Two days ago we got a fairly good day with clouds and 15 kt northerly winds mixed with plenty of dustdevils. I towed up in some rough air, and my weaklink broke at around 250 meters in a strong thermal. I started climbing in the thermal, but had to avoid drifting too far downwind across the runway. I struggled staying upwind for around 20 minutes but had to come down out of the lift in the end. By the time I landed the wind had picked up a bit too much to go alone on the dolly with no groundcrew, so I parked glider in the hangar and had a nice aftenoon at the Forbes pool.
Yesterday we had a god looking sky early in the day;
But it was quite windy with strong thermals mixed in with the gusts, it would not be possible to keep the glider on the dolley. In addition we had storms building around us, so after some hanging around at the airport we decided to try some evening tows if the storms had passed by then. It was still raining in town at night, so no flying yesterday.
Today looks too windy again so far, but the RASP forecast predicts less winds in the afternoon and less potential for storms.
Had a nice flight today, starting to get the gear sorted out and getting back into the routine of flying. Some more pilots showed up to tow around noon, I was first off the ground and straight into a 3 m/s thermal. Some of the other pilots were struggling a little in the beginning, but I think they all got away in the end. I had a knot in the harness zipper line and could not close it enough to relax my legs. It’s good to sort out stuff linke this before the comp :-)
The thermal after tow, vario goes high and silent for a while :-)
It was a gray and windy day today, we got a task of 130 km direct to goal, with a forecast of 25 knots winds from the east, and slow lift. The first pilots were towed upwind and almost to cloudbase. Most came back and landed, but some stayed up over the airfield. The mood was subdued at the launch lines, but slowly pilots got ready and started to tow up into the grey skies.
I got in line and got towed up nicely in the strong winds, but soon the tugpilot turned downwind and dropped me off beyond the point of no return where I could not glide back to the airfield to retow. I was dropped off low under a gaggle of pilots slowly sinking out, and half of the pilots glided back to the airfield, while I was too low to do anything but try to stay up. I was not very happy at that point.
I found a few broken thermals kicking off the trees, but the windy conditions did not help in finding anything useful, and I had to land within the 15 km start circle. Olav got dropped off in a much better position, got up and flew the task almost to goal, he had to land 2km before goal just as a shower dumped lots of rain and wind on us. Emil and I drove to pick him up, and after some exiting driving on wet muddy farmroads we found him and managed to get out again without getting stuck.
The next comp started off yesterday after a much needed rest day, we got a 160 something task to Grong Grong (sic). It should be a OK task for the conditions, and as we started from cloudbase at first startgate I was on top and in control. Unfortunately that lasted only until the first glide when I ended up nearly landing and spending a long time getting back up again. The next glide with a few more pilots was OK, but I missed the thermal that they screamed up in and had to take shit lift to stay flying.
I was on my own for a while until Conrad came under me and we spread out to look for lift on glide. I managed to miss the next thermal too, and had to land watching Conrad thermalling up over me. As I started packing up I started to feel dizzy and a little sick, and I realized I was dehydrated and probably had been the whole flight. 1 liter of Gatorade and 2 liters of water helped, but I did not piss until I had one more liter of water in me, what a stupid mistake!
Today we got a 180km task directly west with early start, as we had a forecast of bad weather coming in from the east. We had lots of clouds coming in over us, shading the ground. I took off as one of the first, had a weaklink break just as I came out of the dolley, and had to go back for a reflight. I released downwind of the airstrip where a few other pilots were turning, but soon drifted outside of gliding range back to the airport.
My thermal died out, and very soon I was down on the treetops, desperatly hanging on to the tiniest bit of lift I could find. I spent the next hour drifting 30 km low over the trees, working broken and weak lift just to survive and stay in the air. The day slowly turned on, but I was all alone and had to take it easy and safe. I finally got to cloudbase after around 100 km, and the last 80km was quite fast in good conditions. I got a 5 m/s over a dustdevil from some dark fields.
I guess around 30 pilots in goal, Olav was there when I landed. On the drive back we met a massive thunderstorm with the gustfront picking up red sand. The forecast for the next days is not very good with more storms, wind and rain.
Day 4 saw a repeat of last years task to Grenfell, and back north via Eugowra ,160 something km, when I misread the conditions and landed at the valley NE of Grenfell. This time I told myself to not do that again. I did not listen to myself, and did it again, being in the lead with Atilla and diving to his thermal that died, I was pushing too hard. Next time I will not fly through that valley no matter how good it looks.
Day 5 saw good conditions and a long task of 318km to Hay, via a few TP to keep us out of water and close to roads. I took off early and waited for over one hour for the first start gate at 13:15. From there I took it easy and safe, had nothing to gain now in this comp, and wanted to get to goal for such a long task. Conditions were good, quite low cloudbase in the start of the day at 16-1700 meters, bit it slowly rised and I had nearly 3000 meters under the last clouds before it got blue.
