Wave Flights 2011

Sunday 25th September 2011

Photo - Ian Cohn
The MSL pressure map

IC, and MBd crewed fly the ASK-21mi taking-off at 6:55 am.  South east winds produced wave with climb rates of up to 5 m/s and strong rotor turbulence below 6,500 ft. See  www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=-1639237570 .  Flight time 3:55.  OLC distance 288.5 km

Photo (click to enlage): Mt Bogong from around 10,000ft on 25 September

Monday 19th September 2011

KD, AE, DR, IC, and MBd crewed fly the Pilatus, Astir. ASK-21mi and ASW-19.  Surface winds were light northwesterlys with strong NNE winds at higher altitudes.  There was difficult light ridge lift at lower levels and strong turbulence higher.  Later rotor turbulence was encountered with weak wave above that. Max Height 8,400 ft. in wave limited by daylight hours  Nine flights for 8:55.  See  www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=-2134145288 .

Another Mt Beauty Wave Flight

The OLC trace
The MSL pressure pattern

by Ian Cohn

The aim was simple.  To complete a long flight in the local area to gain some OLC points.  The outlook seemed good with a forecast of strong north to north easterly winds with higher than average temperatures that would allow ridge lift and thermals to at least around 6,500 ft the maximum height of the local terrain.  So I daily inspected the Pilatus and positioned it at the launch point.

With the surface wind sock indicating a 5kt north westerly breeze, I elected to go first at 12:30 in spite of Andrew Evans advice to wait for the one o’clock thermal.  Needless to say, he was correct and I drifted back to earth after only 13 minutes.

Andrew then launched at 13:15 and lasted 22 min.  Things were not going to plan, even though it was warming up and the breeze was consistent.

Nevertheless, the conventional wisdom is that the Pilatus will stay up on the strength of an oily rag so I launched again at 13:30, this time succumbing to gravity after 25 min in very weak ridge lift with no thermals to be seen.  Duncan Robertson launched in the Astir at 13:45 and only lasted 7 min, so things were looking grim.

However, Mark Bland then decided to launch at 14:15 in the ASK-21mi.  Using the iron thermal he launched to 3,800 ft and reported some rough thermal lift near Bogong Hill.

Being a masochist, I then thought third time lucky, and winch launched again in the Pilatus at 20 past two.  I reached Mt Beauty hill at 2300 ft and commenced a very slow climb in ridge lift to 2,600 ft. only to drift down again to 2,300 ft after 40 min airborne.  There were no thermals to be seen at all.  Anyway, being a masochist, I persisted in the very weak ridge lift and for a change of scenery went south west a couple of km to the slightly higher Hollonds Hill eventually climbing to the dizzy height of 2,800 ft.

Becoming emboldened, I then flew around 4 km out to the northeast to the TV repeater mast below Bogong Hill.  This resulted in a loss of height so I scrambled back to Mt Beauty hill arriving back at around 2,300ft. to start the process again.  By this time I had been up for an hour and twenty minutes dodging eagles and three other gliders scraping along the limited local ridge space and had made no progress at all.  So much for OLC points.  Sensibly, Mark Bland gave it away at around 16:10 and then Andrew Evans landed at 16:15 leaving only me and Duncan flying.

I decided to make a final run out to the TV repeater again before joining the others at the hangar.  When I reached the TV repeater there seemed to be my first thermal of the day giving a consistent 1kt climb so I persisted now having been airborne for two hours.  Duncan came over in the Astir to join me but flew off again leaving me alone.  After the initial slow thermal climb I suddenly flew into very strong and turbulent lift gaining 800 ft in less than a minute followed by strong turbulence.  I then flew near Bogong hill and found another patch of strong lift rocketing to 5,600 ft.

