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.