Tag Archives: oz 2010

A great weekend of sailing and flying

I was at the Moyes factory last Friday to drop off a harness I brought back from Dalby. While I was there there Warren offered to take us sailing with his catamaran on Saturday to go out and meet the 16 year old Jessica Watson girl who sailed solo and unassisted around the world, and on Sunday we could go to Bill’s place at Rylestone and go flying. Great plan!

On Saturday morning Georgia and I met Warren at the Sydney fishmarket and we sailed out the harbor and across to Manly to pick up some more crew. Georgia had to get back on land at Manly as she got seasick in the rough seas. The conditions got even worse when we went out from Manly and got outside the Sydney harbor heads. We broke a rope holding the boom for the spinnaker, and it was a bit of a struggle to get the sail down before it broke. In the 3-4 meter rough waves even I got seasick for the first time in my life, while working to save and secure the spinnaker. I’ve been on boats since I was a kid, and never got close to seasick, fortunately it got better once we got back inside shelter of the south head and into the harbor.

Sydney skyline from the harbour
Sydney skyline from the water
Outside the harbour
Does not look that bad in the picture, it was very rough. Notice the Cu-nimb on the horizon.
Loads of boats
Loads of boats in the harbor

On Sunday morning Warren and I drove up to Rylestone to meet up with Bill Moyes and Steve the tugpilot, to get some towing and flying. Conditions were gray when we drove up, but got nicer during the morning and the first thermals started working just as I was ready to go. Steve gave me a great tow up to 800 meters AGL, and found some weak stuff to hang around in while conditions were improving. Once established in cloudbase at 1900 meters it was a great day.

It was cold though, I was wearing 3 layers of wool and fleece under my Skyline jacket, and still I was shaking of cold for the last half hour of the flight.

Rylestone Aerodrome
Rylestone Aerodrome

I saw 10 eagles during my hour and 20 minutes flight, always in pairs. They seemed to be accepting us flying in their territory and did not attack or seem to be aggressive, very unlike Forbes in January where they were acting like mean bastards!

Ozzie wedge-tailed eagle
Ozzie wedge-tailed eagle. They can be very mean, this was a cool one!

This eagle in the photo above wanted to play chicken with me, flying straight at me to see who would turn away first. I got it on video, the camera was fogging up a bit by then due to the cold and moist air in cloudbase. It’s still quite cool to see on the film, and seeing all those eagles really made my day! I won the chicken contest since the eagle flapped his wings and rolled away to avoid colliding.

Here’s the video, the eagle passing me is at the end.

It gets dark quickly now, at 16:30 it’s getting too dark to land, and 17:30 is pitch black. After landing and packing up we went to the pub for a few beers and food, it took a while to get the food so we had to get even more beers that what I really needed. We slept on the floor in the “terminal”, with Bill waking up every few hours and putting more wood in the stove to keep it warm inside. I’m still glad I had a “winter” sleeping bag.

The next day it was gray from the morning, and I jumped in the backseat of the tug to give Warren a few lessons, working on his landings. We spend some hours doing landings, stopping now and then to get inside and heat up in front of the fire. I did not bring my winter flying gear from home, and was wearing every piece of fleece I have here :-)

17 May and rain, nothing new. At least we could fly!
17. May and rain, nothing new there. At least we could fly!

Eventually Warren got in a few good landings without bouncing too much and I sent him off on his first solo. He did well, no parts fell off and nothing bent! The rain came around midday so I packed up and drove back to Sydney.

I will go back to Forbes next weekend if the weather is good, hope to get a few more hours of flying there before it’s time to pack up the glider and ship it home.

Manilla 2010, day 3.

The road up to Borah was fine even after the 30mm rain yesterday, so we drove up and set up on the West facing launch. Some of the paragliders launched early and stayed up, but did not get very high. We got a 94km task with two TP, where the last two legs would be headwind.

After a bit of waiting we got off in a big gaggle, I climbed out and headed for the edge of the 5 km start circle. Grant, and Niel had already started, as well as Johnny. I was 5 minutes too late for their start so I hung back with Conrad and a few others to take the next start.

It was not exactly booming conditions, and we had a bit of a struggle getting up after the first glide. I got above the pack and glided off alone to a good looking cloud, I heard Grant on the radio climbing up under that cloud, and found a weak 1 m/s climb there. From there it was another long glide towards the TP, where a few gliders were marking the next thermal. I missed the core, and had to go back a few km, but there we got the best thermal of the day with 4,5 m/s lift up to 2200 meters.

