Lobido's blog

First Thermals

Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:43 am

[  Mood: Sleepy ]

I just returned from Wallaby Ranch. It was a great trip. I met some great folks, and had an opportunity to hang a bit with Mick (cat's butt) Cotts, and his lovely bride.

Got some great tips from a fellow named Alan. Met him, his most excellent spouse, Pat, and their great kid, a young man named Oliver, at the Ranch. These folks are people I am pleased to know. Anyhow, Alan saw me land rather close to the area where the tow carts were sitting. I had the last flight of the morning and did not want to carry the glider any great distance, so being the lazy man that I tend to be, I just chose to land where I would exert myself as little as possiible. Alan correctly pointed out that I had left myself little extra room, and a bump of air would have resulted in a landing atop the tow carts. A point well made, I will exercise better judgment in the future.

My last flight was wonderfully memorable. I was given the go ahead by Malcolm to fly with the big boys in the more interesting air in the afternoon. Here I am, awaiting the arrival of the tugs.That is the Ranch Falcon 2 I piloted behind me. I found it amusing to have the Falcon I would fly amidst all the fancy craft the experienced pilots were flying.
Some of the more sophisticated gliders, with me in front ready to be towed:

Speaking of experienced pilots, this is Mike Barber fine tuning his glider.

He and Mick Cotts and some others had set a task they planned to compete on completing. I was pleased to be flying with these guys, even if the odor of a cat's posterior wafted heavily in the air, and even though I knew I would likely see them only in the distance.

Mike and Mick showed me the courtesies of gaggle flying. They actually demonstrated by having us walk in circles to show how to properly merge into a thermal already occupied by other pilots. It was extremely helpful.

Here is Mr. Cotts, wearing his knickers around his ankles.

And among these paragons of the flying world strolled the near demi god that was myself.

My first tow was more difficult than the morning tows I had gotten used to. However, it was tolerable. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a a thermal, and took a sled ride down.

My next tow was a real challenge. The tug was bouncing in one direction as my glider and I bounced in another. The nose of the glider wanted to shoot up so strongly that my only recourse was to go beyond pulling the nose in to actually pushing the bar back with my arms fully extended. I had to maintain that posture for such a long period my arms were shaking. When the signal to release was finally given I was one happy camper. Here are some tow up shots:

Once I was on my own I began to use the vario for the first time. It was fascinating, it added an extra dimension to the sky. Now I knew whan I was going up, down, or just maintaining. When I heard my first series of beeps I was grinning from ear to ear. I started circling, trying to define the thermal and to remain within its limits. The air was bumpy in parts, and smooth in others. I boated about looking for the happy up beeps. I am a speck in this photo:

And a speck in the center of this one:

I am a bit more visible here, next to the Wallaby meal bell tower.


Check out the great clouds I was flyng near! It was a perfect day to begin to thermal.

While I was up there one of the pilots with a more advanced wing entered a thermal I was in below me. It was so cool to watch him as he circled below and opposite me. I thought he would zoom up past me, but I kept on top (not, of course, by virtue of any skill on my part). He left for other lift sources after a period, but sharing a thermal made the whole experience even better.

I also soared with the birds. Prior to thermaling I had suspected that thermaling with birds was an unusual experience. Apparently I was wrong. I found a thermal by seeing a bird circling below me, another where a bird was above me, and a third where a bird was on my level but a distance from me. It was both fascinating and somehow humbling to see them in their element as I clumsied along near them, seeking to steal their knowledge.

I flew for over an hour and topped out somewhere below 4000 feet. I cannot be very accurate, the vario I used was not set properly, so I had to rely on the estimates of the other pilots, and I was not watching my watch.

Here I am on final:

Arms raised in celebration of an excellent introduction to the world of thermaling.

I am pleased I was able to have the thermaling experience, I had a true blast! I can't wait to improve my skills and to do a task. thumbsup

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