Peter Miller: 140km in the Waipukurau wave. March 1990

140km in the Waipukurau wave

Chris had landed back after his 50k attempt and Bob was about to head off with John Raven in his Sonerai to look for John Carter who had landed out on his 50k attempt.  John Spence, Rangi and our host Rob Orr were setting out on the retrieve.  There seemed, as always, a lot of Johns around and we had left one or two back home.  Watching the Sonerai stagger out across the western boundary, I was glad I was not in it……  Chris had agreed to a shared flight, so we briefed our tow pilot, Brian, for a high tow……into wave or bust.
At 12.30 we launched behind the Cessna DAL into a clearing sky, no wind and getting warm.  Leaving the heat, the flies and the flying ants behind, we climbed out towards Takapau through mild rotor until we reached a solid-looking roll cloud where we released at 6500ft in 2kts lift.   The roll cloud hid our view of Ypuk as we climbed and we were really on our own.
Looking down, we fancied we could see the Astir trailer retrieving John, so we waved out- rather, it was he who was waved out!  Soon we were past Norsewood and climbing well but it looked pretty cloudy further south so we turned and flew north back along the roll cloud.  We saw the farm where Chris ad stayed on Friday night, the rugged Ruahine ranges and the sea of cloud which covered the west, as far as the eye could see, north to south.  Flying at 50kts we made for the green basin in behind the Wakarara Ranges (a mighty thermal area, so we had been told) and tried our hands at map reading on the way.  We climbed well once more and on coming clear of cloud, all the area up to and beyond Hastings, Napier. And the Hawkes Bay coastline then opened up before us.  What a marvellous view.
We flew past Gwavas and on to Kereru, ran off the end of the wave and had lost a bit of height when Chris decided it was time to off-load some internal water ballast.  On jettisoning that load we immediately hit good lift and climbed well once more.  Then more pangs for Chris, for he suddenly said “What about the others?”   And I said “To hell with the others, let’s stay away for two hours at least!”  Eventually we headed back towards Waipawa, picking out Rob and Pat Orr’s farm easily, by the layout of the buildings that we knew..  Elsewhere we could see orchards, denoted as large green patches in a sea of brown landscape.  To the East we could see Bare Island and Cape Kidnappers to the north.
Descending steadily, we flew out over the rough hills to the east of Ypuk until we were down to 3500ft, whereupon Chris took over and commenced a steep, screaming dive, brakes out.   We were soon on the ground, with the heat, the flies and the flying ants……
For both of us, the previous two hours had been a superb experience that is the preserve and privilege of the soaring pilot and neither of us took a camera!
Peter Miller
March 1990.
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