Thinking that some distance points might now be a prospect, I tracked towards Little Mt Bogong only to find horrendous 10kt sink.  So speeding up I went back to Bogong Hill and again found strong turbulent lift.  By now I had decided that I was in a rotor under a wave formation.  Tracking towards Mt Beauty, I entered smooth wave lift of around 3kt and continued to fly up the Kiewa Valley at around 40 Kt airspeed.  My ground speed however, was only 10 kt so I wasn’t making much headway.  Nevertheless I continued my slow climb to the northwest to 8,300 ft.  By this time the sun was sinking towards the horizon and I thought that I had better get a move on to get those distance points before sunset.  So levelling out, I increased airspeed to around 70kt to make progress into wind at a ground speed of around 35kt.  Speeding up a bit further I then started a slow descent with a target of turning back to Mt Beauty at 5,000 ft.  I did this at Ceccanti’s winery and, with an airspeed of 60kt giving a ground speed of 90 to 100kt, was amazed to find that I was maintaining height.  So I arrived at Big Hill south of Mt Beauty at 5,300ft.  By now the sun was about to set so I opened the airbrakes and descended to Mt Beauty.  There was only a light south westerly cross wind so I landed at 17:55 on runway 14 about 15 min before official sunset.

Looking back on the flight, there was about 4 octas of random alto cumulus but no defined lenticular clouds showing where the wave was located.  The wave was located in the middle of the Kiewa valley being generated by the NNE wind on the ranges on the northeast side of the Valley.  If I had had more daylight, I consider that the wave lift would have gone to well over 10,000 ft.

Thursday 15th September 2011

AE, IC, and MBd crewed to fly the Libelle, and ASW-19.  The ground level wind was northwesterly at around 5kt  to 10kt  subsiding later with west to northwesterly winds higher.  Cloud base was around 6,500ft.  There was broken thermal and ridge lift at lower levels and wave lift of up to 3.1 m/s above 5,000 ft near Mt Fainter.  Max Height 9,700 ft.  Two flights for 5:53.  See   www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=1813606955

Thursday 25th August 2011

Photo - Steve Bradbury

GV, OB, SB, IC, and MBd crewed to replace the old winch cable and fly the Libelle, Astir. ASW-19 and ASK-21mi.  The ground level wind was northwesterly at around 5kt  to 10kt  subsiding later.  Cloud base was around 6,500ft.  There was difficult broken thermal and ridge lift at lower levels and wave lift of up to 2 m/s above 5,000 ft just to the northwest of Mt Bogong.  Max Height 9,300 ft.  Four flights for 11:20.  See  www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=-1712861 and  www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=5544376 .

Photo (click to enlarge): The view from ASW-19 VH-EAT on 25th August.  Two MBGC gliders visible just in front of wave induced cumulus at around 8,000 ft. 

Friday 19th August 2011

Mark Bland's flight path on 19 August 2011.
MSL Analysis
The view from the cockpit just after engine shutdown. Photo - Mark Bland

Mark Bland and visitor Ron Boxhall from Tasmania flew the ASK-21mi in wave conditions. See Ron's Story below.  One flight for around 4hr 30min. OLC flight data. Click to enlarge images.

Welcome Back

Another cloudscape from Mark and Ron's flight. Photo - Mark Bland

by Ron Boxhall (Soaring Club of Tasmania)

Many moons ago, about thirty years in fact, (but who’s counting), gliding was fresh, challenging, exciting, but something gradually changed.  Maybe it was the drudgery of circuit bash instructing, maybe the aftershock of a club rebuilding after a multiple fatality, maybe the financial strain of self employment, or maybe thoughts of moral responsibility towards a new wife and children.  Whatever the reasons, I dropped out, leaving lasting memories, and some great friends behind me.

Twenty five years later, times have changed, some may call it an empty nester, but I perhaps describe it as, sparse times.  But thoughts have returned to the good times. I again get that feeling, suitably portrayed in the introduction of that old classic movie, “Those Magnificent Men & their Flying Machines”.  Once again I feel the need to get my ample bum off the ground.  I take a big step forward by rejoining my old gliding club, but then two steps backwards.  No two seaters, as Blanik groundings, and pilot weight issues with a replacement ASK13, means another year passes, unfulfilled.  With no imminent resolution to my dilemma in sight, it’s time for a commercial gliding operation, and, on the recommendation of an old mate, I roll into Lake Keepit.

