Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec 24 - Christmas Eve Flight

In the morning of Christmas Eve the sky was dark and there looked like little hope of flying.  The weather had been much the same for the past two weeks.  I rode into town on my bike to get some groceries and the traffic was back to back as you would expect on Christmas Eve.  My ride home to the airfield was tough as I had to dodge traffic and fight a 30 knot gusting 50 knot headwind.  One of the gates at the airport had lost a panel from the strong winds.  At 3pm I was contemplating watching a movie when I heard a knock at the door.  Vaughan Ruddick was there saying "let's go flying".  At first I thought he was joking but had a look up at the sky and saw it had brightened up.  We had to search for a tow pilot and thankfully Laurie came out for us.  We got going just after 4pm and the ridge was booming.  We had an easy run up north to the edge of the Palmerston control zone.  The controller asked us to hold as he had approaching heavy traffic.  The line of traffic got bigger and we had to stay in the same spot for 20 minutes.  Passing through the zone the ridge gets lower and unusable and the wind picks up.  You have to use bits of thermals and compression waves to get by.  I was happy to have Vaughan, a three time New Zealand champ flying as it was very difficult.  There are a lot of windmill farms along that stretch and we had a close look at all of them.  When we made it to the next main ridge the cloud base was lowering.  Soon Vaughan made the decision to turn around.  We had to scrape through the Palmerston control zone again but after that it was clear sailing.  We got back to the club and were going to head south towards Wellington but Vaughan noticed the wind changing off the ridges to the south.  After testing the ridge to the south Vaughan decided to call it a day.  In all it was a good flight and a nice early Christmas present.  The OLC distance was 257km and speed was 112km/h.  The speed would have been much better had we not been stopped for 20 minutes at Palmerston.
OLC Flight Info

Christmas Eve Flight

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coming to New Zealand

This winter I will be flying at the Wellington Gliding Club at Paraparaumu, New Zealand.  On my flight over I went through Vancouver and Bangkok each having a half day to look around.  On my arrival in New Zealand I had a quick stop at the Wellington Gliding Club then went down to Omarama, one of the meccas of gliding.  On my way I stopped in Blenheim to meet up with my friend Luke who I had met during Joey Glide in Australia a couple of years ago.  He works at the vineyards his parents own.  He gave me a tour around and I ended up helping him out with some of the work so we could take off and visit the aviation museum in town.  After that I traveled down to Omarama.  There was a regional contest going on there.  I ran into a few gliding friends I had previously met at different contests.  Wilson, another friend I met during Joey Glide a couple of years ago and Devin who I met in Finland during the JWGC in Finland.  I had a quick flight in one of the Twin Astirs.  It is not cheap flying in Omarama so I kept it at that.  I may go down later with some of the fellows at the Wellington club.  Afterward I went to Queenstown.  It really is a beautiful town but the downtown is extremely touristy.  I rented a bike and had a nice ride around the mountains.  Next it was back to Paraparaumu to get my power pilot license validation.  The Kapiti Aero Club which is on the same airfield as the gliding club has a Super Cub with the original 95hp Continental C-90 engine.  It was good fun to fly and I had a nice look around the area.  The paperwork for that is in the mail and my glider instructor rating is now valid.  Now the work begins.

Coming To New Zealand

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 29 & 30 - Saiplane Racing Series SOSA Edition

This past weekend The SOSA Gliding Club hosted the third installment of the new Sailplane Racing Series.  We had 15 entries ranging from beginners to the current Canadian champion and Canadian Team.  The contest began with a 10am meeting in the clubhouse on Saturday morning.  Pilots decided whether they would fly with water or not.  I decided to go without to avoid the hassle.  We were assigned a 3.5 hour modified assigned task consisting of 4 mandatory turnpoints and then we could choose where to go afterward.  I flew the assigned part at close to 100km/h but perhaps made a bad choice in the next turnpoint, Woodstock and had to scrape out of a hole.  I headed back towards the gliding club with 15 minutes of time to play with.  I looked for lift but could not find anything strong enough.  I eventually landed back at the club and finished 10 minutes under time.  Jerzy smoked everyone at 112km/h.  Despite my mistakes at the end I still finished 7th.
Day 2 started with another meeting at 10am.  The sky was going to be blue with a chance of clouds to the north.  When we launched it was very weak and I was contemplating scrapping the day.  The top of the lift picked up and it became more promising.  Later in the day we got clouds and they worked well.  I flew a very good flight without any real trouble spots.  I finished first for the day and moved up to 3rd overall.  My average climb was 4.3kts which was probably the biggest difference.
We were lucky to get two nice days of weather for the contest and all pilots seemed to enjoy themselves.  There was a lot of experience flying in the contest with the top seven pilots having represented Canada at the international level.  I would like to thank Derek Mackie and Luke Szczepaniak for organizing the Sailplane Racing Series and Luke again for scoring and CDing this weekend.
Sailplane Racing Series Website

