December 31, 2009

July 5, 2009

The End

The contest is all over now and we are presently in Helsinki, ready to leave tomorrow morning. The last day we had a 2 and a half hour AAT. Nathan and I decided to start early today to avoid the showers that were predicted and also so we could be home early for the party. We thought that it was a very good decision at the end of the flight because the sky became completely overcast and only very weak lift. We expected many outlandings but the weather recycled and almost everyone made it home with good speeds. I finished 34th overall which I am a bit dissapointed with but I had a good time and learnt a lot. My third day error cost me a lot of points. The top finishers flew in teams with the exception of second place finisher CI from Lithuania. I congratulate all of the pilots in the contest on their excellent flying throughout.

End of Contest Award Ceremony

When we arrived at the airfield this morning there were a lot of weary faces from the strain of last night's end of contest party. Team captains were rounding up their pilots for the awards ceremony, many pilots including ours didn't make it back to their own beds.

The weather has turned markedly cooler and sweaters and jackets were required by the less hardier types like myself. The awards ceremony was held at just the right time as less than half an hour after it ended rain had set in. We are in Helsinki at the Radisson downtown and are going to make a small tourist excursion and dinner tonight before we start our return journey tomorrow morning at 6:00am.




July 4, 2009

DAY 9 Last Day

Yesterday's rest was welcomed by most and particularly by those needing to do the minor repairs and clean up jobs that are an inevitable result when you land approximately 40 gliders in farmers fields. There are airfields but not as numerous and closely spaced as we are used to in North America. Another shock when you land at an airfield is that tow retrieve rates at the contest are 220 Euros/hr.

While waiting for briefing to start we were entertained by Harry Sundström the president of Räyskälä Foundation on guitar and US crew member David Bargainnier on harmonica. Their impromptu jam was greeted with warm applause as was a later announcement of 2 euro beer for happy hour at 19:00.

The weather has turned a lot cooler and we again have cloud cover over much of Finland. A clear weather hole developing over the contest site and a 282km nominal distance AAT task has been set for both classes, the only difference is the start line locations.


The clear hole disappeared shortly after the start line opened it is now completely overcast. Chris and Nathan KS were the first to start and we have just heard them discussing going on or making for home. It seems last minute heroics is not on their agenda and they are not concerned about ending the task early. We expect to hear them calling a finish any minute.

July 3, 2009


The cell phone did ring and Chris was down about 30km away with Devin AY of the US team. It was a relatively simple retrieve but once more we had to derig the gliders and carry them out, two crews made it easier getting over the ditch between the road and the field. We arrived back at the airport at 20:40 as some Standard Class gliders were landing from their 550km task. The last reported landing was at 21:40, the longest flight reported was nine and a half hours and the last trailer home arrived at 2:00 this morning. Some pilots and crews will be relieved that today has been cancelled. We rigged the glider and Lynne and Chris are hosing off the dust as I write.

July 2, 2009

DAY 8 17:00

Trailers are starting to leave to pick up the earlier landouts. News we have garnered from crews in touch with their pilots is that many are down to five hundred feet near the second turnpoint. There is still a lot of task to fly but on the plus side if conditions pick up the days are long and nine o'clock finishes are common. Lynne keeps asking me if my cell phone is turned on.

No tourists and no postcards

For those of you readers who are expecting a postcard from us, you will likely be disappointed. We are not in a tourist area, so there seems to be a lack of postcards. I’ve asked about postcards, but I have not found a local source. As there has been flying almost every day, we have not had the opportunity to go to a larger town or to a coastal resort that would have postcards.

We have not seen many foreign licence plates on the cars on the roads (of course excepting those at the gliding field). There are cottages to rent around here, but it seems that it is Finnish people who normally visit this area as our cottage only has instructions in Finnish – usually you find English instructions when you travel. We have found TV programs in English (with Finnish sub-titles) so we can watch something when we arrived home tired. Fishing from the dock by our cottage is better than the TV – we have not caught anything else yet – we probably need to go out in the boat again. It is pleasant to stand on the dock dipping the line, enjoying the scenery and watching the sun trying to set in the never-ending daylight.


Alcohol Killer a drink in cans is available at the
Sika Saloon in the briefing hangar, open for business at 9:00a.m.

