As I’m sure everyone has heard, the weather wasn’t conducive to flying over the long weekend. We had over 200mm of rain in only two days. That’s more rain than we had in the last 6 months. There’s a lot of new lakes around the area. The airstrip is well above the flood level, so the only damage was from the storm water runoff, not from rising flood water.
Eric has been working hard shovelling the mud out of the clubhouse. There was a distinct waterline around the skirting boards in the kitchen. Only one of the bedroom carpets got some water on it. One indication of the amount of rain is the depth of water in the bunded area around the fuel tank. You can measure it with a ruler.
The gliders are all OK. All of the hangars have had some storm water seep in so the floors are a bit damp. There are a few leaks in the roof that have dripped onto gliders and need some attention.
I got 20 hours of flying in terrain that was much more challenging than I expected. I learned things about thermals and even instructional technique that I did not expect. (You are going to enjoy your next spin check with me.) I learned I don’t know enough about gliding. The blue clouds were also completely unexpected.
One of the advantages of doing a proper course is that the information is all transferable. You don’t just learn to fly to some specific spot where the lift “always” happens. You learn why it happens and how to recognise when it is or is not going to work for you. This knowledge can then be applied to any mountain site. I learned things that I can apply to my flying around Warkworth.
I am definitely going to go back some day. The only decision is whether to stay for a week or a month.
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Set off for the airport early again. Good thing I did as there was some bridgework under way and I had to wait half an hour for the bridge to open.
Check-in at the airport is absolute bedlam. I consider myself very lucky I used my frequent flyer points to go business class. I walk straight up to the counter and have no hassle at all. Later, I work out the reason for the bedlam – I’m flying on a 747 and Christchurch probably doesn’t see many of those. I’m in seat A1 – right up the front. The only problem with business class is the staff are too helpful. I don’t need a drink every 5 minutes!
Start with a debriefing on yesterday. We talk about “carpet winds” and convergences. I flew with Gavin Wills himself today. He took the front seat and did a lot of the flying. It’s good to see how the real local does it. We got off tow about 1500’ in what seemed to be a good thermal on the Nursery Ridge. After a bit of searching, we fell below 1000’ and fell off the bottom of the ridge. This ridge is pretty much inside the circuit area so we could have made a short downwind and landed. However Gavin kept on thermalling right across base leg, with landing tugs going around us. Then we set off to the Buskot Ridge, about 5km away. We got a little bit of lift about 500’, which allowed us to reach the Buskot. The ridge wasn’t really working so we just maintained height. There is an ag strip just below the ridge, so it seemed OK. Coming back along the ridge, we were down to 350’, so Gavin set off for Omarama! He plonked it down and taxied to the front of the launch queue.
On our second launch, we got away and worked our way over to the “west coast” (basically 100m west of the divide – I got one photo of the beach through a narrow valley.) We flew around the west side of Mount Aspiring, which is pretty special because there is simply no way of getting there except by flying. The ridges on the west coast are knife-edged with rocks like teeth. We flew on to a turnpoint that Gavin had just added to the database and wanted to check out. Cloudbase was 9,500’, which was comfortable. Then cloudbase stepped down thousands of feet on our glide home. Gavin put the glider through a gap between ridge and cloud that was only a wingspan high. The cloud was sucking hard, so at 120kt we got sucked into the cloud with rocks on both sides just a wingspan away.
Stories in the bar: Gavin says “Morgan flies like an angel,” so I must have been doing something right.