My first 300km PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Bernie Sizer   
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 13:09

Tuesday, 19/02/08, I had the rare opportunity to go flying in Tocumwal in the ASW15.

The forecast looked good with lift predicted to 8,500 ft & light Northerly winds.


I arrived at the field approx 9.30am to find a stiff NE'erly blowing, this soon died down.



I found Ingo working on the Condor 4, a 1950 s 2 seater of 17m span. This aircraft is being restored in the main hanger/workshop.

The ASW was in the trailer & needed to be rigged which Ingo & myself did & before long the ASW was ready to go. Unfortunately the inflatable cushion was missing so I used a thin foam cushion for comfort; I didn t want a repeat of the last time.

Takeoff was at 12.25pm, the dust was not as bad as previous but I was still a little wobbly till good airspeed was gained.

Release was at approx 2,000ft in light lift, 2 4 kts but not under any particular cloud.

CU s had been popping off from about 11.30am, by takeoff time the sky to the West was covered in them.

I thermalled to approx 4,000ft & headed off towards Jerilderie which is 52 km s away to the North.

The requirement for a Silver C is 5hrs, 50km s & 3000ft height gain.

Reaching Finley seemed to take forever as I was turning on almost every bit of lift. At this time I was at cloud base, 6000ft.


Jerilderie lay ahead, a long way ahead & I wondered if I would get there ok, but there was plenty of cloud & the lift was improving. Dust devils or wily wily s were to be seen everywhere, a good sign. I pushed on & before long was looking down on the race course & taking some pics.

On the way back I could see a Dust devil rising up to my altitude in front of me. I accelerated to 80 kts & reached it in a matter of minutes. Centering it was more difficult then I had anticipated as the lift was not that strong, even disappointing.

I made it back to Tocumwal after about 2 hrs. I had heard on the radio that Ingo was up in XXA, his Discuss, in fact the same one as in the photo in the club shed at Briggs field.

I called up Ingo & found that he was some 10 nms to the NW, no point trying to catch up with him so I headed off towards Deniliquin. While completing a thermal turn soon after I was surprised to see another glider only some 100 m away, I immediately recognised it as XXA.

Ingo took the lead & I followed, as best I could. He started to dive & gain speed, I pushed forward following & was soon at 95 kts trying to keep up. As soon as lift was encountered he would pull up into a zooming climb. I was surprised by the g forces in this maneuver. At the top of the climb, whether because of lack of speed or lift, he would push forward again, dive to gain speed & fly to the next cloud in as straight a line as possible. Occasionally if the lift was strong we would circle & here I was totally out of my depth. It is difficult centre a thermal when flying alone, but when there is another glider close by it is near impossible, for me at least, at the moment.

In no time at all we were over Deniliqin with good height below us. Ingo had done a few thermal turns & I needed to do at least one more turn before leaving the lift. On leaving the thermal & looking towards Deni I could not see Ingo anywhere. I scanned all around, not sure if he had gone around again & might be behind me. He had disappeared into the murky sky.

After some amount of indecision I continued on my previous course towards a white area way out to the West. The lift was becoming weaker & I found myself flying at 60 kts, 100km s from home at approx 4,000 ft in 8 10 kts of sink. I decided to turn for home & also started to look for suitable landing spots, the best looking one was the airfield at Deniliquin. To the NE I could see the remnants of clouds that might best offer lift, so I headed for them. The first lift was struck at approx 70 kts, not a comfortable feeling & there are no handles to hold onto to prevent being thrown around in the cockpit. I managed to get back up to approx 5,500 ft before heading SE. Several more thermals were found just after Deni, one of these sending the vario to the stop at over 10 kts.

While in a thermal turn to the right I noticed a white flash over the LH side of the cockpit, I looked over & there about 100 m away was a twin engine aircraft heading West ish at approx 100 200 ft below me. While we were never on a collision course, it would be interesting to know if he saw me?

At approx 30 kms out of Tocumwal & at about 7,000 ft I started my final glide cruising at around 80 kts. I reached the airfield at 3,000 ft, got the wheel down early & setup for landing.

Touch down was at 6.05pm, a total of 5 hrs 40 mins in the air, once again with a sore bum.

While I did manage over 5hrs & more then 3,000 ft height gain, the distance can not count towards my silver C as I did not declare the flight before takeoff.

Hopefully next time.

The following day was overcast & not suitable for cross country flying, so we de-rigged the ASW & I headed home early in time to catch the peak hour traffic.

This was a very pleasing flight. I proved to myself that I can stay up for an extended period of time. I m now more confident of covering greater distances after some on the job training from the master.

Next trip I plan to set a task, declare it & achieve my silver C, weather permitting.



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During the Second World War the town was the site of Royal Australian Air Force Station Tocumwal, which was a major Royal Australian Air Force training airfield and aircraft depot. Today, the airfield has grown to be a renowned gliding site.