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  • Pleasant and Challenging

    I decided to rest my sore back (too much heavy lifting around Wilotree Park) but Mick Howard and John Simon decided to go north but late at 2:20 PM. At 10 AM the sky was full of ill formed gray bottomed (thin) cu's with light cirrus overhead. The cu's stayed that way all day.

    "Michael Howard" <<mickhoward100>> writes:

    Cloud base was predicted to be around 5000’ and with the expected southeast winds we were hoping to fly a little further than previous days.  However the sky didn’t look so inviting as the surface heating felt weak and the clouds, though fairly high, were flat (thin) and not well defined plus we didn’t like the wind gusts and direction which seemed to have a lot of easterly component.  We waited around until after 2 PM hoping conditions would improve but apart from the wind gusts backing off the sky looked less inviting that earlier, so we agreed on a shorter task to Leeward.

    Rich, Tiago, Kinsley, John and I were set up and John took the first tow around 2:20pm.  Bobby hauled me up next and was turning under a weak broken cloud (there wasn’t much else there) and I pinned off around 2100’ in zero lift.  I headed over to slightly better looking clouds east towards Osborne Field and took a climb to 3300ft.  John had gotten off tow at 1400’ in zero lift and I watched him digging himself out from 700’ over the swamp east of the field.

    I was undecided whether to go on course as the day didn’t feel or look very good I wasn’t sure if John or was going to land and if I would be the only one to leave.   I punched upwind, which was varying between 9-14 mph, to another cloud in the weak broken street.  John was now just north of me and low but he was still in the game to I decided to drift on course taking the climb to 3900’.

    At 20 km out I was down below a 1100’ struggling to find a climb with poor retrieval areas ahead when I found a climb that turned into 500 fpm up that carried me to cloudbase at 4800’.  John had managed to get high and was heading my way and I was hoping he would catch up to me so we could fly together.  I was announcing all my climbs but John was around 10 km behind on about the same line 5 km west of the course line.

    The clouds up ahead over the west side of the Villages looked tired and thin but there was nothing else.  I had plenty of altitude to make landing zones as I passed the Villages and found my last climb around at 3:40 PM which carried me to 3800’.

    I went on glide searching for lift and changing course slightly to hit what appeared to be hot spots but the day was over.  John announced that he was setting up for landing which I was about to do after first trying one last attempt to climb out with 30 or so vultures circling low over the corner of a cattle farm.  Down to 350’ I was still hoping for a low save but despite flying over the vultures I didn’t find a lick of lift so I landed 9 km short of goal in a nice empty field across the road from the cattle at 4:05 PM around the same time as John.


    I had a lot of encouragement from across the road as I broke down my glider:

    I almost didn’t fly on this day and then I almost didn’t attempt to fly the task, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable flight.  Staying in the air and making miles in weak conditions is very rewarding and flying cross country in January is amazing – just needed one more climb to make it to goal.

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  • Attila on the 2020 Forbes Flatlands

    Attila Bertok writes:

    After I think 28 years coming to Forbes (except a few years when it wasn’t held) and losing at least 5 un-losable Flatlands, I finally can put this in the collection, too. Josh came 2nd with brilliant flying and Jonny came 3rd.

    It all started as doom and gloom. The country was on fire and the smoke was delivered to us via the varying winds. Visibility was occasionally nil either due to smoke or dust or both. The first 3 days were cancelled. It surely looked like that we are going to see the worst Forbes Flatlands ever. A few pilots decided to pull out of the competition and head somewhere smoke free. I don’t blame them, time off work is quite precious for most of us. I guess any flying seems more attractive than no flying at all.

    The Queensland vs NSW golf tournament was shaping up well. Some rumors mentioned cheating, but it was just some fake news.

