Thursday, January 31, 2008

Killarney - Day 6 - Task 5

The weather improved today and a 76k task was called. The start would be a race start. Dave & I lanched as soon as we could by "pushing" to laiunch as soon as our priority would allow. We made it into the air 30 min. before start time. I went right to cloud base at 2000 meters and was ready when the gaggle went over the back at 12:30. I like race starts. . .

Dave had a tougher time & got low enough to land over the back but close enough to warrant a relaunch. Hanna did a great job of wisking him to the top for a relaunch before the launch closed.

Meanwhile James T., I, and James R., in that order, were flying West over Warwick & all having a good go of it. The lead gaggle was far ahead but occasionally there were crux points that slowed us all down. I made a low save & headed for the quarry where I joined another couple of gliders who were in the search mode. We moved around looking for anything & but eventually all of us dirted at 45 kilometers. James R. made it another 12k. and James T. made it to goal with a very nice flight.

Conditions today were more dependable & predictable - either that or I'm learning the local conditions. Dave had a rough day when he landed about 15k from launch on the second flight.

Goal was across from a nice country pub & there were many in goal, so in classic Aussie style, a party was had. . .

Results are here.

It's 6 am on Friday, and the day looks fantastic. Much drier than previously, but the fields should heat well today.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Killarney - Day 5

Click on image for larger view

No fly today, due to rain showers. We had a great lunch up on the Great Dividing Range at a great little bistro with a view of the canyons.

The forecast for the next couple of days is wet, but that's nothing new. We may get some more flying this week.


Killarney - Task 4

The weather in Killarney has been great. When it hasn't looked optimal at launch, it soon improves and good flying ensues. Today was the same. When we arrived at the East launch the winds were very gusty to 15kts. & cloudbase was low. As the morning progressed the conditions improved & a 115k dogleg task was called.

Dave & I decided to launch early and this was the correct decision as the lift was abundant and simply staying out of the clouds was an issue. We danced the dance until the lead gaggle decided to go over the back. I was in good position to go with the gaggle. I spread out & found a bad line that I corrected quickly, but some damage had been done as I was now 500' below & behind the leaders. I found some lift & stopped to work a 400'/min. thermal that the leaders had overflown & watched as they went on a long glide. Over the next 15 minutes,I made some poor decisions and ended up very low over a field. I got a good kick in the ass & thought, "OH BOY, LIFT!" then I noticed the sagebrush circling around me as I fought the turbulence & my thoughts changed to, "OH SHIT A DUST DEVIL!" I hung in there & soon I was 1000meters above the field in smoother lift. This encouraged me & I continued on to Warwick, but after 1:30 flight time, was on the ground.

Dave was able to continue on for another 10K before he landed on the other side of Warwick. Many made it to goal today. Dave & I are loving the flying but our frustration is high because the conditions look so good & we are having trouble reading the terrain & weather to extend our flights.

Overall Results can be found HERE

Daily results can be found HERE

Thanks to everybody who has wished us well. . .We are frustrated, but having a lot of fun. The people in Killarney are great & the event has been well run and very successful.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Killarney - Task 3

Today was a dry day compared to the previous two. The son was bright at dawn. We headed to coffee with James Ryrie, his daughter (and our retrieval driver) Hanna, James Thompson (the local expert)and his friend from Connecticut, LeAnne, Dave & me. Today looked like it might be big. Both Dave & I were ready for a good day of flying - neither of us felt very competent dealing with the weather & local topography. Today we hoped to accomplish a nice task.

The pilot meeting announced the leaders. Viv Williams, launching here, leads the women's and Phil Hystek leads the overall. My bad flight yesterday lowered me to 4th in the DHV2 cat & 39th overall.

At the top of the hill the feeling was one of anticipation. We all knew the day would be good. The wind would be a factor - so would the blue areas. The task was called early & long. A 139k (86 mile) downwind run. Dave & I decided to launch from the East launch again & launched fairly early. Most of those pilots who had launched were getting up so we hucked off. Right away we sunk to below ridge height, but we had lots of company so I wasn't worried. Soon the traffic was concentrated into such a small part of the ridge that there was a bit of jostling & yelling as we all struggled to stay in the air. After a protracted battle, Dave & I headed for the bombout. Our first bombout & relaunch. Our retrieval worked out great & we were on top with plenty of time to make a good start.