Day 2 Route

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb 16 - Black Swan

Yesterday I was biking around Lake Benalla and saw these Black Swans.  I had seen some last year but did not get a picture.  I later heard of the "Black Swan Theory" and have wanted some photos since.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
The term black swan was a Latin expression — its oldest reference is in the poet Juvenal expression that "a good person is as rare as a black swan" ("rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno", 6.165).  It was a common expression in 16th century London as a statement that describes impossibility, deriving from the old world presumption that 'all swans must be white', because all historical records of swans reported that they had white feathers. In that context, a black swan was something that was impossible, or near impossible and could not exist. After the discovery of black swans in Western Australia during the 18th century, the term metamorphosed to connote that a perceived impossibility may later be found to exist. Taleb notes that, writing in the 19th century, John Stuart Mill used the black swan logical fallacy as a new term to identify falsification, but only drawing on a London expression.
I also saw an interesting lizard but could not get my camera out before it slithered away.  One of the nice things about Benalla is the proximity of the town.  There is a nice walking/biking trail around the main lake, a golf course and bowls club, and the supermarkets are all within a 10 minute walk of the airport.
Black Swan

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Down Time - Strep Throat

The past week has been a bit slow for me.  On Tuesday of last week I started getting a sore throat and went to the doctors on Wednesday.  The doctor diagnosed it as strep throat and put me on some penicillin.  My tonsils swelled even more the next day so much that I could not eat or drink and breathing was getting difficult.  I went to the hospital Thursday night where they took good care of me.  By Friday morning the swelling was down enough that I could eat but I had to stay in the hospital for a total of 5 nights.  I am out now but still not quite 100%.  I will be on anti-biotics for the next week.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jan 30 & 31 - Speed

Ben Loxton came up to Benalla for the weekend.  Him and I flew together a number of times last year.  Nathan Johnson was also coming Saturday night on his motorcycle.  Nathan and I flew together at JoeyGlide and the Junior Worlds in Finland.  Ben brought the VMFG LS-3 to fly.  I flew Louise's ASW-19 again on Saturday.  Our task was Ardlethan-Ravensworth, a 750km triangle.  Ben and I started at 12:45pm, a bit of a late start.  It was a struggle until we got north across the Murray river.  Cu's started to pop but we were still going into a strong headwind.  We got to Ardlethan at 4:20pm averaging about 75km/h.  We did not think we would be able to do 500km before 8pm when we expected the day to end so we headed back towards the airfield.  I did not expect my return leg to be 164km/h.  I averaged an 8 knot climb rate and had perfectly lined up cumulus all the way.  I could have flown a bit more but I was interested to see how fast I could make it home and wanted to be back to have a beer with Nathan.  Perhaps the 750km task was possible but there will be other days.  My Speed-OLC was 132km/h and tops in all of Australia.  Ben did another 170km to make 700km.  Chris flight  Ben flight
On Sunday I flew the club Mossie.  We expected another late start and most of us were waiting at the line for someone to go up and try it out.  The picture above is all of the gliders waiting to go.  There was some high cloud over the club from a convergence.  It was a trough or perhaps a mild front.  At 1pm the club ASK-21 went up for a passenger ride and came down soon after.  Jonas and I were chatting and we decided we would give it a try anyways.  I was first to launch and soon found a 5kt thermal to 5000.  I headed west along the convergence line for a bit.  On the other side I started to see cu's popping and went for them.  I connected to a 7.5kt thermal to 8700ft and did not have much trouble afterward.  Although I was getting strong climbs it was not as spectacular as I expected.  Perhaps the end of my flight on Saturday jaded me.  I flew 450km in total.  OLC flight info

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan 24 - Yannick from Champlain visits

I have had a number of guests visit here in Benalla.  Selena and Angie from Edmonton are here for a few months.  A couple weeks ago Paul Fish was here from SOSA flying the LS-4 for a week.  Doug Bremner was passing through with his daughter last week and Timo the fellow I rented a glider from in Finland is currently flying an ASG-29 here.  Yannick Burgevin from Association de vol à voile Champlain contacted me the other day saying he would be in Melbourne and would very much like to do some flying.  He came up on Sunday and since the Duo Discus and ASK-21 were taken we had a flight in the IS-28 (Lark).  Unfortunately it was not a classic Australian day but we both enjoyed it none the less.  Yannick has a blog and an entry about the flight here Vol #125: Benalla.  For those like me that have trouble with french you can translate it with Google translate
OLC flight info

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan 20 & 21 - Flying with Selena and Jonas