I had now caught up and passed the gaggle in front, and could only see one glider in front. It was blue and headwind to the next TP, so I headed over to a paddock that had a fire burning in it, and got a few hundred meters there before gliding to the second TP where the conditions did not look very promising.

My VG had started to jam, and I saw that the pulley in the A-frame corner was not turning, the rope was melting the pulley and generated a lot of friction. I tried to leave the VG alone, but to glide headwind it must be on otherwise I lost too much.

I took the TP quite low, at about 800 meters (~400 above ground), and went downwind to the other glider that was drifting with something but not getting high. We struggled there for a while, drifting 5-6 km back, but we could see a group of paragliders getting up about 5 km upwind of us. It was very much a hit and miss glide, but I got a good liftline and managed to find a thermal and get up to 1800 meters just behind the second TP.

From there it was around 22km glide to goal, so I tried really hard to get to cloudbase, but the lift just died out and it was completely blue towards goal. It did not look very good, I started to glide hoping to find good air. I started off with 13,7:1 glide to goal, and got some good air while high and had it down to 12,5:1. As soon as I got lower the wind got stronger, and the numbers just got worse and worse. I get some broken lift and tried to get up a few times, drifting back, but could not gain enough height. The day was shutting down and I landed 8 km from goal.

Only Johnny got to goal, I saw Scott land in front of me on the next paddock, so I got 3. place for the day.  Not too bad, but it feels much better to be in goal 

It was the first time in many years that I’ve been flying with radio, it worked out well as we all could hear only each other since we set up Tone Squelch on our radios.

Today looks like a good day again, SE winds, 75% chance of OD so we might have to fly out on the flatlands.

Manilla 2010, Day 1-2

I drove from Sydney to Manilla on Saturday night, after stopping by the Chinese new years party at Bill and Mollys place in Bronte. It was a long drive as the GPS sent me up the tourist drive road, which is a 100 km of very winding and narrow road. It’s probably very pretty in the daytime and good weather, but at night in dense fog and rain, it was a nightmare.

About halfway up the road I was stopped by another driver who said he was lost. (He said “I’m bushed” :-)) He had gone 50 km down the wrong road, since I had a GPS we could find out which road we were on, and could find the way out again. I arrived at the Imperial hotel in Manila at 01:45  and found Lars Olav sound asleep in the room.

It was windy the next day, and during briefing it was clear we would not fly the next few days. We got some really heavy rain yesterday, around 30mm according to the weather guy, so no flying. I teamed up with Dirk Barber, Niel Peterson, Grant Heaney, and we have Lars Olav as a driver.

Today looks good, but with all the rain yesterday it’s still wet on the ground and we have to wait a bit for the road to launch to dry out before we can go up. The weather looks flyable but the forecast predicts slow and low conditions with more and more cloud cover during the day.

Bogong Cup, the rest

Windy, cancelled. We flew the last day though.

I had a very good run in the beginning, we had to cross the Kiewa valley and fly over to behind Bright, then back to Kiewa and to Mt. Beauty goal. I got to 2800 meters before crossing the valley, way above the rest of the pack, and could glide further into the hills on the other side, while the gaggle got flushed down on the leeside. I knew I had a good chance of winning the day if I got high again at the TP in Bright. It was blue, but some clouds far in over the hills that I could not reach.

I expected to get a thermal at the highest peak before crossing over to Bright, but it was just zeros there. I considered waiting for the guys behind to catch up so we had a better chance of finding lift after the crossing in the blue, but I thought no guts no glory, and went alone. I knew it was risky, it would have been much safer if I could get a few hundred more meters before crossing.

No glory awaited on he other side behind Bright, I could not get up on any of the ridges and slowly fell through. I landed at the Porrepunkah airport, and I could see the main gaggle stopping and tanking height before crossing 15 minutes later. Landing out did not bother me much, it was a good flight.

So all in all a blown out comp, there was some discussion about moving it later in the year when the conditions are better, I hope they do that.

Next up now it the comp in Manilla in February. We are leaving Mt. Beauty and heading for the coast in the meantime.

