Thursday, December 31, 2009


Rain, thunder, lightning...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Forward Launches are Cool

Chappo Rocks!

Chappo is the only pilot I know who regularly does forward launches off of Mystic, and I don't think I have seen him mess one up yet. The best days in Bright have a south influence - and on a south, launch is often windless, and it could go over the back at anytime, shutting down the day - exactly like today was.

Because it's the holidays, we have heaps of pilots in Bright right now, and today launch was mostly nil wind and pilots were set up 3 deep, 6-7 pilots abreast, and no one was going. No one going, no where to layout, hotter than hell, CU popping 4000 ft overhead, 4 gliders spinning up in front of launch, and no one is getting off launch because they all want an up the face cycle...

From the launch slot highest up the hill, Chappo does a perfect forward, and then I get in a forward, and then Heike gets one, and we all spin up in 3 different cores, and everyone else stands on launch, wearing 3 layers deep, sweating like pigs, and no one is getting off launch because they all want an up the face cycle...

Thanks a ton Alex for holding up my wing - that makes it the second forward I have done on my wing, and I was sure glad to hit a core right off launch and cool down as I spun up towards base...

Forward launches are a little weird when you never do them, but if a forward launch is what it takes to get off the hill, then that's what it takes...

Today was great in Bright - getting to base a lot and checking out the the tree tops in the Kancoona bowl was a first for me, not sure if I will go that deep any time soon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Clouds from Heaven

Yesterday was good - really good.  Not very often do we get light winds and really good cloud streets, but we got both yesterday.  

The cu was popping at 9am, but the forecast didn't look that great - we are under a trough system and that's usually not good, but occasionally it can be great.  We weren't planning on flying as the forecast was so average, but it changed dramatically about 11am and so we got to launch quite late, and took off after 1pm - loosing at least 1.5 hours of the day.

I dialed in the big triangle as my route, 125km, and started on my way.  It was slow going all the way out to Gundowring, and coming home was fast but it was late, 5:00pm.  The happy valley was totally blue, from Eurobin to the Pines, not one cloud, so I decided not to try for the tobacco sheds at Myrteford, so the 125km triangle would have to wait for another day.

The best clouds were on the east side of the Kiewa valley, if you could get to 2000 meters, you could just blast along the bottoms, no turns necessary.

Heike was following me in her car, which is probably why I kept going, usually I am more conservative, as hitching home from the Kiewa can take hours.  Thanks love!

From Kancoona, I flew almost to the burrs and then to Mystic paddock, 109 km triangle.  Today looks ok, but tomorrow looks to be another great day, so I'm taking the day off.

cheers mates!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Conargo - means "FlatLands"

Photo by Hamish Barker, taken somewhere near Conargo, NSW.

I finally got to see the tow site near Conargo, the little town in the middle of nowhere that has been the start of some very long flights in New South Wales.

13 pilots spent the weekend towing up and flying into the outback in conditions that were pretty challenging.

They didn't have enough drivers, so I sold my weekend to them and took on the challenge of finding them using only a cheap chinese handheld radio and a gps...

Time to get a 3G mobile - I learned that GSM mobiles are totally useless away from civilization.

They all had spots that were sending me their landing coords, but I didn't get the info until  2 days later while on the drive back home...  But I did find all the pilots.

I learned a few tricks too - like how to turn someones bearing/distance from take off into GPS coordinates using the 76s... (thanks Hamish/Benn).

I am going back out there to go towing when the conditions get good, must break Steve Forslund's longest flight, as I can't stand hearing about it for another year...

Take care all my friends!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sweet Air

Yesterday was my best flight here in Bright so far this season. 5 hours in the air, lots of turns, a few nice clouds and a nice out and return. Leonardo is down so I couldn't post the flight...

With the closed valley systems, wind is one of our main problems here in Bright. But yesterday we had really light winds - south aloft which is always good. I am amazed at how the wind direction can be so different at various altitudes around here... But it can really help you do out and returns, like yesterday, you get high and fly out and then get low and fly back. But there was the west at mid levels that made things interesting when I got deep around Kancoona bowl....

Tomorrow could be a very high day, might be wearing the down jacket..



Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Origins of Vegemite

In my continuous quest to explain Vegemite to the rest of the world, I have come up with yet another theory on how Vegemite came to be.

It was petro-chemical engineers that first created Vegemite - they were trying to produce synthetic petroleum in the lab, in an attempt to solve the worlds looming energy crisis. Their research produced a thick black sludge that was not quite volatile enough to burn, so they tried using it as wheel bearing grease, and that didn't work either, not because it didn't work as wheel bearing grease, but because mechanics complained of the smell, so the problem was passed to the marketing department, and after examining the sludge, someone in marketing was heard saying "It smells like meat sludge!" and that's when the idea hit them - let's sell it as food.

After a few weeks of tests on many mice, rats and monkey's, Vegemite was born and the rest is history, in Oz anyway. Why the word Vegemite? Well, the marketing department worked really hard on that one, and to get away from it's meat sludge smell and appearance, they decided to let people know it is made from vegetables, and to spice the name up a bit, they then rhymed it with dynamite, and the iconic Aussie "Vegemite" was born.

By the way, I eat Vegemite all the time, usually on buttered toast with honey (I actually prefer promite, a competitors brand). And the reason all you yanks hate it is because the first time you tried Vegemite, you slathered it on your toast like it was peanut butter and then just as you went to take a bite, you dry wretched from the smell. The trick is to use the tiniest amount spread extremely thinly on toast, and then cover it up with some honey... this produces a lovely meaty, salty, sweet and crunchy food that is really good for brekky (breakfast), and actually quite addictive. Also, you can find it in a plastic squeeze tube, which makes it easy to travel with once you get addicted.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I was a big fish yesterday!

I was a big fish yesterday. Let me tell you how I know.

This morning, Heike and I went for a swim at Sarina Beach. We swam up the beach for about 10 minutes and then turned around and began to swim back. I was wearing swimming goggles and as soon as we started back, I saw a small fish right in front of my face. It was a handsome little fish, greenish yellow with black vertical stripes, and it's tail fin had black on both tips.

As I swam, this little fish was swimming with me, anywhere from right in front of my face to just under a meter in front of me, seemingly unfazed by my arms as I did a freestyle swim stroke. When I would stop, this little fish would stop and swim around my body, occasionally nibbling at my skin.

This went on for a full 10 minutes until I caught up with Heike and showed her my little cleaner fish, who I had named Remora.

I gave Heike my goggles, and she saw Remora who was now checking her out, but seemed to like my orange shorts better than her black swimsuit...

I fly back to Bright today, which is 4 hours from the ocean, so goodbye Sarina Beach, I will miss the full moons, fruit bats, mangoes, morning swims, and to Remora - thanks for making me feel like a big fish little buddy - take care and I hope you find a big fish to look after you...