I am warmly greeted by acting CEO Ian Downes, responsible for an enviable spread of facilities, and of course, countless hangers full of fiberglass beauties.  Garry Speight, my instructor, demonstrates a dedicated passion for gliding, and his pearls of wisdom make me think that all pilots would gain from a bit of a refresher.  It’s Friday night, club pilots, hanger-on’s, and some more youthful instructors begin to turn up for the weekend.  With my extended absence from the gliding club scene, it was great to re-absorb the diversity of characters, and depth of knowledge, found in the sport. Despite all the new electronic gee wizardry, final glide computers, flarms, etc, (and my newly acquired string of pearls), it’s from the Twin Astir to a soaring flight in a Jantar single seater. Great to be P1 again.

I’m off to catch up with that old mate Mark Bland, some even call him a gliding tragic, but enviably, he is living his dream, building an inspiring hanger house, with back to front, and front to the airstrip, (if you know what I mean). Mount Beauty (the town), is a beautiful place, greenest of green paddocks on the valley floor, snow melt swollen rivers, heavily wooded hillsides surround on three sides, rising into Victoria’s highest mountains, capped with vivid white snow. On Friday 19th August, as fog patches dissipate around the valley, commercial aircraft in holding patterns leave vapor trails emulating Olympic rings , and in a clear blue sky, the underside of a wide lenticular cloud is high overhead.  It stretches maybe 100km to the NE/SE horizons, and a waterfall cloud (now there’s a new one!) rolling downwards in the lee of the snow capped top of Mt. Bogong.  A high pressure system moving through Bass Straight is directing a 15 to 20 knot south easterly airstream across the Victorian Alps, but in the valley all is calm and birdsong. Mark reckons let’s go, I reckon, let’s go breakfast, still not foreseeing the opportunity that was about to unfold.

Our ASK21Mi glider self launches to 4000ft. taking no longer than your average aero tow, and into some uncomfortable turbulence where I would have expected ridge lift.  But with motor shut down, cooled down, and propeller retracted, we soon establish solid climbs.  We check out the lift areas to windward, and push from hill to mountain, then tallest mountain, and quickly up and away to ten thousand feet plus.  Climbing past the windward side of cloud faces, I think of the times that thermal generated Cumulus clouds seem to put a lid on the enjoyment of gliding, but now we soar, only turning occasionally, it’s fantastic. I am entering an unfamiliar world, looking downwards, not upwards, at cloud formations. Maybe it’s up here somewhere that power pilots glean that air of smug self confidence?

All the classic lenticular shaped clouds have gone, but fascinating cloud streets become apparent, lined up across the wind direction and lee slopes.  As we cruised these toll free, speed unrestricted, dual carriageways in the sky, thoughts of airline cabin service food and drinks cross my mind.  Landmarks such as Mt. Hotham, Falls Creek, Dartmouth Dam, Mitta Mitta, and Corryong, regularly slide under our wings, and the horizon has got that “on a clear day, you can see forever” feel about it.  Mark’s experience gained wave flying in New Zealand, and his knowledge of the terrain around Mt. Beauty now confirm the existence of `The Bogong Sleigh Ride’.  During the four and a half hour flight, we rarely go below 10,000 ft., and after downloading our flight data from one of those little black box logger “thing a me bobs”, we  find out we have cruised in excess of  400 kilometers.

That flight may only be the 33rd. longest distance logged that day onto the worldwide On Line Competition website, but my thoughts definitely are – I am back!

Friday 22 July 2011

Photo - Andrew Evans

A strong SE wind prevented use of the fixed winch and wave cloud looked enticing. Mark Bland and Andrew Evans flew the ASK21Mi, VH--GVS in wave to 8700’ near Mt Bogong for 2hrs 14 min. West Peak rotor provided very rough lift gusting to 10 kts.  Smooth wave lift was then accessed parallel to the Mt Bogong ridge. See the OLC flight record.

