Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back in Newcastle

It was a long trip back but not too bad. I managed to sleep on the last leg from Singapore to Sydney which meant I was still reasonably awake when I arrived at my caravan at 3am. After some sleep I flew Merriweather and after landing down at the bottom started trying to undo the damage caused by all the delicious food on offer in Europe. Unfortunately my luggage did not make it to Australia, I am hoping to get a call today telling me that they found it somewhere. It looks like it will be on at merryweather again soon, I should have top landed yesterday when i had the chance, definitely more motivated today after carrying the glider up the face yesterday.
I have moved my caravan and am next to Jamie's new house now until I head off to Victoria and Corryong and Bogong.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Back to Oz

After a nice 3 weeks visiting family in the UK and Switzerland its back to Newcastle. The taxi picks me up from my parents place in Essex at 1am this morning and I leave Heathrow at 9.30am (in the fog), then its 7hrs to Bahrain and then 8hrs to Singapore and then 9hrs to Sydney and then another couple of hours by train back to Newcastle. Total travel time 36Hrs, yikes, hope I can sleep somewhere along the way. Looking forward to the warmer weather though.....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cold, Wet & Windy....

What else would you expect from the UK in December?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Off to Europe

I made it to Sydey airport, an uneventful train journey. I have a few hours up my sleeve to spend wandering aimlessly around the airport, or perhaps just reading once i feel like i have had my fill of excercise for the day.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Was on and I had a fun flight. The wind was marginal at times but there were sea thermals hidden in there and I got good height from some. I landed on the beach having never seen anyone land in the park, now that I have watched the approach I will land in the park next time.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Was on this afternoon. It started quite light but gradually increased in strength as the afternoon went on. I enjoyed a couple of hours in the air exploring the lift band and generally mucking around. Despite the work that has just been done it is a horrible little take-off. I rigged up with the glider tail to the wind and then weighed up my options. Being there by myself I was going to have to turn the glider around and T/O unassisted despite the increasing wind strength. I decided to clip the harness into the glider and climb into it and then turn around and T/O. I should have gone with my other plan of just wearing the harness and helmet and getting the glider to the edge of the ramp and clipping in and taking off then. The wind was strong enough to make it difficult to pick up the glider and when I started to turn it around, first some of the outside batons and then the pitt pin in one corner of the basebar snagged the netting that has been put on the ground. It resulted in one of those slow motion turtles where you realise it is inevitable and concentrate on not breaking anything. I managed to unclip my harness and roll the glider over the right way and then fly it down to the edge of launch and clip in and T/O. The wind seemed to me to be bang on, but the bottom half of the ramp was rotor city with the glider trying to turn sharp left until I hit clean air just after T/O. I almost made it to the car park on the beach after staying over the dunes when I landed. I got plenty of exercise walking back up to get the car and then retrieving the fun. I love my fun.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back in Newcastle

Back from Gulgong. It was a really well run comp, great food and facilities at the gliding club and with Billo at the helm everyone had fun. For me personally it was all part of my ongoing learning experience and I can't wait to go back next year and fly better. I'm off to the UK for a couple of weeks to catch up with family but will be back in Newcastle again before Xmas.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Yesterday around 11am it was obvious that the forecast high winds were here and so I drove back to Newcastle. I collected some spares from Airborne and then collected my Power Harness from Kenny. I had a few beers and some pizza with Kenny and Jamie and then drove back to Gulgong arriving here just after 1am.
I have just finished putting some tape onto the leading edge of my shiny new Carbon Fibre folding prop and cannot wait to try it out. Conditions are looking fine here today and so I expect it to be another comp day. I am going to wind the inner rings down on the C2 and take the inside sprogs back up a turn and see how she feels..

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I love my Fun 160

After having a hard time with the topless for the last couple of flights I decided to fly my fun 160. It was a complete joy as always, from the second that I started rigging it, to when I climbed into my harness and carried the whole thing out to the aerotow line. The aerotow was rough in places as you would expect from a 37'C day with thermals topping out around 12,000ft, but with the fun it was too easy. I pinned off in lift and climbed up to 11,800ft under a large CU and began my drift downwind. I flew from cloud to cloud downwind until I got to the edge of the ranges, faced with Tiger country ahead and lacking the performance to get around or over it in the fun I landed, in a tiny paddock surrounded by trees and power lines and filled with obstacles and it was the easiest landing ever in the fun. Did I mention that I love my Fun?
Today they are forecasting 30knot winds so it looks unlikely there will be a task. I am itching to duck back into Newcastle to grab my power harness and Kennys prop so that I can buzz around here in the evenings...I have decided to buy Doggies spare raket motor, it is the electric start version and I can upgrade the old motor in mine which will make in flight restarts possible and so really improve the quality of the experience.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I'm not sure what's up with me. Since I had the near miss at Canungra I have not been enjoying my flying as much as I used too. Sure I still love flying, but this whole new level of fear has sprung up inside me. I have always been a gung ho and confident pilot and even when the side wires were banging away I would chuckle to myself and never even think about the dark side. However its becoming a problem at the moment. I have flown allot of hours on my C2 now and whilst it has never been my ultimate glider in terms of weight or handling, it makes up for it with performance, although that comes at a price. Having got to know my glider well, I went and changed its handling, now it is more stable with the VG on, but less so without the VG. I was only in the air for 30mins but my arms are killing me and the back of the basebar was biting into my hands I was fighting with the glider so much. I have a feeling that even though it was a rough day I was flying poorly and that did not help matters. I got to 5000ft in a thermal and started to drift away from the airfield, I was having real trouble staying in the lift and I was unclimbed by a couple of gliders, I was all over the place. Eventually when it became apparent that I was about to lose glide back to the airfield I left the lift and headed back. With the VG on and the bar in I was getting 1800ft/min down and the side wires were slapping like crazy as I went through parcels of heavy sink. I arrived about 600ft over the centre of the strip and using the average wind direction from the 2 main windsocks and the streamers and flags I set-up at about 100ft. I hit strong lift, so I got onto the uprights, pulled the nose down and dragged it up to punch though it. I was flying into a 15knot breeze, then I fell out the other side of the thermal and I suddenly had a 15not tail wind. I managed to round out and flare to keep the nose up, but I was probably doing 50kph when my feet hit the ground and as I fell I just did everything I could to keep the nose off the ground. I went through both uprights, but the force was applied  symmetrically and mostly forwards, and so the base bar and heartbolt appear  OK.
The nose plate and leading edges appear OK too but I have not checked them yet, I don't expect them to be damaged so I will get someone else to check.
Tomorrow I am going to fly the fun and find out what is going on with me.
I am physically fine, just my pride was damaged ;-)

Day 1

The day started strong early, but a wide band of high cloud shaded the airfield later. All the usual suspects made goal, the course was a 109km triangle.
I had a bad day, one weaklink, an aborted tow and then when I finally managed to hang on for the whole tow I could not find a core, just bubbles and zeros.
I was right at the back of the launch order, today I am going to make an effort to be earlier.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Practice Day

After a slow start people started aerotowing around lunchtime. Things speeded up as news filtered through that the thermals where topping out around 10,000ft as predicted for the day. I cut 13mm of each tip wand and wound the inner sprogs down 2 turns and then flew my C2, it seemed to fly better, but after Scott kindly test flew it he commented it was lovely to fly with the VG off, just divergent when you pull on the rope..

Friday, November 17, 2006


The forecast was looking iffy for today on the coast so I went exploring in the hunter valley and took the scenic route to Gulgong. The climax is setup and ready to go in the hangar, I took 10mm of each tip wand to see if it improves the handling a bit, it certainly makes it much easier to get them in.
The caravan is parked near the hangar, I don't have to walk more than 50 paces from my bed to the  runway, it doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


40 knot gusts at the moment and its been very windy for the last 24hrs or so..

