31st May  2022:

Recent News for May

          On the ball with these. Quelle horreur!  Not really, for I have the material to hand so the item should come together well enough.  Two good photos and they won't upload so am forwarding it by email.


1- May.        Mayday! A day for the Finers.  Grandfather Jim and Grandson Caleb both achieved their First Solos.                          One after the other!Ca


14-ay:      Another day for the Finers.  Caleb away for a wave search with Peter Cook.   A story by Caleb will describe    what happened.   Local flights for John Carter and John Tullett.  Another solo for Caleb and an instruction      flight for Keith Finer.

28-May:      Not a lift producing day.  More instruction for Caleb and Jim Finer, a solo for Caleb and a high tow for Clinton   Steele produced a panoramic view but not much else.  Now for a story from Caleb about his flight with Peter  Cook on the 14th.


Wave flight with Peter Cook


We started out the day hopeful. It was clear there was wave above and around our mighty maunga and we were determined to surf it. Peter and I loaded up into the trusty Twin Astir and towed out towards Midhurst. I managed majority of the tow and in no time we were talking to New Plymouth tower. After finally getting our, only slightly, dodgy transponder working we were off tow at about 7500 feet. We were above the lower layer of cloud and boy was it a sight. Looking down below the wing were these beautiful wave shaped clouds with smooth rolling edges and a white fluffy texture. Our efforts to find the wave continued for about half an hour. We managed to find patchy bits but nothing consistent. Peter taught me a valuable soaring lesson about rotor and how to go about thermaling in rotor lift. Overall we weren’t able to find much in terms of wave, just our luck! Our luck also seemed to continue when we hit thermals, while entering our circuit!  Just our luck indeed.  In the end the flight was only an hour or so long, but it was one to enjoy. 10/10 would do it again.

Caleb Finer

24th May 2022

Good one Caleb.  We look forward to many more intrepid stories.  

Papa Mike





























30th April  2022

Still no joy so the string continues:

3-April..  A case of first up, best dressed and so it was with John Tullett who wangled an hour off the first launch.  Local flights or instruction for everyone else.

9-April:       A visit to Hawera by us where flights were provided to Hawera Aero Club members and a visit to us by the GNZ Regional Operations Officer David Hirst who had flights with Glyn Jackson, John Tullett and Les Sharp.  Suitably terrified he went back home.


16-April:     Four flights.  A couple of circuits for Dennis Green with Tim Hardwick-Smith then a X/C flight for them and one for Les Sharp.  A back-seat rating for Dennis.

23-April:     Dennis took his grandson Xavier Mitchell for a flight. A couple of X/C flights for the Johns Tullett and Carter.

Pilots' Notes:

16- Apr

        Dennis Green tells what happened -Surprisingly there were no trainees at the field on Saturday.  We rigged GTE, it had been on its trailer  since my last excursion to Matamata a few weeks back.

Still no trainees about so i thought it was a good time to practice flying WZ from the back seat. 

         With Tim as passenger up front we had Jim tow us north and east to a line of convergence. At 2000' agl I released and had a quick scout around. With little height to spare, we needed the best part of 1000' to get back to circuit height which we used, landing back on 027.

         I tried again but more to the north. Same results. Didn't matter as I was after experience at doing the take-off and landings from the back seat. Just worth a crack

         Third time. Tim’s flight, me passenger.  This tow to the south west over towards Stratford, another convergence line. This one worked well. Off tow and a gentle climb to base. We shared the controls quite a bit which was good, stopped me from dozing off. We headed towards Taranaki maunga but the convergence fizzled out some distance short. So a U turn and back under the lift and a cruise east to Rawhitiroa to inspect Tims new house and check on the ewes. Easy from 3000' agl.

         Then it was a cruise back towards the field, height to spare, wingovers in order. I brought WZ in on 034, the shorter cross strip.

         So I got my backseat piloting sorted, wingovers and three landings done. Excellent.


