John Spence relates how he came back to gliding and his flight in the PW5 GTE.
A PENSIONER’S TALE
It was in November 2015 when there was a nagging desire to have a particular item ticked off the bucket list. This was to return to Gliding after a lay-off of nearly 20 years with 570 hours logged, during this time I constructed and learnt to fly many Radio Controlled aircraft. As a new-comer it was not an easy task learning not to crash, but the instructors were always nearby initially to take over the controls if required.
The Twin Astir (WZ) or (Whale Zulu) was found to have a mind of its own at times initially, but during the re-training phase not one instructor took over the controls other than to demonstrate a manoeuvre. Some instructors would talk during the flight but one particular instructor would only say ‘Use more %#@$*&^% rudder’ and on flying the downwind leg ‘Keep the airspeed on the yellow triangle’. The sound of snoring coming from the back seat was common…………………………….
It was interesting to have a range of instructors as they all had slightly different slants on various actions, but the main point emphasised by them all was that WZ requires boot loads of rudder in turns. It was a while before this was appreciated and implemented as it was nothing like flying a Blanik or any other glider for that matter. Thanks to Peter W, Peter C, Les, John T and CFI Tim for their patience and after 13 dual flights a solo was deemed to be a safe option after a check flight circuit. On take-off WZ leapt into the air without the weight of an instructor in the back, the handling was like a heavy single seater and ‘sort of’ a joy to fly and was delighted in clocking 33 min on the first flight.
The ultimate joy in gliding is to fly a single seater and on Saturday 5th March Tim offered up the PW5 (Discus was preferred though) which was grabbed with both hands as 22 years had passed since the last flight in a single in Std Astir NG out of German Hill. Jim towed with TGC, the acceleration on the ground roll was surprisingly rapid and the ailerons very responsive. Managed to stay aloft for an hour in strong lift with equally strong sink in places which was why the flight was cut short. A later flight under the convergence was not as prolonged as the system appeared to be decaying.
Looking forward to many more jaunts in TE.
The PW5 in flight near the Stratford Airfield
As my children have grown to a size when they could see out of a glider and enjoy a flight I have tried to introduce them to gliding with a memorable flight, Maddy flew with me on a great mountain convergence day a straight flight to Fanthams peak and Mitchell ( Iron guts) flew a classic thermals day along Beaconsfield road over Midhurst and York road. As soon as Mitch had completed his first flight Libby informed me she was next .The next week our tow plane was wiped and the great wait began for Libby the various explanations - we don’t have a tow plane, I don’t have a winch rating yet, today won’t be a very good day, were all taken well for a 8/9 year old. However last weekend when I announced that today was the day Libby was a little sceptical that it was going to happen.
We towed out west over the town and released into good lift then worked our way up to the bush line north of Pembroke road the cloud street petered out at this point so we gained height working our way back to Pembroke school then crossed to the southern cloud street and flew this all the way up to the mountain over Dawson Falls. There was extreme lift on the southern side of the cloud street up close to the mountain but it was pretty turbulent so we turned and flew out over the town and Waiwiri road then back to the airfield for some chandelles and a landing.
Maddy looked out the window willing herself not to be sick, Mitch studied the vario and talked flight times but Libby looked out the window, whooped in delight when she saw her friend's house and loved the chandelles.
In summary I would say sharing the thing you love with the people you love is fantastic.
Will Hopkirk. March 2015.