Cross Country Adventures and Other Stories

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We Got It

Story by Peter Raphael


This story began a year ago when some of the members of the Bendigo Gliding Club paid a visit to the Mt Beauty Gliding Club. A chance discussion between Mark Bland and current Bendigo Club President, Frank Van Der Hoeven , elicited the fact that the NSWGA “Come and Get It Trophy” was in the hands of the Mt Beauty Club. This was due to the efforts of Mark and Richard Todd, who in Libelle GUK and Cirrus IUV, flew north across the state border to the Canberra Gliding Club on the 21st March 2009, in order to claim the Mug. In the spirit of its purpose the prized Mug was then relinquished to the Victorians and flown, at least part of the way, back to Mount Beauty in Victoria. Apparently conditions require that the crusaders must depart from their home club and subsequently be launched by the host club to return by air, or as far as possible given the prevailing weather conditions.

While we know little of the history of the NSWGA “Come and Get It Trophy”, actually a pewter mug, the engravings thereon indicate that it was first claimed by the Federated Gliding Club on 12/11/1977 and subsequently claimed by the Canberra Gliding Club on 10/12/1977. There it had languished until the members of the MBGC claimed the Mug on 21st March 2009 (see article - Soaring Aust. May 2009).

Obviously the thought of this prize being within reach, well 263 km reach anyway, was not far from Franks mind and so during the course of the Christmas Camp at Raywood, when he suggested that we might fly over and get the trophy, my immediate response was, “Of course, let’s do it!”

Next morning we checked out the Temp trace and the RASP predictions and the indications were for light NE winds and Cu and bases at 8500’ to the east, the direction we planned to head. Perfect.

Taking the first winch launch of the day in the clubs PW-6 GYC on December 30 at 12:30 hours, we struggled with the first climb but eventually reached 3000’, so the decision was made to push out on heading and take what we could find. Subsequent climbs got progressively better and by the time we had begun to cross the Kamarooka Forest east of the field we had experienced 3 knots to 5000’ and were convinced that it was on. As we were confronted with lakes and some irrigated patches in the early stages we decided to fly conservatively pushing harder only when we approached some of the known airstrips enroute.

Our route took us over Elmore north of Lake Cooper, and around the northern edge of Waranga Basin with all these inland lakes busy with ski-boats visible by their white wake and skiers in tow, whizzing around enjoying the end of the drought years, then on past Murchison heralding the approach of the Goulburn Valley Highway that threads its way north to Shepparton and on toward the border.

All the while we could see tantalising Cu’s along the edge of the Strathbogie range out of reach, and it wasn’t until we had crossed the Goulburn Valley Highway that we experienced our lowest point of the journey, 2500’. At this point we were contemplating moving toward the Goulburn Valley GC airstrip at Wahring when we finally connected with the emerging Cu front and began to see climbs to 7000’ eventually achieving our best climb of 8300’ at 6.2kts average, abeam Benalla. From here we chased the clouds, into the Ovens Valley, past Myrtleford and on toward Mount Buffalo and Porepunkah.

With Porepunkah airstrip now within range we were looking for a last climb to take us up over the Tawonga Gap and into the Kiewa Valley. As we approached the tree covered ridges rising to meet us we spied a lone paraglider circling ahead, not waiting to miss the opportunity we moved in underneath and joined about 500’ below him. While we could not outclimb him it was interesting to watch as he peered downwards keeping a close eye on our progress. Eventually he pushed off toward Mt Buffalo leaving us to continue our climb alone.

Now with a clear view into the Kiewa Valley and the goal in our grasp we ran off the last 25km to Mount Beauty. It was at this point that Frank felt that recording a video clip on his iPhone, incorporating a celebratory song, was in order. Not something likely to win any awards, but the elation of imminent success was shared nevertheless. We made a gentle orbit of the town in benign air as we waited for the Mt Beauty IS28 to join circuit ahead of us and we were soon on the ground. The first phase of our adventure, a 5 hour journey, had come to an end.

Upon landing we were instantly made welcome and after making an effort to safely store our glider in the club hangar we were transported by Richard Todd to our accommodation. As we were travelling extremely light we must thank Richard Todd and Ian Cohn for providing us with accommodation for the night and to Andy Smith and John McWilliams for providing their company and sharing an evening meal with us.


The next morning, after a stroll into and around the picturesque town of Mount Beauty and breakfast, we met up with Mark Bland for the official handover of the Trophy and attendant photo opportunities. Then attention turned to preparing gliders for what we were hoping to be another excellent day of soaring and an opportunity to take our prize back home.

As the claimant must fly away with their prize, we launched from Mount Beauty to return with the trophy to Raywood. It was only after our third winch launch that we were able to successfully climb high enough to move out of the Kiewa Valley and on our way towards home. Unfortunately this meant that we didn’t get away until 14:00 but we were determined to go as far as we could to minimise the retrieve. As luck would have it the return flight ended in the Ovens Valley after only 53 km, with a safe outlanding at Whorouly East, alongside the “snow road” so nicknamed because of its access to the Victorian ski fields. As we had only landed only some 50m from the house the owner came out and expressed surprise at seeing an aircraft landing past her kitchen window. Turns out that her father builds and flies ultralights and she suspected that he may have been involved in the arrival of the aircraft. After reassurances that all was well, we were made welcome and offered a cool drink.