I have found all the local coastal sites and I am starting to get my bearings. Having the ocean on the wrong side confused me a bit at first and then having a lake on the other side did not help either. Yesterday I got to see a couple of C4s doing amazing things, both landing in places you would not have though possible. I am hanging for a fly, but I want the conditions to be good too. At the moment Friday looks like the only likely day, there is a strong southerly change forecast for later today and with that comes 30knot winds tomorrow. I am in a caravan park in Belmont about 20mins from the centre of Newcastle and well located close to the major coastal sites and the Airborne factory. On Friday afternoon I will drive out to Gulgong where the Aerotowing comp starts, yay! flatlands flying ;-)
I'm off for a swim, should be some good waves...

Latest Weather Observations for Newcastle Nobbys

Date/ Time Temp Dew Point Rel Hum Delta-T Wind Press Rain since 9 am
Dir Speed Gust Speed Gust
EDT °C °C % °C km/h knots hPa mm
15/13:00 27.4 1.0 18 13.7 NW 56 78 30 42 - 0.0
15/12:30 27.5 -0.5 16 14.1 NW 56 76 30 41 - 0.0
15/12:00 27.2 -1.6 15 14.2 NW 56 76 30 41 - 0.0

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I'm here!

I arrived around lunchtime and dropped the caravan off in a park in Belmont then headed out to meet Jamie on the coast in the hope of getting a fly....
The seabreeze was not cooperating though, too light.
I am off to meet Jamie and some of the locals for dinner later.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I spent yesterday fixing the van, the floor is fixed in place now and I fixed the electrics so that the solar panel works again and I have tail lights too..

Today I drove around the area and I am finally starting to get my bearings. I had dinner with Raef and got my climax and gear back.

It is forecast to be pretty Northerly the next few days, perhaps it will be possible to get off tambo for a fly, otherwise I'll be heading south..

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back in Canungra

After another epic drive down from Innisfail I rolled into the Canungra show grounds in the middle of a storm last night. I parked under a large gum tree without really giving it too much thought, but within 5 mins someone had braved the heavy rain to come over and suggest I move somewhere I would be less likely to die.
The caravan is now parked and I am in the process of carrying out the repairs it has been waiting for since before Burketown. The weather is not looking to crash hot at the moment, but I am hanging for another fly, I can't wait to get one of these QLD thermals to myself and see how they go. I would really like to fly here again without the pressure of a comp to see how I go, it would also be nice to fly with a few of the locals if the opportunity arises.
Once I have my caravan repairs completed and I have either had a fly or if the forecast makes that unlikely, I will be heading down to Newcastle, it looks like its only about 8hrs drive from here, so I could be there any day now!

Monday, November 06, 2006


I got my car back. It desperately needs a wheel alignment, but other than that drives fine. The gearbox feels like new, funny that. I'll be on the road heading south in the morning and hope to be back in Canungra on Weds Evening. If it is on at Canungra I will fly a few days, failing that I will be in Newcastle for the weekend. At last....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekend Detention

Required parts failed to arrive. Not going anywhere until Monday afternoon at earliest. Another weekend in Innisfail. %^&$#!

So Close, and yet....

Yesterday morning my gearbox arrived. Within a couple of hours it was mostly installed back in the car and the mechanic realised he was going to need the linkages and mounting brackets that he sent back to Sydney on the last gearbox. I think we must be getting close to the sort of exception circumstances that would justify temporary insanity as a reasonable plea in the case of a mechanic who was tragically killed after a Subaru gearbox accidentally fell on his head, several times.
Several deep breaths later and the parts are in one of those magical over night bags, just don't get too hung up on  any particular day for delivery.
If the overnight bag actually gets here today (which i rather doubt) then I will start the drive south as soon as they let me have my car back. Failing that I may be able to leave on Monday, but not before, that would subject me to another weekend in Innishell, whatever it was that I did in that past life it must have been really bad.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not again...

More delays.... Toll Ipec managed to lose my gearbox for 3 days, it would appear that they scanned the wrong barcode or something and as a result my new box has been sitting in Sydney for the last 3 days... Doh Doh Doh... They promised to get it here in 3 working days, then changed that to 5 working days after I indicated I would be less likely to turn up at their office next week with a baseball bat if they were honest with me now. So it looks like I have to spend another weekend here instead of flying with the boys at Canungra. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Here I am waiting in Innisfail for my car to be ready and I have time to learn new things. I have been meaning to start geotagging my photos for a while now and I have finally got around to it. Its a pretty simple process. You need a digital camera and a GPS to start with, firstly make sure the time on the digital camera exactly matches the time on the GPS, the GPS will always be correct as it gets its info from the Satellites. Then make sure the GPS is turned on and go for a walk with your camera and take some photos. Then when you return you just download the GPS track log and use the time stamp from the photos to identify the exact location from where you took the photo.

Of course it is made much easier by automating the whole process and here are a few ways you can do that...

Firstly you should be using Google Picassa to manage your photos, that integrates nicely with google earth, so even if you don't have a GPS or track log you can just click on the location where you took the photo and it adds the info into the Exif headers..

If you have a track log in your gps you need to download it and save it as a GPX file, this is the standard for Garmin GPS units, but any good software that lets you download your track from your GPS will allow you to convert to this format. I use CompGPS as it leaves all the others for dead, but there are free solutions out there too.

Once you have a track log and some photos just use WWMX Location Stamper to embed the Lat/Long into the Exif Data and Hey Presto, instant embedded Geotag.

Then just upload the photos to Flickr and use Flyr to search for and display any tagged photos in either Google Maps or Google Earth.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in Innisfail

On Friday the winds were 90' crossed up on Tambo, initially it looked like we might get off OK anyway, but then a couple of model aeroplanes showed us exactly how bad the air was out front and everyone quickly packed up and went back to camp. On Saturday the forecast warned of high winds and storm activity in the area so no-one was really expecting much. Once we got onto Tambo the conditions seemed OK and the sky looked promising, however the forecast and the lenticular clouds that were forming above the up wind hills showed what was on the way. Given that we already had a valid comp there were allot of pilots who did not see the point in taking a risk with the weather for an extra day. On the other hand those who thought an extra day might get them up a few places were pushing hard for the day not to be called. Pretty much everybody wanted to fly if it was safe, after all that's why we are there. In the end the lenticular clouds got closer and the winds picked up until no-one wanted to launch any more and we had people hanging onto the nose and side wires of the gliders on launch. Meanwhile the pilots already in the air had been on the radio giving ever increasing wind speed observations over the course line, when Adam called in to say he was experiencing 62kph winds on the course the day was finally called. We watched a few topless gliders behaving like floaters on a high wind day and nervously watched gliders disappearing behind trees and over ridges. There was some breakage of aluminium, but as far as I know all pilots made it back OK.
On Saturday evening my 2 German backpacking friends came back as they said they would and after the festivities around 3am we headed off to Innisfail. We only stopped for fuel and arrived here at 11pm after another epic road trip.
The new gearbox has not arrived from Sydney yet, but it should be here within the next couple of days. I cannot say enough good things about Steve Evans from Solas Propellers who took back the original 2003 model Outback Gearbox that had the different stub axles and was not going to work with my car, if you find one of his adverts on Ebay don't hesitate to deal with him, he is very honest and reliable. (make sure you order the correct part though)
After being transferred 7 times on a call to Telstra this morning, repeatedly being asked the same questions and being treated like an idiot, and then finally being placed on hold for 5 mins  I hung up in disgust and vowed to stop dealing with them, again. I managed to do without Telstra for years after finding them to be equally lousy to deal with years ago. I was forced back into their arms reluctantly when I realised I was going to need a CDMA Internet solution and having a monopoly in this country that would be Telstra. Prior to this I had been with Optus for my CDMA voice coverage and found them to be just fine, it was frustrating to be told that I could not have  voicemail or roaming data through them because Telstra would not allow them access to those bits of the network though. For those not familiar with the system here, Telstra which was the government telco and is still 51% government owned has the only country wide mobile phone network and there is NO competition allowing them to offer high prices and low service levels to people in the country. In the cities other companies like my personal favourite Vodafone have set up in competition and you can get an affordable and reliable service from them. Any other company that offers CDMA in the country is using the Telstra network that Telstra have been forced to offer to other carriers, however my experience in the past with Optus was that Telstra still find a way to exert their monopoly by denying customers of other carriers access to the same services you get direct from telstra. When I was stuck in Innisfail last I saw an advert on TV for Southern Phone Company, they are a smallish regional community owned and operated Telco using Telstra's infrastructure. I changed my phone over to them today as they are friendly, helpfull, knowledgable and a fraction of the price of Telstra. I am still looking for a way to get affordable Internet access via the CDMA phone network, but perhaps I am dreaming until Telstra finally gets sold and starts operating like a real company and not a monopoly.
 I hate Telstra, nothing changes, Telstra suck. I can assure you that if you are currently using Telstra you are paying more than anyone else would be charging and dealing with the worst customer service of any Telco I have ever dealt with, I would suggest you leave them and pay less for more elsewhere. Again I find myself bitching about Telstra when I would rather be flying. I should be back in Canungra for some weekend flying before I head down to Newcastle (finally!).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canungra Thursday

