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