Meanwhile Frank made a call to the club to organise the retrieve crew and I called my friend, Terry Whitford, with whom I had built a Woodstock glider some 20 years ago. As he only lives a short distance away in Stanley he came and took us back to his home to await a call from the crew as they approached. Outlandings shouldn’t be this good! A slap up barbeque meal, wine and good company only to be curtailed eventually by a call that the crew and trailer was fast approaching and we needed to get back to the glider. I still think that Frank harbours a suspicion that this outlanding was not entirely unplanned… But he didn’t complain as he was given another bottle of locally produced red to take away with him.


Neil Friswell and David Parham of the Bendigo Gliding Club had very kindly sacrificed their New Years Eve in order to travel the some 250km to retrieve us and by 20:00 hours we were packed up and on our way home. A short stop in Benalla to refuel the hungry crew and a long drive through the night on the now very quiet roads saw us arrive back at the clubhouse just before midnight, in time to watch the Melbourne fireworks display on TV, consume a few celebratory drinks and a take a well earned rest.

The NSWGA “Come and Get It Trophy” is a hostage at the Bendigo Gliding Club for the present, but hopefully not for long. No doubt once the word gets out there will be some serious attempts made to return it to the home state of NSW, otherwise it may just be moved inextricably deeper into Victoria, dashing any hopes of easy recovery.

We must thank the members of the Bendigo Gliding Club for allowing us to abscond with the PW-6 for two days, Neil Friswell and David Parham for the retrieve and Mark Bland, Richard Todd and the other members of the Mount Beauty Gliding Club who made us welcome and looked after us at short notice.

The Longest Craig Dilks

On the 8th of February 2010 I had the longest day in the air that I've had in a very long time. I was competing at The Horsham week competion in David Tickners Hornet GMK. For the first time I was in standard class which means in a 15 meter glider with water ballast.


At morning briefing they set the task for the day, a monster 550 km. Having not ever done a 500 before I was quietly pumped up for the chance to do the flight, deciding to put in 50 litres of water ballast should give me a bit more of a chance of completing the flight.

As I gridded up I noticed a slight dribble of water leaking from the wings, but nothing to be concerned about. With the pawnee pulling me up in the the developing sky things could not be better or so I thought. Just after release I found zero lift, I was on a down hill slide trying to keep airborne. Out of luck I had to make a dash back to the runway and get another launch.

Doing a greaser of a landing I kept the water ballast on board. While towing the glider back on the sealed runway a power plane lined up to land, so I elected to get out of the way for him. Turns out that was a bad choice for me with the Hornet's wheel dropping into a hole that deep there was no way of getting it out by myself. The only way of getting the glider out was to dump all of the water ballast and with help from others we picked the glider up and I was back in action.

As I got pulled aloft for the second time I was still worked up from the drama of the last hour. My thoughts were cloudy and not totally focused on the job at hand. Heading out on task my thermaling wasn't the best and when you are a good hour plus behind everyone you need to have a clear mind.

The South Australia border was where I was going for the 1st turn point. On arrival at Francis I took a great climb that really got me going, I was back in the game.

It took me an hour and a half for the first 110km and on a day like this it was fairly slow. The next turn point was Ultima, over 250km away. Wow! thats more distance than the 1st day of the comp. About half way along the leg I pulled into a climb with Keith Willis in his PW-5 ZAW, he was doing his own task. With things going slower than I would like I half thought "maybe I should've stayed in bed". It was 4pm and I still had about 150 km to the turn point . It took me until 6pm to make it to Ultima.

On arrival at Ultima I had a sneaking thought the day was starting to die and it was still along way back to Horsham. The last turn point was Donald over 100km from Ultima. The thermals weaking and about 2hrs before the sun was due to go down, I was in trouble. I kept on saying to myself just 1 more climb and I should make it home. And in saying that I got that thermal to 9'000ft. Excellent I can now make it to Donald.

10 kilometers from Donald I found myself saying those words again "just one more climb and I'll make it home" and with that another 9'000ft climb. In rounding Donald at 8'400ft and the time at 7:15pm I still thought making it back to Horsham was fairly slim. But... One should never give up.

The last 81km into the sun gave me not a lot of forward vision and going on the GPS arrow the numbers kept on counting down. At 2 knots down I flew at 60 knots and if it went to 1 knot down I slowed to 55 knots and at zero I did 50 knots. By doing this I extended my glide even more. Any remaining thermals were very weak and not worth stopping for. Finally The numbers we all like to see on the GPS , I was going to make final glide.

On arriving back at Horsham I managed to snap a few photos of the sun just about to set before lining up on the runway from which I departed 7hrs ago. I took me 6hrs 30mins to do the task at a average speed of 88kph. I hoped that the next days flying was going to be shorter.