Red faces was exactly that, you had to be there. Today the wind was strong enough to be soarable on Tambo but a thick layer of high cloud covered the area when we arrived, we sat on the hill rigged up and ready to go for 3 hours before it finally started to break up. Alternate all went to the back of the field as it did not clear in time for them. I got away but I was still having issues with gaggle flying and never got above 3000ft from where I was not comfortable crossing over unknown ridges. I landed close to where I was yesterday on the other side of Misery and was happy with my landing. I am learning allot about the dark art of finding lift on ridges and my confidence and judgement is improving here, however I need to get comfortable in large gaggles before I can really find out what I am capable of.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Canungra Update 1

Well after the first day I found myself about in the middle of the field, unusual for me as I am usually at the tail end. Day 2 was called due to the 25knot winds, but day 3 a long 190km task was set over the back of Beechmont, being in the middle of the pack I had no real trouble getting away, but it was the first time I had ever been such a huge gaggle of gliders and I had a near miss that really freaked me out. The first 30km of the task were over valleys and trees and in some there were no roads, but in many there were no landing options that I would be happy with in the Climax. It became a case of staying in the lift to avoid landing but for all the wrong reasons. Normally I love every second of my flying, but on the this flight I was pretty shaken and fearful, very unusual for me. I landed about 60km down the course line but to be honest I landed when I felt that I had a safe landing option and was unsure about making it over the next ridge. I probably could have gone further, but decided to go with the safe option. The next day was an epic 203km task over the back from Beechmont again, unlike the previous day the wind was from the NE and so it was not even slightly soarable. There was a push on as the valley would be all lift, then all sink and people only wanted to launch when they could see gliders going up in front. I should have gone to the back of the field but I let myself be pushed and bombed together with the 20 or so gliders either side of me, there were some really experienced pilots in the group so I did not feel too bad about it. I did stretch my glide way too far though looking for lift and had to do my first fly on the wall with the climax when I ran out of other options. Today we were back at Tambourine again and I put my name down for alternate and got position number 7. It was just thermic lift and after blundering around and getting low on my way to the bomb out I found a weak thermal on a spine and managed to climb up to 4000ft over launch. On the way more and more gliders joined the gaggle until i was spending my whole time trying to watch all the other gliders instead of thermalling, I realise I am still pretty freaked out by the near miss. I headed down the course line by myself, happy to be in some clear air and using what I am learning about the strange art of hill flying I headed for the sunny downwind side of Misery, the next ridge down the course line. I found some zeros and dribbled back over the spine of the ridge, not completely comfortable with my options and the trees under me but still pretty sure I was going to find a thermal, I kept exploring along the spine. Eventually I found some 800 down and had a few scary moments as the old brain computer tried to figure out whether I was going to be making it over the trees and ridge below. I made it into the valley and tried my best to select a paddock in glide with the least number of trees and power lines and livestock. As it turned out I picked a good one, and other than a bit of bad air on the way down I managed a safe and reasonable landing along a tiny road. I don't I fully appreciated how much I have to learn about this mountain flying thing, so different from the flatlands. Oh, well I am hear to learn and I am surrounded by the best pilots and coolest dudes so I am delighted to be here. Tonite is red faces, a highlite according to the regulars...

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I made it safely, it was a very long drive but I was dropped off in the early hours of Friday morning by my German backpackers. I guess I was too honest about the lack of dancing girls and my friends in the van left on their way to Nimbin or somewhere. Initially it looked like Saturday would be called, but after getting rain on launch it stopped raining and that was enough for the task committee to declare a 50km race across the valleys. Only 4 people made goal, the unstoppable Johnny Durand Jnr who despite looking and feeling quite under the weather had no trouble making goal. Corinna and ScottB were the first 2 into goal.
It was a tough day with almost solid cloud cover at different levels and very few clues from clouds or sun patches on the ground, those flying in a gaggle benefited greatly from it. I landed about half way along the course line after fighting my way from one 200ft/sec thermal to the next. The task has not been scored yet, but I will try and post the results up here when it has.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Where there is a will......

Faced with certain depression and possibly the onset of alcoholism or making it to Canungra I started thinking laterally...
I am going to need a retrieve driver anyway when I get to Canungra, so why not see if I can find someone with a suitable vehicle and time on their hands, and someone who always needs money...<insert image of light bulb here> Of course, Backpackers. I found a couple of guys from Germany with a newish van who would love to see Canungra and a Hang Gliding comp and get paid for it too. Yippee. I'm organising my stuff now and we leave in the morning. Canungra here I come.

Alternative transport

I have 3 days left to get to Canungra or I miss the comp. There is absolutely no chance that the stub axles that I need will be here in time. I have no choice but to leave my car and caravan here in hell and find another car. During the last hour of business today when it became obvious that this was the only way that I was going to make the comp I rang around the local hire car companies but they all baulked at the idea of hang gliders on the roof and the distances involved. I have one more place to try in the morning. Failing that I could buy a cheap car if I could find one, but everything is scarce here in hell.
 I need to be out of here by tomorrow afternoon so that I can make Canungra on Friday, If I can't find a car by then I suppose all hope is lost and I may as well have a frontal lobotomy or become an alcoholic so I can at least hang with the locals whilst I wait for the stub axles to make their way over from Japan on a fishing boat.


The new gearbox arrived on time. Sadly it has no stub axles which is going to make it a little difficult to get the drive to the front wheels. The old stub axles are held in with circlips which would mean splitting both boxes to try and transfer them, this would be insane even if I thought it was going to work. I suspect the newer box has those stub axles that pop in and out. Aaaarrggghhhhh. Now I am looking for stub axles. Will I ever get out of here?

Fingers Crossed...

The gearbox arrived this morning, it is brand new as it was supposed to be and appears to be the correct model. Phew. They are fitting it now and if all goes according to plan I will be on the road again by late afternoon.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Differences in Advertising Standards

I'm hoping to get out of Innisfail tomorrow, my gearbox has still not arrived, but should be here this afternoon or tomorrow.
One of the big differences I notice between QLD and WA is the nature of the advertising. They have a lot of very questionable stuff here. Tony Robins is probably only moderately evil, sure he takes your money, but he makes you feel good about it. But stuff like the Hiclone is just plain wrong, it prays on people who believe the impossible marketing lies that they perpetrate. Just about every single mechanic I have been past here sells them, they must be a great winner for those selling them, cheap to manufacture, easy to install and you can charge the customer heaps based on the flawed assumption they are going to get an improvement in fuel economy, oh, and power of course. Its an evil lie, I had the great misfortune to deal with a dodgy car mechanic in Perth once, he had a dyno and the local TV stations car show came down to do an Advertorial style piece on the Hiclone, they dynoed a car without it, then fitted it and dynoed it again. The results were actually that the Hiclone reduced power very slightly, but it was so little that it was probably more due to the rise in air temperature as the day went on. But of course when the spot aired they had amazing results and it was well worth the money. I can't express how little respect I have for the media when they do stuff like this.
There is also a fair bit of religious advertising and the type of ads that pray on the fearful, inviting them to take out death insurance so that their surviving family won't have to deal with the nightmare of paying for the funeral, in the ad they invite you to call now with a credit card, no paperwork required. Then they tell you how easy it is to claim, you just have to properly complete the relevant paperwork and send it in to us and we often pay within a few days.....

