Thursday, December 31, 2009
I had been looking ahead at the weather and found Wednesday, Dec 30 to be a very promising day. As everything in Australia is upside down so is predicting the weather. The best days seem to be before a front moves through and troughs are a sign of great soaring weather because of their instability. The area northeast of the airfield was not looking good because of the remnants of a tropical cyclone. I had a goal of flying west to the Grampian ranges and figured this would be the perfect day to do so. I worked out a 761.4km FAI traingle of the Grampians airport then Myall. I got the club Mosquito watered up early and got flying at 10:30am. The start was tough but I had a slight tail wind to help. It was blue until 200km out and took about 3 hours to fly. When I connected with the clouds I soon got to 10,000ft and the flight became much more comfortable. The next 250kms were much quicker but after turning the Grampians I was going directly into a 12-16 knot headwind. With another 100km to go on my second leg the clouds ended and I was forced to go back into the blue for the rest of the flight. Getting to Myall in the blue I had to take some weaker climbs but I was still getting to around 8500ft. I reached the turnpoint at 5:30pm and still had 200km to go. In Australia on a good day you can expect thermals to be going to at least 7:30pm. I figured I could get back easily if I kept on getting the climbs I was getting. Unfortunately I was not getting the climbs I was expecting and had a real struggle getting back. There was a slight headwind which made things even more difficult. At 7:15pm I got my last climb of 2 knots to 6000ft 85kms out. I flew at 60 knots to try to get as close as possible to home. Dookie hill was on my way home and I figured it would be my last chance of getting another climb. It was too late though and I had a nice paddock picked out so I landed. I may have been able to stretch the flight another 5kms or so but I did not think it was worth it. I landed at 8:15pm, nine and a half hours and 725kms after taking off. My crew already had the trailer hooked up and I was home by 10:30pm. I was very happy with the flight even though I did not finish my task. I took some pictures but they did not turn out that well.
OLC Flight Info
A number of people have been asking me why I am flying out of Benalla instead of Corowa. I did come to Australia to tow for Corowa but things did not work out there. I am now staying at Benalla doing some soaring. The Benalla club is very friendly and welcoming. I highly recommend Benalla to all those who want to enjoy a soaring vacation.