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845 km flight from Raywood by Terry Bellair in his DG-400 on 19 January 2005

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Generally good soaring conditions were forecast, with a strengthening NW wind and the likelihood of increasing pre-frontal cloud later in the day. A 1,000km double out and return task was declared (Raywood-Ouyen-Elmore-Galah-Raywood).

SeeYou Track

After launching at 1000hrs EDT, we barely managed to stay airborne over Raywood for the next hour, and did not get away until around 1100hrs. It soon became obvious that the high cloud was moving in from the west quicker than forecast, so the declared task was abandoned 173 km from Raywood (just past Sea Lake) and we headed for Booligal (267 km to the NE).

We turned Booligal at 1550 hrs after a good run with achieved climb rates between 6 and 8kt, and cloud base at around 11,000ft. Conditions then started to weaken as the altostratus moved across. An 800km flight still seemed possible, so the plan was to track as far as possible to the SSW while staying high, before turning for home and using the strong NW wind to stretch final glide.

We managed to find a few 2kt climbs under the overcast which enabled us to delay turning for Raywood until we were about 20km north of Wycheproof. A final 2,000ft climb gave us sufficient height to glide about 15km past Raywood to the east before doubling back to land at 1943hrs, for a total distance of 845km. The overall flight duration was 9 hours 40 minutes.

Barometric Trace

Note that because takeoff occurred before 0000 UTC, SeeYou shows the flight as having taken place on 18 January, while the times are shown as EST (ie. one hour early).


3 January 2004 Flight by Terry Bellair in his DG-400 (621 km, to 20,000’)

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The area briefing for 3 January predicted variable 10 to 15 kt winds below 7,000’, a 260 degree wind increasing from 20 kt at 10,000’ to 35 kt at 18,500’ and a maximum surface temperature of 37 at Bendigo. The Melbourne atmospheric sounding for the previous night suggested a surface temperature of 30 would be required to break a strong inversion at about 3,000’, and convection should go to about 11,000’ at Raywood with cloud base around 10,000’.

See You Track

The initial leg (238 km from Raywood to Ouyen) was a struggle, with thermals averaging 2.0 kt and a maximum height of 3,500’ for the first 2 hours. It had been blue all the way to Ouyen, but scattered cumulus, some having distinct wave forms, started to appear to the southwest by about 1200 hrs. So a decision was made to work towards the clouds and focus on trying to contact the shear wave (HDE is equipped with oxygen).

The first decent thermal went to 6,000’ at 4.5 kt over the Big Desert. Subsequent thermals became weaker with height until we contacted weak wave at 9,400’ about 90 km southwest of Ouyen at 1550 hrs (we would not circle again for the remaining 3 hours of the flight). The next 30 minutes was spent in weak wave carefully working towards better looking cumulus/wave clouds to the south (cloudbase was around 10,000’).

Barometric Trace

Stronger wave was contacted at around 1620 hrs (10 km ENE of Jeparit at 9,500’). The climb rate peaked at 5-6 kt at 16,000’, and dropped to around 4 kt approaching 20,000’, where we decided to break off the climb. The view was spectacular as we climbed up above the cumulus tops (at about 12,500’) and then passed a filmy band of wave cloud between 13,000 and 14,000’.

We initially started to head back to Raywood (190 km to the east) but were 8,500’ above final glide, so decided to detour via Horsham (about 70 km to the SSW). On the way, we cruised along a section of wave which provided a 6-7 kt climb between 17,000’ and 19,000’(at around 1730 hrs).

We turned near Horsham at 16,500’, and headed east for Raywood, encountering a shear wave lift zone at regular intervals (roughly every 10 km) for the first 120 km, each of which was clearly marked by a crosswind line of cumulus. There were plenty of thermals below 10,000’ on the way home, but we cruised back to Raywood at 100 kt, landing at 1845 hrs. Thermals continued for at least another hour.


Peter and the Woodstock at Ararat March 13 2006

There's Always a First Time...

OK, so this may not be a tale about great distances achieved or heights attained but it is an achievement of sorts and I think it deserves to be told.

Along with a number of members of the Bendigo Gliding Club I had decided to take the Woodstock to the Grampians Soaring Club at Ararat for the March long weekend, the Queens Birthday Holiday in Victoria. One objective of this was to afford Keith Willis the opportunity to fly the Woody. Keith has worked hard to log time in as many glider types as he could and a milestone was reached for him at the Vintage Regatta, Bordertown 2006 when he attained his 100th type by flying the Golden Eagle, the oldest continuously operated glider in Australia. The Woody would be type 101, and due to a day lost to weather his flight was scheduled for Monday, after which we would pack up and return home.

