Tag Archives: oz2011

400km

The last few days have  been pretty good here at Lake Keepit, and two days ago I looked at the Blipmaps and decided to try for at least 400km out&return. The forecast was quite good, not much wind, and strong lift.

Late afternoon sky towards Manilla
Late afternoon sky towards Manilla

I took off before 12:00 and spent a few thermals getting over the flats and on to the ridge over Mt Borah. From there it started getting better, but the day did not turn on as early or good as forecasted. The cloudbase stayed low(ish) at around 6500-7000 feet all the way up past Bingara, but as I passed Warialda the cloudbase got up to 7500-8000 feet, and the lift was better.

Close to North Star, 200 km done, time to turn back
Close to North Star, 200 km done, time to turn back

The skies towards Goondiwindi and Queensland looked fantastic, and it was hard to turn back at 200km, but the clock was passing 15:00 and I wanted to be on final glide before 17:00.

Getting back was slower than I thought, as I had to pass through a few blue holes and stopped in a few weak thermals wasting time to stay high, but I made it back with altitude to burn, and in retrospect I could probably safely have stretched it to 500km, but 400 is not bad for my first real XC attempt in a Sailplane :-)

Over Bingara, clouds are thinning out
Over Bingara, clouds are thinning out

Yesterday Thomas (Tugpilot here during the week), and I set a 321Km FAI triangle task. The forecast was for a totally blue day, and weak southerly winds. I got off early and flew over Borah to Split Rock dam that was the first TP. I waited for Thomas under the clouds there for a while, but he had defect batteries and radio communications were not very good.

Thomas in front of his office
Thomas in front of his office

We met up before the second TP at Narrabri, but soon split up again as we could not talk and the FLARM from my LS6 was sent away for repairs. Going south from Narrabri over the plains I wanted to get back to the ridgeline and better clouds, but saw Thomas on the edge of the Pillagra scrub forest and followed him to the flatlands.

The Pillagra scub forest, it dissappears over the horizont
The Pillagra scub forest, it disappears over the horizon, around 100km wide.

By now I was having a very upset stomach, probably from some dodgy noodle dinner we ate at Tamworth the night before. I was in pain and really needed to get on the ground and to a toilet. I made one last attempt to fly on after getting high on the Kelvins ridge, but in the end I gave up, turned around from 8000 feet and dived for home with air brakes out.

Today is a somewhat forced rest day as I had to share the LS6 with another pilot here visiting from the UK. The next few days should be OK, but probably not 500km weather. I will fly tomorrow and maybe Tuesday before going to Sydney to fly home to Oslo on Wednesday.

Flying gliders at Lake Keepit

After packing up at Forbes I got into Lars Olav’s old moyesmobile and drove the 6 hours to Lake Keepit to get more airtime in gliders. I had the first day to get checked out again since it’s been a while since I flew gliders, and preparing to fly some XC. I needed a few flights to get my glide angles readjusted from hanggliders to a sailplane.

The weather’s been OK, not super good, but very flyable every day. Yesterday I set my first task, a 300km FAI triangle to Bingara, Narrabri and back to Keepit. I was a bit late to grab a parachute from the club store, and someone else had the one I normally fly with, so I took one that was made to sit on. When I sat down in the plane to get a tow I found my position strange and a bit uncomfortable, but I decided to fly anyway since the day was turning on and I wanted to be in the air. I tried to make some adjustments to the parachute in the air, but that is quite hard since I’m sitting on it in the cramped cockpit, and after taking the start and flying to Mt. Borah I had to go back as my back and neck was starting to cramp after only 15 minutes flying. I did a fast glide back, landed, got another better chute, and towed up again into an OK thermal.

By the time I was back south of Barraba the predicted storms had started to develop over Bingara, and there was shade and a big blue hole. I stayed in weak lift just south of Barraba waiting to see if it would clear, but the storm did not move and I did not risk flying into the shade for the next 50km to get the TP. I flew around enjoying the good lift and nice air, and went back to land at 17:30.

Today I took a break from flying, the weather was nice and very flyable, but with a high probability of storms. As I write this at 16:30 the rain is pouring down, with thunder and lightning every minute. Tomorrow looks better on the blipmaps, and I will probably retry the 300km task.

Forbes 2011, day 8

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.

Packing up inside the start cylinder, windy and grey
Packing up inside the start cylinder, windy and grey

Forbes 2011, Day 6 and 7.

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.

Forbes 2011, Day 4 and 5

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!

Forbes 2011 – Day 3

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.