Here is the science as to why Hiclones and all the other names for it are a load of rubbish.

Tony Robbins makes fire-walking a big part of his act, of course its only possible if you are correctly motivated. What a load of crap, my favourite story is of the sceptical journalist who turned up to one of his events and told everyone it was a load of rubbish then walked across the coals chanting "Burn feet, Burn" of course nothing happened, ash is one of the best insulators we know of. I want to see Tony Robbins walk across red hot rocks, that would be entertaining.

I want to be writing about how great the flying was today, not about things that I see and hear that piss me off.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Here is that link to the Google Earth File. If you have google earth installed it should open right up.

When it rains...

I'm trapped inside and so I am re-reading all the material that Scott gave me, at some point I might collate it all and put it up here somewhere just to make it easier to find.
I've also been looking at the track logs from the easiest flight of my life, that would be the one in that magnificent stemme. If you have a decent vario or GPS that records height with your track logs you should invest in a copy of CompeGPS, the current version is able to get all the free Hi-Res maps from Google earth and Google maps and is an awesome route planning tool. Its hard to really show how powerful the 3D environment is but here are some 2D pics anyway. Also if you use google earth, here is a link to the 3D track log, but with only a fraction of the information and options you get from CompeGPS.

Here is the Height Versus Time Graph..

Here is the same thing for speed...

Here is an idea of the kind of 2D view you get:
(the red circles show thermals)

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I've been demoted to just a tourist at the moment. The RAC came through and are paying for my accommodation and a hire car, unfortunately it is a daewoo matiz and I have not figured out how to carry a hang glider and power harness in it yet. I went looking for flying sites this afternoon, if it wasn't raining and cloud base was not at 800ft and the wind wasn't 25knots and I actually found somewhere to T/O with the fun, then  using gaffa tape to secure the fun to the roof of a hire car would no doubt seem like a good idea....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Car update

I found a brand new gearbox from a 2005 model outback at a crazy price, it is already in QLD and Toll should have it here within a few days. Realistically my car should be on the road again by Tuesday. This really does mess up my plans to get down to Newcastle. Sorry Scott. Once I get to Canungra I will still make a dash south if I can be there for at least a couple of days before Canungra starts. In the meanwhile I am stuck in Innisfail for the weekend, I might see if I can hire a car and go and see the sights, the weather here is terrible so I can't even go for a fly with the power harness. Doh.Doh. Doh.

Damn Damn Damn

Seems I was premature with my earlier post. I arrived in time to watch them drive the car off the hoist, they were revving the crap out of it to get it over the ramp, that did not look good. One large bang later and it looks like most of the teeth from the input shaft are missing. Now I need a new gearbox. $!$%&#^
I'm not going anywhere with this car for at least a week. I am ringing the RAC to see if they can help me somehow. #$%^@#

Leaving Innisfail

In about an hour, it is a lovely place and it would be nice to stay longer but I have allot of driving to do, er, like about 18hrs straight I think.
It turned out to be the thrust bearing that had exploded and jammed the clutch in the disengaged position. I need to have words with the last idiot that worked on it ;-)
The wet season has arrived, its been raining non stop for nearly 24hrs here. This place used to be called Geraldton and it figures from the amount of wind and rain I have experienced. Its the first rain I have seen since I left Geraldton a few months ago, so even though I am dripping wet as I type this, I don't mind. I'm not stopping again until Canungra where I drop the caravan off.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Car update

The place that has the car seem to be pretty sure that it is the clutch, they have ordered a new one that will be here in the morning. They are pulling the engine out at the moment and they will know for sure this evening. I have been quoted 2.5hrs to remove the engine and another 2.5 to replace it, that's reasonable and a sign of confidence on their part, I hope. I am very curious to see what the clutch/flywheel look like as I never noticed it slipping until a few minutes before I stopped here in Innisfail and it felt like a catastrophic failure of something like the pressure plate to me, but hey, I'm no gearbox expert. I've checked into a nice cheap motel as the backpackers are full. I am actually happy it happened here, when I was spending my money in Burketown it felt much better to be leaving it in a small town where it makes a difference than in a big city somewhere, now here I am in Innisfail where every building has storm damage and I guess they can use the money too.
If they are correct and a clutch kit and flywheel skim fix the problem I should be out of here tomorrow afternoon. I am going to get some extra sleep now and then drive 18hrs straight to make up the lost time, I should still be in Newcastle on Thursday.....

Gearbox Trouble....

Things were going really well with the car, right up to the point that I slowed down as I was entering Innisfail. As I changed down a gear the gearbox started making unhappy noises and I lost drive to the wheels. First gear no longer seems to be connected, but second gear now works again, but the sounds that it makes suggest that metal is rubbing against metal somewhere. Luckily before I left perth I realised that such an event was a possibility so I took out the highest level of RAC cover i could get and now the car is with the local RACQ agent. They are trying to identify the cause of the problem at the moment. Hopefully in a couple of hours I will have a better idea of what is wrong and what my options are. This does mess up my plans of being in Newcastle on Thurday, unless they find that it is the universal joint on the driveshaft or something easy like that I am guessing they are going to have to remove the gearbox and then rebuild it or something, that takes days even when everything goes well. There is a possibility that the RAC might give me a hire car for a week whilst mine is repaired, if I can get one with roof racks I can leave everything here and still make a dash for Newcastle to meet Scott.
As soon as I have more info I will update things here. Doh. Doh. Doh.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I left Burketown at 11.30am and arrived in Cairns at 2.30am the next morning. A long drive. Big ranges to cross too. After a few hours sleep I flew the Rex this afternoon, getting good height and some nice photos. I landed so that Bill could have a fly. It was lovely smooth coastal air and well worth the effort. In the morning I start the long drive to Canungra, I plan to leave the caravan there and head down to Newcastle with just the car, the southerly winds mean I am going to be averaging around 70kph on the way down with the caravan so I need to lose it if I am to meet Scott near Sydney on Friday as planned. I definitely want to get back to Cairns soon though, some awesome flying sites and great people around this neck of the woods.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bye Bye Burketown

The Glory howled through at 3.30am. There would have been enough moisture then but no doubt the strong Northerlies played a part in getting it through so fast and early. So much for the luck of the Irish, woke him up anyway and with his dual fuel tanks he is still up at cloud base around 1200ft. I am sure that the pilot of the twin must have see him when he was trying to penetrate into an 18knot headwind over the airport.... Bill and I are off to Cairns, ETA about 10pm hopefully.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Only Just ;-)

Glory Cycle Starting again

Last night the humidity increased and stayed up around 70% all night, It was not enough for a dew on the ground, but better than we have been getting for the last few weeks. Sure enough a MG was visible at first light, but still 50 miles away. It had a very messy top which is usually a sign of a dying cloud. Sure enough the motor glider boys had to fly out 30 miles to intercept it and then found no lift and came home quickly. The cloud was being pushed along on a Northerly front that suddenly arrived with 15/20 knot winds on the ground, increasing to 30/35knots at height. Before the Northerly arrived it was absolutely nil wind on the ground and Bill had another unsuccessful take-off in the challenging conditions. He did just get up eventually though, because it was so close I feel compelled to post it to youtube, so check later.
Even though the Northerly might be bringing in moisture, in my heart I doubt that the high winds are going to be conducive to a stable roll cloud forming tomorrow, also Bill had to use his motor to avoid landing backwards when he came in, a nice trick if you have an electric start, not something I can do with my pull start though..
I am packing the car and caravan ready for tomorrow. The gliders/harnesses are still in our hangar ready for the morning just in case we get one last chance...
An Irishman with a power harness and an Arab friendly bio diesel van is here to try his luck, his timing is looking pretty good...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Still no sign of a Glory

Yesterday, or today. At least today Bill & I took off together and flew around for 90mins. Bill had his first unsuccessful Nil wind take-off with his sting today, wheels really do save you when this happens. It was Northerly winds in the first few thousand feet switching to strong Easterlies higher up, there were also 2 inversions on the way up. Every morning it is dry, it is not looking good. The general consensus seems to suggest Tuesday as the next likely Glory, but that will be too late...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Long drive ahead...

