GPK on Raglan Surf Beach

Posted 11 years, 10 months ago by Tim Bromhead    1 comment

The Raglan camp is going well, with a reasonably busy first weekend. We are there until this Sunday, so if you want to experience the stunning scenery, head on out.

On Monday we had a decent south westerly, so Gliding NZ Editor Jill McCaw and your intrepid writer (Tim) decided to go try out the dunes on the other side of the Raglan harbour. Unfortunately they weren't working quite as well as we would have liked, and we ended up a little low and unable to climb higher.

I decided we'd better aim towards the beach because I knew we'd make it back there, but wasn't sure we'd make it back to the field. We definitely didn't want to land out on the wrong side of the harbour due to the 2 day retrieve it would involve. We crossed the harbour entrance no problems, flew past the dunes on the other side in the hope they would give us the few hundred feet needed to get home, but alas, the wind was the wrong angle for these ones.

Heading back to the other side
Heading back to the other side

So on the beach we went, and it was almost a perfect runway. The tide was out, the sand hard, and very few people about due to the windy conditions. The landing was the easy part, then came the retrieve. Unfortunately local council laws prohibit aircraft landing on the beach, so a tow was out of the question.

A handy beach landing tip I learned from west coast veteran Steve Wallace: if you're landing on a remote beach, make sure you land above the high tide mark even if the sand is soft. There is no way you can drag a glider up the beach by yourself. After this day, I can confirm this is very true, even a 4 wheel drive vehicle struggled to pull the glider up through the soft sand.

Safely down on the beach
Safely down on the beach

We weren't really planning a landout in either of the twins, so the trailer was at the back of the hanger in Matamata. Les came to the rescue, taking the afternoon out to bring it over to us.

It took us a while to devise the best way to extract the twin from the beach, due to the difficult access. We even considered towing the glider up the beach and harbour to beside the runway, then just carry it over the dunes. Raglan surf beach has a rather steep paved road, and thanks to Godfrey's 4WD Subaru we decided to drag the trailer to the bottom and de-rig right next to the surf club watch tower. We were a little worried about dragging the trailer up the hill, but Godfrey kept the speed on, and it wasn't a problem.

In the end it we all had a good time, and were finished by dinner time where a few of us had a magnificent feast at the Raglan pub (it really was great). The whole day was also some good publicity for the club, with lots of people interested in a big white thing sitting on the beach. So obviously that was the plan all along.

A huge thanks to all those who helped, especially Les for driving all the way over with the trailer, Godfrey (rostered on as duty pilot!) for the use of his car and his help, Steve for organising the rescue and Jill & her son Robert for being such good sports, and Bob for looking after all the trial flights while I lay around on the beach. We also give big thanks to the Raglan lifeguards who spent all day dragging us, trailers, and the glider around the beach.

Photos are all © McCaw Media, thank you Jill!

There's a glider somewhere there...
There's a glider somewhere there...


Dennis Cook
11 years, 10 months ago
You land on the beach on Saturday Tim and I'm going home.

Dennis the duty pilot!

Email this page...     Link to this page...