John Schicker. 1976
Silver Distance January 1976: John Schicker's account of his 60km flight from Matamata Airfield
during the Christmas camp in his Skylark 2 glider, Bravo Mike.
Tuesday the 6th of January was a nice warm day with the odd puff of thermals offering on the Kaimai Range. At the briefing for the National competitions that morning, the met. Man forecast 6 to 8 knot thermals up to 3000 or 4000 feet and this was what I was waiting to hear. After a launch to 1500 feet at about 1pm, I went straight into a strong thermal, which took me to cloud base at 3000 feet. I leaned back in the cockpit and realised with horror that the barograph was not ticking. I had no alternative but to land, switch on and take another tow. After release, I again climbed quickly to cloudbase and finally set a course for Te Aroha where I could see a good build-up developing. Down to 2600 feet near Te Aroha then into a feet per minute thermal which took me to 4000 feet - what a climb! As I circled, I looked for Waharoa but it had disappeared into the haze - now I was definitely committed to fly on. I slowly worked my way along the east side of the swamplands towards Paeroa at between 3000 and 4000 feet most of the time. Arriving at Paeroa, I could see the sea breeze blowing inland from Thames so swung westwards to the edge of the swamp. My last thermal took me to just over 4000 feet and from then on it was straight towards the Thames Gulf at minimum sink speed. As I cruised along, I watched the paddocks closely, especially the freshly mown ones and at 1200 feet selected a likely one with pampas grass growing along the down-wind boundary. I turned onto final, one paddock back and as I felt the pampas, (10 feet high) brush under the fuselage, I knew that I was safely down. You can imagine the excitement I felt when I stepped out of the Skylark and knowing that I had made the distance. The farmer was most helpful and by the time the crew arrived at 8pm, I had enjoyed a nice tea. On the way home, we stopped at a local pub and of course, the drinks were on me. This is what gliding is all about.
John Schicker. 1976