Relaunch into the now very brisk wind at launch was exciting but fine and we were soon high over launch Dave just 50' above in the same thermal. We headed over the back & soon found some lift that consolidated into a 2-3mps climb. At this point I lucked into a good line along a weak convergence & Dave, to my right about 100 meters, was in a lot of sink. By the time I found my next thermal at 1000'agl or so, Dave was struggling a few hundred ft. above the field. He had a great save & I headed out when I hit the 6500' altitude limit in protected airspace along the route.

Dave was far behind but fighting a good fight. I lost him when I began to get busy. I was working every bit of lift I encountered. The lowerI got, the stronger the wind seemed to get. I was circling in zero sink at times & drifting towards goal at 20-25 kilometers/hr.

By now James & James had landed & were watching Dave & I fly beyond there landing spots. Retrieval would be easy today. Dave had gotten up and caught me. I saw him just before I landed, he was 400meters (1/4 mile) closer to goal than I.

Today was pure fun. We had some good climbs and flew over beautiful country. We covered 25-30 miles today too. Rumor has it that there were 8-12 in goal.

Tomorrow looks good too.

Thanks to Brett Hardin for the photos of Day two.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Killarney - Task 2

Click image for Larger photo

Today looked like a great day at launch. The forecast was for over development to the South. As the photo shows, it did. This didn't affect the flight today though.

The task set was a simple downwind dash to Clifton 58 kilometers Northwest of the launch. Dave & I were far enough down the launch order that we decided to use the East launch to avoid the hold-up of the launch grid. It worked out very well as the cycles up the launch were perfect & we were able to setup and launch at the time we desired. I went first & found a nice thermal right over launch. Dave followed immediately.

We worked the same lift for about 15 minutes until I jumped to a better thermal & bumped the top-of-lift. I decided to head over the back with 3 or 4 others. We found some weak lift along the way but things weren't booming the way the sky indicated they should. I found some lift & the gaggle flocked to me for about 1500' of climb. When the lift faltered I headed off & was getting 7 to 1 glide with a groundspeed of 50 kilometers/hr. Unfortunately, the lift suddenly became sparse. I was with 2 others in a beautiful valley (called Emu Vale, we were to find out later) scratching to save ourselves. A Boom Sport (David from Italy) landed and watched me as I tried repeatedly to climb out. Once I was down to 700' above the field and found a bit-o-lift that allowed me the titillation of climbing to 900', but the drift in the 9 kt. wind was too much & I couldn't clear the ridge behind me. . . I landed 10 meters from Italy David.

Davis S., meanwhile, left the hill after me but was in better shape & made it farther down the courseline than I. It was a tough day & we didn't go as far as we wanted - but that's the challenge ;-)

The clouds were spectacular today. The CBs to the South merged into one and became a supercell that eventually dropped rain on the campground around 4:30. I am not understanding the micro climate here. I've been let down by conditions that seemed to be better than they were. I need to stay with a gaggle that knows what it's doing, but with the individual starts that we've had the first two tasks, it's been very hard to pick your gaggle.

The week is shaping into a good one, with conditions for tomorrow looking very good. I hope to make goal tomorrow.


Killarney - Task 1

The morning dawned very dewy and overcast with little appearant prospect of good flying. We had the pilot meeting at 8:30 & decided to meet at the top of the SE launch at around 10:30. When we arrived at launch, the cloud was at launch elevation with drippies falling. Patience paid off, though, and the weather improved. A short task was called that overflew our caravan park & then drove downwind to abeam Warwick for a total task of around 63km.

I launched around 1:30pm and flew down the ridge, scratching a bit until I connected with some good lift to cloud base. The area was really looking good at this point with abundant cumulus clouds and some streeting. I was right behind the lead gaggle of 15 and in a loose group of 6-8 gliders at various altitudes. At one point, the lead gaggle stalled in some rather weak lift & I stopped short of that gaggle to work some 3-400'/min. lift.

Soon I was at the height of the top guys in the lead gaggle & my lift was waning, so I took my chance to reenter the lead gaggle. I hit the gaggle about halfway up the stack but found nothing to warrant a circle. This was the end for me & many others. The whole gaggle went on glide & many of us never had a peep on out varios beyond that point. The wind in the valley was blowing at 10-13 kts. so the landing was fun but very uneventful.

