Listen to a recording of President Andrew Evans talking on ABC Goulburn-Murray to Jonathan Wright about our 30th birthday.
by Mark Bland
The 2006 Melbourne Cup weekend saw Mt Beauty Gliding Club celebrate 30 years of operations, with four fabulous flying days and a 60 person attendance at the Saturday night Spit Roast dinner. Saturday morning started bright and sunny with the arrival of several visiting gliders, including Leigh Bunting's Grunau from Balaklava and Tobi Geiger's LS4 from Bacchus Marsh. Also Jim Barton's Callair tug arrived towing a Kookaburra from GCV. The Mt Beauty club's IS-28 and local syndicate Blanik, Pilatus and Libelle were also readied for what looked like a promising day. We were also joined by several members from the Wagga Club at Lockhart, some of whom experienced their first taste mountain flying.
When the visiting Grunau took the first winch launch before midday and climbed away it was the start of some great flights. Most soared to around 10,000' and the LS-4 ventured over to Mt Kosciusko.
In the evening we all assembled at Ian and Susie Cohn's place for a great night of reminiscing about the last 30 years and looking forward to the next 30 years. Founding members Manfred Rueff, Ray Addinsall and Alan Mull filled many of the more recent members in on the start of the club, as did Alan Patching who, representing VMFG, also had some involvement in those early days.
Manfred Rueff and Ray Addinsall are the only current members from the inaugural group who formed the club in 1976.
At the celebration party, President of the club, Andrew Evans, paid tribute to Manfred and Ray and explained that the success of the club is due in no small part to the major contributions made by them over the years since the inception of the club; through their many hours of voluntary work for the club and their substantial financial contributions though provision of gliders, a winch and hangar space.
Sunday was another 10,000 ft day with much flying done. The LS-4 and Mark Bland's Libelle did about 300 km out past Benalla and we were honoured with the arrival of Ingo Renner and his beautiful Discus, XX.
Monday saw the CU's popping before 10:00 am and Tobi and Ingo took aero-tows early before the winch crew arrived. They were gone all day and flew around 600km while everyone else once again got up to around 9000'.
Mt Beauty Gliding Club is a very active, small club with 45 members and has been experiencing steady growth over recent years. This is a reversal of the current national trend in many Australian gliding clubs. Members enjoy flights over the Alps, regularly flying over the summit of Victoria 's highest mountain, Mt Bogong.
By Toby Geiger
It is Melbourne Cup weekend 2006 and luck has it that I can join the 30th birthday celebrations of the Mt Beauty Gliding Club with my family. And a glider! Monday morning, as I was washing the LS4 with my thoughts still on a beautiful flight with Mark Bland the day before, this gentleman walks up to my glider and says "good morning". I only knew Ingo from pictures and heard his voice the day before on the radio but it was pretty obvious to me then that Ingo Renner had also just arrived at the airfield this morning. The day appeared to become another great Mt Beauty day and so our talk didn't last too long as Ingo also wanted to get his Discus ready. Before he walked off I asked him whether he'd mind if I joined him in the air. "No, not at all. We may need to use another frequency though." That's great I thought. We agreed on 122.7Mhz and off he went.
Tobi about to launch in his LS-4. Photo - Ian Cohn
The winch wasn't ready when we both wanted to take off so we took aerotows. Thanks a lot Jim for bringing along one of Benalla's tugs and towing me into a ripper of a thermal. Once I had topped the thermal I changed channel to get in touch with Ingo. About ten minutes later we caught up over Mt Bogong and went off. It looked really good towards the flat country to the northwest, whereas the cloud base in the mountains was still pretty marginal at around 6500ft. Ingo suggested we head for Tocumwal and I was just happy as Larry to fly wherever he wanted to go.
When we headed off Ingo was about 400ft higher, which, over the distance we were about to cover, was nothing. As I followed him for the first 80km or so I always would have liked to catch up with him at the same altitude but that didn't happen of course. At least I managed not to lose much by the time we arrived at the Warby Ranges. By then I had figured out one of Ingo's principal strategies when flying under clouds. He wasn't often heading for the best looking cloud around but obviously planned his flight path to check out as many clouds as possible that were roughly on track. He would then only stop for the best thermals, which happened to be those with 3m/s (6kts) or more on that day. Once the thermals dropped below 2.5m/s or were too broken to get into a 3m/s core quickly, Ingo would leave. Well, that's the ideal world and most good cross country pilots would adopt this strategy, too. But Ingo flies it with amazing consequence and consistency and seems to come across those really good thermals with ease.
As we were leaving a thermal near St. James, I led out of that thermal as we both agreed to leave and I was simply half a turn ahead in the thermal. I wanted to follow two more tiny little clouds before heading straight on track for Tocumwal into the blue. Too late did I realise that Ingo had gone straight on track towards the next Cus way past a big blue hole. I had to make a decision as to whether I abandoned my idea of picking up a little bit of energy under those two little clouds or follow Ingo's track. But because I was still lower and faced with some 3 to 4 extra km if I had turned and followed him I thought I'd loose him if I did that. So I stuck to the two little clouds and fortunately enough they provided me with a little bit of height. As I turned on track I saw Ingo way ahead and approximately 3km south of my track. Since we were both heading for the same cluster of Cus I thought I'll see him when he pulls up and turns in the next thermal. My track was obviously better than Ingo’s and I could see that I was gaining altitude on him. I like the "control position" when you follow another glider that is ahead of you but lower and on a slightly parallel track. He has to find a thermal before you do and all you need to do is watch out what he's doing. If the air looks better on his path you move over. If it doesn't you stay on your track, keep quiet and sometimes gain even more over the other glider.