Again, no Glory today. Dry Ground, no humidity, no seabreeze. Doh. Doh. Doh.

It's a good thing that I don't particularly mind driving.
It's about 2700km from here in Burketown to Canungra. I am dropping Bill the kiwi off in Cairns on the way. We are going to stay an extra couple of days in the faint hope that another Glory might come through, Bill is the one person who has travelled further than me to get here and so it would be a real shame for him to go home empty handed. Today saw a mass exodus of pilots, the forecast is not looking good. The legendary BillO and posse are having one more try in the morning and then may also leave unsatisfied. It has been a tough year, I feel especially fortunate to have lucked out as I did.
I am planning to be in Cairns on Saturday and I will spend a couple of days there, heading south again on Tuesday.
I have to be in Canungra by the 12th and will leave my caravan there whilst I head down to meet ScottB at a training camp starting on the 14th in the Hunter Valley, another 1000kms south. Then after a week it's back to Canungra where the Comps start. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No Glory

This says it all. Not good flying weather for Hang Gliders...But if I had a Sapphire I could still go thermalling....

Area Forecasts: AREA 45

14:28 UTC, 02/10/2006 AMEND AREA FORECAST 021425 TO 030800 AREA 45
AMD WIND: 2000 5000 7000 10000 14000 18500
A: 110/20 120/25 120/35 VRB/15 PS08 340/15 PS03 310/15 MS04
B: 140/20 130/25 120/35 140/25 PS07 VRB/10 PS02 280/15 MS06
SCT CU 1800/9000 SEA COAST RANGES, 4000/10000 INLAND.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Very Early Dry Glory

Today the Glory came through at a very inconsiderate time, about 3am. It was very dark and hard to see anything, but the gust fronts shook my caravan. The ground was bone dry again, the winds whipping up dust. We were hoping to go XC today, but we had 15knot NE on the ground and 30knot SE from 2000ft up to 10,000ft which would have made it hard not to get blown into tiger country. Another non-flying day, thank god for the internet.
It's not looking terribly promising for the next few days, we can only wait and hope.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Early Glory

Just a few minutes after my alarm woke me this morning I heard the trees start to rustle outside. Sure enough a powerful Glory and several secondaries rolled overhead, in the dark. Doh. Bill and I set up and went for a fly anyway, it was great to have 2 power harnesses up at the same time. The big surprise of the day was that the fun 160 left his big sting for dead, well at least as far as the climb rate was concerned anyway. His engine is running sweetly and sounds like it is making as much or more power than mine and we are both weigh about the same in our harness. You would think the big sting would be running rings around the fun 160 but not so. He has a folding prop and I have a fixed CF version, so that is one possibility, the other would be his thrust line I guess. Tomorrow we might swap Props and see if that makes a difference....

Simple Languange Translation

Perhaps English is not your first language, or perhaps like me you have family and their first language is German. For years I struggled with trying to write in German, its tricky because the grammar is so different and things are usually spelt in a different way. For several years Altavista has provided their babelfish service and that did a pretty good job of translating words, but when you gave it complex sentences things just got funny and difficult to understand.
Once again proving how cool they are, the mighty Google has almost perfected their translation service and its very good indeed.

Here you can read my blog in German!

Countless other languages are available, just go to the Google Translation Page and tell it what you want.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Save the environment...

The segway is of course a fantastic invention for Americans who are too fat or lazy to tolerate any form of exercise. For people who are perfectly capable of walking it is an interesting concept (presumably you start off not needing it, but as you eat more fatty food and use the segway instead of walking you will need it more and more). But what if you could have something just as practical that needs no electricity!  Gets loads of attention from your peers, save your shoes.

Bill the Kiwi showed me this and it is priceless....

Dry Glory

This morning about 30mins before dawn the first dry glory came through. The disturbance was obvious in the pre dawn sky and a couple of very weak and patchy roll clouds appeared and then vanished as quickly. The ground was bone dry again today, none of the Hang Glider pilots bothered to fly, the novelty of a pretty sunrise wears off quickly when you factor in the early start required...

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fading Glory

Today the Glory just crossed the coast but then faded quickly. The ground was dry this morning and there was a strong Easterly that helped break up the cloud.

I only noticed this photo last night, taken from the magnificent Stemme, that's me trying my best to stay in front of the cloud last Saturday. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Yesterday the Glory stopped off the coast. Today it also died out to sea and was much less defined. Today above 200ft there was a howling Easterly,  35knots at height. I had a quick flight just to check that my repairs to the prop brake were OK and they were. The forecast is for a SE change by Friday, this probably means an end to the current run of MGs, although I would not be totally surprised if we still ended up getting something.
BillO and Scotty and too many others for me to name arrived last night and today they were out on the salt flats and aerotowing at dawn.
I am waiting for some mail to arrive and then I will probably head in the general direction of Canungra where the comps start for me, I can't wait!

Monday, September 25, 2006


I can't believe that I am 34 Years old and I only just found this out...


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rolf is a male given name. It originates in the Germanic name Hrolf, itself a contraction of Hrodwulf, a conjunction of the stem words hrod ("renown") + wulf ("wolf"). The Old Norse cognate is Hrólfr.

Motor Sail Planes

If you want to know what impressed me so much here it is. Sorry about my lousy guess at spelling it in the last post.

The amazing Stemme:

Distant Glory

Today the Motor sail plane guys had to fly 80NM out to sea to intercept the Glory. I would have assumed that the cycle had ended because it was not visible from the coast. They managed to surf the dry (invisible) Glory lift all the way to Mornington Island and then were able to glide back to the coast, quite an amazing soaring flight over water. I always figured that when I got older and fatter and could no longer run it would be a natural progression for me to get into sail planes, (Of course I am not suggesting that everyone who flies gliders is old and fat and incapable of running)  however having been given a few opportunities to fly in these awesome machines by the motor glider boys I have decided at the first opportunity to get myself into the GFA and get qualified. It certainly does not mean any less flying in Hang Gliders, but I can see where the 2 sports converge now and the sheer exhilaration that is thermalling or soaring is the same for me regardless of type.
I have something to aim for now, a Stemmie would be a real weapon and the Swiss flag would be extra special for me ;-)
There is no hardware store in town and I had no luck down at the tip, but the locals are so friendly they are going to let me cannibalise a couple of their bicycles to get the parts I need to fix my prop brake. It really is a friendly little town.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Online Photo Storage

Finally Google have their Picassa based online storage service up and running. I love picassa. It's as good as iPhoto on the Mac Platform and a must have if you choose to use XP. Currently I use Flikr for my online photo storage and I pay them around $25USD per year for virtually unlimited storage (2GB per Month). The interface is not bad but I think the google one is better. Also I find that the picassa client uploads much faster than the Flikr one.
For the same price Google offer only 6GB a year or just 500MB a month. Based on my last few months that would be pretty close for me.

You can find my Online Picassa Photos here:

At the moment I am just testing, but I would be interested to hear what people think.

And at the same time I will keep uploading to Flikr here:  (Notice the new easier URL)

Today the MG was very weak and fizzled over the cemetery. I slept in and watched it roll in at a very tardy 8.30am (hey, it's Sunday and I need a rest) the Motor Glider boys were up at dawn as usual and spotting new and interesting phenomenon as they do each time they go up. The more you study the MG the more questions as opposed to answers that you seem to end up with..