Forbes 2010, day 9 and 10

We got a 167 km dogleg task to the east and then north to Wellington. The forecast was for similar conditions as day 8, with base at 3000 and good thermal, not much wind. I took the last tow again as it was just too hot to wait in line, Bobby came over and towed me up with his camera helmet on, and joined us in the thermal. He looks like a mad scientist from a movie with the hair blowing in the wind and intent look on his face while flying.

Forbes seen from over the airport in the startgate;

Forbes
Forbes

The first thermal was weak, so I left at 1200 meters gliding towards the main gaggle at the edge of the start circle, Zac came with me, and we soon found 3 m/s thermal just as the last start gate clock ticked over. We stayed for a few more turns, and got a very good start a few minutes after the main gaggle. I wanted to go over the hills, as the next glide was through the blue, and I got a good line heading for a hill with a nice cloud over it just before the turnpoint. Conrad came in under me, and we found a excellent 6 m/s thermal, smooth and strong. We got to cloudbase and joined the lead gaggle going on glide the 3 km to the TP, and then headed north towards goal.

After the next thermal we were getting out of the hilly terrain, as the courseline took us over flatlands towards goal, there was not a single cloud over the flats, and the inversion was thick as soup at 1800 meters. There were some hills to the left, about 15 km off track. Conrad, Jürg, Carl and me were thinking the same, and the four of us went 90 degrees off course staying under clouds and staying over the hills. We could see the leading gaggle gliding into the blue and not getting up, pilot after pilot landing. If we could get up to cloudbase at the end of the hills it would be a nice crosswind final to goal.

We spread out and went seaching for the thermals, but despite nice clouds, hills, and good signs of lif we just could not find it. Carl and I went over every small hill, treeline, and any trigger we could see, but finally had to realize we had lost and glided towards the only farm we could see. We had not seen a tarmac road in ages, and we were in the middle of nowhere, low and with no lift to get up. We both landed close to the farm house, and Jürg came after us landing next to me. Conrad had gone more to the left into the hills, but only got one km further.

On any other day our plan would have worked out, I think we must have just missed the lift due to the wind shifting to north, and not south as predicted. The guys who went out on the flats struggled and could not find much either. Zac made it to 2-3 km before goal.

After a long walk out we got a lift with Jamie who came looking for Carl, she drove us 25 km out to the main road, that would have been a long walk…

At briefing day 10 we were forecasted another strong day, but with a front system closing in on us in the afternoon. The last few days the pilots have been looking like zombies coming to briefing, everyone is really tired from long hard days. Davis suggested that we did not fly for safety reasons, it would be a rough day towing and landing, with so many tired pilots it would be a safety concern. The vote was split even, and the safety committee decided to cancel the day.

In retrospect that was a good choice, it’s just too warm to stay out there, and conditions were indeed rough. We soon hit 40 degrees;

IMG_2928
40 degrees in the shade...

I went out to the airport and borrowed one of the tugs from Bill Moyes to take a flight and just feel the air out if Olav and Lars wanted to freefly. It was windy and very strong conditions, probably good for a downwind task if the pilots were more rested. After I landed with the tug I parked it in the hangar, that was fortunate since a dustdevil came through the tugs that were parked outside, ripped the tiedown ropes straight off one, and totalled the tug. All in all it was a OK day to rest and stay in the pool.

Ripped ropes

Ripped tie-down ropes
Ripped tie-down ropes
Broken tailboom
Broken tailboom
More damage
More damage

Evgeniya the Russian girl was very lucky, she was packing up her glider when the dustdevil came trough, for some reason it did not get hold of her glider and it was not trashed like the tug just 10 meters away.

Tonight we have the presentation dinner, and tomorrow we drive to Sydney to have some time at the beach relaxing and letting the body get some rest from flying hanggliders. Olav will fly back home the day after tomorrow, and we will go on to the Bogong Cup.

I will get 15. place overall, not too bad, there are lots of good pilots here, and I’ve not been flying much at all since I was here last year so I think I did better than I had hoped. I made one really bad day on task 7, that kicked me out of the top 10, but I felt I was getting back into competition shape in the end. I think I’ve flown around 40 hours already, and we have had 10 days ranging from good to excellent, so it’s been a success flying wise.

Outside the flying the Forbes competition seem to have lost much of the social aspects, we did not have any BBQ or arrangements where the pilots get together. Also the organization at the airfield have not worked anywhere near as good as the first few comps here, I think the organization needs an overhaul and to get more people in to help out.