Recent News. February 15th/16th & March 2nd 2014
I've been a bit pressed for time latterly and have missed keeping our loyal band of readers au fait with the exploits of our redoubtable club. The 15th and 16th were winching days for most, except that on the 15th, Glyn Jackson hauled his glider over to the Norfolk airfield, rigged it and joined Clinton Steele hurtling around the local skies. Back at the field, Les Sharp got 30min in WZ but was well headed off by young Sam Tullett who did a splendid 55min in TE. Alas, was that for no other flights got away. A Canadian visitor, John Calder took a couple of winch launches but they were straight sled rides. He was to do much better the next day, stopping off at Norfolk and having I think, about 45min soaring the face of the mountain in the Norfolk Twin with Clinton. John was a most happy man. There were flights for Rodrigo, Steve, Dennis and Will plus a couple for a trial flight voucher holder but we were unable to replicate an aerotow so she will be back f for more flights, hopefully an aerotow one. Will Hopkirk the winch driver. The 16th looked to be a good day so a team was mustered and the day started. Slowly for Will and son Mitch but then a 41min flight on the second launch. John Tullett got away for 2hrs 16m in DN. Sam did 41min in TE. Fair racking up the time he is. Will away in TE for an hour and 21min to round his day off. Short flights for Noel Hainsworth and Carolyn Copeland who impressed her instructor by the way she whacked the glider into the thermal. Thirteen flights for Saturday and twelve for Sunday. And so we come to Sunday, March the 2nd. The paperwork enabling Jim Finer and Tim to aerotow with their little blue plane had come through, so at short notice, an aerotow day was organised and with the luck of the Irish, it turned out to be a boomer with some good cross-country flights done by the Ventus, the Discus and the PW5. The Discus out to Whangamomona, back someway then out to Matau then onto the Mountain. The Ventus out to Te Wera and everywhere else. The PW5 not too far behind. Out to Douglas then back tracking onto the mountain. Then Les got to work in the Twin doing similar good things. He is going to write a story which will be added to this report later. Jim Finer did the towing duties. Meanwhile, Melissa Jenkins has been flying in the Club Class Nationals at Nelson. I think she found the hills a bit daunting but would have surely enjoyed the experience in rounding off the southern season. Peter Cook has sold his Libelle GIA to the doyen of NZ gliding, Bill Walker who did rather well at Nelson, unblushingly using a Discus Spot tracking device. What has been noticeable is how gliders with good X-country performance have turned out some good flights here recently. Most encouraging. Get another glider Peter. I understand that there is a computer and small camera coming our way from Powerco soon, through the good offices of Justin Wonderlick.This should go some way to all- eviating uncertainty about Stratford weather on doubtful flying days. Thanks Justin and Powerco. One other thing, there is ATC flying to happen over the weekend of 5/6th April which should be good fun all round.
About 20 cadets to be launched.
Alison Smith being briefed by Les:
How Les did his flight:
The first flight of the day was a trial flight in WZ with Rodrigo's friend;
Antonio. We towed to 3000ft and released near a good looking cloud that was part of a convergence that was forming nicely. With a bit of work we were up to cloud-base and headed west. I explained the controls and handed over to Antonio. We got about half way from SH3 to the bush line but there was a significant gap in the cloud line and not enough height to risk going further so we back-tracked to near Midhurst where I worked some lift to get enough height to be comfortable and gave the controls back to Antonio who managed to get us overhead Toko. It is said that flying straight is a matter of a series of small turns to keep the aircraft headed towards a point on the horizon. Our path was similar to any new student, but by the time we returned to the airfield, Antonio was improving significantly. By then the lift was such that airbrakes were required to get down to circuit height (like the Toyota ad:-Bugger! Next flight was with Derek Finlay but we struck a time where the sky was at a weak point of a cycle and we couldn’t get high enough to catch the next good part of the cycle. We still managed 23 minutes and Derek got some control time in between my efforts to try and stretch the flight. After a short break, I took the opportunity to take WZ up solo. While enjoying being towed I still got off too soon in what seemed to be a strong thermal to the North-East of the field and had a competition with gravity for at least 10 minutes before getting a climb to a height where I could relax a bit. I was helped a bit by Glyn Jackson being somewhat higher in the vicinity in VV and his comment that alerted me to the topdressing strip underneath just as I was contemplating how low I could get before returning to Stratford for a re-light. Glyn had a significant height advantage, but wasn’t having an easy time at that point either (even if he doesn't admit it) Eventually the altimeter turned clockwise for a while and I was able to head East under some good looking clouds that stopped providing the desired effect when I was just South of Douglas. Heading back towards Stratford and hoping for some help from a much bluer scene than on the way out I found about .5 to 1 knot up under a scratchy looking cloud South of Toko. At least Gaine strip was clear and available if I got too low. The lift drifted north gradually strengthening until I was near cloud base at about 4000ft. Transponder on to let any Q300s know where I was. I tracked along the convergence line towards Tariki, looking at the map to ensure I stayed outside New Plymouth's airspace. Heading west from the highway I ran into a blue area and while Peter Cook was nearer the national park in lift, I had to back-track to the cloud near Tariki where I got high enough to try again. This time there wasn't as much sink and I made it to an area of lift North of York Rd quarry, although I couldn't see Peter in TE. There I managed to blunder into some of the best lift (8 to 10 knots) that I had found all afternoon and was pleased to note that Tim (XC) and Glyn (VV) were actually below me for a while. With about 5000’ in hand I headed towards the mountain where Tim and Glyn headed north towards Tahurangi. I decided that since it was a south-west wind, it might be possible to find some lift around the corner and maybe go around the mountain (I haven't achieved this at low altitude yet). Around Dawson Falls the lift disappeared and when I tried circling in some weak lift I had to turn away from the terrain and into sink. The cloud base was noticeably lower around the other side and there was no movement indicating that there was any significant wind against the slope so I decided to turn back. I had lost a bit of height but the further South I tracked the faster the altimeter turned anti-clockwise. I flew towards the Plateau car park and was almost down to level with it when the vario started to make happy sounds again. From there it was a climb to cloud base again and an easy coast back to Stratford. As I was joining Peter Williams radioed that the wind on the ground had picked up to around 20 knots so it might be a bit rugged in the circuit. A timely warning, as I lost quite enough height downwind to be glad that I had flown a tighter circuit than normal, although the final approach was normal. The landing was 1 hour 49 minutes after take-off. Once the others were down, hangaring the aircraft went smoothly and tow pilot, Jim Finer, left knowing that he had done a good job getting us airborne on a good day.
The Stratford Plateau carpark:
York Road Quarry: