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...

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