Sunny and warm but uncertain weather. We will have two racing tasks, taskB is a bit shorter and does not reach as far east to avoid showers associated with a cold front which is due to pass through this evening and tomorrow. we are on the back of the grid today and first launch is not scheduled until 11:30 and in reality will probably not take place until after noon.

Highlights at briefing, more gaggle flying safety discussion with SeeYou playback of a near miss. Karaoke night tonight, they don't have our music so fortunately for all concerned we will not be able to perform.

After briefing the task set for Club Class is a 344km assigned task Standard is flying 556km. Contest Director Silve mentioned he wanted to keep to racing tasks rather than distance and endurance! TK and KS started at 14:16 and we also heard Corey and Devin of team USA starting at the same time but not necessarily from the same spot. The start line is 10km long and has been set to as much as 20km when both classes used the same line.

July 1, 2009

Day 7

We had an AAT of 2 and a half hours. Nathan and I were one of the first starters today leaving a big gaggle at the start line. The first leg was blue and very difficult. We met up with some standard class pilots who were as low as us. We had a good laugh watching them dump their water in front of us. We found a thermal with one of the standard class guys but he left just before it finally picked up. We had a good laugh about that as well. We got to some clouds on the second leg but they were broken and not working very well. They finally picked up and we had a good run most of the way home. When we got to the end of the clouds about 20km out we had to take some weak climbs to get final glide.


Pilot briefing has been delayed today until 10:30 because of the uncertain weather. At the team captains' briefing this morning we received a stern talk about aggressive thermalling and tight final glides over the 15-30 metre high Finnish grass. Contest Director Silve explained 15-30metre high grass in Finland is what we would call forest.

Weatherman Janne explained that although the models did not predict soaring possibilities the holes in the top cover suggested we may have a chance to fly. The task delivered at the grid for Club Class is a 2.5 hr AAT nominal 268km, min 175 and max 375. Chris and Nathan KS started at 14:13 from the top of a gaggle after debating the merits of being first to start. Last transmissions suggested conditions were not as bad as they seemed at launch time. It is sunny and warm and we might just get time for a dip in the lake before the anticipated finishes around 17:00.

The terrace at Café 26

Last minute makeup!!???

The long grind to start altitude

June 30, 2009

Day 6

We had the first blue day of the contest so far. Lift did not get much above 3500ft above ground and lift was not much more than 2 knots. Most stayed in gaggles all the way around. It was more of a survival day. I did the task at 63km/h and winning speed was 69km/h.

There are Loons......Arctic Loons

The lake you saw in the finishing photos is good for swimming, and has a beach. Many of the crews have been hanging out at the beach during flying. There is another lake next to the camping area and we went swimming in it and saw a bird that looked like a loon, and it dove into the water like a loon. We asked a Finn what the bird was, and was told that it was a Kuikka – thanks to Google I could get a translation – it is an Arctic Loon. So there are loons in Finland.

I think that the lake is a little cool for swimming – 19 C, but the Finnish think that is warm!

Contest DAY6

Weather is uncertain today with possible cloud from the west and drying out to blue thermals in the east so the task is an AAT nominal 358km with minimum of 200 and a maximum of 524. The weatherman believes we will have flyable weather through to Saturday which would make this a ten day contest. If this holds true there is plenty more time for everyone to make mistakes and for those who have already made them to better their positions.

Yesterday Chris produced a result more consistent with first two contest days and the practice days. Out landings penalties, warnings and airspace incursions by other competitors contributed to his improved total standing.

The tasks took a long time getting started with the last launch in club class rolling at 13:16. Large gaggles drifting towards the start gate, standard class were dropping water in preparation for the big grind ahead. Earlier the sky was punctuated with the odd cumulus but now at 14:45 there is high cirrus cover and blue thermals to around 4,000 ft. It looks like it could be tough going.

June 29, 2009

Day 5

We had a 320km assigned task today to the west. Showers were forecast to come from the east. I had a better day then the last 2 days. The start was quite good but after the second turnpoint there was a large blue hole to pass through. I went through the hole with the Czechs and we hit nothing for 20kms. There were clouds at the turnpoint and then we had to turn around and go back through the blue. I got a thermal that the Czechs did not and gained on them and then met up with Nathan and Matthais. I thought I would get home first but got caught low. The Czechs beat me home and are at the top of the score sheet.

DAY6 Contest DAY5

There is a provision in the local procedures to extend the contest a day if only four days have been flown by Friday. Completion of a task today will make the contest official and we will have all day Saturday to prepare for the end of contest party Saturday night.