I decided to take a launch, do a short flight, and then return to allow Keith to fly. With the wind from the west we were obliged to use the shorter cross strip at Ararat and so with Phil McCann at the controls of the Callair tug we lifted off, turned right and headed out over the town. After establishing in a thermal and topping out at 5400 ft I decided that I would punch upwind towards the Grampians and see how close I could get to the foothills. Getting there would mean crossing a range of hills which comprise part of the Great Dividing Range and which also includes Mt Ararat. Little did I know that I would get an even closer look at it later on.

I was having no difficulty maintaining height and even climbing to cloud base as I weaved my way along an easily perceptible cloud street towards the town of Moyston, located 20km west of the airfield. I felt chuffed with my situation when I heard Maurice in the Ararat Janus advise that they were low and holding over the airstrip at the town of Jallukar with a possibility of an outlanding. As this was very close to the foothills and we were flying in the lee of the Grampians, I quickly revised my plan not to go too much further and decided then to round Moyston and head back to the field.

With height in hand I tootled off on track and waited till the PalmPilot beeped to tell me I had reached the nominated waypoint. I had sacrificed some height reaching the turnpoint but I felt confident that I would reconnect with the lift and the conditions would be just as good on the way back. However upon turning around it was soon evident that the street I had used was melting away above me and there was little indication of any continuing source of lift. I pushed on back toward the field, aided by the tailwind and headed towards the hills. Keeping the faith, I felt sure that the hills would provide a trigger point and I would pick up thermals here that would carry me up and across the less inviting territory between the Range and the field.

The sink became disquietingly persistent even as I attempting a few tacking manoeuvres, trying to shake the pariah. I mentally prepared myself for the worst and initiated Plan B or as it is better known in gliding circles (pun intended) SSSSW, Size, Surface,Slope Surrounds and Wind. Scanning ahead my appraisal suggested that the best outlanding options would be to remain on upwind side of the range and that if I was to be able to utilise the range as a save the field would need to be within gliding distance of it.

While there were a number of acceptable options, one paddock did stand out as meeting all the criteria. It was close to the range, close to the main road and into wind. The size and surface looked adequate and more importantly it appeared to have been cut and baled some time in the past as evidenced by the rolls moved to one end of the field, and had that grey colour typical of a fallow field. Wirelines were visible at each end but well way from the approaches and useable area. I was able to spend a good deal of time scrutinising this and adjacent paddocks as I flew on toward the hills and was able to satisfy myself that this was indeed a good choice and busied myself with trying to eke out some lift off the hill.

It was about this time that the little UHF handheld I was carrying came alive with Mals voice asking me where I was. He had been offered a ride in Keiths PW-5 and was climbing above Ararat. I responded that it looked like I was about to outland and relayed my position. He confirmed that he thought he could see me, if I was the glider waaaay down low on the hills. Yep, that’s me! He radioed that he would stand by until further advised. I then put my attention back to trying to make more than zero sink off the hills but it was to no avail. Some short time later I relieved myself of further anguish (nothing else!) by making the decision not to battle on and flew out toward the chosen paddock for a final inspection and to set up my circuit. This decision was, of course, influenced by the knowledge that assistance would not be far away. I still ponder the outcome had this not been the case, but for now I was now on a mission.

I arrived abeam the chosen paddock with sufficient height to fly an upwind leg and a final assessment of the field before banking away to commence a left hand circuit into the paddock. The rest of the flight was anticlimactic with a textbook landing and short ground roll into a slight uphill grade. After exiting the glider I was then able to brief Mal on my location whereupon he kindly agreed to cut short his flight and bring the trailer out to meet me.

Scouting the paddock I quickly located an open gate to the main road only another 100 metres up the paddock and I was easily able to push the glider up to this point. I had disassembled as much of the glider as I could, by myself , while waiting and only about 30 minutes had elapsed before Mal was on the scene. In less than an hour we were back at the field and reassembling the glider so Keith could take his turn.

Why did I need to tell you this story, after all it sounds pretty straightforward?

My Paddock and Mt Ararat behind

Simply because for all the years that I have been flying the Woodstock it is the first time that I have had to land at an off-field location not predetermined by me. Maybe I have been lucky or maybe not pushing hard enough, either way it was a memorable event even without all the drama one often hears about with some outlandings, and like so many ‘firsts’ in life I will always remember my first real outlanding.