    The 4th day our fortune turned and we woke up for a much better day, at least for a taskable one. I was one of the task setters and I must say that we’ve never faced such a challenging forecast on any previous Forbes comps, but we did our best considering the circumstances. So, on day 4 we set a task down south to Old Junee partly because the fires were burning in the mountains and a SW wind change was anticipated. Finally it turned out to be a distance task, largely due to the 1 hour delay initiated by the safety committee. I strongly disagreed with both of the half hour delays, because it didn’t improve safety, but I respected their decision. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t call them wimps. Trent took the crown for the day pushing ahead as usual followed by Josh then Pedro. I’ve felt the day was quite turbulent, but it was partly due to the upcoming SW wind which created some convergence at first and later stopped us from completing the task. But we’ve had a day in the bank. Lukas also encountered a large brown snake which made his waiting for the retrieve car in the dark a lot less boring.

    The 5th day promised better conditions. Again, we had winds from the west, so we’ve decided on a cross wind flat triangle down south and back via a short final leg to the Bogan Gate goal which is not at all in Bogan Gate. The safety committee has obviously learned something from the day before, so we just got on with preparing instead of spreading pessimism on the ground way before setting up. On course, we encountered strong lift, most thermals were marked with dust devils. Due to the wind there was some ‘interesting’ climbs for me and this made me quite restless pushing ahead. I’ve learned from my previous day’s mistake and didn’t push too aggressively into the cross wind, but everybody did which gave me an early 10 km advantage which I’ve managed to hold the whole way and winning 1000 points for the day. Jonny came 2nd and Filippo 3rd. The air was very good on the final glide and despite the strong headwind everybody came in very high.

    6th day. Similar weather but the Skysight forecast seem to get it wrong every day. Cloudbase prediction usually way off, but not bad. Winds are turning out to be stronger. Windy gets it quite right. This is hindsight of course. So again, we went for a flat triangle, this time up to the north turning at Peak Hill, then back to Forbes via a turn point at the corner of the state forest east of Forbes. We had the best conditions on this day, big thermals both in size and strength. It was nice to fly with some people for a change, but it only lasted up to the 1st turn point, after that was lonely flying again. It is my Hungarian accent, I think.

    So I was flying fairly upwind and things were working out nicely until I didn’t find a strong high climb before turning at the forest. So I was quasi-ahead, but it was just that I had a longer fruitless glide. I was quite desperate to find lift turning into the strong head wind and being low, when I noticed a ninety degree wind direction change on the surface of the small ponds which told me which way to go. As soon as I hooked into the 3-4 meter lift I saw the dust picking up.

    A little while later I was climbing right over the eye of our micro tornado. The dust tube of the dust devil was so perfectly formed that it was mesmerizing as well as beautiful to look straight down the pipe while going up. By this time everybody was all over me below and above, but I was happy to see that the ones above didn’t have the turn point yet, so I still had a chance to place well. I ended up winning the final glide giving me another 1000 point day, Josh came 2nd and Rohan 3rd. A lot of happy people arrived in goal shortly after.

    7th day. A weather change was happening. It complicated matters even further. The temperature diagram looks bad, showing a max climb to 1000m at the beginning of our flight but slightly improving later, however a blue day, for sure.

    I even make a little joke about how bad the day looked like. We settled on a short 90km task to Tomigley, fearing bad conditions if we go any further north. I know it is a “pussy” task but we could only make a decision on the information we had.

    Anyway, we got going and the prediction was spot on at the beginning of the task, however it was rapidly improving. I climbed out with Jonny quite well and he made a perfectly good decision by going for a large dust devil. This made it obvious to me that he wanted to go early, but I didn’t follow because I wanted to minimize risk by having people ahead of me, about which I usually don’t care. I was on the lead by ~170 points and I didn’t want to lose yet another Flatlands comp, so I hung back. I almost overdid the waiting game, because I wanted to do a better start, but finally I went with about 5 minutes deficit, but with people in front of me. Thankfully I had Lukas with me, so I wasn’t too worried.

    As the task progressed I got closer and closer to the gliders in front. It was very obvious, that it is a very short task, so it was much more than just a matter of finishing, the time had to be good, too. Finally I made goal being quite sure that I had done enough. Rohan took the day by completing the task in 1:11 followed by Josh and Trent. I did 1:15 which was already 100 points less than first place, but the plan wasn’t trying to win the task today anyway.

