Australia, QLD, Woody Point
Joined Nov 2006
Well anything I have to say at this time is overshadowed by the fact that the Aussie Record was broken today by Ezza at Cactus with the old K100. They had a huge day today and I've been flattening my phone battery checking for any reports from the guys, as we twisted around mountain roads with occasional cellphone reception. Huge news when very late in the day we read of the 358. And a long wait to hear the who/what/ etc. Hearty congratulations Eric. Top stuff. Wish I'd been there.
I am back at Peter's place, supressing the panic feeling of having to dismantle tails, remove ballasts, wrap gear and pack the glider box for the trip home. I have to be in the airport by 5:15am and Alex is very kindly picking me up.
It was a fantastic day today, and a fitting finale to an amazing NZ experience. We left late-ish from Andrew P's place, 3 of us in Alex's Mazda 3, with a neat packing job to take the vast number of planes. First stop was a restaurant in Little River for an expensive but seriously good chunky steak pie. Then it was up to check out Forsythe Ridge.
Once again we climbed and climbed up roads with stunning impossibly steep dropoffs into valleys, the sides dotted with sheep. Finally we got to the ridge. Forget the DS – I was blown away. The view from this place was breathtaking. Looking south the coast stretched away towards Dunedin, and close, huge Lake Ellesmere spread out behind it. From the hill the big steep grassy ridges fingered out to become cliffs dropping into the sea, reminiscent of the Scottish coast. On the north side were the many huge steep ridges of the Banks Peninsula, and below was Lake Forsyth and the farming lands around Little River.
We tried the DS in several spots but it just wasn’t working … too north for it. I explored up to the top, where there was a really sharp lip and Andrew P followed me, which surprised me. He isn’t really the hill hiking type, and reckons that DS sites should have an “MG rating” (for Mountain Goat). Anyway the DS didn’t work up there either and trying to land on the lip, I bonked the nose of the light Scratcho really hard on a big rock (the place is totally littered with small boulders in the grass) and cracked it. (fixed it OK soon after). Andrew naturally floated his in perfectly, like he always does.
Anyway when we were back at the car I said to Alex that the top area would make a good F3F site, and he replied “That’s where we used to do it! When Joe Wurts was here!”
It was a long twisty drive all the way down, then all the way up the ridges on the other side of Akaroa. Soon we were high up and could see the Wainui Ridge clearly way over on the other side of the harbour. Again, just a superb breathtaking view. Sorry to be repeating the “breathtaking” theme … it is very, very spectacular and scenic. DSing aside, I’d drive out there any day to see that view.
We got close to the ridge we wanted to check out, and we all felt apprehensive. The sky was overcast, and the ridge looked really rocky and gnarly. After scouting roads on both sides of it, checking Google Maps “Hybrid view” (amazing to pull up such info on a phone) we picked a place to park and walk up. I was quickly out of the car and hiked up. It looked OK and the others soon followed with planes. Looked really scary, in between big rocky outcrops on the ridge but Alex launched the Tracer. The fatigue and tension lifted as he ripped around doing acros, saying “well, it’s working … it’s good …”. After a short scramble he landed easily down the frontside in the grass and I headed down to get a plane, video camera and radar gun.
I got the DSX together and hiked up, but saw the Tracer arcing out over the rocky outcrops much further up the ridge. Alex soon phoned to say it was better up there, so Andrew and I dragged ourselves up there. But wow, it was worth it. Instead of a craggy jagged ridge, this was very civilized … a nice rounded grassy spot. There were plenty of rocks in the grass most places, but there were some good landing spots too.
I gunned Alex at 147 and the Tracer was starting to flutter. Next the DSX. I was nervous because I knew I was tired and doing dumb things. The DSX carved big lines and wound up beautifully. In 15 minutes of flying I didn’t find any rollins, whitewash or rotors. It was NIIIICCCCE!!! As good as anything I’ve ever Dsed, but also a massive deep zone. I got it to 232mph, flying the DSX as light as it goes, with just the single joiner. It wasn’t big wind … with the gauge we read a max of 29mph, and it floated between 20 and 27 mostly.
Andrew P had a go, and flew it beautifully, breaking his PB and getting 195mph in no time. You could almost see the lights come on in his head … “Wow, these big heavy fast planes are awesome!”. I think he’s very very keen to move up quickly in the DS Fast Ship stakes … and believe me he can handle it.
My landing was silly … didn’t point it enough into the wind, thought I’d go around again then realized there wasn’t room and it landed cross-angle, really fast and flat into the grass behind the lip, neatly between 2 immoveable rocks! Super lucky.
Alex Dsed the D60. It loudly made the D60 whistle, and looked fast, but he was frustrated that the wind dropped and went a bit off angle. He got it to 188 Mph (I think?) and unfortunately had a bingle landing, cracking the fuse and fin. He felt cursed with that D60 … every flight seems to end in damage.
Andrew got the JW60 to 115mph, and later carved the Vac Bagged Scratcho to 122mph. I flew the DSX again and loved it, so much energy. The wind was definitely going off, however and I did get a couple of hits over the back and despite walking to different spots I couldn’t get over 205. But huge fun.
Ridiculously steep walk back down to the car. The site is being called Camerons Track (the road that follows it). I may not be a main site, but is a great alternative if the wind’s too north for Wainui.
We were treated to a delectable dinner at Andrew’s place, again cooked up seemingly effortlessly by the wonderful Suetonia, who had been at work all day teaching med students. What a woman. Andrew just rings up and says “I’m bringing 3 guys home in 45 minutes … how about you cook up that pasta dish with the chicken breasts…”. Alex and I chuckled that if we tried ringing our wives similarly, there would be a deathly silence from the other end of the phone, or a dial tone …!
So it’s back here to pack. I’m sad to be leaving this amazing place. I have made really special new friends, and thanks enormously to each of you guys for everything you’ve done. I have felt ridiculously spoilt. I’m sad to be leaving the land of wind and hills and snowcapped mountains always on the horizon. And I’ll miss this reporting a lot too. I wanted to get this last “action” report posted before reality sets back in, and the beauty of it all becomes a memory.
You guys who are coming in December (I don’t know if I can make it – seems unlikely) you can be sure that you’ll have a great time both flying and just being here. I’d happily live here. And I hope to be back!