Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pawnee'ing and 29'ing

Last weekend was great fun @ Waikerie. It was very private as most of the guys are in Victoria flying the Horsham Week. So there was just the two of us and Craig. We even managed to talk Alan into running the wings for us.

noisy visitor
making sure she's not gonna blow my little toy away

Craig and Ziggy declared a 300 km lead and follow task. Weather predictions were, of course, much better than the reality turned out to be but they still had fun in the blue managing ca. 107 km/h around the task.

I did spend the day on the ground after putting the Pawnee away. I still can't get over the performance of this thing. 40 degrees heat and a fully loaded 29 - couple of minutes up to 2,000 ft. The only thing limiting the turn around time is the fact that you can't just drop off the sky like we did with Wilga due to possible engine shock cooling issues. Still 5 minutes turn around is not too bad. I have to admit I really enjoy flying this little thing. Towing is fun again.

And then they came back ...

Back home there is more gardening to be done. The landscaping works in the back and side of the house are finished and all there is left to do is some planting in the garden beds.

I will also get a little garden/veggie patch. I just need a little one for all the herbs that I keep buying and then throwing half of them away because you don't need that much and they don't hold well. So there will be some basil, coriander, hot chilli, mint and few other nice little things.

Our water feature will also be getting some fish!

Monday, February 1, 2016

slope flying

We went to Tapanappa last weekend. It was my first time there but Ziggy has flown there some 26 years ago. The place has changed since then and the landing area is now a fully developed bush full of kangaroos so landing options are very limited.

There were lots of people and lots of nice unusual flying structures.

It is a spectacular place to fly overlooking the southern ocean. The winds were southerly and very strong. It was really cold there, barely 20 degrees while there was 30+ in the city. We did fly our Radian Pro and it was fun.

I wasn't confident landing it though in the limited area full of people in these gusty winds so Ziggy did all that. I just enjoyed flying back and forth along the slope.

oops ... landed on the side of the slope

the pilot resting his bones after a tough landing

The home made flying wing did go up too. I honestly didn't think it would make it considering it's extraordinary aerodynamics. It did fly though and did it well.

priceless view even on a hazy and cloudy day

Tapanappa is a fair driving distance away (ca. 2 hours) and we have so many hills so close to home (ca. 5-10 minutes away). There was that one hill with a lonely tree on top of it that we kept looking at for a while. Yesterday was the day to go there and hike it up.

It is an intense hike for about 30 minutes but once you're up there it's all worth it.

there is much more to climb passed this hill
Adelaide airport and the ocean

We figured if we do the hike few more times we should be fit enough to carry some flying stuff up there. You can only drive to a parking area and there are a few hiking tracks from there. The hill is great for little light foam models and it's only 5 minutes drive (+30 min hike) away from our house.

We'll get some practice and do it.

this is where Ziggy wants to launch from
the city

the battle ground

Our backyard is still a mess but there is hope. We were told that we'll see green grass in there this week. Bring it on! Most of the old red brick paving is done and the irrigation systems are coming in today. Once the back is finished, the guys will move to the front of the house. There is a big project there too. It is quite amazing how projects grow in time. You start with one bit and end up ripping the whole joint apart and starting from scratch. The front of the house will be one of these projects.

All the concrete from under the carport and veranda is going and bricks are coming in. The veranda posts are going too. They were a later addition to the house (probably around 50 years after the house was build) and don't match the era. We will get proper timber posts made to suit the house. Irrigation, lawn and a new front fence will follow. Again, the fence will be done by heritage fencing guys to suit the house. OK, it will have all the fancy modern technology but will still look like over 116 years ago.

It's a very rewarding exercise to see this house regaining its glory back. People already say that it is the cutest house on the street. Wait till it's all finished people ...

layers of stuff need to be compacted and leveled before the bricks come in
Our neighbour's peach tree is infringing our airspace, which is awesome. We claimed all peaches that we could reach as ours. We had to wait few more days before picking as they were not quite there yet. Well, few days later they were all gone. Not a single one left. It wasn't us though ... Here are the offenders:

caught in the act
These things are gorgeous and noisy as hell. But honestly, can you be angry with something so beautiful? Nope, you can't. Absolutely impossible. So we let them eat the peaches and had a glass of wine watching them do that.