Although English is the main language members of different countries communicate in, I have been in a few situations when another language was more useful in making a clearer communication. Just this morning I was talking with one of the French crew members and after establishing Yannick lived in Strassboug to his amusement and delight we carried on our conversation in German.

Someone seems to have taken a fancy to our flag as it has gone missing from the flag pole, I have brought a spare ensign to reestablish our presence on the flag line. I guess we should be pleased someone felt the Canadian flag is unique or valuable enough to steal. Of course it might just be that the flags were purchased on the government's best price criteria from a far east supplier and that the grommets didn't hold when a front went through a few nights ago.

We have two tasks today to the west in anticipation of weather problems in the east. Task A is a 320km assigned task and Task B is a 3.50hr area task 259-575km, both tasks are squeezed in between the opposing terminal airspace areas west of Tampere. At 11:05 I was summoned to a Team Captain's meeting at the front of the grid. The standard Class are being moved to another runway because we have a slight tailwind component and we have received confirmation we are flying the assigned task A. First launch is scheduled at 12:15.

At this moment David Bargainnier father of Devin of the USA team is adding a bit of big city flavour to the warm summer weather on the ouside terrace of Café 26 with renditions of familiar tunes on his harmonica.

It is 5:15 a few landouts have been reported we are getting ready just in case as cmost of the pilots are in the same area about 30 to 40 km from the finish. Re the contest finishing Friday or Saturday that has been updated we will fly Saturday if it is flyable.

June 28, 2009

Day 4

The weather has finally weakened here. Today started blue then we got some clouds but there were still big blue holes in some areas. The task was an Assigned Area Task of 3.5 hours. I went okay on the first 3 legs but got caught low on my way back home. After scraping around in weak lift for a long time I finally found a good thermal to get me going again. I came in an hour over time but I am glad to be back. My speed was 69km/h and the winner was 89km/h.

DAY5 Contest DAY4

We spent the rest day back at the cabin and enjoyed a BBQ with the Australian team. It was nice to have the time to relax over our evening meal and not have to scramble for bed to get the 7-8hours sleep needed for the long days at the airfield. The weather is bright and sunny again today, however at the scheduled 11:15 first launch time the sniffers were barely able to maintain 400Metres. The original 4 hour AAT task was dialed back to 3.5hours with a 1.50 hour start delay, it seemed a lot more like the contests we are used to at home. It is just before 14:00, a few wide spaced cu have formed and we are expecting a some starts any time now.

Sniffers at 11:00

At the front of the grid

June 27, 2009


This morning spirits are somewhat low not only do we have to face up to yesterday's mistakes but the flying today if there is any could be difficult. The Räyskälä area is slowly being overrun by high cloud from the SE and briefing has been postponed an hour until 10:30. Club class is first to launch today and Chris is at the front of the grid.

It is just past 11:00 and the day has been canceled. After that the weather looks good for a number of days.

June 26, 2009

A Big Mistake

Today I had a very good start but then pushed way too hard and got myself low. While climbing out I contacted airspace. The penalty for hitting airspace is a landout where the airspace was contacted.

Long Days

The long daylight here is truly amazing – there are only about three hours of twilight, and no real night. We go to bed in the light, and get up in the light – fortunately our bedrooms are in a loft, so little light gets in and we can sleep well.

The long days of flying are also amazing – the contest has lucked into some great soaring weather at the moment. Chris and Andy sat through many days of rain and cold before the contest, so they are appreciating this weather. We get up early for us (we are all night owls not early risers), are rigged by 9, team captains meeting at 9, pilots meeting at 9:30, gridding closes at 11 and first launch at 11:15 to 11:30. The flights are long, so the finishes have not been coming until around 6 and there have been landings as late as 8. After de-rigging, we have a beer and post the blog, leave for dinner and then its bedtime!

Most of the junior pilots are flying longer tasks than they have ever flown and at faster speeds, so are experiencing many personal bests. It is interesting to overhear them chatter about their accomplishments. It is a pleasure to be here and see these young pilots fly so well.


