(An article from a recent Caboolture Gliding Club Newsletter)
A few months ago the Darling Downs Soaring Club (DDSC) based at Jondaryan extended an invitation to the Caboolture Gliding Club for interested members to attend a cross country training course during the period 4.1.99 - 10.1.99. The only pre-requisite was that pilots held their "C" certificate. The following members took up the invitation with the intention of attempting some form of badge flight.
Richard Friday, Kim Houghton, Darian Jenik, Les Lewis, Roy McLaughlin and Brian Shadler This is one account of their achievements. During the preceding weekend the Twin Astir - IKC, Cirrus - IUZ & I.S.29 - GPO were de-rigged and secured in their respective trailers ready for the three hours or so to Jondaryan west of Toowoomba. All three aircraft and their crews arrived without incident and by early Monday afternoon myself, Darian, Les, Roy and Brian were ready for site checks in the Twin Astir under the expert guidance of Peter Bell and Allan Latemore. With this formality out of the way we tied the aircraft down and retired to the clubhouse for a meal and a few quiet drinks (or should that be quite a few drinks) and discussed the coming weeks activities. Kim was scheduled to arrive the next day .
Tuesday dawned with fine weather but a strong NE wind blowing. Plans were for outlanding checks for everyone using the Twin followed by a dual cross country flight for me with Allan Latemore in the back seat. The others all completed their outlanding checks without incident so shortly after lunch I set off with Allan for my outlanding check at a small strip a few km away followed by an aero tow retrieve. Upon release from the outlanding retrieve we thermalled for a while to gain altitude before setting course for Jimbour via Dalby. This followed the route for the standard 50 km silver distance. Les was to follow along in the Cirrus with Darian in the I.S.29, but because the tug had to refuel we got separated right at the start. This led to a rather eventful afternoon.
This was the very first time I had ever turned tail on my takeoff point and flown seriously out of gliding range! Thanks to the "engine" sitting in the back seat I didnít feel the apprehension that I thought I would. Cumulus clouds dotted the sky and making headway on the outbound leg was not too difficult, helped along by the wind which had not abated. It wasnít until the return leg over Dalby that we spotted another glider. It was Les in the Cirrus, and although below us he looked to be doing alright. The problem was that the day was overdeveloping and our way home was barred by a curtain of rain tumbling down from a line of dark clouds. My cloud selection had been going reasonably well for most of the flight, but when I turned into a 2 - 3 knot thermal the "engine" in the back told me not to bother with the "Caboolture" thermals (i.e. little ones) and to keep going. Right-o, turn now comes the command from the back and I immediately tighten up on an honest 8 knots. "Will that do?"enquires the voice in the back seat. "You bet" says I as we rocket up to cloud base.
We could see sunshine on the other side of the line of showers so we elected to punch through the light rain rather than go around. The Twin didnít seem to like the rain drops on its wings and our descent rate increased markedly, though we came through with plenty of height to recommence our search for lift. Finding lift on the other side proved to be quite difficult, possibly because the wet ground behind the rain was absorbing the heat from the sun thereby causing a delay in convection, in any case it didnít look good. We sight the Cirrus once more circling forlornly thousands of feet below us. The rain didnít do him any good either and it seemed his fate was sealed. Allan points out home in the distance and we set course dreading the prospect of de-rigging the big twin.
Things were looking decidedly grim so we altered course to fly over a large cultivated field. Iím really, really going to outland I think to myself as I start to meander towards a circuit joining area. I explain my intentions to Allan and he concurs; wind direction, cultivation lines, approach path, power lines etc . Suddenly I feel a slight surge and tentatively lower a wing. The vario offers confirmation a few seconds later. "Now donít lose it" I mutter to myself. The lift is good, but it needs to be better to counter the drift. We stick with it and the lift begins to strengthen. "Thank God" bellows the man in the back (who had remained silent throughout the whole ordeal) "I didnít want to pull this beast to pieces in a paddock" he adds. When we were convinced that we had sufficient height for final glide we set off and arrived back at about 2,500 feet. The day had cycled and there was lift everywhere once more. I couldnít have hoped for a more informative and productive introduction to cross country flying.