Les Sharp had a good flight-


         When I finally got airborne today the convergence was going well. 2000’ tow releasing over the southeast corner of Stratford township and once I found where the lift was I climbed to 3800’ headed towards the mountain, but the system ran out about half way to the park boundary, so turned and ran east holding around 4000’ and having to go faster at times to stay below the cloud. Got 16 NM east and it was getting weaker, down to 3600’ and the hills looked big. Couldn’t see a definite line of shadows, so headed back and got as far as the national park boundary over Pembroke Road. Tried pushing over the bush but the low sun was masking the definition of the terrain, so explored near the York Rd quarry where there were a few weaker clouds. Then Tim rang to say that people were going home so I did a fast run back to the airfield.    1 hr 13minutes and covered a total of 132.6km, average ground speed was 122km/h, so my Oudie tells me.

         Tim and Dennis had some fun in WZ too.




23- Apr.   What Happened on the day

John Tullett:

Getting something out of the day at Stratford

        Late April has not been generally regarded as a premium soaring time of year here in Taranaki. When I left New Plymouth on Saturday, I did not have high expectations. However, Stratford was fine, with a moderate South Westerly wind and a reasonably good looking cloud base.

         After getting our gliders out to the launch point, Les towed Dennis and his grandson for his first glider experience.

I took off in ET and had a very pleasant hour or so, just cruising around just out of range of the airfield. It took a little while to get a handle on how the lift was working, but by watching the cloud shadows on the ground and flying slowly into wind, I was able to climb to 4000’ using the energy lines without doing too much circling. A very relaxing and rewarding way to fly.

You always seem to get something out of a day at Stratford.


John Carter:

A Good Day for Looking at Clouds


Nil or little wind, warm, sunny and cumulus dotted around, very pleasant. The cumulus looked in good shape but the cloud base didn’t look very high at all, heard DG on the radio calling base at 3500 ASL! As it was such a nice day I was looking forward to a local flight just pottering around, relaxing flying. So got off tow at 3600 under a nice Cu, - thanks LS, just south of the field and quickly climbed to cloud base at 3800. There was a defined group of Cu’s further south and so headed to Toko and then just short of Lake Rotokare. Pottered around a bit looking for Mangamingi, could I see it? No! At one point was at 3800ft and the adjacent Cu had a well defined flat bottom which was 200 ft below me and the cloud I was under, had to dive to get underneath.  The thermals were so smooth and made centring easy, lift about 2.5 to 3 knots average in the good ones.

Where to next, the cloud shadows looked fine towards the airfield, so ended up over head the strip at 3500ft. Now I could see a convergence line further north, but a blue gap to get there, so thought “nothing ventured?” Crossing the blue felt very slow but in reality, we lost little height, arrived on the north side of the convergence just shy of Norfolk. Now in bumpy rising air climbed to 4000 feet, then 4500 up the side of the cloud. Trucked around a bit then headed back. But before Midhurst decided to have a look north again, there were actually two convergence lines and so thought better go back and have a go at the one further North. Got there no worries and so then headed to towards the boundary of the National Park, at the top end of Upper Norfolk Road.

         Now I decided it was time to head back, which was easy flying and arrived well overhead for runway 16.

         So yes it was a very pleasant day and perfect for Looking at Clouds.

         Thanks JT, DG and LS for sharing the day.



So that was April.  A productive visit to Hawera and a new initiative in persuading Pilots to tell their stories.

Papa Mike.





31st March 2022:

Am fiding it impossible to load Recent News for March and unless the gremlin is corrected will have to do the same for April as well.

5th March – A quiet day.  Four instruction flights

11th March – Nathan Busby busy at circuit practice.

14th March   - Short flights for Peter Williams andTim Hardwick- Smith then near the Mountain for Les Sharp.

19th March – X/C flights for Clinton Steele, Tim Hdw-Smith and Les Sharp.  Mountain circuits for all three.

 And that was it for the month.

Les Sharp:  19-Mar

After doing compass swings in the morning, the sky was looking quite good and proved to be so (as you will see reflected on the timesheet).

