2nd May: A busy instruction day with flights for Aroha Oliver, Trent Lochhead and David Catt. Peter Cook helped by John Tullett were backseat and Jim Finer towing. Trent Lochhead & JT had the best flight, nailing 26m.
4th May: More instruction. A couple of intruction flights for Daviid Catt with Peter Williams backseat. Then Ross Perry joined the fray, taking Trent Lochhead and David Catt aloft. Local solo flights for Peter Williams, Dennis Green and John Tullett. Glyn Jackson and Jim Finer towing.
And that was it for the month and the year. Gliders were derigged in readiness for Mike Strathern's visit. As usual whilst he was working, wings and fuselages were strewn all around the hangar.
Rod Smith died on the 28th June. For several years he was an active member of of this club. His uncle and aunt, Les and Margaret Smith had earlier, been keen and hardworking members for several years . A Treasurer, instructor, an avid pilot of our Standard Astir and a fearless wave pilot, Rod gained his Gold and Diamond height gains out of German Hill. Any instructor doing Trial Flights and going 'overtime' was charged for that. He wrote three excellent stories for the club newsletter and the first is printed below. Several members attended his funeral and Les Sharp said some words on our behalf. The Club extends its' sympathies to Mirk and family.
A six minute tow to 1900ft above the German Hill Trig was the beginning was the beginning of an epic five hours forty-eight minute flight. Releasing in front of the rotor cloud, climbing at an incredible rate, circling as you would under a thermal cloud. I needed to be careful otherwise I'd be in the thick of it. So I changed tactics. By flying in a figure of eight pattern, enabled me to use the best lift, climbing to 6500ft. Drifting back into ten knots down is not the wisest thing to do as it cost me more than a thousand feet which was th lowest point for the day. Once re-established in four to six knots of lift I soon reached 10,000ft from where I could explore the system by Tiki-touring out ovr the country-side. New Plymouth, Oakura and the mountain to lose some height. Flying back to a position between Lake Mangamahoe and Egmont Village and climbing back up in next to no time.
After about two hours of minus 2C, cold feet and a slightly numb bum, I searched the glider pockets and found it - one second-hand red plastic bag. Some sound avice for a glider pilot intending a long flight, if you find one and especially if it has resided in a glider pocket for a while, gently inflate it so as to ascertain which corner has holes in it. If any, keep that corner upper- most. I also think I'm qualified to advise that when disposing of the used article, hold the top of the bag tightly, put your arm as far out of the side-hatch as possible and let go quickly. You would be surprised as to how fast the bag empties if that procedure is not followed. A good demonstration of the Venturi effect. Or is it Murphy's Law! The canopy looked as though it would need a wash.
The three hour mark has passed. The bum is really numb. The wave system seems to be getting stronger, 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 with me and the club barograph as a Gold C or a Diamond Height looked there for the taking, Never mind, I wouldn't want to do all those tasks in one flight. The last hour was spent over the Maude and Henry peaks on the Pouakai Ranges with a good four knots of lift and of course the odd excursion over Mt Egmont to stay within my height margin. I received a radio call to say my five hours were up. I enquired if any other pilots wanted November Golf (the Astir). No-one did. So I decided to stay a little longer. Since I didn't have a trace for the Ranges Cup, I was going to make sure that I would have the longest flight at German Hill to crow about for a while.
Was it easy? Staying there was. Staying under a sea-breeze front would be easy also. It was certainly 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 pleasureable flying experiences.
Rod Smith - December 1988
50 Years Back: Olympia aero-towed to Stratford so that Bob Jans could convert to that aircraft. He did but Harry Smith had to land in a paddock just short of German Hill on the way back. Because of the tendency of the Olympia to swing on t/o (only a belly-hook available) the STOP signal interpolated between the rope becoming tight and the ALL OUT signal. The aircraft nearly ended up in the Club House on one occasion. Frank Lowe carrying out repairs to the Club bulldozer.
25 Years Back: Work all but completed on the Pawnee 260 RWS. Registration was a nod to the late Bob Struthers and the work he had done over many years for the club.