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

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