This is a common activity of ours. Sit outside and watch the birds. There are so many of them visiting our yard and having a drink or a swim in the birdbath that we put up for them. We also have a bird book (Christmas present from Zofia and Paul) that we use to identify them. The peach eaters are the Rainbow Lorikeets and people consider them pests.

The birds were one of the first things that I noticed in Australia. There are sooo many of them and they all are beautiful and very colorful. People take them for granted and don't realise how gorgeous they really are.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"trust me, I'm a landscaper"

I know that it has to get really bad before it becomes great. The way our house now looks all around it is outrageous though. We had an incredible storm here yesterday. The landscapers were busy and I just went for a quick shop to the local shopping centre. I could see the dark clouds approaching but didn't think much of them. While shopping, I could already hear the rain on the roof but didn't realise how bad it was:

I have to say that I have never seen such a heavy rain before. Within minutes, a little river was entering the shopping centre through the doors and beautiful waterfalls were flowing down the ceilings. Who did build that roof, one would think?

yeap, these buckets will help ... you better turn off these bloody lights ...

The lights turned itself off after a while and it was dark. My car wasn't parked too far away but with the lightning strikes hitting right next to us, the big trees around and the amount of water on the ground it wasn't the best idea to try to get to the car...

Few minutes later pieces of gyprock started falling off the ceiling and there was more and more water on the floor. Staying there didn't seem like a great idea either. So shoes off, wait for the lightning strike to hit and run to the car before the next one strikes. Running was tricky bare-feet, on the slippery ground but I made it to the car and was safe. Unfortunately not all were lucky. A 39 year old man was killed by lightning strike out of the same storm not far away from us. Thunderstorms are no joke here...

Driving back home I really appreciated my little 4 wheel drive "eastern suburb housewife SUV". The low floor cars were getting water in. We live sort of on the foothills and the water from the hills was forming rivers down the streets. This is why there was so much of it. Rubbish bins were swimming down these rivers too. Friday is bin pick up day in our area to they were all out on the streets.

I got back home to a battle field that the landscapers left in a hurry leaving everything behind. Even the bobcat!

It started drying out today but the humidity is still up so it's gonna be a slow process. This may delay the works and our beautiful garden with golf course style green grass.

There is not much we can do but wait. The boys were playing some very serious and loud music while at work yesterday. Today, we found their abandoned professional sound equipment. Don't know why but I find it very funny:

Because it's so hard to imagine how the ready product will look like, we thought it would be good to have this little photo diary of the garden works to be able to compare the before and after photos. Can't wait for that day to come.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Doctor's engineering

We are back home, working and enjoying the simple city life.

We drove all the way back from Benalla in one go, managing to rig the glider in Waikerie on the way. Good effort but we arrived exhausted after 1000 km drive.

We all know that 29's get spar bumps. They seem to be more visible when you leave your tanks wet, even with the dump valve and filling cap open. They just don't dry out properly by themselves and develop these ugly looking bumps. You can tell exactly where the spar is. Not that it affects the performance that much. With our skills we're not able to get the maximum performance out of these gliders anyway. They look ugly though. We've been negligent for the first year and didn't do anything about our bumps. They turned out to be quite significant during the recent annual inspection and it was time to act.
All our friends have some sort of a tank-drying equipment. Usually these are old CPU fans with some kind of arrangement. The idea is to place them on the top opening leaving the dump valve open. They then suck the air out of the wing creating a constant air flow through the wing and drying the tank completely. And guess what? They do work and the spar bumps disappear as the wings dry out.

So we ended up developing a system based on what everybody else had but adding a little bit more TLC and engineering standards to it. So here it is: "Doctor's certified tank drying device". He's a smart and handy cookie this Ziggy, I have to admit.

CPU fan and some plumbing parts from Bunnings

The whole system connect into a regular power point but can also be run off a 12V battery. Should we get it patented?

In the meanwhile our house is a mess again. The landscapers have moved in and are creating mess beyond comprehension. Ziggy keeps saying that it will be awesome once they finish. It's still hard to see through piles of pavers, dirt, mud, tree roots etc. And this is just the back and the side of the house. The front will be next and even worse as they will be ripping off all the concrete from underneath the carport to replace it with old red bricks.

the beginning of the mess

We can't wait for the final results. In the meanwhile we can admire this amazing view from our dining room:

I have to admit that I'd love to have a play with this little bobcat. I've always wanted that :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

few more "really moments"

The last two days beat it all. Let's start with yesterday. The weather forecast was done based on data from few days ago and didn't take into account the cool air that managed to sneak in under the warm air mass causing a severe inversion.

