off within their allocated half hour, the launch conditions were not the best with crosswind in periods. Quite a few of the first pilots got low, and a few bombed out, while others seemed to find good lift out neat the bottom of the ridges. I launched after Ron Gleason on his ATOS, we went straight into a thermal and climbed above take off. The turn direction was left, but Ron went right and messed up for both of us as I banked up more in the core and climbed up to him. I spotted a white and blue Litespeed going fast up furhter out on the ridge, and glided in over him. Wham – straight into a 5 m/s, quite rough but improving all the way up. It was a wild ride, and I had plenty of work avoiding the other cliders as everyone dived into the thermal from the area around.

I loked at the vario once more, climbing with more than 6 m/s average past 3500 meters. I left at around 3700 meters, still a long way from cloudbase as traffic became difficult with rigids and flexwing all thermaling in different directions and different cores. I was probably getting a little hypoxic as well. Gliding towards the edge of the start circle I had good air and stayed at around zero for a long time. Passing the start circle and gliding towards the Tawonga Gap I remember Tomas’s saying “The way to cross the gap is to get high and stay high”, no problemo – I’m still above 3500 meters, but not for long. I hit sink going upwind of the clouds looking for thermals, I try crossing upwind more, then cross and downwind, the ground coming up fast. I spot a few other gliders circling up ahead, but I’m falling out of the sky, getting nowhere near the glide angle I ned to get there. The air is quite rough as well, and it’s hard to keep up the speed and gliding straight. I land 26 km from the first TP near the main road, almost deaf from the pressure in my ears and shaking with andredaline. My vario shows max sink of -14.6 m/s

Looking at my tracklog when scoring I flew 14 km from 3700 meters to ground level at 300 meters. That’s 4:1 glide ratio…
It must have been waving, people were climing strong far from any clouds and each other, and also going down at fenomenal rates. Dave Sieb got to 4700 meters in strong lift.

Olav’s vario failed just after take off, and he bombed out. Gordon landed in Myrtleford, some 26 km short of goal, after having a similar expirience with strong sink as I had.

Today was cancelled with thunder and lightning at 10:30, forecast for the next days are good.

From bad to worse and then to goal. Tragedy.

Task 4 saw a great sky, cumulus streets forming all over the flats. We got a triangle task a little over 100 km, stronger that expected headwinds on the last leg would make it very difficult to make goal, and only 4 flex and 2 rigid made it, I never made it out of the start circle…

I got on one of the early tows as the conditions were great, got waved off in a weak thermal below a gaggle of pilots. The thermal got weaker and weaker, and stopped completely at 600 meters. I glided back upwind to the tow paddoc, and got a good 2 m/s just at the edge of the car tow area. I committed to drifting with that thermal from 150 meters over the ground, but lost the lift after drifting a few km and only gaining 300 meters. Now I was low and could not get back to the towing paddoc, so I glided downwind to try and find another thermal. I got something rough just 100 meters over the ground in the middle of nowhere, and drifted with this keeping between 50 and 150 meters for 5-6 km. Eventually I came over the main road and landed on the road after calling for Andrew our driver to pick me up. I derigged in a hurry, threw everything in the car and drove back to get another tow. One of the trike piots was still there and agreed to give me a tow. He dropped me off upwind of a cloudstreet where I climbed a few hundred meters and then hit megasink. I raced cross and downwind to get out of 6 m/s sink, but it was no use. On the ground again, 4 km out. I was the only one bombing out that day, just unbelivable. Gordon got within 4 km of goal, Olav and Otto around second TP.

Yesterday was totally blue, 25 km wind, 105 km task towards Hay, down/crosswind, with a 15 km headwind leg. I started off early as I had no motivation for flying fast after 2 days of bombing out. Flew for myself most of the time after the start circle, and kept between 1000 and 1300 meters most of the flight. Lost some time at the last TP where I got down to 250 meters and had to go downwind way off course to get up again. Had to stop a few times to gain more height on the final glide as well. Quite exiting for a while, my Galileo told me I was going to make it and not all the way in, I got a 3 m/s 5 km out, and gained a few hundred just to make sure I got there. Around 30 in goal, I was 23 for the day. Gordon second best score, Olav 4 km from goal, Otto around 20 from second TP.

