Women with Wings 3 – Day 4

Neither the paragliders nor the hangies flew yesterday, and it looked like the paragliders would not be able to fly today either due to the winds.

But we had the option of The Pines (Buckland Ridge), which is is a Southerly site about an hour and a half drive to launch.

We all eventually got our gear together and headed off in convoy.

Buckland Ridge that runs East/West

I decided to try out the Fun 2 today. I needed to practice launching and landing so I thought I’d try and get the technique right on a beginner glider first to get the feeling of a good launch into my body memory (because to be honest I don’t think I ever launched well).

Me launching at The Pines, Tony Barton patiently instructing (photo thanks to Eva)

It was a nice flight just ridge-soaring and chatting on the radio to the girls (we had fun instructing Zhenshi and Theresa how to get down the hill in the cars as it’s quite confusing).

Olli was flying the Moyes Mojo, trying all sorts of different flying styles. He looks so comfortable flying, much more so than anyone of us. I guess he probably has thousands of hours more than us too :)

Nobody wanted to land in the undulating bombout but there was a streamer there so that’s where I went. Almost did a belly landing because I could get unzip fully and get my feet out of the harness. I had boots on today and they didn’t slip out as easy as my runners! I got them out at the last minute and landed the very forgiving Fun 2 without a problem. Thanks God for floaters :)

Brigitte in the Pines bomb out with her Falcon
Eva landing on her own ...one of her first 'inland outlandings'
Kath checking the keel

After a couple of drinks in the Brewery, Jorj has a great idea to take me and Carol up to ‘The Horn’ on top of Mt Buffalo.

It’s only a 15 min walk from the car park, so not too strenuous but the views are amazing and worth it, though it was FREEZING up there in the howling Southerly!!



Women with Wings 3 – Day 3

We had a whole lot of rain last night and it looked from the bleak morning that it wasn’t going to stop.

However, when you have excellent mentors and instructors and a bulging schedule of events, there was no chance of getting bored.

Thanks to Theresa our driver we had more videos to watch of all of our launches. I loved the fact all of the girls were open to learning and being openly critiqued by the other pilots and the mentors. Nobody refused or let their ego get in the way. One of the good things about just having other girls there :)

The atmosphere was very supportive and encouraging. We all know that it’s not easy to get everything perfect and we all make mistakes. However as usual there were a few standouts like Jamie and Virpi who have really good launch techniques. In fact only very few of us really need to work on one or two things, which is encouraging. There are no excuses – some of us may not have the physique to make launching easy but with good technique it can be done with with right advice and then lots of practice.

That night we went for a few drinks in the Brewery, a nice haven from the rain!

Women With Wings – Day 1

The forecast was for overdevelopment around midday, but it never really happened in the Mystic valley.

Olli said we should head up to Mt Buffalo, even though the forecast was not ideal but once we got up there the conditions were perfect.

We all setup and for me anyway the nerves started to build. I’m always nervous launching, something I wish would go away. But the truth is it won’t go away until I learn to perfect my launches and I know I can do it. I have a bad habit I can’t seem to get rid of. Shortly after the glider lifts off my shoulders I let it go, like I want to be airborne as soon as possible. Countless people have told me I need to get my head and shoulder through the bar, keep pulling in until I can no longer run. But for some reason, even though I normally start OK, at some stage I will push out a bit.

I think it’s time to go back to the training hill before I do some serious damage.

Anyway, everyone got off OK. Great choice of site for today because the forecasted rain and ODing never really happened, so we were able to fly around for as long as we wanted.

There was a task set along Ovens valley and up Happy Valley, and back to Porapunkah airstrip. Only Olli made it, but some of the others gave it a good go.

I felt like I was thermalling like a blind dog. Talking to others they felt the air was lovely and smooth, but we not so much. Maybe because I changed my hang strap I just had to get used to the lower position in my glider.

I tried to make it over the Bright but landed short. Most of the others landed at the airstrip.

Later that night Helen gave a great talk on fear in flying and how to deal with it. Some good techniques when you feel a panic situation setting in.

Everyone then had a look at their launches for the day, which is always very useful. It confirmed mine was not great, and something I really really need and want to change.

So, some great stuff happening on Day 1. Already worth the trip!

Christmas served hot and cold

We didn’t really know where we were going to spend Christmas. We are fortunate enough to know really cool people in Stanwell and Pearl Beach who invited us to theirs, but in the end the call of family was the strongest.

It was my first ‘family’ Christmas in over 10 years so I was kinda happy to hang out in Canberra with Dave’s family.

The day before was nice and hot so dave took myself and his Dad to a lovely river in the Brindebella ranges (and to show off his new car’s 4wd capabilities :). We were rewarded for our efforts by being the only ones there. Fun day out.





