30th September 2019:
Dylan Miller with Sabrina Schells after his Trial Flight at Omarama in September
Dylan so enjoyed his flight and now wants to learn. Our family's thanks to Sabrina who so expertly looked after him.
Back home the month started on Sept. 1st with a quartet of BFR flights, a solo for Dennis Green in TE then Peter Cook and Les Sharp partnered up for a forty minute flight in the Janus. Don't know where they went but they must have found enough good air with a bit of lift thrown in.
Then came Sept. 15th. Les Sharp and Peter Williams had themselves a flight which would be the best wave for distance flight ever done in Taranaki bearing in mind the area available to work with and the height available to them. Their story follows later in this Recent News editition.
Sept. 21st saw a good flight of one hour & forty-three minutes for Tim and John Spence in the Janus, fifty minutes for Peter Williams in his K6 and eight minutes for Tim, again with John Spence proving the concept of low tows equal short flights.
Looked like it was a good day with an hour and thirty-eight minutes for John Tullett in his K6 then Tim shook the dust off his Discus with a quick flight. Then he, with John Spence had an hour, twenty-four minutes in the Janus. Two good days for the weekend.
Sept. 28th: Two flights for the day. Peter Cook took Liam Finer on a convergence tour out to Douglas then Midhirst back to Stratford. Just over an hour's worth. Forty-five minutes for Les and his ASW20. and then Tim with Liam Finer went off cattle spotting on his Mangamingi using the towplane as a spotter plane. Beats using a horse or a motorbike. Quicker too. So that was the month.
Now: the flight that Les and Peter did-
Look for the Unexpected
By: Les Sharp
On previous flights starting in wave around Mt Taranaki, I had ventured out towards the North and South coasts and the next step was to go towards both in the one flight.
On Sunday 15th September our Club Captain, Glyn Jackson had advised us of the forecast potential of a good convergence from the mountain extending to the East. I arrived at the field shortly after the allotted start time and Glyn was there, but there was little prospect of others flying that day as the majority of our members were out of Taranaki. We got the tug and Janus NN out and D.I’d. them. We discussed who would fly the glider and Glyn kindly offered to be the tow pilot. We discussed the possibility that there might be some wave generated by the mountain as there were some clouds around it that indicated the possibility. As a club, we have not done many flights in similar conditions, but from the experience of others I knew that if there was wave, it would be quite close to the lee side.
As I was preparing to get into the glider, Peter Williams arrived and was offered the back seat, which he wasn’t slow to accept. We launched okay, and after a circuit around the field to gain a height margin, Glyn towed us West under the convergence, which at that time was looking a bit broken, and not overly convincing. We did encounter some consistent lift, so released at 3300’ and managed to climb under the cloud enough to head west. We have a club SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) which is not to cross the bushline at the National Park boundary below 4000’, but because of the conditions we opted to climb to about 5000’ then tried pushing towards the mountain to see if we could locate wave. The cloud shrouded the summit and extended outwards down the sides like an un-buttoned waistcoat, so I aimed at the centre of the gap, about where you would expect the middle of the puku! (tummy). The vario pointed consistently down, so we backed out of there and flew under one of the scrappy bits of cloud, which turned out to be rotor. At some point we found the right bit of rotor and Peter complained that his pressure vario was jammed on the top stop. Not a concern for me as the altimeter was going rapidly in the direction we all like to see. We lost that climb, but soon found another, then at 6000’ that lovely silky smoothness and still a very good climb. The wave band was very narrow, but we worked it easily enough, and when we tapped on the airspace ceiling at 9500’, turned and tracked south.
With the wind behind us, it didn’t take long to get to where we could see Hawera Airfield between a couple of cloud streets and when we made an advisory call, were asked in reply if we intended landing there. That wasn’t our plan because we were still at 8000’. It was always an option if we couldn’t return north because of the cloud street between us and the mountain, and we were getting down below the tops. As we turned there were obvious gaps showing in the shadows on the ground so we picked one of the widest and tracked towards it. Now we had a headwind and the height loss was enough to deter us heading back over the National Park, so we headed back to the west of Stratford township and finally found lift in the same area as where we had released.
From there we repeated the climb back to cloudbase heading towards the mountain. This time we set out again into the blue looking for wave although I declared a minimum of 4500’. We reached it all too quickly and turned back towards the cloud and hit severe turbulence, nose down, only 40 knots on the ASI and not increasing. You hear the saying “where there is sink there’s always lift” ….. Whumph and now I am trying to get the nose down, the airspeed is climbing through 70 knots, the varios are on the top stop and the altimeter is going up so fast that we quickly forget the escape plan, we are in the wave again and at around 6000ft. Peter is happily videoing on his phone. As we climb towards 9000ft I call New Plymouth Tower and asking if we can get a clearance to fly over the city. Asked to hold where we were it was a problem to try and limit height, however, about a minute later, we were given the clearance as we go through 9500’ and cleared to track towards the port at up to 10,000’ which was great because we were almost there by the time I had read back the clearance. The first couple of miles towards the city we were still in the wave, so I use full negative flap to reduce the performance until we were out of the wave. We cruise out towards the western edge of New Plymouth until I felt that the height loss was getting below comfort level (L/D to Stratford still good), get a new clearance and headalong the coast towards the airport, then, close to overhead, turn on track for Stratford. We say our farewell to the tower as we leave the CTA, call base to check in and Glyn suggests we try going east under the convergence. Peter takes over and we get under the convergence at around 4000ft near the airfield and run along it in generally strong lift up to near the 480ft’ base. Because of the risk of the convergence collapsing and leaving us with a long leg into a 20 knot headwind, we turned when the Oudie told us we were 10NM out and headed back. Needn’t have worried about any collapse as we were flying at around 100 knots all the way back and had to use brake to get down into the circuit, and again when downwind to get out of a 4 knot climb. It is always an irritation to have to get rid of height with brake, but 2 ½ hours was enough for cold feet and the bits in contact with the seat.
From my perspective, it was my best flight in Taranaki, and it showed the value of exploring conditions that one hasn’t previously seen.
Thanks to Peter for his input to the flight and for the photos, and thanks to Glyn for opting to be tow pilot and his later enthusiasm in putting the logger track onto the map.