Oleg won the comp, Paris second, Gordon third. Olav 40. I got 44. place, and Otto 46. It’s really crap to bomb out on the good days

Hikobe Junko, Japanese female pilot, was killed in a car towing accident yesterday. I knew her from the comps here the last couple of years. She locked out on tow and did not release, doctors were there at once, but sadly she died. Our sympathies to the family and friends, Hiko will be missed.

Now we drive off to Mt. Beauty for the Bogong cup, tomorrow’s practice day and then 8 more days of comp flying. I’m looking forward to it, it will be nice to see some mountains again.

Denniliquin, NSW, Australia

Short report before we head out to fly again;
2 days ago we got the second task after all the rain had passed the night before. We waited until 12 to make sure the paddoc had dried up, then we got a 3TP 120 km task to the north. Unfortunately it became overcast from the west as we were getting ready to tow up. Gordon was the first to tow and got out under the sun, the rest of us got to fly under a overcast sky, with cloudbase at 1500 meters. What a contrast to the first day. I flew reasonably well, and got within 8 km of the second TP, 80 km out. Around 20. place.

Yesterday I basically bombed out at 60 km, racing myself to the ground. I had jumped a couple of gaggles, and did good, until I became too impatient and glided off on my own. It was blue, inversion at 12-1300 meters, and weak winds from the SW. Olav got close to goal, Otto and Gordon made it.

Today looks similar, blue and almost no wind, getting quite hot.

Deniliquin, NSW, Australia

Last night we went to Echuca to see the Two Towers, it rained a little on the way back, and also rained quite a lot tonight. On briefing it was overcast and a little rain in the air. The task committee wanted to try to get a task done, a miracle could happen, so we drove out to the paddoc through more rain. Arriving there it was quite clear nobody wanted to fly in the poor conditions, while a few pilots wanted to practice towing. As long as the paddoc is reasonably dry it’s OK, but if the dust gets wet you’ll get stuck in mud.

The results are up on http://www.cool-ether.net.au/australianopen I came 22 yesterday, about 130 pilots here in all classes. Too bad we could not fly earlier in the day, I think that cloudbase was at 3800 meters, some people got to 4000 meters in the thermals. That’s the highest cloudbase I’ve ever flown under, and as we have full clearance to the gound here on the flatlands you can go a looong way with that height. I flew 79 of the 108 km task distance, if I had made the second TP at 80 km with enough altitude to drift over the tress it would be quite easy to just drift downwind into goal.

The forecast for tomorrow is bad, with storms and strong winds. After the front have passed it’s going to be great. (We hope)
Picture of towing paddoc on the training day
Paddoc on training day

Deniliquin, NSW, Australia

The practice day was pretty good, we got a few tows, but got out a little to late. I towed Gordon up first, he climbed straight out, then it switched to blowing from the back and cross. We waited, but had to give up, and moved 700 meters of towrope to the cross towing strip. Good thing the towing field is huge (Each of the 20 lanes are 2,5 km long) Eventually we could tow again, Olav got up in the last thermal, I had the rope break once, and got a few circles in zero.

Yesterday we flew the first task, after some waiting for the wind to calm down. We are in the aerotow, and there was confusion on where to set up. I had to walk my glider 300 meters in strong winds and 35 degrees to get to the right trike. The dolly stuck to the basebar on my first tow as I lifted off, at 20 meters the weaklink broke, and I had to kick and hit the dolly to have it fall off so I could land. Second tow was OK, and I got a good climb out of the paddoc with up to 4,5 meters average climb up to 3000 meters. As I started gliding my VG did not work, and I could not get the VG more then 1/4 on. That made it pretty tough to fly with loads of bar pressure.

The task was strange with a long crosswind leg against pretty strong winds. I made the first TP reasonably high, but the crosswind leg was in a blue hole, where there was lots of people on the ground already. I made it withing 2 km from the second TP, along with Gordon. Olav and Otto a few km back. 8 guys in goal, Oleg first.

Yoday was canned because of strong winds, we have been tuning gliders and making new headsets and stuff. Might be blown out tomorrow as well, it’s forecasted storms.