327km caps a long day's flying - Mark

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Tocumwal city - next to the Murray River

On Monday November 30 I headed to Raywood early to pickup the PW-5, leaving the airfield at about 8.30 am, bound for a week's stay at Tocumwal. Eddie and Cheryl at Sport Aviation made me most welcome, and the week turned out to be a good one, with plenty of fun flights over varying distances, but the pick of the days for me was Wednesday, December 2, when I managed to take the PW-5 on a 327 km journey from Tocumwal to Narrandera, Lockhart and back to Tocumwal

This was one of the longest, most challenging and yet enjoyable days I've had gliding so far.

The day was by no means an outstanding one, totally blue sky with a bit of a headwind from the north east, and thermals mainly just over 6000 ft, with the occasional one to slightly over 7000 ft. Taking off at around 1.15pm I headed directly north east, into the wind towards Narrandera, about 150 km distant.

Going was slow, as I used a band of 7000 ft to around 4500 ft, which meant much thermalling. The territory below was pretty barren. Large blocks of land, some with crops and hay bales, others with stock, and still others overgrown with native shrubs.

327km track

I was very confident I could find a safe place to land if necessary, but finding a suitable spot for a towplane was more dubious. Nevertheless, thermals were consistently found and after flying over Narrandera the 57 km track to Lockhart was begun. Not as much lift was to be found on this leg, but it was a bit quicker with the wind being a cross/tailwind.

By the time Lockhart was reached I was struggling, with the height below 2000 ft. I was well and truly searching for a big paddock for the towplane to land in should I outland when I came across an eagle, below me, but flying straight and apparently gaining altitude.

I went over and followed him, and sure enough, we both wound up in a thermal. That little eagle stayed with me until we reached 6500 ft. By that time he was above me, and I left Lockhart feeling very grateful for the assistance. As a matter of interest, when I departed Lockhart I noticed the town had a small dirt strip airfield. In all my concentration of sticking with the eagle and trying to gain height in the weak thermal I hadn't even seen it.

It was now around 5.30 pm, but I'd lost track of time as my clock on my GPS was one hour out, showing 4.30 pm On track from Lockhart to Tocumwal and thermals were a bit harder to find. An hour into that had seen me go about half way, around 60 km, but I'd gotten down to an alarming 1700ft, looking for a landing spot. It had been a long time since the last thermal.

Fortunately farmers were ploughing their field. Looking at the fine dust they were raising indicated that it was rising, and drifting with the wind, so I headed that way.

Tocumwal airfield - an ex WW2 bomber base

The ploughs had released heat from the soil, this was the second "golden thermal", the ones that save you when you need it most. With quite a bit of persistance I rode the relatively weak thermal to almost 7500 ft. According to my glide calculator I wouldn't reach home base with any margin of error, I needed one more thermal, so I set out with hopes high of finding that last bit of lift I needed to make it.

The day was now really dying, and another problem presented itself, the sun was directly in my eyes on the track back to Tocumwal. I couldn't see ahead, so I made a number of calls on the radio alerting traffick of my position.

About 25km out I took a last little thermal of less than 2 knots up to about 5000 ft and made the final glide to Tocumwal. The airfield at Tocumwal is huge, an old bomber base, but with the sun directly in my eyes I couldn't see it, so I went slightly off track to the right and made a straight in approach onto runway 180 when it was abeam of the glider.

At 7.48 pm I came in to land, after a 6 1/2 hour 327km journey. Ironically this was an inferior day to the one I'd outlanded on about a month ago, but this time luck was on our side.

A Visitors Perspective on Cup Week 2009 by Ales Rajch

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I just got back from Raywood yesterday and what an experience!!


Thanks to the committees trusting me with the Junior, it's packed in the trailer awaiting me to go and pick it up tomorrow with my work mate's Falcon. I had 12 flights in 6 days, averaged over 5 hours for each day and flew almost 1000km!!

So thank you GGC (and Raywood people)

On completion of my C certificate last week, I realised that there was a step up from being a student to being a prepared pilot. And there is a lot to look after.

From trailer, tow permit, rego, tie down kit, a car with tow bar (thanks Andrew Murphy), parachutes, batteries -got my own, battery connections, chargers, logger, logger cradle ( thanks JB for some nifty metalwork before leaving), logger software and connections, bungees to secure logger and batteries, pee tube (20 embarrassing phone calls to pharmacies etc. later), maps-colour photocopies, gps unit turnpoints, task declarations to survival kit etc. etc. the list goes on. As well as filling out the flight sheets for SSO.

As a result, I declared tasks and was able to complete all Silver Badge, Gold Distance and Diamond Goal ( 300 km declared triangle) !!


Saturday 31st Oct.- Area Check flight in PW-6 - nice expensive glider but the pooch climbs better ;-)

Junior- Raywood AD to Pyramid Hill return 4hrs 37min

Wind N/NW flew slightly into wind which eventually got me back on track. First XC experience and after some tips I knew I just had to go for it: 70kts between thermals. Was amazed how quickly the distance between CUs was covered. Down to 3200 past Mitiamo- worrying. Saw some other GGC Members even lower at that point! Comforting climb back to 7000. Comfortable glide back home with plenty of comfort top ups. max height 8000. Hung around East of Raywood to try extending to 5 hrs but got some nice pics of the approaching storm instead. I believe my 50 km claim will not be valid since Ratwood town was declared in the logger and wasn't told to change it to match the paper declaration which I flew from Raywood AD. Doesn't matter - did 50 km again later in the week.