They are off and running on a 359 km ride around the western edge of the Tampere military control zone. If the weather around the course is as good as it looks locally Chris's start time oat 14:32 should get him back around 18:00. Chris has been flying together with two other LS4 drivers Nathan Johnson KS from Australia and Matthias Lüthi N4 from Switzerland. There are a number of other cross national alliances flying together to even their chances against the large European national teams. They have been starting later with the objective of catching up the lead gaggles to offset the large handicap of the LS4's. Still Chris's fastest speed on yesterday's task only netted him 14th place. Chris was in a group of pilots who received warnings for Finish hazardous manouver, I particularly remember Chris and another pilot on the list finishing and did not see anything that would suggest such a warning. A number of the team captains will be seeking further clarification of the infractions.

Briefing this morning was opened with another great piece of video from Hubertus W. Huvermann, view the videos from the Pics&Stories tab on the contest site. Hubi nearly made his last film today. I backed into him when leaving the grid and knocked him over. Fortunately he recovered quickly and assured me there was no lasting damage but I took him to the accident and first aid team to make sure.

Finishes today will be on the same runway but the contest director has ordered unofficial photographers to stay away. you will need toview the photos on Pics&Stories.

The tracking software has new links:

Google Map or Google Earth

June 25, 2009

Day 2

The organizers decided to give us a shorter task today. Just 480km. I started late with Nathan and the Swiss Ls-4 Matthias. I got above them on the first leg and then met up with the German standard class pilots. We flew together to the first turnpoint since it was the same for both of us. after that I tried to catch the gaggle of club class gliders ahead of me. Then I met the German standard class pilots again on the second leg. I piggy-backed them until I caught up with the big gaggle at the second turnpoint. From then on it was gaggle flying until I got home. The standard class task went once more through our task and I met up with my friend Andrew Maddocks, the Australian who finished second in standard. On final glide I managed to push in front of two of the French and a Swede flying a Discus. There should be some nice photos of us finishing over the lake.


Well they are home and we went down to the finish line to take some photos as they came in across the lake the most exciting finish line even though the contest director warned all competitors not to skim the lake and pull up over the shore onto the runway. Check out the contest web site there is sure to be a great collection of photos. Chris had a great day so far he has the fastest time but the handicap has pushed him down to 13th place at this point in time. The scores are very tight because all the starts were within 15 minutes and the conditions allowed the gaggles to stick together. I'll leave Chris to tell the full story.

TK finishing.


At the end of the first day there were a lot of tired faces and early nights to prepare for today's task offering. Chris's day went well yesterday but his decision to fly the clouds to skirting a blue hole did not work out and he ended up having to accept less than optimal lift to stay in the game, much the same as the guys who went through the blue. The earlier pilots had a bit less trouble which increased their separation and points.

The weather continues under the influence of a large high pressure region rendering a good looking sky with flatter cumulus and has illiminated the chance of spreadout which has been a factor in the past four days. The temperature is also a comfortable 23-25°C so the lake by the saunas is beckoning.

The task today is 50km shorter for each class, Club Class will fly 480.7km. If you have been looking at the task maps you will notice the usual zig zaggy affair with long legs east and west. All of Finland is restricted airspace. The last page of the following pdf file airspace illustrates the restricted airspace sectors. Each day airspace sectors are opened up for glider flying and the pilots have to take particular regard for the ceilings as they cross into a new sector. The grey areas are no fly zones so you will see the reason for the long east west legs and the minimal turns to the north and south.

It is 15:00 local time and the tracker equipped aircraft are in the area around the first turnpoint. We will check in again when they get closer to home.

June 24, 2009

Contest Day 1

Today we had a 531km task. Nathan and I flew together for most of the task. I made it home but got stuck at the end and it really slowed me down. We saw 8kt thermals, rain and 2knts in the blue over the task. I am a bit tired out now but I am glad I finished the task. Tomorrow the briefing is half an hour early so we may be in for another long task.


The opening ceremony was very short and sweet and covered all that was necessary. At briefing we were treated to a great piece of video by a young man called Hubi, the final frame wished all a warm welcome to Räyskälä and was greeted by thunderous applause and praise from the contest director. There is probably a link but I don't have time to find it just now, I have to attend a Team Captain's meeting in a few minutes, more later. Here's the link

The task today is 531km

Chris has been underway about an hour and the tracker has him in the area of the first turnpoint.

The task looked a little ambitious at launch time but conditions seem to have improved and we are hopeful the day will not end in retrieve.

The grid from our position 111 near the back.

