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 3 – Day 2

Days start early – 8am. Jamie, Jorj and I grab some breakfast at Carols and rush out the door, musing on what was in store for us today.

Everyday we drive the 6kms from Carol’s place in Wandiligong, down the valley from Bright. I love it because it’s nature at its best. Hills rising on either side, lots of trees, rivers, orchards and quaint little country cottages. It reminds me a little of small Austrian valleys in the Alps or driving to Tolmin, Slovenia from Italy. It’s the most beautiful place in the sunshine, but we could see that the thunderstorms were on the way, so we hoped we would get a fly in before the day was out.

We started the day talking about outlandings, thanks to Brian. Always an interesting discussion with some interesting stories :)

After some prizegivings, stories from the previous day and weather briefing, Olli informs us we are going to Towonga Gap, overlooking the Kiewa Valley and Mt. Beauty village.

With 13 hangies it was a bit of a logistical exercise getting there and making sure that those who needed to saw the bomb out.

Scott Barrett was out wind dummy for the day, and promptly skyed out!

Soon we were all off safely (Virpi lost her shoe as she powered off the hill).

I was nervous launching, attempting to use the new technique Tony Barton was teaching us small shouldered, shorter pilots. I pulled it off, but only just. Still not feeling great about launching. I’m too nervous to think of everything!

However I felt better in the air today. More comfortable. Olli and I flew down the valley together, and even though I didn’t thermal quite as well as him I managed to make it down the valley and bit. I was going out to land when I found a lovely thermal straight to base. Almost too easy….yep, thunderstorms on the way. I decided to fly quickly back to Mt. Beauty airstrip.

Could have stayed up all day, but landed (ungracefully) right before the rains came.

Ahhhh if only I could perfect my take-off and landing technique, I would be a much more confident pilot. I think I am starting to realise I need to take a step back to a lesser glider and practice those a whole lot more.

These are two launches I really loved today – both Helen and Lisa launch well – great body positions, eyes up and good hand positions.

Lisa launching at Towonga Gap

Helen launching at Towonga Gap

Me launching. Looks OK, but I should be way more thru the bar and looking up more. A few steps later I let it go rather than keep my body through the bar. Bad habit I want to get rid of.

We drove back in the rain and after dinner gathered at the campsite for Brian Webb’s talk on thermalling and XC. Really interesting. He said that Craig Collins (one of Australia’s great PG pilots) taught him that by figuring out what he needed to prioritise on as far as skills were concerned, that he improved vastly as a pilot. He gave us all a chart with buttons so we could figure out our own…

Here is my chart. As you can see ‘Adaptibility’ is one of my weakest strengths and the one I need to work on most. This means that I keep doing the same thing over and over and not learning from mistakes :/

Off to bed now, it’s been a big day.

Some photos thanks to Zhenshi Van der Klooster

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!

Women With Wings 3 – Chore day

With nearly 50 women registered and raring to go, it’s shaping up to be a fun event.

The mentors are here and everyone is getting excited for some great flying and hanging out with the girls.

Bright has had some awesome flying weather lately with Olli Barthelmes doing a lovely +200km triangle 2 weeks ago so hopefully the rain and bushfires will stay away!

We went up to Mystic today which is the launch above Bright. It takes anything light or anything in a North-Easterly direction.

The wind was a little cross but when the thermals came up it looked OK to launch. I don’t know, our heads just weren’t in it today. It was very average and there wasn’t much chance of getting away so we decided to get all our little chores done today and hope for the best tomorrow.

The forecast doesn’t look epic, but I think we will etch out a few good flights and plenty or launch and landing practice. Much needed for this girl.

Can’t believe how hot is is here. I was expecting the mountains to be cooler. Not complaining at all!

 

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…