Sunday 1st Nov. Winch check in PW-6 - 30 minute flight at around 11am, weather looking up.

GWQ Janus -Dual flight with JB. Raywood to Boort - Charlton than outland 20km short of home.

Took off late about 1400 behind a packed competition-like grid. JB demonstrated the art of efficient flying- joy to watch. Set off towards task- JB gave me a docile lesson which proved invaluable for my later flights. Fly at Macready! Flaps into negative ! youre too slow! stop wasting time with 2kt thermals.. There is no thermal there, putting the flaps out puts the brakes on, you're wasting time... I realised that if I had saved 2 minutes here and there, we probably would have got home. Thats also obvious on the trace on OLS, plenty of time wasting little climbs along the way to Boort.

Got down to 3000 before Boort and saved by a magnificent climb to 8000ft over the township. Not much lift on the next leg had me wondering where we would end up but the thrill of the last climb dulled the concern somewhat. JB worked his magic in and out of Charlton but we never really had final glide. We had company which helped the circling but was disconcerting when the other glider wasted height, got ahead and the got out the sustainer and flew off home! JB was doing well keeping us at 2000 AGL for a while but we weren't going anywhere.. chance to check out the swimming pool of the farmhouse and, oh yes, paddocks. I was fussy and couldn't choose, there was wheat, grass that looked uneven - I said: not that one- could be rocks in there, then horses, sheep and power pole. JB says can't see where it goes- happy to be his eyes and spotted the direction of the SWER. It was a little worrying when at circuit height JB mentions in his charismatic half sarcastic way: I'm starting to run out of ideas..... Then: see that gate over there with all the tracks leading from it? we'll put her there.

As it turned out, it was a perfectly executed paddock landing. downwind parallel to the SWER, perfect height on base, flaps out, aim for between the sheep, clear the fence and perfect touch down! nice smooth paddock with a slight undulation stopping in a little gully way ahead of the clump of trees. JB called base - it's handy to be with Telstra. Walking to the farm house, if you can, don't walk through the field with grass and prickles in it. Farmer's wife home, not their paddock, go to Woodses over there- too much information. So- how did you get here? ... uhh , we flew here... although the offer of a drink was inviting... another phone call with better directions, by the time we got back to the road, we saw the trailer approaching. Drove to the Woodses, more farm pets to pat, more confusing directions drawn in the dirt pertaining to the location of the gates. Other farmers wife says: why dont you just go down and show them.. ohh ok, it was only a 2 minute drive to the glider. Farmer says, we get balloons landing here, and rockets too- model rocketeers knocking at the door looking for their fly aways. I always take the ones I find in the fields back to them. Serpentine rocket range nearby. You know that could go through your roof and cause a bit of damage" remarks Jeff Farrow.. uhh, hadn't thought about that.... Jeff had beers so another good finish to an amazing day.

I left to go to work back in Melbourne on Monday- Cup function gig at Gov. house and Wagga parade on Wednesday. Arrived back to find Boni 10kms away on final glide after his 5 hour and 50km success. Boni left chasing his OO to the pub, who left before Boni landed but I hear there was success there too.

So there I was at Raywood with less than 20 gentlemen, Jenni G and Caleb White from team DG looking after me and the Junior- all to myself for the next 4 days! Responsibility.. Since I didn't have a tow bar I phoned around other Junior pilots with tow bars to see if they wanted to come up on the 2nd weekend. No takers out of Dave, Boni, Alvin, Lucas or Chris Adda. Oh well, I tried- good luck!!

Thursday 5th Nov. - Got off first to scout the sky, tops below 5000 so just local soaring for 3 hours. Good practice. I scribbled all over the map with my trace. Is it even worth anything on OLC? Will find out soon. Came down early to get a couple of winch launches after an attempt at better aerobatics manouvers. Wing overs are good practice for thermal entry!!

Friday 6th Nov. Forecast was good and two task were set. Team DG did 300km to Donald and Boort I think, but I was recommended Wedderburn, Pyramid Hill. Noticing that Wedderburn was 57 km, I declared Raywood AD to Wedderburn as a 50km leg. Took ages to get away, lost thermals, the harvester near the airfield saved me.. eventually. My leg speed was only about 32 km/h due to turning back as wisps of cloud disappeared before me and CUs formed behind.. lucky but not the best.. Finally, I had a good run into Wedders only to be worried on the way out. attemptiong to find lift, I was chased away by a very aggressive looking Wedge tail. he lined me up like in the Battle of Britain so I just got outa there! I headed back towards home, only to find the improving conditions made me turn NE towards CUs and Pyramid Hill in the distance. 7000 and JB's voice appeared in my mind: don't waste time in weak lift.. I'm getting the hang of this. Turnpoint then blue hole ahead.. hmm, head for `CU to the East of track, 8000 and I knew I was home and hosed with more CUs ahead. Wasted more time to make up 5 hrs to complete a not so easy Silver Badge Flight.

