April started off at a cracking pace. A bunch of Junior Gliding students appeared out of nowhere, likewise Sam Tullett and John Robertson who took charge of the instructing. A bit of a shock for our gliders and towplane who found themselves being hauled out of the hangar, DI’d and towed off to the launching point much earlier than usual. And three days flying in a row. Shock, horror and 18 or more flights each day!
April 2nd: Wave provided a couple of high points for this day. First was Sam Tullett with Aroha Oliver in the Janus and getting to 9000ft. John Robertson with Liam Finer also had also got into wave for a two hour flight. And our resident wave pundit, Clinton Steele getting to what I don’t know what, but the siren song of Norfolk nearly did for him. As in the past, a westerly wave at Stratford can offer quite a punch. Nineteen flights for the day.
April 3rd: Off to an early start today, WZ on tow at 0947hrs. Freya Coates with John Robertson in WZ having the longest flight for the day at 43min. Not far behind were Tim Balo and Sam Tullett at 35min. Our own Junior Pilots – Liam and Caleb Finer having several flights each. Twenty-two flights for the day.
April 4th: Wheels rolling at 1000hrs. Trent Lochhead with Peter Williams wangled a launch in WZ at the day’s end. Freya Coates with John Robertson in WZ flew for 51min. Liam Finer, following a check by Tim Hardwick-Smith, had himself a solo in WZ. Serenity Trinder, Freya Coates, Aroha Oliver, Tim Balo and Gabrielle Howard all had flights ranging from twenty minutes to fifty-one minutes. Sam and John took time off from instructing to have themselves a 43min flight in the Janus. John Carter, who is anything but a Junior Pilot had two flights of 1hr 10m and 1hr 20m in his ASW15. Lift-wise, the day seemed to have been a rather buoyant one. Twenty-one flights.
So ended what should be regarded as a most successful camp. Those taking part were –
Instructors: John Robertson and Sam Tullett.
Total launches: 58
Total hours: 18hrs 58m
Tow pilots were: Glyn Jackson, Tim Hardwick-Smith and Jim Finer.
April 18th: Not so good that day. A flight each for Kaleb Donghi and David Catt. Conditions were a bit rough so flying ended for the day.
April 28th: A good club day. Well supported by David Catt, the Perry family and a flight for Dylan Miller who left to go hunting rabbits. John Tullett took Ross Perry for a check flight in the Janus. An hour in the PW5 for Dennis Green – seems to be a regular thing. And a blast from the past, Brett Emeny no less who took time off from flying his Vampire, his Yak and the Catalina to have a flight in the Janus with John Tullett. He has rejoined the club too. Welcome Back Brett. Glyn Jackson did the towing.
25 Years ago: Work nearly complete on the Pawnee 250 acquired from Texas. Several club members helped in the general toil. The Piper Cub had been sold to a Hawera syndicate – Mike Jones, Ralph Gibson and John Frew.
50 Years back: More work on the E/W runway at German Hill. Frank Lowe’s D9 cleared bush. A 300k attempt by Bob Struthers. Emu parades for stone removal. Club D4 bulldozer having repairs to repair a water cooler leak.
I could see an awesome looking wave cloud over Taranaki as I drive to the Stratford airfield, the possibility of a high altitude flight maybe?
The Youth glide brigade were all go, by the time I arrived. Sam Tullett was instructing and said he
had been to 9000ft around the translator area of the Mountain. So with that, I got organised with O2 etc, glider ready to go, and a queue of gliders waiting for a tow.
An offer from Jim Finer, of a tow behind the Orange towplane belonging to Jim and Tim, was gratefully accepted as the club tug was busy hauling Youth Glide into the sky (Cheers Jim).
I’m not sure how Jim enjoyed towing, but I got bashed around a bit on the way, released from tow around 4500ft, seemed like we were in wave, but as soon as I released the struggle began. Hard work maintaining altitude let alone gaining in rough air, left the bush line low over the German Hill area. Headed towards Norfolk Road, might need an airfield shortly- can already hear JT giving me a ribbing if I land at Norfolk road again!
I notice a roll cloud over Inglewood, a way into the secondary wave maybe? Very low over Inglewood, even the glide to Norfolk looked skinny, let alone Stratford. Worked back and forward on the mountain side of an interesting cloud, finally a climb!
Heading back to the Mountain trying to push into the Primary, finally some smooth wave air just in front of the Pouakai range, not impressive but took me to7000ft, but seemed to top out at that altitude.
So with Norfolk a memory and Stratford an easy glide now, time for a scenic flight around the place, meeting up with Sam in NN and John Robertson in WZ around Stratford. The Oudie turned itself off after falling out of the cradle during a rough tow I’m not sure how long the flight was, but must have been about 2 hrs.
Not a high altitude flight but fun and interesting weather.
A photo by Clinton, shows an impressive wave cloud but for the life of me, I can't upload it.
So that’s it from him and this is it from me
Well not quite actually, for whilst trawling though old newsletters, I came across this account in the April 1971 newsletter of an early attempt on a 300k by Bob Struthers. Succint, and it reads well.
A 300k Attempt in March 1971
With the end of summer in sight and my 300k cross-country still only two straight lines on a map, I decided one Saturday morning that the sky didn’t look too bad and after a prod or two from crew-man Bob Jans, I took a tow from NP Airport into 3000ft of blue air over Lepperton. After a small height gain in the smoke of a scrub fire, I headed off eastwards towards Everett Park where a few cu’s were forming. Arriving at 1800’ I climbed quickly in the first thermal to cloudbase at 3500’ and with other cu’s within reach I knew a cross-country was possible. I flew southwards to Kaimata, Ratapiko then Douglas. In due course I arrived over Lake Rotokare where I elected to turn onto a safer route close to the coast rather than follow the cu’s directly across the tigercountry towards Wanganui. This turned out to be mistake as from then on, gravity prevailed and in due course, I landed in a large aerodrome-like paddock at Highlands Farm a few miles north of Eltham. A telephone call to Bob – a few beers at Tariki on the way home.
Not even a Silver Distance but very enjoyable. After reading of recent attempts by the Wanganui boys in an easterly direction, I know that a 300k attempt to Hawkes Bay or the Wairarapa is a monty. And this raises another thought – what about a ‘Wanganaki Cup’ awarded to who last made the Warrengate – German Hill trip either way with perhaps a social function to mark the transfer. Pilots’ names and times taken would be inscribed. Wanganui – your comments please?
There would be many more cross-country miles for Bob, both in NZ and Australia. Currently, one of his pupils is planning a 2000k attempt. That would be a fitting tribute.