I never got really low, but got stuck once around 200 km from goal and spent some time from there and the next 60-70 km to get to cloudbase again. I was alone then, but found Shedsy under a cloud at around 120 km, and we flew together until the final glide. I could see the main gaggle ahead, and slowly cought up with some of them, including Jaimie on a Litesport! The last thermal was at 19:30, I started the final glide 30 km out at 16.9:1 angle, but we got sink and it did not work out. I stopped in some good air and topped up to a 14:1 glide from 24km out, and got magic air all the way in to Hay. Olav got in a few minutes before me, and around 25 other got in. Plenty of pilots close to goal.
That was a long day in the office, and the 400+km drive home did not help on sore muscles. Emil did a good job as driver, and was waiting for us in Hay when we arrived.
Today is rest day, prizegiving and so on, before it all starts again tomorrow. Life is good!
A blue day from the morning, but we got some clouds around 10:30 and the sky was filled with nice looking cumulus while getting ready to tow up. The task was 167km with three TP, coming back to goal in Forbes. I got up nicely, and went upwind to the edge of the 10km start circle to wait for the first start at 13:30. The clouds and thermals there died off a bit and I got a 4 minutes late start, but with a few big gaggles up ahead it was not too hard to catch up again.
The run to the first and second TP was OK and I was flying fast with only a few gliders ahead of me. I went on a long glide under crappy clouds after the second TP, and got a little low coming out under the shade aiming for a nice sunny hill with a tractor working the field. The thermal was there when I came in around 400 meters over the ground, after a few turns I heard screaming and saw the biggest wedge-tailed eagle I’ve seen here. It was really agressive, screaming at me, and attacking my glider again and again while I was struggling to get up in the broken thermal.
I tried to yell back at it, and push out when it tried to attack me, but it would not leave me alone. When it started hitting my wingtip hard and I saw it had teared holes in my top-surface I had to admit defeat and glide away from the thermal in hope of finding another themal quickly. I found another bit of weak lift after a km, but the eagle was still not satisfied and kept coming at me so I had to keep gliding and get away from it.
I was low and desperate for lift now, but the last farmhouse and treeline in the sun did not work, and I had to land 10km from the last TP, swearing and cursing . Maybe there’s room for a sawed-off shotgun in my harness… I have to bring out the tape tomorrow, and tape up the sail. The same eagle also got Grant Heaney when he came after me in the same spot, he was a bit higher and managed to get away from it.
Olav did well, but landed in the same paddoc as Grant 1 km from goal, Neil Petersen is the last man on our team, he had to land near the second TP.
Looked like an OK day, but with some clouds moving in from the west. We got a short 113km task to Peak Hill, via 2 TP. I got in line and towed up in the middle of the pack. By then the cloud were shading the start area, and we could see further development to the north. I got a less than average climb in the start circle, and had to take the first start gate quite low at 1400 meters, with a group of 5-6 other pilots.
After taking a climb on the edge of the next clouds it started to rain, and we glided through some light rain to get the first TP, and then continued out to the edge of the clouds and sunny ground. Looking back I realized we had just passed under a towering CU, quickly becoming a nimbus, and within a few minutes we had the first lightning strikes just a few km away. I turned an went on a long glide to get away from the OD, it was not moving that fast, but I do not like to play with cu-nimbs.
I suspected the task would be cancelled, but I decided to fly the task at least to the last TP as that would take me away from the storm. Conditions were OK, and at the last TP I got a nice 3 m thermal so I could take a final glide back south under the shade to goal. The air was very unstable by now, and I had a hard time getting down on the glide.
Today looks OK, but there are some development already at 08:30 so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Today we saw 42 degrees at the Airport, it was much nicer to be flying in the cooler air. I flew a short 100km out&return, while Olav flew locally to check out his glider after Gerolf had been very nice and spent some time helping him out to get better handling from his RS4.
It was a very blue day, but good smooth lift up to 2200 meters, it probably went higher later in the day, I landed just before 16:00 after a nice final glide.
The forecast for the next days looks promising, with very warm days.
I picked up Olav at the airport late Monday night and we drove through pouring rain to the Blue Mountains, and slept there before doing the rest of the trip to Forbes on Tuesday morning. The weather gradually got better as we got closer to Forbes, and Olav got a flight there in really good conditions in the afternoon.
This morning I got up at 04:30 and drove back to Sydney to get my glider out of customs. That went without a hitch, and i got a rather beat up looking glider box out of the freight company warehouse. Luckily I could not see any damage when I met Steve Moyeas at the factory and unpacked it. So around 12 hours in the car today, and tomorrow lookks like a good day for XC flying. I will get up early (Which is no problem because of jetlag), and have a test flight in the morning to make sure glider is OK, and that my new harness is all good.
On the road again;
Here’s something new at the airport in Forbes, there’s standing water! Olav said the area around the airport had lots of new small lakes. It will probably dry out over the coming days, and some of hte pilots said the thermals were much smoother than earlier years.
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