Saturday 7th Nov. Forecast even better today, light easterly with 31deg forecast. Looking over Caleb's shoulder at the blipmap, he noted line of CUs predicted between Deniliquin to Raywood at 1700H. He said, set your own tasks today. Mike Durrant turned up to fly SSO away so we roped him into 11 launches in under 2 hours before he had to go. Good work Mike!I decided to secretly declare Kerang - Deniliquin and saw that it was over 313 kms. I wasn't going to do it, just out to Kerang and see. I mentioned my adventurous declaration to Mike and he gave me his blessing. Go for it! It gave me that extra push that helped me attack the 2nd leg over the forested part of the Murray at the NSW border.

Launched at midday, found good lift but had another case of the starting blues. 1 hour after launch, I found myself floundering around desperately looking for the lift I needed and was almost down to 2000ft AGL about 15km West of the airfield. Someone did outland in a similar situation to me but I was lucky again. After some more meandering, off I went and had a great run, CUs looked good all the way. Left Kerang at about 3 pm and gave myself an 90 minutes to cover the 90 kms to Deniliquin. Unbelievable feeling to make Deniliquin with 15 minutes to spare. Then tailwind home reaching 170km/h groundspeed after final topup. Slowed down before the airfield and straight onto downwind. My OO said he must have heard me make 15 radio calls back from Deniliquin.. And was I excited.. 5hrs 19min and 312.5 kms for my first 300km triangle - Diamond Goal, and Gold Distance!

Sunday 8th Nov. Last day, forecast was great with potential of high CUs with increasing temp. 35 expected. I was going for Gold height! And to improve X-country speed in any direction-

After winch launching into sink I had to have another go, this added an hour to my takeoff time but by now, the CUs were at 9000 over the airfield. Tried to not waste time but caught myself doing it still. Looking out west past dry lake Buloke I was hoping the CUs would lift to 11000 but it only achieved 9600 feet. In fact it looked like the CUs were dispersing unlike all the other days when they kept going till late. Before I realised this it was already 4:15 pm when I turned back.... over about 135km to go with a headwind.. oops. Let me just say, I was happy to get back over Wedderburn with over 8000ft to go about 60km to base. Required glide ratio was less then 35 but kept going up.. Below 5000ft I aimed at the west facing rock of Mt Kerang and got a thousand back.

I was hoping to get to at least Serpentine and over the Loddon River to avoid a big detour for any retrieve crew. Just past Mt Kerang I got a little more lift over some trees over the creek but still not enough. I was crawling to save and started looking at paddocks up ahead as I passed below 4000 ft. Made some more radio calls advising of uncertainty of making it home. paddock picked out at 3500ft next to the highway, the only one in the area that was brown. I was 20 kms from Raywood where I saw a `CU still at height. Dave Goldsmith who did 300km in his K6 was still around the airfield at 9000 ft and came my way to look on. I could have got at least another 10km closer and was going to wait 1 more minute before planning outlanding. And then it happened, over the Loddon highway , a dirt bike track or something.. I have a thermal!! beautiful solid climb to 5000 ft, just enough for final glide according to trusty Binatone. Mind you, I probably still had 3.5 knots set on the Macready.... problem....will not make this mistake next time...had plenty of height, even circled a few times over Raywood. Someone was burning off in Raywood town, maybe thats the smoke I saw from a distance rising to the cloud.

So, 4Hrs, and 50min later: 270km, and lucky to get home with landing at 6:50pm. The Bendigo crew helped me derig within 20 min before disappearing..

Dave and Jenni were the only ones left putting K6 away. Lovely people those.

Drove off into the sunset. Beautiful!


A glorious day to outland - Mark

Look at the clouds, what am I doing here?

Imagine the scene, beautiful warm day, strong cu’s breaking out everywhere, a few cloud streets, a gentle breeze and every chance of success for a cross country flight.

Too good to be true really.

I should have known it wasn’t my day when I had to get a relight from my first launch. After finding a thermal on my second launch I set course for Elmore after reaching an altitude of around 5000 ft.

The trip out there went well, not too many difficulties finding lift under clouds, the glider felt comfortable, a few lines of lift were present and all seemed well with reasonable cross country speed being achieved. The problems began at Elmore. After flying over the town and thermalling back to about 5000 ft I headed off tracking for Mitiamo. There was a patch of blue sky in that direction, however some nice cumulous were on the other side and it seemed a sure bet that lift would be present, after all, most of the clouds so far had been kind. Unfortunately it was not to be. After reaching the clouds at around 4000 ft there was no lift to be found.

Pressing back on track the area below wasn’t great, with Kow Swamp in a southerly direction to my left. By this stage the wind had changed direction from the north to a southerly, blowing directly from the swampy area towards me. With an altitude of under 3000 ft on the dial things were getting a bit desperate. All the strong thermals I’d had up to this point seemed to disappear, but I found a small weak thermal and hung in.

The problem was the wind was blowing me away from my preferred good landing spots into fields full of crops and stock, not where I wanted to be, and I wasn’t going up very quickly. Decision time. Abandon the thermal and head for better landing fields, or stay with it and hope it strengthens. I decided to leave the thermal, backtrack to the southeast away from Kow Swamp and head towards better landing areas, with the possibility of picking up another thermal on the way.