    Fun fact: 350 km to north east in Lake Keepit the Womens World Gliding Championship was going on. The very same day the task setters got it so wrong that everybody from all the 3 classes out landed. The closest pilot was 70kms from home in case someone thinks that task setting is easy!

    While I am writing this it is raining outside and my mind still keeps looking down to that perfectly formed dust devil.

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  • BGD and MRT


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  • Flying in Australia during the Fires


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  • Dutch Open Hang Gliding Championship 2020


    Monte Cucco, Italy

    A great opportunity to fly in one of the most beautiful places to fly in Europe. It will also be a good training for those who want to participate in the European Championships in July.

    We will be using live tracking. Registration May 23rd. Contest flying May 24-29, Prize giving May 29th.

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  • Spanish ATOS pilots coming to the Worlds

    Seems as though the Spanish and the Italians have figured out how to get their large ATOS gliders to Florida. We've got ten pilots from five countries signed up, so it will be a real World Championship without the Germans, Austrians, and French.


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  • Northwest/Southeast Cloud Streets

    Richard Westmoreland, the PIC on the tandem, shouted down that the conditions were great with cloud base at 3,000' at 12:30 PM. The HRRR forecast said 2,000' at 1 PM so we had assumed that we would launch at 2 PM. As soon as I heard the news from Richard I got with Mick and said that we've got to get going.

    We had a light north northwest flow at Wilotree Park and we were down at the south end, apparently not as far south as Jim would have liked us. The sky was again full of cu's and had been since about noon. It was great to see the tandem stay up for so long.

    Jim Prahl pulled me up at 1:34 PM and I held on until 2,200' as we hadn't found any lift until then. It was only 100 fpm so I climbed to 2,600' and then went for the dark cu to the south east. That provided 400 fpm to cloud base at 3,500'.

    This cu was obviously part of a northwest/southeast cloud street but my turnpoint was to the south. The wind was 11 mph out of the northwest. I had hoped to be able to come back to Wilotree Park, but that looked a bit difficult.

    There were more cu's to the south and I found 300 fpm to 3,500' once again. Mick launched after me but was not finding good lift. I would aim to the south southwest to get up under the northwest corner of the cu's where I found the best lift.

    I could see that there was a blue hole between the Seminole Glider Port and Dean Still Road, our turnpoint. I needed to continue to push to the west to get under the cu's. South of Seminole I found 200 fpm, but then followed some black vultures and found 400 fpm a little further south to 3,900', again cloud base.

    It was an eight kilometer glide to the next cu, which didn't look all that promising. At 2,100' I worked 120 fpm with a sailplane coming in underneath me. There was a big black cu to the south southwest so I headed in that direction, but it was averaging only 140 fpm to 3,200'.

    I was now 4 km due west of the turnpoint. Mick was struggling 15 kilometers back to the north not finding much lift. There was a blue hole over the turnpoint at Dean Still and 33 and all blue back to the north. There were cu's to my southwest, not in the direction I wanted to go though.

    There were a few little cu's to the north northeast of the turnpoint and then a larger cu further north. I went for the turnpoint nicking it at 2,000' and headed for the little wispies to the north northeast.

    This was all a mistake. If I had thought more clearly about it I would have headed north northwest back to the last cu, upwind. It would have been over a forested area though and the north northeast was open ranch lands.

    The little cu only gave me 50 fpm and I was going backwards at 8 mph. That wasn't going to work.

    I finally realized what I had known at first but had not thought about later in the flight. There was a northwest cloud street and it was right over my head, except I was in the blue part of it. All I had to do was head directly upwind to get under the long elongated cu to my northwest.

    Unfortunately I was not high enough to make it back under the cloud. Down to 700' over a forested area I turned around to get back to a safe landing field. Mick had already landed 8 kilometers to the north not making the turnpoint.

    High winds tomorrow, but Saturday looks soarable at 77 degrees, but with a low TOL according to NAM 3 (contradicted by NAM 12), before the really cold weather happens. Night time temperature down to 37 degrees on Monday. We'll keep on the flannel sheets.

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