From the tracker we can see Chris is round the second turnpoint and about 300+ km into the task, progress to date would indicate a finish between 19:00 and 20:00, sky does not look too bad in the area they are flying.

Non-Flying Notes

I arrived in Helsinki on Friday in pouring rain after having spent a week in England in sunshine. Finland seemed cold and dismal in comparison, and the gliding club seemed wet and windy. Then the sun came out, and the practice days have been delightful – beautiful soaring weather, warm weather for the crew to relax in, and many friendly people to meet.

The landscape reminds me of Muskoka or Haliburton – pine trees and white/silver birch trees and lakes. The lakes have swans on them, not loons. The terrain is flatter than Canada and there are more farmers’ fields, but no granite rocks. Road signs warn of moose crossing the road, so we do find many things familiar. Andy and I went fishing last night and we managed to catch a pike, but that was after we tipped the boat while retrieving a lure, nearly fell in, took water on board and had wet bottoms!

Chris and Andy seemed to be organized and ready for the contest. Chris had good flights on the first and second practice days, and is off on the first real day as I write this. It’s a long task, 531 km, but the sky looks good.

June 23, 2009

Practice Day 2

Today we had a task of 261km. Nathan and I flew together today again and managed to stay together for the whole flight. We also had a Swiss pilot named Matthais join us also flying an LS-4, N4. The second leg was blue and it was nice to have some company going through the hole. N4 got above us going into the last turnpoint but Nathan and I took a better path home and beat him back. I flew 108km/h. Tomorrow the real deal starts. I am glad I have had the time to prepare the glider and had a chance to get used to the Finnish conditions.

Last Practice day

The last few days have produced picture perfect weather and the cold wintery conditions have been shunted aside. Thick coats have been exchanged for Tshirts and shorts and everybody is enjoying the sun. We were unable to post the task yesterday as Lynne and I had to make the trip into Hämeenlinna to buy batteries for us and the Dutch team. We finally figured one of our batteries could not hold a charge and that this had been the problem all along. Chris had a nice flight yesterday and today a short task has been set, he is about 50km out just past the first turnpoint. Spot tracking is accessed from the top left corner of the JWC2009 results page

Google Earth


Tracking does not work in Windows Explorer you will need to download a copy of Mozilla Firefox to view the tracking.

The opening day task we have been warned will likely be a long one with grid opening at 8:00am and tasks ready for pick up at 8:30. There will be a short opening ceremony before briefing tomorrow morning and launching is planned for 11:00.

Practice Day 1

We had the first practice day yesterday and a 357km assigned task was called. I started out with Nathan Johnson, an Australian I met while I was there in the winter. We are both flying LS-4's so we are going to team fly as best we can. I got about 1000ft higher than him after the first leg so we split up shortly after the first turnpoint. I flew with a gaggle of French, Austrian, Czech, Lithuanians among others and eventually got ahead of them. Going into the second turnpoint I met back up with Nathan who must have had a real good run. We flew together on the third leg until I again gained a good bit of height on him. I was ahead of everybody at that point and did not see anyone until I landed. I was the first home and the flight felt good. I came in 7th for the day and had the second best unhandicapped speed. A few of the big teams did not put in scores. The winner flew at 105km/h in an LS-1f. Today we should have a task again but I have my official weighing at 11am so I will not be able to make grid time. I will take a launch later but will probably take it easy to rest up for the first official day.

June 20, 2009

Mid Summer Festival

The airport at Räyskälä was buzzing last night. Most if not all the teams have arrived and last night marked the start of the Finnish mid summer festival. This celebration started at 13:00 sharp, until Monday corner gas stations are one of the few places to buy forgotten supplies of staples like milk and more important beer. Since our arrival the weather has only cooperated sporadically and the start of mid summer festival failed to coax the sun out from behind the pouring rain and clouds. However at 22:40 when we set out to join the festivities at the airport it had started to dry out and the night light did not look too different from the light of the morning 12 hours before. Along the normally quiet route to the airport we had to negotiate parked cars and crowds of people making their way to the bonfires that were burning along the shores of the numerous lakes. When we arrived at the briefing hangar the newly constructed bar was conducting a brisk trade. We immediately ran into our friends from team USA and team Australia and got to know some of the British team who are our neighbours at the cottages we are all staying at. Shortly before midnight everyone trekked out to the centre of the airport to gather around a huge bonfire, members of various teams gathered around the bonfire attempted to catch a small rabbit that seemed to be drawn to the flames. No matter how many attempts were made to apprehend it the rabbit would escape into the bush and shortly after make its way back to the edge of the fire.