When we finally arrived under the next Cu, I was some 200ft higher than Ingo. Because of the better air on my track I managed to speed up a little and arrive at the Cu almost at the same time. Since I was the higher glider now it was my turn to lead out. Just imagine flying a glider with someone like Ingo watching your every move. At the same time it was just plain good fun as we both have very similar thermalling techniques and worked very well as a team whenever we arrived in a thermal. It felt as if we had flown together already for years and Ingo is just such a nice bloke that you quickly put aside that he's a three times world champion and simply enjoy his company.
After we had turned the town centre of Tocumwal we headed back towards Benalla. It was a long glide over the irrigation before we arrived on the other side in the wheat country again. We slid down to about 1500ft above ground but sure enough there was the next thermal with 2.5-3m/s that got us back to 5000ft QNH. From there on we increased our top height thermal by thermal to about 7500ft before we slid down to about 4000ft at the foothills of Mt Buffalo. Ingo managed to core the thermal a bit quicker than I did and was again some 400ft higher. As we were approaching Mt Buffalo I lost sight of Ingo and instead the ground over Mt Buffalo approached me with a frightening speed. I topped up in a 2.5m/s thermal just to make sure I could clear Buffalo without increasing my pulse too much. When I left that thermal I saw Ingo as he was thermalling just past Buffalo and I caught up with him again. From there on it was a breeze back to Mt Beauty.
As it was still early in the day I thought we should push on. I didn't get any lift underneath Ingo and so just pressed on and suggested that we head for Mitta Mitta where it looked quite good. Well, I arrived at Mitta Mitta about 10-15 minutes after we had passed Mt Beauty, turned and couldn't see Ingo. A quick radio call confirmed that Ingo thought I meant the lake east of Mitta Mitta (Dartmouth Reservoir) whereas I was referring to the town. Anyway, I thought a quick dash to Mt Kosciusko would be the perfect climax for this flight. Ingo wasn't so sure whether we still had enough time. Since we were some 25km apart I decided to give it a go anyway. It was only 3.30pm and app. 170km to the mountain and back to Mt Beauty. At first things worked out well and I managed to get up to 8000ft halfway between Kosciusko and Mitta Mitta. But towards the mountain the clouds spread out and it looked pretty bleak ahead. You can't chicken out now, can you? At least I had the option to glide out towards Khancoban, which was still in the sun and either find a thermal on the way or make it to the airfield and get a launch.
When I arrived at Mt Kosciusko I was down to 6000ft MSL and the mountain looked pretty bloody big. The clouds were touching the ground at the eastern and southern end of the mountain but the western flank and the north were still free. There was hardly any wind to expect ridge soaring to be an option but as I arrived the clouds that had clagged in some 20 minutes ago started to break up just enough to let some sunshine getting through onto the rocks. To make the long story short I spent the next 10 minutes (felt like eternity then) crawling up the mountain. Always watching the clouds, the ground and the altimeter carefully as I moved closer and closer towards the summit. There I saw another glider glistening in a ray of sunshine in front of a huge wall of clouds. That was a very memorable picture and we passed each other closely just to wave hello.
Tobi's picture of the peak of Mt Kosciusko
As I turned over Kosci Ingo told me over the radio that he was also approaching the mountain and wasn't too far away. So obviously he couldn't resist the temptation either. I flew back almost the same track that I came over Mt Youngal to keep the Khancoban option open. Over that part of Australia 6000ft MSL isn't particularly high and "there is nothing but some altitude to make a man feel great". As I was still sinking under a gigantic cloud cover towards the sun Ingo reported a cloudbase of 10,000ft on his approach to Kosciusko. It sounded as if he was having a much better run. Finally I picked up a 2m/s thermal which I decided was good enough to get me up closer to cloudbase as it had become pretty quiet down low at that time. I left the thermal at 9000ft and headed straight for Mt Beauty only to find another thermal shortly after that with 3m/s that carried me right to cloudbase at 10,000ft. According to my glide computer I was above final glide to Mt Beauty at a 4kts ring setting. However, there are a few mountains in the way. So I had to find another thermal on the way to get over the Dorchap Range. I did so just at the eastern end of Dartmouth Reservoir and finally arrived back at Mt Beauty at 5.30.
The next morning Ingo and I had a good yarn about our flight. It was certainly a memorable one and great fun for both of us. As it turned out the route from Mt Beauty via Mitta Mitta and Mt Youngal was the better one on the day as I got to Mt Kosciusko and back quicker than Ingo did who flew south of the Dartmouth Reservoir. I think it is certainly the more conservative route as it gives you the option to glide out north and reach flatter and lower country and a few airfields (Mitta Mitta, Corryong and Khancoban). We covered some 577km from Mt Beauty to Tocumwal, Benalla, back to Mt Beauty, Mt Kosciusko and back to Mt Beauty and it took 6 hours and 5 minutes.
Mt Beauty is certainly a very good site for going cross country, both over the mountains and out into the flats to the northwest. But most of all it is a place where all glider pilots and their families are made welcome by the very friendly bunch of people of the Mt Beauty Gliding Club. Can't wait to come back!!! Thanks a million folks!!!