The weather on Christmas day was a bit of a shocker, cold and a bit wet. However,  thanks to Dave’s sister Vanessa and her husband Luke who cooked mostly everything in their beautiful home we were able to enjoy a beautiful hot ‘real’ Christmas dinner. I grew up having cold Christmases so it was perfect. It would have been shit of they had planned an outdoor BBQ like many others…


As the night wore on the DJs Luke and Vanessa (seriously they are) got the decks and lasers out and had a ‘house party’. I took the opportunity to call all my mates and family at home. That made me smile big time :)

Most importantly I wanted to spend it with Dave no matter where we were. It felt good to celebrating the start of a cool holiday with my favourite person….


Pig Hill

A short drive into the Brindebella Ranges and you stumble upon a lovely little hill called ‘Pig’.

Pig Hill

I have no clue why it’s called Pig but it offers lovely views over Canberra from the North.

View of Canberra from the North


As a young pup, I wrote about it waay back in 2010 on my first trip there :)

Giddy with excitement :)

I went back a couple of times but my most recent trip was as a driver for the international crew of Dave, Antoine (Fra), James Stinnett (US) and Jeff.

Even as a driver it’s enjoyable because you can get lost in the windy roads and beautiful scenery.

Someone's excited!


Flying at ‘The Lake’

My first experience of the legendary ‘Lake George’ near the border of NSW and the ACT (on the NSW side) was after a weekend in Tumut about 3 years ago.

The first thing I noticed was the absence of a ‘Lake’. Yeah there was a bit of what looked like water a few KMs away on the Eastern side but for the most part it was the widest, longest and flattest landing paddock I had ever seen.

A bunch of Newcastle pilots were launching from ‘Gearys’ launch which is the lower launch on the South side of the lake. It was late in the afternoon. The pilots launched easily and soared in the sea-breeze which makes it into Canberra most evenings by 5 or 6pm. The local pilots are so spoiled, and they know it too :)

Canberra is blessed in that it has a high lapse rate – high temps during the day and cool nights. As the hot air rises at the end of the day it sucks the cool air in from the coast to fill the void. The coast is about 80kms away. Generally the pilots go after work and wait on launch until the massive wind towers on the other side of the lake shift 180 degrees – the sea-breeze has hit them. This means that it’s time to setup your gliders because it will take 20-30 mins, maybe longer (or shorter) for the breeze to hit the ridge so it is soarable.

A few things make this site something special:

- It’s ‘on’ most evenings and sometimes mornings

- Beginners can get heaps of air-time here just soaring the 40kms of ridge line for hours on end

- thermal activity is strong during the summer months making it possible to do long XC flights. The flatlands are only 50 kms away.

- you can soar until sunset and never worry about where you will land because there are no trees, hardly a fence and no up or downhills in the landing field.

Recently top pilot from overseas (enroute to the Worlds in Forbes) have experienced the joy of flying this beautiful ridge and could not believe how much fun it was.

Here are a few pics from recent flying outings from the lake.


Gulgong Classic 2013

I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog in over 2 months. Now there’s way too much to catch up on to go into any detail of what went on so I’ll write some short posts to spare my memory!

Gulgong happened and it was a fun comp.

I always love to spend time in the cute little town

Gulgong offered 4 great flying days -   Atilla wins the first 2 days and Trent wins the next two days, however, sneaky Jonny wins the comp by being Mr. Consistent.

Results Here

The winners (Atilla 2nd, Jonny 1st, Trent 3rd):


Besides flying I happily enjoyed some downtime eating, drinking and swimming.


Some others however preferred more unusual ways to unwind…




Overall it was a great comp and a good barometer of the season to come. The Aussies are in great form in the run up to the World Championships…



Natural Beauty

When the boys said they were going to fly Blackheath in the Blue Mountains on Saturday I put up my hand for driver for the day.

As the years go by I am really starting to appreciate what Australia has to offer when it comes to natural beauty. Blackheath and the surrounding areas are so stunningly beautiful, they can’t help but inspire you.

Sitting on launch, whether flying or not, allows me to ground myself and bring me back to ‘reality’ that the concrete walls of the city do not provide. This is the really living.

Canungra Classic Day 7 (Task 6) – 79km into the Ranges

Rasp was calling for very broken lift today. Task was set to go cross-headwind to one of the turnpoints from yesterday.

Rasp was right, the lift felt very shitty – high surges and big sink. I felt too small for my glider, I just couldn’t stay in the thermals. I never really got that high. One minute you think you have it and next minute the thermal has moved and you need to make a decision to move on or lose height trying to find it. I flew towards the main gaggle, knowing I couldn’t make their thermal, hope hopefully I would find something along the way. Nada.

Short day but I really have to admire those guys who made it to goal. Especially Curt who left first and got 1000 points for the day, gaining all the lead out points. Can’t get better than that!

I am writing this on Day 8 which was cancelled so here are the total results:

1st: Atilla Bertok

2nd: Rohan Holtcamp

3rd: Johnny Durand Jnr

Click here for total results


From dust to cloudbase…