Räyskälä (pronounced Rouse - as in house – Kala) is home to about 1,000 glider pilots, power pilots and parachutists. There are over 150 trailers in the trailer park and the airport restaurant Café 26 is also the main information hub. There are a number of TV screens that show current satellite, weather and airspace information and high speed internet is also available. The other popular meeting places are the saunas in the campground. I have been told flights are sometimes cut short to make the 6:00 pm sauna.

The flying prospects don’t look too good until Sunday but we have been promised an improvement by the weatherman and we are expecting some reasonable conditions for the start of the contest. We still have a few last minute weighing issues to deal with to get the handicap corrected. From Sunday we should be ready for the main event which starts Wednesday, June 24. During the contest I will try to report the events as they unfold and I will publish the Spot Messenger URL for those that would like to track the contest live.

June 18, 2009

Last Day Jannen Kisat

The first four days of this regional type contest were cancelled due to rain or unsoarable conditions, but the last two days have produced very nice looking skies. The competing ships vary from a Twin Astir to a two seat Nimbus. Yesterday was a 327km zig zag, Chris experienced battery problems we think it was the battery fuse, we should be able to tell if our diagnosis was correct after today's flight. The task is a 345km flat triangle. At time of writing Chris is at the last turnpoint with a number of other gliders approaching and leaving the turnpoint so he should have company for the ride home. I expect him within the hour. Some of the competitors have been issued with Spot Messengers and Chris has his own so we are able to keep track of him during the task.

The next two days promise more rain so we will be into the Main event practise period before we see any more flying.

June 17, 2009

Day 1 Jannen Kisat

We finally had a flyable day today. There was a 325km assigned task set. I started out but had battery troubles on the second leg. I decided to come home before the battery died so did not finish the task. I think we sorted it out and tomorrow should have some good weather to test it out.

June 16, 2009

Rain, Overcast

The weather has not been cooperating so far. We have not flown at all during the Jannen Kisat competition and the low that is giving us the bad weather does not look like it is moving very quickly. The contest may be completely weathered out.

June 13, 2009

First Cross Country

Yesterday I flew my first cross-country flight here in Finland. The cloudbase was low at the start of the day but there were cloudstreets and some strong lift. I first headed east into wind about 60km and then came back to the airport and went 40km downwind to the west. On the way back the clouds started over developing and I had to land off field. It was a nice big field and there were no problems with landing. The farmer was worried about his crop being damaged so we had to carry the glider out piece by piece. Other than getting a bit tired it went okay. Today we cleaned the dirt off the wheel and wingtips. I also entered in a small contest that is being run out of Rayskala called Jannen Kisat. The first day is today but it was called off due to weather. Tomorrow looks like thunderstorms but by Monday it should improve. Friday flight

June 10, 2009

Arrival in Finland

We arrived Saturday in Finland and Timo, the fellow we are renting our glider from picked us up at the airport. On Sunday we went shopping for some food and had a quick look at the glider. Monday we started changing over the instruments. The weather was quite good and I got in a short flight at the end of the day. I had one thermal peaking at 9 knots. The PZL vario that came with the glider worked fine but the Sage did not. We installed a new capacity bottle for the Sage today and did some work on the battery circuit. Hopefully everything should be working by the time the weather picks up again.

June 4, 2009

Leaving to Finland

My dad and I are leaving to Finland tomorrow, Friday June 5th. We are going early to prepare the glider and so I can get some practice in the area. We have room, car and glider hired already. To keep things familiar we are bringing some instruments from my dad's glider including his LX5000 flight computer and Sage vario. We are being careful not to go over baggage maximums and carry-on allowances while packing the instruments. We arrive in Helsinki at 12:25 Saturday. I will write another entry when we get settled in Finland and expect this blog to be updated frequently during the next month.

April 18, 2009

Flying in South Carolina

I am now down in South Carolina crewing for my father at the Region 5 North contest in Perry. He offered me to fly the practice days, then he will fly the contest. On Friday it was blue but we had good lift to 5000ft and once got to 6000ft. I flew 306km Friday flight. Saturday was not as good. It was blue with high cirrus moving in. I didn't get much more than 4000ft for most of the day. I stayed much closer to the airport and did 192km Saturday flight.