The flight had taken 2 hrs and 22 minutes, but little did I realise that the excitement was just starting. Kim had arrived earlier that day and was in the DDSC LS7 doing some local soaring. Les had to outland at Dalby and had telephoned to confirm his position and condition. He had landed successfully so Roy and Brian set off to retrieve him. The I.S.29 however, had apparently managed to find itself quite some distance away and after confirming the location with Kim relaying from his position aloft I set off with the trailer to a little place called Warra where I found Darian at the local petrol station. GPO was sitting defiantly, smack bang in the middle of the local racecourse. No damage had been done to man or machine and within 40 minutes or so we had GPO back in its box and headed for home an hour away. Unfortunately we managed to leave the wing stand, TE probe and aerial in the long grass, so after a meal and a shower Darian headed back to retrieve them.
Day two and weíd learnt so much! Wednesday dawned with the same conditions as the previous day although if anything the wind was stronger. MY plans were for an attempt at fifty Km. Allanís plans for both Kim and I was for 300! With no time to argue we madly planned our route, smoked our barographs (how quaint in this time of technology) drew up our declaration boards and readied our aircraft. I was flying the Cirrus with the 16m wing tip extensions whilst Kim was to fly the LS7 which had recently been fitted with performance enhancing winglets. Everything looked good so off we went.
Our planned route had us start from Jondaryan township, then on to Chinchilla, then to a small airstrip half way between Miles and Condomine, then home to our take off point at McCaffrey airfield. The entire flight was long and eventful with good climbs, navigation, easy cruising and some nail-biting. To cut a long story short I had to outland (well, not really, as bitumen probably doesnít count) at the Dalby airport. The last message I heard from Kim was that the crew at DDSC were trying to convince him that he had final glide height and that he would make it if he flew at best glide. I found out later that Kim had indeed arrived back at circuit height to claim Gold distance. My total time airborne had been 6 hrs 45 minutes and I fell about 16 km short of 300 km. Kimís airtime was 7 hrs & 11 minutes! I made a second attempt two days later in the LS 7 with 78 litres of water ballast on board and, apart from forgetting to take my declaration photo which required me to dump water, land, take the photo and take off again, I succeeded in covering the 300 km in a time of 5 hrs 29 mins. The 120 knot final glide was certainly a highlight. Meanwhile the others had not been sitting idle. Each have their own tale.
The final tally for the week was; Kim with Gold distance and possibly Diamond goal (subject to checking the rules), Darian with 5 hours and Silver height gain (1,000m), Les with 5 hours and Silver height gain which gives him Silver "C", Roy with Silver distance (50Km), Silver height gain and 5 hours for his Silver "C", Brian with Silver distance, Silver height gain and 5 hours for his Silver "C" and myself with Silver distance, Silver height, Gold Distance & possibly Diamond goal. All in all a very successful week indeed.
The Darling Downs Soaring Club offers a great deal to anyone who wishes to further their gliding achievements. All of the members we met were friendly, helpful and genuinely enthusiastic about our achievements. The practical training and lectures, though not rigidly structured, I found to be very informative and helpful. The flying rates are very reasonable even to visitors and it is hoped that our committees can negotiate reciprocal rates between the two clubs which will further reduce the costs. As an indication the aircraft hire rates reduce to nil after the first four hours! Definitely an encouragement to attempt long flights. As cross country instructor Allan Latemore was most insistent that a standing invitation be extended to all Caboolture members who are at a stage where they wish make some badge attempts. It would be preferable that those people interested held their A, B & C certificates as these can readily be achieved at Caboolture.
I strongly recommend to anyone who has not flown cross country that they try it. The sense of satisfaction and achievement is well worth the effort and I am sure that all of us would not hesitate to recommend Allan as a cross country instrcutor or coach. I am more than happy to liaise with DDSC if people are interested. 4 - 5 people represent a workable number, so let me know. Stop thinking about it and do it!