Heading towards my preferred field at around 2000 ft there were no thermals to be found. A quick radio call to indicate a likely outlanding was made, then it was time to concentrate on the field. Left hand circuit, beware of trees, no wires, no stock, plenty of grass and hopefully no rocks underneath, flat, looks good. Some car tracks on the field gave an indication that the grass wasn’t too deep, so after a normal circuit I flew over the trees along the fenceline to touchdown, trying to hold off as long as possible and to have as short a ground run as possible.

Jenne relayed my radio contact that I had outlanded, and then I proceeded to get a more exact fix on my position with my trusty iPhone, which gave me the name of the road I was on, as well as nearby roads. A phonecall to the field resulted in Dave and Keith kindly volunteering to hitch the trailer and head out to pick me up. While waiting I pushed the glider nearer to the gate, and began getting it ready for derigging. It was quite a nice spot, there was even a tree nearby for shade.

One of the local farmers was ploughing along the fenceline, so I asked him where I could get a key for the padlocked gate. Although it wasn’t his field, the local pointed me in the direction of the owner’s house, so when Keith and Dave arrived I grabbed the car and headed in the direction of the farmer’s house. A knock on the door found no-one was there! Visions of lifting the PW-5’s body over a barbed wire fence with the resultant possibility of long and deep scratches sent chills down the spine, but as luck would have it a ute drove past as I was getting back into the car.

The farmer’s cousin was driving the ute! What luck!

He followed me back to the landing spot and happened to know where to find a key hidden near the field. After the gate was opened it was easy. A quick derig, and we were off.

So, what lessons were learned?

There were at least two tactical errors made. Number 1 - At this stage of the season, I should have stayed high. Often lift can continue high up with changing conditions, whereas down low it can disappear. This was a tactical flight error. With lift going to 6-7000 ft it wasn’t wise to only use 5000 ft, even if conditions seemed strong.

Number 2 – I should not have stuck to a pre-determined course. I could have elected simply to follow cloud streets and stayed up over a long distance, rather than say flying a triangle, which was what I intended. Apart from these tactical errors there were not a lot of other mistakes on the flight. For example, thermalling was OK, finding lines of lift up to Elmore was fine.

Other lessons, as always, keep up a continuous check of potential landing sights. Later in the season there will be more available landing paddocks, but at the moment there are a lot of crops, a lot of fields with long grass and a lot running stock. In this case there were also swampy areas with water courses running in.

Take more water. After I landed my Camelbak ran out. Wasn’t a problem on this relatively moderate day, but during a blistering summer it could have been.

Take more notice of farmhouses from the air. I thought I saw a farmhouse from the air, however it was actually shedding. I still would have landed in the same spot, but it could help if a key were required for a gate, as was the case in this instance.

Take some Gliding Club cards. In hindsight, I should have offered the farmer’s cousin a flight at my expense. He was helpful and saved not only time, but potential damage to the glider, not to mention our backs. I wish I had given him a card.

Finally, don’t be scared or worried about landing out. Time is the key, don’t rush anything. Selection of a big, flat, safe field followed by a normal circuit and landing eliminates most potential chances of disaster.

Just for fun - Dave Goldsmith

Easter weekend lineup

Easter gliding at Bendigo had been wonderful, like most of the summer, with good flying in pleasant temperatures being the rule rather than the exception. Over the four days, the weather slowly improved, and Monday seemed to me to be the best chance for a decent crosscountry. I put an imaginary “reserved” sign on the Ka6 and suggested to Jenne that it was time she had a day in the club gliders, always a pleasant choice!

A little research turned up the best shot for a club trophy would be the 200 k, so on the flight-line I asked Craig to suggest a suitable 200 k triangle. His immediate response was “Pyramid Hill, Charlton”, so that completed the pre-flight planning and the trip was on! Lining up at 1.30, I told Jenne to expect me back at 5 o’clock (how far can one put one’s tongue in the cheek!)

A good launch, to 1200 agl, a 180 turn to go back over the launch point and into a thermal, straight up to 3,500 and off on track. A helpful farmer’s burn-off almost exactly on track was the first target. Some decent sink meant I had to work 3 thermals to get there, sharing one with CFI Phil while he took some photos. I was soon rewarded with 7,500 feet and a burning smell in the cockpit of my wooden “mighty Ka6”!

Now the speed is on as we eat the miles. Almost no-wind conditions and in one hour I am turning at Pyramid Hill at 7,000 feet. 30 minutes later and Boort is passed at 6,500. Soon the thermals are weakening and I’m down to 3,500, the trip to Charlton becoming a bit of a struggle. Jack in the DG-505 two seater reports in a weak thermal at 3,500 over Charlton, they are heading for home. OK, should I give it away, head for home and deprive Jenne of a retrieve? Unthinkable!