Oh, by the way, the Janus got home and Keith got his 101st type so everyone was happy, perhaps except for Mal who could have had more time in the PW-5. It looks like I owe him a retrieve…


Not a glider, but what the heck - 26 March 2006

Don't we all want to do it?...

The following is Don Taylors description of a flight to remember. Don has been a member of BGC for many years and is actively involved in warbird restoration at Point Cook.

I can describe the experience in one word ...AWESOME!!

Having spent many weekends at Point Cook working on the Mosquito, watching the interactive each day, getting to talk to guys like Peter Clements (flight leader for that display) The desire to make the dream come true became overwhelming. Two years ago I started a slush fund to put aside some dollars for this totally frivolous activity. The goal was to have a Mustang ride for my 50th birthday. Birthday came, money was available....unfortunately Mum needed an operation...loving son to the rescue ...slush fund exhausted. Start again, funds accrue with some creative accounting.

Lilydale Flying School send a newsletter that they have organised rides at Lilydale in Judy Pays 105. Mmmm... had planned on going in Bob Eastgates at Point Cook. Then I found that 105 had dual controls! Licenced Pilots can have a fly! Deal done...name on list.

Jono from the flying school lets me know my time 11am arrive 10.30 Mustang already on the ground. Sign the obligatory blood chit. Who cares will die happy.

P-51 Mustang

Introduced to the pilot Bernie Heuser who invites me to get up on the wing. Seems strange to walk around on the wing even though I walk on the Warrior wings...its just not the same. Bernie joins me and shows me how to get in the back. Looks difficult but achieved with little difficulty. Bernie briefs me on the harness (same as the ES56 Nymph I flew for my 5 hours) and the escape procedure. Somewhat, mellowed when Bernie says if he is incapacitated I have to push him out of the wayto get to the canopy release in front of him!

Bernie, starts the beast, I am surprised that the noise isn't as loud as I expected. A bit like the Dodge V8 trucks from the sixties only louder...but beautiful. Taxi out to the south end, canopy closed, pre take off checks OK, Taxi to the active, Bernie checks in that I'm ready. OK, brakes come off noise gets louder..still beautiful...acceleration comes on...like the winch but doesn't ease off till 900m down the strip and we are airborne. Still accelerating 170kts... and we are still climbing quickly (no VSI so don't know how fast but quicker than a Warrior!).

Turning downwind we are already at 2500' and Bernie says...its mine...punch a hole in that cloud...great idea...170kts and climbing....bugger...missed the cloud climbed over it...oh well...enjoy it...handles a bit like the LS1 but quicker response...nice feel...visibility good but not great down due to the low seat...but I'm not complaining!

Before I know it, Bernie has got clearance to 8000' over Lilydale and we are there. Ready for some aeros....yep!! Roll to the left wow it went dark with my arse to the sun... round in no time...OK...nose down...speed up...loop...bloody big one and plenty of G's all the way around...Pilatus went over quicker than that...roll to the right....enjoyed that on more was ready for it. All to soon Bernie says it's mine again.

Pleasant cruise descent at about 200kts...I think..heads still half way through the last roll. Pleasant little fly as I explore the ailerons and elevators a bit more...it just wants to maneouvre....down to 3000' now and Bernie takes over...300kts over the strip at 2500'..the bumps chuck you around...plenty of other traffic so no lower...rats...pull into downwind...gear down....turn crosswind...flaps down....curved approach for 36L...good view of the strip from the back seat even...wheel it on...tail comes down early...no noticable desire to swing...rides the bumps better than the Warrior.

Taxi in and shut down on the fuel pad. I realise my face aches...realise the corners of my mouth are 2mm from my ears!!

Get out and help Bernie top up the tanks 368L of 100LL! That's double a Warrior!

Walk back to the Office and start chatting with some other guys. Conversation gets around to what was it like and comparisons. I come to the realisation the Mustang has 10 times the power of the Warrior and drinks fuel at 14 times the rate! Resolve to do it again for 55 and to bathe in the memory of the day for years to come.

Key memories of the Mustang

Beautiful noise, acceleration, bumps, view, noise, handling (eventually realised it felt so natural as I was flying with my right hand again!), the noise and to repeat my self again the noise was so memorable. Quite unlike the noise you hear on the ground. Oh yes, I checked the Mustang on CFS3 and the noise is pretty realistic if you turn it up loud enough! But alas the other sensations are not there. Have to go again. One day......

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