The tasks were set based on 14,000 ft Cu's prediction. Almost 660 km racing task for my class, with the first turn point almost 300 km away. No earlier briefing or earlier launch was called. When we started launching after midday it was clear that the prediction was totally wrong. The back of the grid (where I was positioned) was hoovering at the release height for an hour or so not able to get any higher. The front of the grid managed to reach 3,000-3,500 ft AGL. The gate opened at 1 pm and I was nowhere near the starting height. Few little groups went off but as hard as I tried I was not in the position to go with them. Oh, did I mention that it was totally blue? It is an essential info as you don't start on your own on a low blue day.

Finally I got higher and could start the task from around 4,000 ft AGL. It was 2:20 pm by then. I quickly did the numbers and with the 120 km/h I was hoping to go around with there was just no way I could fly the task during daylight. Then I heard gliders outlanding down the track and some coming back on engines. I decided to pull the plug on this one. I think that I've grown up enough to know not to continue with things that are just no fun anymore. And this one was certainly one of these things.

the essence of Nemo

Oh yeah, and on top of it all I got Nemo again ... I towed behind Nemo 3 out of 6 launches that I had and there are 8 tugs available. What luck!

Today beats it all though ...

We got out in the morning and followed our usual routines: un-tie, covers off, water in etc. We knew that a weather change was coming in the afternoon and it could get nasty. The usual morning sms with grid and launch time info didn't come.

Instead we got this one @ 9:00 am:
"No task today. Extreme weather and wind changes make launching impossible".

Oh yeah, that's sensible. Knowing that tomorrow is going to be total crap with rain bucketing as the very active front passes through, we and quite a few others, decided to de-rig and store gliders in the trailers. So off went the water and we quickly pulled the glider into bits and into the trailer. We closed and tied down the trailer and went for briefing @ 10 am.

As we were heading for briefing this sms arrives:
"Change of plan! Task may be possible, details at briefing, grid 10:30-12:30 on RWY 08"

WTF? How can you legally cancel the day and then an hour later un-cancel it? This is against all the rules. Don't they even know it? You just CAN'T do it. A cancelled day is a cancelled day. Full stop.

Obviously the organisers lack some basic knowledge and they better study the rules before the world comps next year. This is a no-go.

We didn't bother rigging again in the heat. Have I mentioned that it's 43 degrees out there today and blowing gale? In the end they launched 18m and 15m classes and cancelled open. We ended up fixing the bills and getting ready for departure towards home tomorrow morning.

Before that though we're going out for a nice dinner with some interesting personalities tonight.

Monday, January 11, 2016

the "really?" moment

Really? This was the most common expression this morning when we got the task sheets handed out. No early briefing, no early grid, first launch as usual 12:00 with possible delays. And the tasks were:

task A

task A - check the distance

You would think, luckily there is task B if things don't develop as predicted. So here it was:

task B - seriously?

Long term forecasts were predicting a big day today. Already yesterday though, the models started changing showing an early arrival of the predicted front with thunderstorms and gusty winds.

The sky was full of high cloud moving in from early morning and it certainly didn't look like the predicted big day. The task has been changed to B on the grid, launching delayed and we were told to finish early because of the change coming through. Yeah right ... we'll launch you at 12:30, open the gate around 2:00 pm, send you out on 600 km racing task into the unlandable desert and ask you to finish early before the arrival of the front at 5:30 pm. Can you do some maths on it?

10 minutes after the day has been cancelled. No task C handed out. The task setters didn't have a plan for a short task, lets say a 300 km racing or 2 hrs 30 min AAT for the unpredictable weather developments. So we ended up not flying at all on a day that had about 3-4 hours of really great conditions with cloud bases reaching 14,000 ft (!). We could have roared around a 300 km triangle in less than 2 hours today. The change came through around 5 pm and shut it all down.

Still the all or nothing approach was hard to grasp and certainly can't be repeated next year during the worlds. If that's the case, there will be endless protests. People felt like the task had been set on yesterdays weather and noone looked out of the window.

I hope we can expect a better weather judgement tomorrow and in the following days. Not that I care that much about it but there is people fighting for the words qualifications and they do seriously care a lot.

We used the day to do laundry, have a nap and go out for a great dinner with Brian and Miles.