A climb to 5,000 gets me going and soon Charlton is in the bag at 4,000 feet and two hours gone. Remembering that the triangle is slightly larger than 200k, I cut the corner a little and turn for home. A nice steady thermal becomes promising, unbelievably so as it just keeps on sucking, all the way up to 9,200 feet! Eighty kilometers to go, I savour the moment and set the sweet glider on 45 knots for best L:D. Time to smell the roses, sun at my back, shadows lengthening and a beautiful smooth sky, fabulous views and, at this speed, almost an hour to contemplate and enjoy. ..

Two small top-ups on the way home, over the airfield for a smooth landing at 5.02 pm. Forty five years of gliding and the thrill is better than ever. OLC triangle 211 km, FAI triangle 202 km, flight time 3 hours and 32 minutes in comfort. Maybe even in this modern age, for a leisurely pilot and an old Ka6, that club trophy is a chance!

Raywood or Bust.

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For the 3rd year running we meet the Grampians Soaring club for the Labor Day weekend at Donald. Our two clubs have meet every year at different airfields for a social and fun flying weekend but for the past 3 we have made Donald our home. This year for the first time in about 5 years Paul and I have gone in the one car, with Astir in tow. The plan was if the weather was good enough one of us would fly home on the Monday.

Both Saturday and Sunday the flying conditions where scratchy with not very good thermals, they were good for local flying but you would have to be brave to head out a huge distance.

On Monday I got to the airfield and DI'd the Astir and prepared to fly home. Just after lunch Mark Kerr in his PW-5 GLN took a tow behind the Ararat tug. We all watched as he climbed through 3’000ft, That’s when I pushed the Astir on to the growing line of gliders. After another great tow I found a climb which took me to just below 3’000ft and I left that climb to look for a better one closer to Raywood. Heading out towards the east going from 2’800 down to 2’000ft most of the first half an hour. It was very slow going with about 7 thermals before I snagged a good climb which got me up and running . When you go from an average of 2’500ft to over 4’000ft you feel that it will be a easy run. Wrong!

Home Safe

The super climb I took was at 97 km out from Raywood, for the next 30 km I stopped for very little and at 67 km out I was down to 2’000ft. Just out of Wedderburn and struggling. I finally found a climb which got me up from 1’000ft to just over 2’000ft before I lost it. There was no way I was going over the Wedderburn tiger country less the 3’5, that would be a little crazy. Knowing that David Goldsmith was closing the gap in the mighty K-6 made me work a bit harder, wood might be good but glass is fast. Finding the climb I needed I was back in action. Blitzing across the scrub before getting the climb of the day near MT Korong.

At over 4’000ft 35km things looked great. The run in I was able to pick up the climbs that I needed to get me Home and back to Raywood.

Wow. Its great to get home after such a hard start with low spots most of the first hour before a good second hour. I was by no means fast over the 113km flight but I made it back home to Raywood.

Horsham Week Day 3.-Craig's Story

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For the past 42 years at the start of February glider pilots have gone to Horsham for the Horsham week competion. This was my 5th time at this event and my 3rd time I've taken the Bendigo Club Super Arrow there to race. In 1969 when the Super Arrow came out, it would have turned a lot of heads with its staggering performance. At 31 to 1 glide rate it would have seen off most of the competion at that time, but now it is at the bottom of the performance range at the modern comp. I still decided to take the Super Arrow because I have had about 250 hours in the glider so I know it fairly well.

The first 2 days the flying was fairly hard with not huge heights and climbs that at times were hard to find and centre. Things changed for the better on Day 3 though. At the morning briefing they set a task of 241km for sports class, which at the time seemed ambitious when I looked at the sky outside. The weather briefing said that when the day got hot enough we would see cloud base around 7000 ft with the chance of thunder storms late in the day. The task set for me was Horsham, Kaniva, Ellam and back to Horsham.

Task Map

After gridding I was thinking whether I would skirt around the Little Desert or blast right across the middle. I would have to see what height I had when I got ot the edge. Finally I got my tow behind the towplane and I released in lift, I thought. Then it was down to about 1000ft before finding a climb that worked. Before the start some pilots climbed up the side of a cloud, I went to see if I could do that but no luck. Best thing to do then is to head off on track. On the first leg out to Kaniva I ran mostly on the northen edge of the Little Desert N.P. getting to cloud base at around 8500ft. There was a slight head wind heading out and my speed was 68 kph for this leg to the turn point.

The Second leg to Ellam was a different story, although I still had the head wind the lift lined itself up in a nice street. I did the 79 km in 45 minutes at an average speed of 106kph. Smokin' for a wooden glider! If I had kept the speed up for all the flight you would have needed a jet engine to keep up with me. Unfortunately I slowed down when I got down to 4500ft and had to work a weaker climb just before Ellam.

The final 69km back to Horsham should have been a breeze after bombing along at 8000ft most of the flight but I discovered that all good plans sometimes come unstuck. Two thermals and I thought that I was bulletproof with final glide in the bag. Just 1 cloud shadow to cross then on to victory, so I thought. I went from a comfortable 7000ft all the way down to a low of 1800ft with 20 km to run. For those who don't know, in the Super Arrow it was a huge ask and I would've ended up in a paddock if I had kept on going. The thermal that I eventually found was 1 knot ( very weak 1 knot) but it did see me back up to 3200ft which gave the the height to head for home. As luck would have it, in the last 10km there was lift all over the place.