Selena has been asking me to fly with her and Wednesday looked like a good day.  We set out to fly The Rock-Conargo for a 500km FAI triangle.  It was blue the whole day.  Selena was flying very well in the Mosquito and I was having a tough time keeping up with her in the ASW-19.  We were not going very fast so decided to turn Tocumwal on the way back for 400km.  The run west was straight into a headwind between 10 and 15 knots.  The weather was weakening so we turned early and headed for home.  At the end of the flight over the airfield was some good looking lenticulars.  I managed to get into some wave but had to leave because I got too close to the Albury airspace.  Chris' flight Selena's flight
On Thursday we were expecting another good day.  The only temp trace we had was from the day before.  It suggested an 11 o'clock start to the day and good lift to 10,000ft.  When we took off at 11 we could barely get above 2500ft above ground.  I got very close to landing back at the field.  It was like that until almost 2pm when I met up with Jonas.  We got above 8000ft and started cruising towards Temora.  After we passed The Rock I noticed some high clouds moving in quickly.  I decided we would take the next thermal and then turn around.  It was perhaps a better idea to turn around right away.  When we got back to The Rock it was all under shadows.  There were still some spots of sun on the ground and we still got some very good climbs for a while.  Eventually the way back became completely consumed in high cloud cover.  The wind also picked up to 20 knots.  We found a few weak climbs but eventually knew we could not make it home.  I called Angie on my cellphone and asked her to organize a crew and I would call her when we landed.  We found a nice cut hay field and made safe landings.  There was some light rain and some wind gusts but nothing too drastic.  Our crews got there quickly and we stopped in Wangaratta for pizza on the way home.  Chris' flight Jonas' flight
Today the temp trace is giving a late start but showing 18,000ft.  The wind is very strong.  Some members took launches and scared themselves.  I got the glider ready and then saw a line of gliders heading back to their hangars.  I decided to do the laundry instead today.

Selena Blue, Chris Red

Jonas Blue, Chris Red

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jan 15 - Another trip to Kosciuszko

On Friday I had another flight in Louise's ASW-19.  I once again declared Temora-Hay.  On my way up to Temora I noticed that it was blue to the west towards Hay.  The forecast showed blue to the west but beyond Hay.  There was supposed to be clouds over the hills for most of the day.  I saw nice streeting going directly towards Mt. Kosciuszko so at Coolamon I changed task to the hills.  The run to Kosciuszko was good.  I stayed under cloud streets the whole way and averaged 119km/h.  To turn the peak I had to scrape in a weak thermal.  The way back started out good but getting to Mt. Beauty the lift weakened.  I dumped my water early because I was not finding much more than a couple of knots.  There was still a line of cu so I turned Lake Nillahcootie on my way back.  It was an eight hour flight and I was first to leave and last one back.  Again I am having troubles with my camera.  The picture above is Lake Dartmouth from a flight last year.

Jan 16 - Healesville

On Saturday Selena, Angie, Jonas and myself took a drive to the Healesville wildlife sanctuary.  We took the scenic route through the Goulburn and Yarra valleys.  Healesville is full of native animals including Kangaroos, Koalas, Platypus, Wallabys, Tasmanian Devils and Dingos.  There were also plenty of birds and reptiles among the exhibits.  On the way back we went through the Strathbogies.  The van we borrowed had a hard time getting back but with a bit of pushing we got back safely.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan 11 - Hot

I looked at yesterday's temp trace with Graham Garlick in the morning and we both thought we might be able to get away between 10:30am and 11am.  I declared a 750km triangle and was ready at the launch point at 10:30am.  Graham was going to attempt a 1000km flight and took off first at 10:45am.  He did not get much more than a bubble and landed soon after.  I decided to wait on the launch and take a look at the updated temp trace.  The temperature was staying at 36°C.  According to the new trace we needed 39°C to get above 2000-4000ft.  That did not happen until about 2pm.  At 43°C it was supposed to go to 14,000ft.  I finally took a launch at 1pm and struggled for 2 hours below 5000ft covering about 100km.  When I hit the cu's to the north I got to 12,000ft and ran up a nice cloudstreet.  I did not have a real goal of going anywhere and just went back and forth a bit.  My highest point was 13,200ft.  The OLC gave me 500km for the flight.  The average speed was 97km/h which is not bad considering the first 2 hours were at 50km/h.  Graham watered up his ASW-20 again and flew a new Australian 300km out & return record but missed the finish point by 100m.
Thanks to Louise for letting me fly her glider.
OLC flight info

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jan 9 - Temora-Darlington Point

I made another attempt at 750km yesterday.  I declared Hay-Temora.  I took off at 11:30am and did not start until 11:50am.  Over Benalla I was not getting much more than 3000ft above ground.  There were clouds to the north and I pushed into them but got to 1500ft before connecting.  I then started hitting some good climbs and got to just over 8000ft.  The way to Hay was still in the blue so I decided to reverse the flight and go to Temora first.  The flight would then not qualify for the 750km diploma.  My run to Temora was good but not great.  I averaged about 100km/h.  I expected to do a lot better.  I think I was letting myself get too low waiting for the very strong climbs and then having to take weaker ones.  After turning Temora for Hay things slowed for me even more.  I went a bit north of track to avoid a blue patch but it seemed to be better on the south side.  After a while of going slow I decided to turn about 100km short of the turnpoint and head for home.  The run home was much better and if I could have kept that speed I probably would have been able to finish the task.  I had a 105km final glide starting at 10,000ft and taking about 45 minutes.  I was quite exhausted after the flight.  It was certainly not my longest flight here but I was feeling a bit sick all day and did not eat anything until supper.  I had an early night and I am taking it easy today.
OLC flight info