Sunday, January 10, 2010

How to fly 155 miles (250km)

It's really summer here now, and getting bloody hot too.  Hot is good for making thermals, but it sucks if you land out in the middle of the day, because in places there are only scrawny sheep around, for miles and miles, or kilometers if you prefer.

Over the weekend I did a 4 hour drive out near a little town in the flatlands called Deniliquin where a feller has a tow rig on the back of his ute.  This feller has been towing for many years and has flown over 200 miles from this part of New South Wales.

So some other fellers showed up for a tow and on Saturday the conditions looked purdy good for a long flight.

A feller named Gazza went for the first tow and dribbled away from the paddock fairly low, they say every tow starts with a desperate low save, and I would see a lot more of that happen on this day....

Another pilot named Benwazza got away on his 3rd tow attempt.  I took 3 tows but couldn't commit to leaving the paddock with such weak climbs, and since I love to state the obvious, here goes: you can't fly XC if you don't leave the hill (paddock in this case).

Then the last feller named Rozza pinned off really low, and scraggled his way down wind.

About 40 km away, the sky turned from blue to beautiful cu, a perfect 3/8 sky stretching as far off as you could see, and that made me giggle like a little girl.

To make a long story short, Benwazza told us how he struggled for 20 kms, and then got a nice climb to 2500m and was just a climb or two from the start of the cu's when he got vomited out of the sky, just hydraulic pressed right to the ground and into a treeless paddock at a modest (for these parts) 107 F (42C).

The other two fellers flew all day long, from cu to cu, getting very high, higher than I can say, with Gazza touching down as the sun was setting at 8:25 pm.  His last glide was almost 50 kms!  So both these fellers, Gazza and Rozza landed a few kms from each other, 249 and 254 kms, which for you yanks is around 155 miles.  As we drove down some dirt roads, we got to watch  Gazza land, backlit by a gorgeous sunset.

And the tail wind was pretty light, with them fellers getting glides in the 50 - 65 km/hr range.  Them fellers say they like it closer to 100km/hr as they want to break records and such.

We got home at 1am, and only because we lucked out and found a 24 hr fuel station in a peanut sized town called Culcairn.

Anyway, that is how you fly far in the land of the down under.