Although I was beaten by the fibreglass gliders and came in 4th overall I still had an average speed of 80kph for the task which I was stoked about.


Colin and John Throw Down The Gauntlet!

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Task Map

The Bendigo Gliding Club has an annual trophy for speed around a 100km triangle in a club 2 seat glider. The club also has an annual coaching regatta corresponding with the Melbourne Cup Weekend. As one of the coaches in the club, I was asked to fly with two members, Patrick Roberts on Monday 5th Nov and John Mackley the following day. The glider available for the flights was the PW-6, VH GYC, owned by the club.

On the Monday, Patrick and I only achieved a speed of 64 kph around Mitiamo and Serpentine. There were areas influenced by high cloud where thermals were difficult to find. The forecast for Tuesday was more favourable, with regular cumulus cloud, bases 6500ft. The task nominated for pilots attending the coaching weekend was Raywood, Elmore, Borung, Inglewood, Raywood, a distance of 179km. As John is not an experienced glider pilot, I settled for Raywood, Elmore, Mitiamo, Raywood, a distance of 118km.

Phil McCann, flying Geelong Club's Super Cub dropped us in lift. After a good climb we started on track for Elmore. We were fortunate, taking advantage of other gliders as markers. Approaching Elmore was under an extensive area of cloud shadow which required a slight diversion to a sunny area. A good climb resulted, averaging 4 knots and peaking at 8.5knots. The next leg was down wind and marked by regular clouds. After turning Mitiamo, a climb under a cloud gave us final glide at 6500 ft, 33km to run into a slight head wind, 1000ft safety height and field elevation of 450 ft. The average speed for the task was 84.28 kph.

John was delighted with his first cross country flight but did appreciate that it requires intense concentration over an extended period. Hitting the fatigue barrier is real, something that requires experience and current practice to overcome. I also enjoyed the flight, being particularly impressed with the performance of the PW-6 as a glider suitable for teaching cross country flying.

Colin C Campbell

Rod Takes His Daughter Gliding

"This is a video that my daughter shot last time I took her up" Just click on the image. Experience just what it's like to take a winch launch and connect with that first thermal.

Video: Rods Clip

It's Not Cross Country, but...

Video: Patrick in action

Let's go for a fly said Patrick. OK said Phil. I might bring my video camera said Patrick. OK said Phil, do you want the front or back. Back will do said Patrick.

To see how you can have fun without going cross country click here:-

Cameraman, Director and Producer: Patrick Roberts

Pilot: Phil McCann

Guest starring Keith Evans as the "hookeronerer", wing runner and, by the magic of cinema, winch driver

Raywood 17 June 2006

Chasing the 2 Seater 100km Trophy - by Craig Dilks

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For some years now Phil Organ and Myself have had a go at winning the Bendigo Gliding Club’s 100 km trophy. It’s awarded for the fastest around 100km in a 2 seater during the year. The first year that we had an attempt, it was in the K-7, GNX. After a few passenger flights on the day, we took a really late launch, close to 4 o'clock, and of course the day died early. We found ourselves in a paddock waiting for retrieve crew to pick us up.

This year it was very similar, Phil and I took a launch late in the day in the clubs brand new PW-6. The idea was to do and out and return to MT Towengower, 55km south of Raywood. The flight started normal, one winch launch followed by the first thermal in which we had to put up a good fight to climb. It only took us to a bit over 1700 ft before we moved on to the next climb, which was a lot better and we rose to a bit short of 4000 ft. The words from Phil in the front seat were "Stuff this lets go ". Of course just as we left that climb we ploughed into the best climb of the day so I pulled back into it and screamed up to over 6500 ft. Then we left the field behind and headed south.

100k O&R

The sky had one big cloud street lined up for us in the right direction and we went for what seemed like forever, until we reached the other side of Bendigo, then the street swung towards Mount Alexander, away on our left. Our plan to keep going due south suddenly changed after flying straight for so long and we both agreed to follow the clouds and keep to where we knew the lift to be.

Mt Alexander is 55 km or so from Raywood so we would still get the distance required. I tried one climb and it became weak and hard to work, "The object is to make the glider climb", Phil said to me, so then I gave the glider to him and said "Well, Mister CFI, show me how good you really are!". So Phil took the controls and proceeded to show me how to get lower still. By this stage I called "Chicken" and Phil made a chicken sound from the front seat. One half kilometre from the turn point is as close as we got.

Down, down, we went until we got a climb over the Cathederal in Bendigo, at about 3000ft Phil switched to Bendigo CTAF on the Radio as we contemplated the prospect of outlanding at Bendigo Airport. That’s when I landed the climb that would soon get us out of trouble and back to open paddocks. Looking forward, the sight of the north south runway at Raywood was fantastic.

I can't say in the final glide that I was not disappointed in not making it to the turn point but at least we made it home .What picked up our collective spirits is when we down loaded the logger and found that we had done 101 km in 49 mins at an speed of 123kph average. See…, the PW-6 DOES go when you get the right day. Craig

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