The Glider boys landed their machines out on the salt flats and we had some fun with my remote control sail plane. It was quite amusing to watch incredibly competent glider pilots repeatedly crashing the model. It's nice to know that I am not the only one who can't fly everything the first time I try.

I'm still looking for a spare prop for my Explorer, but at least the pressure is off now that I have had my MG magic. The legendary BillO and others will be here in a couple of days, probably around the same time the sail plane guys leave. Once my new base bar gets here I will be able to fly my C2 again, I am really not that comfortable with using the power harness with it, but perhaps I might be able to persuade someone to give me an aerotow up to the Glory.

As I was going backwards into the cloud yesterday and I was desperately trying to start my engine I initially thought that the automatic decompression thingy had failed because it was so hard to pull. After a couple of pulls I remembered the prop brake was still on and I was in such a hurry to release it I pulled the handle off completely, meaning I have no prop brake until I fix it. I think that considering how much more stable a hang glider is with the engine off I was much better off that it didn't start anyway, its not like I would have been able to get out of the cloud once it caught me...

Tomorrow will be another day off for me as there is not much point trying to soar a glory with a windmilling propeller behind you, and I certainly don't want the bloody 2 stroke racket behind me the whole time.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Morning Glory Video Clip

Here I am with the engine still on and in strong lift in front of the cloud. This was the moment when it changed from being a big dark scary thing that was bearing down on me to a soft, fluffy thing that was gently pushing me along in strong lift.

I got about 100 great photos, uploading now, check Flikr later today.....

I think I deserve a beer now.

After landing. The first cloud has passed and the second is coming! Posted by Picasa

Surfing the Glory Part 4 (starts lower down the page)

So I was riding the cloud and having a ball. Abundant gentle lift in front and above the cloud. You can tell how easy it was up to this point because I managed to take 142 photos during the flight and you cannot fly a HG easily one handed in rough air. I was getting further and further from Burketown, but really I didn't care, even if I had to walk back through the bush for a whole day, it would be worth it for this flight. The cloud was starting to become uneven at the leading edge, in places small holes would appear and then fill back in again, probably related to the terrain it was covering I guess. I was still tracking as far left as I could and staying in front of the cloud. As the terrain under me became more and more tree covered I tracked harder and harder left to stay closer to a landing option. It was about at this point that I stopped taking photos as it became obvious I could have the cloud or a safe landing  place, but probably not both. I was tracking left  and about in the middle of the front of the leading edge  when the cloud pounced.  Suddenly It was cold and I knew exactly what that meant. The cloud very slowly and gently enveloped me, I was desperately trying to start my bloody 2 stroke so I could perhaps get out again. I gave up once I was inside the cloud. I knew I was going down fast and just held the bar to my knees and waited. I was only whited out for about 20secs and popped out directly under the cloud. I had just enough time to unzip the harness and get the legs down and as luck would have it I was directly over a gravel road. I could see the second cloud only a minute away so I landed as quickly as I could and had all my weight on the base bar when the gust front hit. I landed on a small gravel road, on a cattle grid with barbed wire fence running down each side, and perfectly too!
Once the gust front from the second and third waves had passed I took off again and flew back to the airport. I had to stay low to get good ground speed, but if I was not 100% comfortable with the Power Harness before, well I certainly am now. I landed where I took off back at the airport and packed up. Wow.
I only used about 10mins of fuel to get into the Glory and was lucky with just a  cross wind on the way home so I was actually able to self retrieve! How cool is this sport!
Warm, Damp and very Gentle. Posted by Picasa

Surfing Glory Part 3 (Go down the page for the first parts)

Even though I was flying as fast as I could to stay out of it and it was obviously a very powerful cloud, it was very smooth. The theory is that when the cloud forms the energy is concentrated according to its height, so the higher clouds that we have had previously move much slower. I was feeling pretty comfortable with my position in front of the cloud, but was really starting to get bothered by the lack of roads or landing options directly beneath me. The way I was looking at things I was not entirely sure how long the cloud would tolerate my presence and if I lost the lift I was in I was going to be on the ground within a minute, possibly landing in a gust front too,so I wanted a nice clear area and preferably a road too.  I decided my priority was staying over a safe landing area, rather than getting maximum distance and so I started tracking left to get closer to the one gravel road that I could see. I was flying the fun at a speed that meant I was slowly losing height and staying in front of the cloud, or I could slow down and go up over the cloud. I decided that going over the top would be a bad thing, I knew that a couple of hang glider pilots have been through the middle of it and survived so I figured this was the least bad option if I could not outrun it forever.
Several times the cloud caught me and then le me go again, the lift does extent into the cloud a fair way, I was accidentally whited out once and then flew back out the front of the cloud and kept going.
Surfing the Cloud! Engine Off and passing Burketown Airport. Posted by Picasa
Intercepting the cloud over the salt flats. Posted by Picasa

Surfing the Glory Part 2 (Go down the page for the start)

As I climbed up over Burketown it looked as though the cloud was almost stationary. It was only once I got within a few KMs of it, it suddenly seemed to speed up and grow in size. It became this huge, black ominous looking thing and I was level with the bottom of it. I changed course so that I could get more height before it caught me. It was about now that I realised how fast it was travelling over the ground, it was really moving. I rigged so fast today that I did not bother with the Sony Video camera under a wing-tip or any instruments or even any underwear. It was really seat of the pants flying. About 1km away from the cloud I could start to feel gentle lift, as I got closer to the cloud the lift continued to increase until I was flying with the bar to my knees, directly away from it and still going up.
As soon as I realised I did not need it any more I shut down the motor and braked the prop. The fun was just able to stay on the leading edge, I had about a 10kph speed advantage over the cloud. It quickly became obvious that the cloud was taking me into Tiger country and the nearest roads were disappearing off to my left. I started trying hard to work my way along the cloud to the left to keep the  road  in sight. It was interesting flying, the cloud would advance on me as I tracked left and as soon as the first wispy bits of cloud started to form around me I would change course to the same direction as the cloud and slowly get in front of it again.
As you can guess the first time the cloud started to form around me I was really interested to see whether it was going to let me go again.
Climbing over Burketown on my way to intercept the Glory Roll Cloud.
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Surfing on the Glory!

Today was the day. It almost was not though.
I have been getting up whilst it is still dark for too long now. I hate mornings and they physically hurt me, I am not at my best. But despite this I have been getting up and rigging my glider in the dark and damp because I knew it would be worth it eventually.
My back is probably my weakest part and I have been pretty rough on it lately. This morning when my alarm went off at 4.30am I felt lousy. I really did not want to get out of bed. I looked at the radar from Mornington Island and that showed nothing, I looked at the infra-red sat pic and that showed nothing. I went outside and there was some dew, but the humidity was only 85%, 5%  less than yesterday. I decided that my bed was a safe thing, the last few Glories have been very slow moving and have fizzled on the coast, this would probably do the same. I went back to sleep.
Around 6.30am Charles one of the Glider Pilots (he has the zemango (sorry about the spelling)) knocked on my door and said there was a glory
about to cross the coast at 35knots, he asked if I wanted to come and watch it pass over head at the cemetery. Bugger that, I want to fly it, not look at it. I sculled 2 cans of Red Bull and threw on the nearest clothes and raced out to the airport.
I rigged up the damp fun in daylight for a change and took off in Nil wind with the cloud visible perhaps 6 miles away. It was the fasted rig I have ever done, Charles reckoned it was less than 20mins from when he knocked on my door to when they watched me intercept the cloud over the cemetery.

I caught one!

Story and Video coming soon. I need to come down a bit first! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not Today

Last night I had dinner at the pub and several beers as well. It did not make getting up at 5am any easier today. Despite not feeling crash hot (or probably because of it) I actually beat the sailplane guys out the the airport and the fun was almost rigged when they got there. The MG was closer in this morning, but still moving very slowly and it died as it hit the coast. I watched it vanish and then packed everything back up without flying. Some evil spammer somewhere is using my email address as his reply-to address, this morning I have had to delete 600 messages from Mailwasher and the like telling  me I am a naughty spammer and to stop. People are so stupid, if the message is obviously spam with an attached virus, why would you bother to reply and create more spam?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Video from today

I gaffa taped my Sony DVD camera to a wing-tip this morning.