I was the last glider airborne, and took a tow to 3000’ indicated, releasing north-east of the field. The initial clouds were not great, but once I got to a good looking one near Toko, it was 4000’ plus most of the time. Out in the vicinity of Mangamingi, it looked like one could easily have flown to Mt Ruapehu, but time and lack of landing options made it unattractive, so I headed north towards Strathmore where I encountered Clinton in PV returning from his excursion. From there I followed the highway until I got just beyond Pohokura. At that point the lift was a bit less, although I was consistently able to maintain 5000’ and got to about 5800’ in a couple of climbs, however, I was aware that the RASP had predicted a rapid deterioration after 1600, so I headed back. The total distance I had flown was 150km and I was up for 2 hour 5 minutes.

Clinton  Steele:

Pretty similar story to Les.

Sky looked great right across too Ruapehu area, but for me lack of time and work commitments kept me flying local.

Although cloud base was a little low in my opinion.

A good strong day that perhaps wasn’t taken advantage of.



The following is a reprint of an account by Rod Smith of his Diamond Height gain at German Hill in the Blanik IS that first appeared in the June 1991 newsletter.  The 19th of May was good too, with ten flights to 10, 000ft or better.

                                                       CLIMBING HIGH

Arriving at the strip at 9.45am you would expect to see a queue a mile long as the SW wave looked as though it was developing quite well.  The place was deserted but after a while Struthers and Spence arrived, no disrespect for using their last names, as there are a couple of Bobs and several Johns in thein the club.  Looking up at the humungous roll cloud over German Hill, I said "should be a good day", the only comment was,  "oh yeah, could be".
After the D I's were done and Murray Farr had arrived a tow to three grand was ordered, oxygen mask fitted, the O2 turned on and tested, it was all go.  Its quite good when the rotor is over the strip as taking off to the north is not a problem.

This flight was carried out in the Blanik, Golf India Sierra as our other high flying machine, the Astir, was having elevator hinge repairs done.  Just as well we had a Blanik with gas.  Towing to 3000ft was not a problem as the rotor was not too rough.  After releasing and dipping to notch the barograph, the rotor seemed to shift, this seems to catch a few pilots out.  Pushing forward towards the ranges, the lift was located again and working well.   The initial climb to 10,000ft wasn't too hard except that the forward penetration of a Blanik isn't as good as the Astir and if you don't keep the nose pointing south and the speed up, you would soon find yourself out the back door and fighting to get back into the system again.  Not a problem for some pilots but I prefer to fly on my own rather than with others….. no need to have a group conference as to what to do next.

Getting to 20500ft wasn't too difficult, but it was cold and interestingly enough, at that height, 65 knots on the ASI was needed to stay in the lift which appeared to top out at that height.   Convert that 65 knots into true airspeed you have about 92 knots, so you can imagine what the wind strength was like.

I thought it was about time I returned to earth and let another pilot get a diamond height gain.  I pointed the glider towards the sink and down we came at just over 2000 feet per minute and that was with the brakes hanging out.  Oh boy that was the worst thing to do, my right ear was bloody painful.  A burst eardrum was the last thing I wanted.  If you suffer from very slight ear problems, they become major ones if descending too fast, so make your descent a gradual one.

At 13,000ft, just north of Egmont Village, looking for German Hill was not a problem, I knew where to look but I couldn't see it as the roll cloud was still over the strip and topping out at about 10,000ft.  Things go through your mind like, "is that bloody great cloud descending right to the ground?  Where are the other blokes, I can't see them, it certainly is still working so why aren't they flying.  Is the wind strength on the ground too strong, is it persisting under the cloud?"  Still sinking like a brick at 6000ft and thinking "why the hell am I here after that smooth ride up there, the rough stuff sure gives you a rude awakening".  Bang, thump, "hell we are climbing again, no we are not".  "Ah! That's a good sight, I can see the strip, a glider on the ground.  Wind speed not too bad, 5 to 8 knots NW, still sinking at 11 to 1200ft per minute though.  Will start my downwind leg at 1500ft, Blaniks are good at getting rid of extra height if its not needed".

After landing, I enquired why they weren't flying?  "Oh we had a couple of flights, bombed out, so gave up. How high did you get?"  "Twenty thousand, five hundred."  "Oh nonsense. Let the OO have the barograph, barographs don't lie."