Good night!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

good day

I was on fire this morning. Don't know why but I really liked the tasks we were given. Everybody else complained. We were send into the mountains today, which I kind of like. The tricky bit was to squeeze between the tops of the mountains and the bottom of the airspace. There wasn't much room left. You only bust the airspace once in your life. I've done it before but few people had their first times today. They will never do it again. It's the same with missing a turn point ... been there, done that.

It was a 456 km racing task. I got scared when Nemo rolled in front of me to give me a tow - he's bad luck, take him away - I thought. He wasn't bad luck today as it turned out.

morning impression of the top crew

I had a good run with nice company today. Spectacular views and 10/10 thermals (10 kts up to 10,000 ft) were just a cherry on the top of a cake. It was just great fun and a nice ride.

thermal fucker

With good company I mean TF - thermal fucker - the very first 29 I got to fly :)

Tomorrow is another day, so it's time for some rest. But before that, I'll have a glass of wine with the top crew. Cheers.

Here is my flight on the OLC:

And today's results:

And this morning they took a photo of all us girls flying this comp:

from left: Anne (France), Cathy (AUS), Sarah (USA), Swaantje (Germany), Lisa (AUS) and myself

Saturday, January 9, 2016

clocking hours and kms

Another day is over. I had a much better day today.

Nobody could explain why the task setter did send us to a turnpoint in the middle of an irrigation area where no one has ever seen it being any good. Ever. This is where you send people when you want them to land out, especially on a blue day. And of course it happened - few hit the deck or flipped the engine switch exactly over there - on the first turn point. Nothing but absolutely dead air there ...

I was among the lucky ones to get away from 1,500 ft AGL several times and scratch our way out of that area. Then it was booming again and we had fun in the blue.

photo by Ailsa

After 4 days of intensive and tricky flying we are all quite tired. Early exits to our room and many hours of sleep keep us well and fit. It better be this way as we will be flying for the next 4 days for sure.


and results:

It's bed time. Good night!

Friday, January 8, 2016

one of them days

Today was definitely one of the days when everything seems to be working against you. Bad luck we call it, I guess. In fact can a flight that starts like this end successfully:

Yes, this is a tow plane! We call it Nemo the Fish. I towed behind it this morning and that was the beginning of my story.

this was when I went: "Holy crap! Seriously?"

Nemo is supposed to have 300 horse power engine, 299 of these horses are constantly working to support its extraordinary aerodynamics, 1 miserable horse remains available for towing ;) Long story short: longest tow, dropped off with no gliders to mark the weak thermals, I struggled to stay up for half an hour. Survived that bit but it was about to get better.

After achieving unreal starting heights of ca. 4,000 ft I looked at the screen just to find that the LX was playing tricks on me for the very first time. I did what I could and finally had to restart the whole system, which solved the problem. I think Nemo managed to scare the crap out of the LX too ;)

So off we went with a group of few gliders. The first 60 km were kind of slow but steady. We managed to find climbs every now and then and then started getting low close to the river. Typical. The little gaggle spread around and everybody went off on their own ventures.

I haven't seen many gliders since then but what doing all right north of the river. Typical too. I went quite into the first sector and the second leg was uneventful either. I even managed to get up to 6500 ft - once! The rest was between 2,500 and 4,500 - low but steady.

Until I had to cross the river back and head towards home. 70 km out, ca. 2500 ft below glide ... I maxed out the height before crossing the river and went for it hoping to either find some markers there or just go for the usual trigger points. With no gliders in sight, I started checking out the known spots. Nothing there ... Down to 2,500 ft AGL (ca. 1,300 ft above the decision height for the engine) I headed for the piggery. Nope, not this time sunshine! I lined up with a landable paddock and went through the motions. The motor needed a while to realise what I want from it but 300 ft later it fired up and took me back home.

Of course I met one gaggle on the way back chaotically working on their final glides. It was too late for me though.

Dave is thinking about retrofitting his 29 with an engine. He asked me this morning how many times I've used the engine to avoid an outlanding. The answer was - once. I had to revise it this evening to: twice :).

Having this luxury allowed us to have dinner at usual time and get up the next morning without the need to rig the glider. I think it is worth every cent we've paid for it.

Here is the flight on the OLC:

It's also quite clear where this exercise puts me on the score board:

Not the best position with 7 days to go but ... life is not all about gliding, right Zig?

Zig and our own Waikerie tow pilot - Pete