Watch Here:

Todays Glory

Just before it faded at the coast... Posted by Picasa

More Glory

Today it was moving faster and it came in further. Still not far enough for me, but a trike pilot (912) and the usual suspects with their Motor Gliders went out to see & intercept it and had a great time. I did get some photos this time as it was only about 10 miles away from me when it died. Hopefully there is a pattern here and tomorrow will be stronger still and make it over the salt flats where I can safely intercept it..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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Questions and Anwsers

I have been asked to explain some details as I assume that people reading this know too much!

 I currently have 2 Hang Glider wings both made by Airborne in Australia, a Fun which is a slow flying wing, easy to T/O and land but very slow flying so you cannot penetrate if there is much headwind. I also have a Climax 2 which represents almost the height of performance from a flex wing glider, the newer flex wings probably perform slightly better but to step up another level you would have to go to a rigid wing. I am at the top of the weight range for both wings, simply more weight means a higher stall speed which means faster T/Os and Landings. Faster is obviously more exciting, this is not necessarily a good thing when the wings stall speed exceeds your ability to run. The Climax is already a little tricky in Nil wind as a glider but with the addition of power it is a real handful. From experience I doubt my ability to run fast enough to T/O successfully in Nil wind.

You can read a great account of the MG here, its well explained and has some good science in it, it is also about someone doing similar things to me..

and here is another account with some great photos...

This is a Trike

If anyone does have any technical questions feel free to drop me a line and ask.

Its hot and humid and the sunset was very pretty, everything is damp, its going to be a big one tomorrow, I can't wait. I have a tank of Avgas ready to go and the fun is rigged up and staked down at the airport, its only going to take me 10 mins to get airborne in the morning. I will be ready.

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Glory Days

Have started!

This morning we had our first MG, unfortunately it vanished about 20 miles off the coast, but the Motor Sailplane guys picked it up on the other side of Sweers Island and were on to the tertiary wave by 8.30am.

My alarm went off at 5am this morning and as usual I went outside to check the wind speed and direction and the dew. For the first time there was a little dew on the car windows, also there was almost no wind, and the little bit was coming from the correct direction. I raced out to the airfield and set-up the fun & power harness. I took off just after the Motor Sailplane guys and just at first light. From the moment I got in the air I started noticing strange things, my climb rate would drop to nothing for a minute and then it would shoot up to 400ft/min and it kept doing this all the way up to 6000ft where I ran out of fuel. Also my ground speed was alternating between +20kph and -20kph with the decrease in ground speed co-inciding with the extra lift. My average climb rate just kept getting better as I got higher which made me think either I was running a bit lean or there was some strange wave phenomena in the area.
This morning after I rigged and did my pre-flight I realised that I only had half a tank of fuel and no more close by, I had my Sony Camera, but not the battery. That was the first time I realised the chances of getting a MG today were much higher than I initially thought.
It took me 38mins to climb to 6000ft and run out of fuel, I then enjoyed 20mins of peace and quiet floating around trying to stay in the lifting air.
I got some great sunrise shots, the MG is in the background but it was still 40+ miles away so you can't see it with this pretty low quality camera...
MG's always come in groups so it looks good for tomorrow now, just a little more moisture and it should make it inland so I can catch a ride.
Yippee, things are getting interesting here now!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Useless Wind

From the South all day. Too strong and thermic to be able to play with my remote control sailplane or my hang glider and power harness. What to do in Burketown?
I drove out to lawn hill yesterday, its a couple of hours to get there on gravel, and an hour and a half to get back once you have an idea what is around the next corner. I'm sure its a fascinating place for someone who studies fossils, but I prefer to read concise accounts of how hot and dusty it was where they found the fossils, rather than find out first hand.

I am hoping the winds might drop off this evening, the first day I get with light winds higher up I am looking forwards to seeing how high I can get on one tank of fuel, obviously i want a day when I am not getting blown downwind by a 35knot breeze like the last time I flew. These strong southerlies do not bode well for a Glory any day soon, however I am the first to admit I don't understand it enough to be really surprised if one does come through on a day I didn't think it would.

Jamie tells me that Billo and the other HG/Trike pilots are heading up later this week, they should be able to bring the new basebar and upright for the C2 as well. I really need another prop for an explorer power harness, not mine as it happens, but if I had been less fortunate I could easily be needing one at the moment. The only place I have been able to source the prop from so far is Bolly here in Australia. Since the people that made the Explorer and also the hub for the centre of the prop have gone out of business it is up to Bolly to make the hubs now. I appreciate that it takes time to make these things from scratch and there are always delays, but it's been two weeks away since late July now. I am a reasonably patient person, but I feel bad for Matty who has not been able to fly his power harness without a prop during this time. Perhaps I am being unfair, but because I have been getting the same 2 weeks ETA from Bolly for 8 weeks now I am losing faith that it is actually under way and likely to arrive soon. My biggest fear is that I am unfortunate enough to do a prop whilst I wait for the Glory and then have none when it comes through, heck even a cheap $80 mexican wooden prop will do as a spare. So I am looking for alternative prop suppliers, if anyone knows of one or has a spare explorer prop they want to sell, let me know.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Just Morning

Every morning the guys with the Motor Sailplanes have been up and ready to T/O at first light. I have felt a little ashamed every morning as I watch them leave, even though if I thought there was even a small chance of a Glory I would be out there too.

To be honest conditions have been very stable since I have been here, every morning looks the same, as do the general patterns in the day and night. I may not know what it looks like the night before a Glory, but I have a 100% record for calling the days when nothing comes through.
So anyway, this morning I decided to get up and put in the effort. The Sailplane guys were surprised to see me at the airfield in the dark and even more surprised when I started rigging the fun in the dark. "You're not actually going to commit aviation this morning?" was the typical comment.
As the sun came up over the horizon I took off with a small crown of spectators watching and climbed up to 300ft and watched my groundspeed decay. By the time I was around 1000ft I was getting blown backwards, there was about 25knots of wind up there and I could choose to come down and go forwards or go up and go backwards or remain roughly stationary in space.
I grew tired of looking down at the same spot after 15mins and landed. It really is all about going down wind in the fun!
I proved that I can at least function at that time of the morning and I need about 30mins from parking the car to T/O. I figure I then need 10 mins to get high enough to be able to catch the wave as it comes through. I am feeling quite comfortable about doing this with the fun. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Awesome Day

One of the Motor Glider guys here is called Richard  and is from Perth. Today he very kindly took me up in a glider that used to belong to him but now belongs to another nice chap called Charles. Richard was very patient as I blundered about the sky. I did manage a few good climbs and actually felt like I was doing a half reasonable job of staying in the last thermal.
 It is so very different from thermalling in a Hang Glider, but the same basic rules apply and there is the same magic to be found in finding lift and staying aloft with the help of rising air alone. Now that the C2 is U/S it does make the decision to fly the fun an easier one to make, to be honest after some thought I have decided to just enjoy the C2 as a pure glider, the power harness is a great way to get into the air, but even with the motor off the extra weight and drag penalty is too much for the little C2. Even though I am getting pretty comfortable with the Power Harness I would still rather pay for an Aerotow so that I can really enjoy my lovely Aeros harness and C2's performance once I am up there...
No sign of a Glory, I only know what it looks like here when you are not going to get one and we have had plenty of that with no change forecast..

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Today was really thermic. I should have not flown the C2, even the fun would have been a handfull.