Rod Smith

June 1991
Postscript:  Rod Smith got his Diamond Height and his ears gave him hell for days afterwards.

All three of Rod Smith’s stories were read at his funeral and so in that way let his voice be heard telling people about the flights that meant so much to him.

Papa Mike:






Well February was a bit different.   There was a contingent down at Greytown.  No worries about going flying – for the first half of the Competition there wasn’t any.  In fact there was but three task days available and completed.  Character building for everyone.


Results:                  Sports Class           – John Carter        4th.

                                                              -Dennis Green        6th


                               Racing Class:          -Ross Perry           10th

                                                               -Les Sharp             11th

The competition flying over the past couple of years surely has resulted in a build-up of competition flying experience that will be good for the club.

If the weather wasn’t much good at Papawai – Greytown, it wasn’t much better at Stratford.   As far as I know, there wasn’t any club flying.  The one day scheduled Ended up being a TH-S farm inspection trip.  Better than a Quad I would think.

Some January news from Les Sharp that is worthy of including -

8th January saw John Carter, Clinton then finally myself fly around the mountain (have we had 3 on the same day before?), and then I made an excursion out east for a total of 2 hours 25 minutes.

On 23rd January I did 1 hour 52 minutes, following a convergence line from Mt Taranaki east to Toko and Mangamingi on a couple of runs.

We have though, room for a story by Rod Smith.  This time it is an account of his Silver duration flight at German Hill.  Though that airfield had its problems, it could provide opportunities for some splendid flying and Rod Smith became quite good at exploiting them and had a lot of fun doing so.

After all these years, I’m still impressed at the quality of his writing.

Killing Time.  1988


A six minute tow to 1900ft above the German Hill trig, was the beginning of an epic five hours and forty-eight minutes flight.  Releasing in front of the rotor cloud, climbing at an incredible rate, circling as you would under Cu's, I found that if I wasn't careful one would be in the thick of it. So I changed tactics, by flying in a figure of eight formation just in front of the rotor enabled me to use the best lift, climbing to 6500ft.  Drifting into ten knots down is not the wisest thing to do, as it cost me more than a thousand feet which was the lowest point for the day.  Once established in four to six knots of lift, I soon reached 10,000ft. I would then explore the system by Tiki-touring over the countryside, New Plymouth, Oakura, the mountain to lose some height.  Flying back to a position between Lake Mangamahoe and Egmont Village and going up in next to no time.

After about two hours of minus two degrees, cold feet and a slightly numb bum, I searched the glider pockets and found it-one red second-hand plastic bag.  Some sound advice for any pilot on a long flight, if you locate a plastic bag, especially if it has resided in the glider pocket for a while, gently inflate it so as to ascertain which corner might have any holes in it, then you can keep that corner uppermost.  I also think I am qualified to say that when disposing of that used article, hold the top of the bag tightly, put your arm as far out of the side hatch as possible then let go quickly. You would be surprised as to how fast that bag empties if that procedure is not followed.  A good demonstration of the Venturi principle or is it Murphy's law.  The side of the canopy might well need a wash when I land. 

The three hour mark passed, the bum is really numb.  The wave system seems to be getting stronger with the vario indicating seven knots of lift at times and I was having to find some sink to keep honest with the 10,000ft mark.  It crossed my mind that I should have had my oxygen mask and the club barograph as a Gold C or a Diamond height gain was there for the taking.  Never mind, I don't want to do all the tasks in one flight.  The last hour was spent over the Maude and Henry peaks with a good four knots of lift and of course, the odd excursion over Mt Egmont to stay within my height margin.  Received a radio call to say that the five hours were up.  I enquired if any pilots wanted Golf November Golf (the Astir), they didn't so I elected to stay a little longer. Since I didn't have a trace for the Ranges Cup, I was going to make sure that I had the official longest flight at German Hill to crow about for a while.  

Was it easy?  Staying there was.  Flying under a sea breeze front would be easy also.  It certainly was an endurance test having to occupy one's mind and concentrate for the duration.  I have thirty-seven photos of the flight to look at and recall one of my most pleasurable flying experiences.

Rod Smith
December 1988

Papa Mike.