March 29, 2009

Mobs of Kangaroos at the Golf Course

I went to the Benalla Golf Course again to get some pictures of Kangaroos. I was quite successful this time and got some nice shots of females with there baby joeys. There was a mob of them sitting on the green of a hole. They are Western Grey Kangaroos and are a bit of a pest at the golf club.

Photos of the Kangaroos

March 27, 2009

Some Non Flying Activities

Since the mid week operations here at Benalla have virtually finished I have had some time to discover some more of Australia other then the airport. I went down to Torquay on Monday and met up with Simone. We signed up for a beginner surfing lesson and both of us managed to stand up and surf for a bit. We then went to Queenscliff on Wednesday and did a dolphin/seal swim and snorkeling trip. On Thursday we took the ferry to Sorrento. It was a bit overcast on the way over but by the afternoon the sun came out and we had a nice view of the Rip, the narrow entrance to Port Philip Bay.

Photos from Torquay, Queenscliff, Sorrento, Airey's Inlet

March 21, 2009

Trip to Kosciuszko

Mount Kosciuszko
The last two days in Benalla have been fantastic, especially for this time of year. In the hills we have been getting over 10,000ft with lift up to 10kts. The club has also just purchased a very nice LS-4 from a syndicate at the club. I managed to get in its first two flights as a club glider. On Friday, I was meant to tow but got someone to cover for me. I made sure the LS-4 insurance was sorted and got into the air a bit late at 2:15pm. I made 7500ft almost right away and went to Mt Buffalo. My camera batteries died after just a few photos. I had to wait another day to get some pictures. In the hills the cloudbase was getting to 12,000ft. I visited Mt Bogong again, the highest peak in Victoria, then headed to my favourite turnpoint, Gough's Bay. The day was deteriorating but with my left over height I final glided around Dookie for a total distance of 373km. Friday flight. On Saturday, I got myself ready much earlier and planned to go to Mt Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia, at 7,310ft. It is about 200kms from Benalla and over mostly unlandable terrain. There are a couple of airports along the way and if you really get into trouble you can fly down a valley to get to some paddocks. On my way out was a bit of a struggle as the convection had not quite gone through the inversion. I had to dump my water and had the wheel down at one point. Once I reached the clouds in the hills it got almost easy with cloudbase going to 10,500ft. The run to Kosciuszko was pretty straight forward. When I got there I got out my camera (with charged batteries) and snapped a couple pictures. The actual top of Kosciuszko is hard to pick out. I read this in Wikipedia
"Various measurements of the peak originally called by that name showed it to be slightly lower than its neighbour, Mount Townsend, and the names were thereupon transposed by the New South Wales Lands Department, so that Mount Kosciuszko still remains the name of the highest peak of Australia, and Mount Townsend ranks as second."
I headed back for the most part the same way I came in. I snapped a few pictures of Lake Dartmouth and Mt Bogong on my way. At one point I had to remind myself to concentrate on flying fast instead of taking pictures so I could make it back to Gough's Bay for a shot. I made it to Gough's Bay at 6:00pm took a picture and headed back to Benalla for 6:30pm. Total distance 482km. Saturday flight. An unexpected couple of days.

Photos from the flight

February 23, 2009

Into the Hills

Today I had my first trip into the hills to the east. Ben Loxton came out again this weekend and we started out together but split up shortly after. There is still a lot of smoke in the air from the fires making the visibility a bit murky but still good conditions. I had a pretty good run to Mt Beauty where there is a soaring club. It is right next to Mt Bogong, the highest peak in Victoria at 6,520ft. I went north from there with the intention of going all the way around the Albury control zone. I hit blue and then decided to come back down to Mt Beauty to get home. I took another look at Mt Buffalo and was going to go home but I figured I would go to Lake Nillahcootie first. I had a good run there bumping myself to final glide height in the clouds. When I made the turn at Nillahcootie I hit lots of sink in the blue and quickly went under final glide. I had to take some weak climbs to make the rest of the way home. I forgot to bring my camera which is a shame because there was some nice photos to be had. Feb 22 flight

February 12, 2009

Fires around Victoria

As you may have heard in the news there has been record breaking fires around Victoria close to Benalla. There was a large one about 40km to the south of Benalla that was pushing towards us but has been contained. There was one to our north-west about 20km away but moving the other way. The main highway to Melbourne was shut down on Saturday and most of Sunday. People who drove through afterwards said it was looking quite ugly with charred land and animals on the edges. We have a chopper pilot who fights fires that is based at the Benalla airport. He has been away most of the week fighting the fires and came back for a bit with some horrific stories. He is flying the helicopter in the picture above. It is raining right now here and hopefully it will be the end of fires for now.

