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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

sore bum

I'm getting my bum kicked here big time. I kind of knew that would be the case when I decided to enter the most competitive class. Is my bum still sore? Sure, it is but I will not learn any other way.

Lessons learned today:
1. Don't bail out of the gaggle after 130 km on task.
2. If you have to bail out, remain confident that you'll find the same thermals in the blue on your own and don't slow down.
3. In fact, a single glider can center the thermals much better than a messy, scary gaggle.

I guess the clue is to remember all lessons learned in the past in one single flight ;) Oh well, maybe one day.

before start

somewhere on task

8 days of flying remaining and it looks like we'll be flying all of them. Weather should get even better next week. Bring it on! It's still a hell of a lot of fun.

Have I mentioned before that I have the most handsome crew on the field?

Here is today's flight on the OLC:

And the daily result as a proof of a sore bum:

Man are these boys fast, aren't they?

what a day

What a day that was. Quite typical for Europe though. Way too many clouds already in the morning ... you can imagine the rest. 3 hours AAT was set and I was determined not to come back too early. I was so fixated on that idea that I kind of ignored what was happening on the way towards home and was just going for the kilometers. The first and second legs were great, although I was flying only between 3,000 and 4,500 ft I was averaging ca. 125 km/h after the second leg. Then I turned back 140 km from home and all I saw was a huge black wall ... here we go I thought.

The goal was now to deviate a lot a try to reach patches of sun on the ground on the western side of the storms. They were a long bloody way away and I had to cross over 40 km of "black" to get there. I got as high as possible and went for the best glide speed glide towards bits of sun. I arrived there @ 2,000 ft and it worked out. I got a few climbs that made me tip toe back towards the last turn point.

This was were I realised that if I play it well I can actually complete the task, not only start the engine closer to home. This was what I did. Time and speed were not an issue anymore - by that time I was showing +1.5 hours on the AAT. I managed and completed the task with ca. 83 km/h.

The trick yesterday was to leave early, just after the gate opened and not be greedy for distance. I would have been better off turning earlier and coming back under time - my speed would have been much better. The positive is, I didn't land out like many others :) I survived.

into the direction we had to come back from
18m class results:

My flight on the OLC:

Today is looking like a totally different day. We have a 500 km triangle racing task.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

it's raining!

How do you know a gliding comp is about to start? It's bucketing rain in a place that hasn't seen a drop of water for months. So here is the clue for all those places suffering droughts - organise a gliding competition!

The deal is that we are getting tons of moisture pumped down from the north. It is very unstable, closes up around midday starts pouring around 2-3 pm. It is supposed to stay like this for the next couple of days. Tomorrow is the official practice day all are keen to actually practice all ground and air movements. We'll see if we can manage before the showers arrive.

We rigged, weighed and washed the glider today. First drops fell down just after we put her PJ's on and tied her and the trailer down. Spot on timing. We're quite lucky not to have to use the water flow meter. In 18-m configuration we can fill the tanks all the way up (till they overflow) and this puts us exactly 2 kg below the reference weight of 600 kg. Very handy.

We will be heading to the club for dinner soon. We'll see what tomorrow brings.