I setup around lunchtime when the Motor Sailplane boys took off, watching them getting vaccumed up to 7000ft directly over the strip made me want some of the action.
As it turned out it took me 3 hours to rig the glider and power harness combo, it took so long because it was so thermic, even after hammering pegs into the ground and tieing the c2 down at each corner I still had to keep dropping everything and running for the nose wires each time a cycle came through. If the monster dusties were not warning enough I should have heeded the constant winds changes, from 15knots ESE to 15knots WNW depending on exactly where the thermal was relative to you. I was so aware of this as an issue that I put up about 20 wind streamers so I could watch the cycles come through and time my take-offs and landings.
The first couple of T/Os and Landings were pretty uneventfull, base bar style, a walk, trot, jog and then "Run Forrest Run" with full power leaving the ground with as much speed as possible.
Landings were base bar all the way and run faster.
My third T/O was completely nil wind, in between cycles. I even had a streamer on the nose wires and It was lifeless when I started my run, I was not even close to full power and just getting to the running as fast as possible stage when the right wing just dropped. I throttled off completely and managed to kind of keep the non flying wings levelish, but the nose dropped and the power harness pushed me through the A frame and an upright that was in the way. Mostly I was pissed off to be at the bottom of the heap of glider and harness and apart from re-openeing an old wound from Exmouth I did little damage. In trying to stop the wind from blowing away my C2 I too hurridly lay it flat and in the process destroyed one end of the base bar when I really only needed a new upright, Doh again.
It was pretty horrible in the air. After my first T/O which was into a cycle and an easy T/O into a nice breeze I found myself stuck in the sink at 100ft and with the bar to my knees to stay in control, it was the longest climb to 1500ft I have ever had and that was with the engine on and me trying to stay in lifting air. To say I got my arse kicked would be a huge understatement, it was scary up there. Landings were actually the easy part, with the prop braked and on the base bar. Posted by Picasa

More pain for the car..

A very nice gentleman accidentaly reversed his trailer into the Outback. Fortunately the rear window did not shatter, that would have been a problem. I told my insurers and will get it repaired, one day in the distant future when I have time. Posted by Picasa

Awning all

Whilst I was redecorating the interior of my caravan with a sledge hammer, during the delicate process of removing the floor, I found an awning for the caravan. Yesterday out of a mixture of boredom and curiosity I erected it.
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

How big is Burketown?

Not very huh! Posted by Picasa
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First fly in Burketown

Mostly just T/O and Landing practice. Did 6 circuits from where I took off on the salt flats and then had 3 40min flights until I ran out of fuel on the last one. It was the same fuel that has been cooking in the back of my car since Exmouth and you could feel that it was about 500RPM down on fresh fuel. I think I can scam some Avgas here, that should be much more interesting. It was quite thermic, the best climb rate I could sustain for a couple of minutes was 1800ft/min up, that was with the engine on because I did not want to upset the gliders balance by throttling off in such a fine climb. Worst sink was only 800ft down, but I experienced it right to the ground on a couple of the landings. Today I did all my T/O and landings on the base bar, my T/O technique has evolved to a low power run whilst I pick up speed and then full power as you T/O it feels much, much nicer than trying to get onto the uprights and there really is no point being on the uprights anyway now that I have got over the urge to flare and I run all the landings out. I actually discovered that with just a light breeze and holding onto the base bar alone it is easy to taxi as the glider carries the weight of the harness and you just have to steer. I think some roller-skates could be quite amusing if I can find some and a suitable flat surface to T/O from.
I'm feeling very confident with the fun and power combo now, It's time to grow up and master the Climax with power.
My caravan is ready to roll again, about 30 welds, 4 new leaf springs and countless rivets, screws and quantities of liquid nails and silicone later. I'm pretty confident it will last for a while. Its only now for the very first time since I have owned it that the door opens and closes easily, I suspect it was already quite damaged when I bought it. The motor glider boys are in town and have been getting up at 4am every morning chasing Glory, every morning I look at the Mornington radar and the grass and if there are no straight lines of clouds and no dew outside I just go back to sleep. I am not going to chase the Glory, it is going to come to me ;-)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Repairs underway

The car got a service and about on time too. I removed the caravan floor and some of the interior, it is easy to see the damage now. I am getting it welded tomorrow and then I can put the floor back in again.There is a warm change coming this week, could have the first MG soon. There were really weird patterns in the sky, cirrus I think being whipped around by high speed winds, there was even a line stretching from horizon to horizon at one point. The MG is the result of the shock wave created when the 2 sea breezes meet, or so I read today.  has some good information.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

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I arrived earlier this afternoon (Sunday). I got bored with the beaten track and so I took a shortcut through Hells Gate. Quite aptly named as it turns out, what I was expecting to be a gravel road turned into an interesting 4wd track complete with half a dozen river crossings. I can now call the previous owner of the caravan an idiot with good reason. He added a split system A/C unit and mounted the external half on a carrier he welded onto the back of the van. It had the effect (other than cooling the van when running of course) of adding more weight to the very rear of the caravan, I suspect this is why it is so exciting to tow. He welded 2 bits of box tubing onto a couple of the exiting floor supports running down the length of the caravan, he should have welded it to the actual chassis or something structural. The flexing of the A/C unit on the back basically broke the caravans back just over the axle. I noticed this in the middle of nowhere and had no choice but to continue to Burketown at a reduced pace. The caravan will need some welding and strengthening and some floor repair work before I can leave here. I also need a new leaf spring. The biggest pain is that everything is full of red dust, the only things not covered are the contents of the unopened cans that I have, although to be honest I won't be sure until I have opened them. I asked where the nearest hardware store was and was told Mt Isa, that's a 900Km round trip. I guess I will be visiting the local dump and looking to borrow an arc welder from someone local then....
I've been told that there are other flying people arriving tomorrow and that there won't be a MG for a few days.
I'm uploading pics to Flikr now....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Last Day in Darwin

It almost was my last day here too. I spent the day doing all the stuff that I won't be able to do once I leave here. This afternoon I exited a shop and turned right to walk to my car and then on impulse walked into the shop on my left instead. As I opened the shop door there was a massive crunch behind me, an MR2 had driven straight off the HWY and into a huge steel power pole on the pavement. The power pole won, of the 2 occupants in the car the male was apparently deceased and the female was being removed with the jaws of life by the fire brigade when I left. It was about 12 feet behind me and exactly where I would have been if I had stayed with my original plan to walk back to the car, scary. It was a completely straight stretch of road with no other traffic involved, the speed limit there was 80kph. I dunno whether the speed limits are higher than their equivalent in WA or whether the drivers are just more aggressive or they do less enforcing of speed limits around here, but generally people do drive faster and there are more highly visible hoons who choose to completely ignore the speed limits or road traffic laws...
Tomorrow morning I head off in the general direction of N QLD. The first flyable location I find is where I plan to stop and fly.
Darwin is an interesting city, but even at this time of the year the humidity makes it unpleasant between 11am-5pm, it lovely the rest of the time. It makes me realise how much better I can put up with a dry heat, I hardly sweat at all in WA, here I am constantly soaked. I'm looking forward to hitting the road and not knowing where I will be this time tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Travel Plans

It's about 1500km from here to Burketown where I am hoping to fly the Morning Glory, that's marked as Stop 1 on the map below. Then it's another 2000+kms to canungra where the comps start (marked as End). I'm planning to leave Darwin in a couple of days and head towards Burketown. It would be 3 solid days of driving if I don't stop for anything, but I will probably do a little sight seeing, hopefully from the air. I am planning to be in Burketown for the last 2 weeks of September before moving on again.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Morning Glory

In case you have been wondering about my brazen references to the morning glory, here is an excellent clip from the guys who were there last year that should put your mind at peace.

I need to give the car an oil change and also replace the brake pads before I leave town, so that is my task for tomorrow. If the wind drops off as forecast I will get my evening fly tomorrow, from a nice grass strip I found just outside the class c airspace around the airport. Provided I stay below the class E airspace above me I don't need a radio.

Darwin is very alive, everything moves and eats or gets eaten. You get ?flocks? of sea eagles, perhaps 30 together ridge soaring or in the same thermal, then just for fun one will attack another and a game begins. They regularly barrel roll and loop and fall with their talons locked together in some kind of game.