Dave got caught in the launch order queue for about 15-20 minutes behind me & didn't have much company for his flight. He was able to hit the first turnpoint at the caravan park, but landed fairly close.

As always the locals were friendly & in good spirits (It is Australia Day) and we had a great debrief at the pub & a feed at the rec center. I've asked a few Aussies what the celebration at Australia Day is commemorating, and the best answer I get is that it's a chance for a three-day party. . .

I don't know the scoring yet - I hope to do better today. The weather looks like we may have more wind & a nice cumulus day.
(EDIT) I just got back from the pilot mtg. & I went 17km of a 63km task - not great but good enough for 25th place (3rd in the DHV 2 category). Only 9 made it to goal due to the scratchy conditions & strong valley winds along the courseline. Today looks good & I'm off to launch -

Fly safe -


Thursday, January 24, 2008

News from Down Under - Day 1

Dave & I made it to Brisbane without a hitch - I did have to roust him out to the airport 2 hours early to catch a delayed 4 pm flight that actually left at 5:30, but all worked out fine. I OMCed to get on the flight (sat in the cockpit until all passengers were boarded). This created a bit of a SNAFU though. Because I wasn't considered a passenger anymore, they took my name off the boarding list & promptly took my bags off. I didn't realize the problem until we got to SYD.

It's the next day now & we are in Killarney. I'll drive to Brisbane today & hopefully my wing & suitcase will be there. The Wicked Camper is working out well so far. It's the bare essentials and we are in a caravan park that has showers and wifi. It's a nice setting in rural Australia. The town has one store & the required pub. The park dog is named storm.

Sleeping isn't bad in the campervan. The beds are adequate & Dave & I seem to coexist without too much undesired contact ;-) There is a rudimentary kitchen with storage & camp-sink.

The week is starting to look a bit wet. The competition begins Sat.(tomorrow)with T-storms forecast all week. The following week is forecast to have improved weather so we will get some flying in regardless.

More when I can -

Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting ready for Killarney

I'm headed for Killarney Australia with David S. on Tuesday night the 22nd of Jan. We will arrive in Sydney the morning of the 24th, then fly to Brisbane to pick up our "Wicked Camper" and then a couple hour drive to Killarney.

The competition starts on the 26th and runs through the 2nd of Feb. The weather has been very wet due to El Nina, but the week of the comp. looks good.

I'll be flying my Aspen2 in this competition since the Avax XC2 will not arrive until mid-Feb. I haven't flown much this winter, so it will be good to get into the air again. I'll be updating this blog a lot during the next two weeks.

The competition results will be posted at

Wish us luck!


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's 2008, and I'm sitting in Narita on a 6-day trip to Japan & Thailand.

I find myself more inclined to ponder how things are going when I'm alone & away from home. This New Years is no different. I don't make New Years resolutions, but occasionally, I do assess and reflect. 2007 was a tough year for me in some ways. I found myself bitching about my job more than I like. The fact is that I've lost the dream. I'm now resigned to "get on with it" and just do the job. If you were one of my targets for a diatribe - I apologize & hope to not bore you with self-indulgent whining ever again.

This isn't the job it used to be but I'm good at it & it does allow me the time to pursue my passions and spend time with my family & friends. . . even if I'm not always at home when I'd like to be. . . I'm thankful to have the job I've aspired to have since I was 14 years old & started flying.

This New Years I'm very THANKFUL.

Thankful that I have a good woman
who allows me to love her & returns the favor.
I aspire to be a kind, supportive mate.

Thankful that I have two great, grown daughters that have made me proud. They are the sum of their parent's parts, and better for it.
I aspire to be a good father to my adult kids.

Thankful for my friends. Friends provide a feedback loop that is reasonable and helpful. . . and sometimes they even buy the beer.
I aspire to be as good a friend to those I have.

Thankful for my passions. My life is filled with activities that occupy my time & fulfill my need to be challenged, enriched, and educated.
I aspire to improve my skills & expand my horizons. To take risks that will stretch me as a person without impinging on any of the above aspirations.

I hope you all have a great 2008!