Here are stories written by pilots for pilots but as well as telling their story, pilots are also illustrating the history and progress of the club. Unfortunately there are no stories available between 1960 and 1967. At that point, with a new and very active committee in place, club activity, aircraft and airfield construction brgan to have profound effect on the fortunes of the club. This was led by Bob Struthers whose stories will show the progress he made and with the accompanying leadership and example for others.
STORIES FROM THE PAST
Silver C Distance 1969
On the last day of the Auckland Provincials at Matamata the task was Matamata/Te Kuiti and return. It was a great thermal day and climbs to 5000ft were forecast.
Just after crossing the start line put me over the Cambridge hills and well on the way. Playing safe, I flew slowly and stayed as high as I could and in due course, Te Awamutu and Otorohanga drifted by. I arrived over Te Kuiti at 3500ft, did a few chandelles and somewhat reluctantly decided to land at the airfield in order to qualify for my Silver C Distance and thus complete the badge. My retrieve crew had trailed me down and arrived a few minutes later.
1972: Wave at Stratford:
This flight by Geoff Croy took place from Stratford on Taranaki Anniversary Day.
As soon as we got off the ground, the wave was already showing its presence as we flew through some really rough turbulence. Above 2000ft it smooth out somewhat and a brief glance at the instruments showed that we were in fairly strong lift. At 3500ft (agl) I parted company with the tug and started to climb rapidly. I trimmed the glider to fly at 60 mph and 25 minutes later I was surveying the countryside from 14000ft. it looked as though the wave might be working for some time, so I decided that five hours was on. At last!
On the way up I found time to take a few slides only to run out of film at the top of the wave. The lift was really dead smooth and it was possible to fly hands off for long periods. By now things were getting a trifle chilly with my feet going numb after two hours in the air. After three hours a sheet of cloud underneath me began to disperse and I discovered that I was flying over rough terrain around the back of Douglas and the Strathmore saddle. It was about this time that I dropped down to 9000ft after flying into the lee-side of the wave and after a long struggle I contacted the lift again and flew to 15500ft (16500ft asl). My feet were becoming somewhat sore by now so I cracked open the brakes and descended to warmer temperatures for a while.
By 5.30pm the lift had decreased a little, so I began to make headway back to the airfield, working out that I might just about make it with the height I had in hand and the time by which the five hours were up. To make headway, I had to fly at between 80 and 90mph into the strong wind but at 7000ft, I flew into a patch of zero sink and then a patch of five up (five hundred feet per min.) which really saved the day. However, when I actually flew over the airfield, I still had 4000ft on the clock . It didn't take me too long to chop this off with the airbrakes.
Note: Geoff apparently arrived back so cold, he could hardly talk. And there were several flights to 10,000ft of more that day, notably Ivan Chinnery-Brown and Errol Smart in the Rhonlerche, getting to 12000ft.
1976: A 300km at Gawler.
While Pat and I were visiting our daughter in Adelaide recently, I took the opportunity of doing some flying with the Adelaide Soaring Club at Gawler and was successful with the 300km attempt. Here is a brief account of the flight.
Tuesday 24th February was fine with a temperature of about 34C at Gawler airfield. Cu with base at about 5000ft, stretched northwards as far as the eye could see and an out and return to Jamestown (310km) was on. The CFI. Gordon Redway, gave the OK and I soon had formalities completed and all gear aboard one of the club’s two Libelles. But the unresolved problem was to find an Aussie with a towbar on his car and who was willing to retrieve me. I found a starter at 11.30am and at 12 noon, released at 2000ft over the airfield.
The first hour was hot hard work with thermals weak and hard to find. The sweat literally poured down my back. I passed over Clare, 86km out at 2pm – at this rate I’d be finishing in the dark!! The country below me was flat and featureless. I spent quite a lot of time studying the map and identifying the occasional township, railway line or lake. Relying more on a compass course, I covered the remaining 69km to Jamestown in an hour – cloudbase had lifted to 7000ft and thermals were strong. Rounding the turning point, I ran into an eight knotter, which carried me up to 8000ft. I banged off three photos just to make sure.
At Spalding, about 30km along the homeward journey, I elected to veer east to avoid an ominous black-based buildup, which was moving slowly inland from the Gulf of St Vincent. The mass began to rain over a large area of country. Pushing southwards along its leading edge, thermals became very few and far between and I became resigned to an outlanding a few kilometres west of Burra. I had just run into rain when the audio gave a stutter and after a couple of turns, it had settled into a steady five-knot whistle. Still in light rain, I climbed back up to 7000ft. Then realising that I was in frontal lift, I straightened up onto a southerly heading and kept climbing. I cleared the rain belt west of Eudunda at 8000ft and set off on what was to be my final glide to Gawler some 56km distant. One more thermal would have made it a certainty but the best I could find was the odd patch of zero sink. My nail biting proved to unnecessary as I arrived over the airfield at 2000ft at 6pm.