How to glide somewhere really hot. Part one.

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago    1 comment

Day 1, 1st Jan

Packing up is always fun, especially when you need to carry all equipment to go gliding on top of all the normal paraphernalia for three weeks away. What are the bare essentials? What should I buy over there? Should I take the big bottle of sun screen or the small?

Somehow we found a flight leaving at a reasonable hour of 3pm, which meant leaving Hamilton at 12ish. Arrival time in Melbourne was 5:30 local time.

I visited Delio in Melbourne Royal Hospital, who is recovering well after a gliding accident in Australia. One ankle they had a plan for, with the other waiting for the swelling to go down before they decide what to do. Otherwise he was in good condition, and good spirits.

I was then met by Ian Grant, who is very generously entrusting his Ventus C to me for the contest. They also gave me somewhere to stay in Melbourne, and he delivered some slightly bad news. The glider had a wheel up landing and needed repair. But we didn't really know how much damage there was.

Need a plane with engines to start with
Need a plane with engines to start with

Day 2, 2nd Jan

Today we learned more about the glider condition. Ian's glider partner took it for a fly and had the undercarriage collapse landing on a rough field. His initial concern was he'd ripped the belly hook off completely, as there was now a hole. In fact Ian had removed it deliberately, so that wasn't actually a problem and the only damage was a undercarriage door ripped off, which is being repaired as I write. Glider should be delivered on Saturday, just in time for the 45 degree temperatures.

To get to Benalla, I caught the train from Melbourne. Mobile Internet is so much cheaper here, so I bought a sim card for my phone and browsed facebook while passing the kangaroos and the acres and acres of flat, yellow, airfield like farmland. Arriving at Benalla, I realised I needed to get to the gliding field over the other side of town. They're a friendly bunch, so kindly sent a taxi driving club member to pick me up.

When I arrived, it sounded like slightly crappy conditions. Blue, with an inversion at 4000 feet. Just like Matamata really, except hotter.

We found accommodation in the balloonist hut on the airfield. Pictures of balloons everywhere. A ballooning stained glass window even. We'll see if we can figure out how to replace it with a glider stained glass window as a practical joke. It has one slightly old air conditioning unit, which is a lot better than no air conditioning unit.

The airfield at Benalla is huge. There are 4 main runways, with taxiways big enough to land on. 2 of the runways are primarily for powered aircraft, with one sealed runway. A lot of guys have turned up early to practice for the contest. 76 entries so far. Basically everything about this contest is scaled up.

That night Brian Hayhow, who flew at Matamata in the Tasman trophy last year, took me to a BBQ with some of the guys and girls who are in a 'SpeedFly' course. This course is much like an advanced cross country course, with the primary goal to increase contest flying speed.

Today got up to about 36 degrees, with the next few days forecast 40+.

Melbourne Train Station
Melbourne Train Station

Benalla Airfield. Big and hot.
Benalla Airfield. Big and hot.


Mark Smith
8 years, 11 months ago
sweet. looks like fun and excitement and heat!

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