February 1, 2009

Some Fantastic Weather at Benalla

The past week has been extremely hot with temperatures mostly in the 40's. This has translated into 12,000ft cloud bases and excellent soaring conditions. It was miserable flying the tug in those temperatures but I did get in some soaring of my own in. On Wednesday I had a flight with a young German girl who is backpacking across Australia in the club's new ASK 21. We got to 12,000ft and flew 209km without going out of glide range from the field. ASK 21 flight On Saturday Ben Loxton, a 26 year old pilot who just flew in the nationals here came up to Benalla to do some more flying. We decided to fly together along with a young Kiwi pilot who also flew in the nationals as well as joeyglide and has been living at the club. I had planned to do a 750km flight of Temora-Hay but had to take a relight and had a bad first leg which made me abandon task. I could not find a good climb above 6000ft until 170km in. Also my pda and colibri were not working. Ben had got to 11,oooft and had a much better run. I met up with him later but ended up going home early out of frustration. I flew 525km and Ben flew 750km OLC. Saturday flight Ben Saturday Sunday we expected to be a worse day and I was not planning to fly. Ben was keen to fly however, and talked me into flying with him again. I am glad he did. We started late and decided to go to Leeton, about 230km away. At the start the thermals were going to about 7500ft and 3-4 knots climb. Once we got to Urana, 130km out there were good looking cloud streets going straight to Leeton. Our first climb was 7.3 knots to 12,000ft. The rest of the way was much the same and when we arrived at Leeton we had plenty of time to go further. We were thinking about Lake Cargel 365km from Benalla but decided to turn back 50km short of it at 4:30pm. On the way back we had to avoid a number of thunder showers forcing a few changes from track. I started on a final glide home but noticed my tail wind had turned into a strong headwind and Benalla was under a large piece of overcast. I took a turn back to some cu's to get some more insurance height. Ben and I thought we were the last ones back but an hour later Michael Sommer came back in between the storms. It was neat to see a glider doing a beat up with lightning strikes in the background. I flew 652km at 122km/h Sunday flight Ben Sunday Michael managed to show up Friday night, fly 2 1000km flights and be back to work Monday morning. Just another weekend for the world champion.

January 25, 2009

Jan 25th Flight

Last night there was a lot of excitement about the weather for today with talks of 1000km flights. It did not turn out very good however but I flew anyways. The LS-7 was taken and the Mosquito went to a camp at Mt. Beauty so I flew the Astir CS-77. My plan was to go to Temora as most of the locals were going in that direction. I was below 4500ft for most of the way out. I got a bit past Wagga Wagga and decided I needed to turn back if I wanted to make it home today. I heard a few of the locals on the radio turning back as well. I did 422km total which is good enough for first in Australia on the OLC so far. I was the first glider to launch this morning and the last one back. It was a blue day again which seems to be the only thing we have been getting. My first flight here was in clouds and all since have been blue days. Its been good practice and even in the blue the weather can be quite good here. The link to the OLC is here:

January 24, 2009


Since Christmas there has been three contests here at Benalla. They started with a club contest then directly after, the Victorian state contest and then the Australian Multi-Class Nationals. The Nationals just ended yesterday and it has become much quieter around here. There were 60 competitors in the contest which required 7 towplanes to launch every morning. They had some spectacular weather with top speeds in the 150km/h range. The highest speed was by Tom Claffey in an ASG-29 at 165km/h over 498km. Scores are here The picture above shows six of the tugs we used. 3 CallAir A-9's and 3 Pawnees. There was also a Scout but it did not fly everyday due to cross/tail winds.
I did not get much glider flying in but last week I jumped in the LS-7 and flew to Gough's Bay, a small town 70km south of Benalla. I also managed to get a flight in an ASH 25 with Dave McManus the winner of the open class with Paul Mander. Dave is a former junior pilot who flew in the worlds in England in 2005. The ASH 25 is unique because they have added LS-8 winglets to it. I like the look of it but they tell me it does not go that well.