Photo (click to enlarge): Andrew Evans & Mark Bland in ASK21Mi-GVS in wave near Mt Bogong on the way to 8700’ on 22 July 2011. 

Four days of Winter Wave at Mt Beauty

by Ian Cohn

Over many years we have only sporadically experienced soarable wave conditions at Mt Beauty.  This has been partly due to our inability to launch high enough to contact wave lift given that our primary launch method has been winch.  Where we have experienced wave it has usually been when there has been a north to north westerly airflow allowing a high winch launch and using ridge lift to climb high enough to contact wave lift.  But his has happened only once or twice a year and recognising the presence of wave has been problematical.  It had been generally assumed that soarable wave will only occur with a northwest to northerly wind stream.  However, with the advent of our syndicate ASK-21mi motor glider we now have more options to climb high enough to contact wave.

On Saturday the 11th June I had the opportunity to take a friend, Faith, for a flight in our ASK-21mi.  There was about 2 octas cumulus along the ridges north of Mt Beauty with about 6 octas over the mountains to the south.  Ground wind conditions were calm but upper winds were forecast to be south to southeasterly.  I briefed Faith that we would use the engine to climb up close to the scenic snow covered Mt Bogong at around 6,000 ft, switch off, and, not expecting any lift, glide back down.

The MSL analysis at 10am on 11th June.
The MSL analysis at 10am on 14th June.

We did this but, as we were climbing up, it dawned on me that the cap cloud on Mt Bogong and a line of ragged cumulus about 1-2 km north of the Mt Bogong ridge indicated that there might be a wave system operating.  Sure enough, when we shut down the engine at around 6,000 there was around 1m/s lift in front of the ragged line of cumulus and we managed to climb to around 7,800 ft before it petered out.  Later Mark Bland and Ben Talbot flew the ASK-21mi on a two hour flight exploring the wave system up to Mt Fainter and climbing to 8,300 ft.

The next day I had an AEF to fly, similar conditions existed, and again we climbed to 8,000 ft after an engine launch to 5,500ft to the north of Mt Bogong.  Mark Bland flew with other MBGC members using mainly ridge lift up to 5,000 ft. 
On the Queen’s birthday holiday, Monday 13th June similar conditions prevailed but the ground wind had strengthened from the southeast preventing winch launching.  Mark Bland again flew the ASK-21mi with Mike Pobjoy, and later Ian Dealy managing to use mainly ridge lift get three and a half hours flying time and getting up to 5,000 ft.

On Tuesday morning I went to our regular over 50s tennis appointment.  Conditions were again similar and I kept looking at the wave clouds while attempting to play tennis but thinking that I had a heavy domestic work load which would prevent flying.  After tennis I went home to do my domestic duty but was stopped doing this by a call from Mark Bland suggesting that flying was a better option.  Weakening, I agreed and proceeded to the airport, this time taking our Colibri logger.

Launching in the ASK-21mi around 13:40, we climbed in front of Mt Emu before heading southeast towards the lee of Mt Bogong and an ill defined row of ragged cumulus about 2km to the North of the mountain ridge, shutting the engine down at around 6,300 ft.  We soon established a modest climb rate in the lee of Mt Bogong and, deciding to try to get some OLC distance points, headed towards Lake Dartmouth climbing to 10,500 on the way with the cloud tops at around 7,000 ft.  When we reckoned that we were just about down to glideslope to Mt Beauty we turned around and went back to the Mt Bogong wave.  Becoming braver, we decided to see whether we could get to Mt Feathertop.  We managed this staying above 8,000 most of the way without stopping much to top up in the stronger parts of the wave lift.  With our aim of getting OLC points, we decided to go back out towards Dartmouth again managing this without difficulty.  Turning again we ran back towards Feathertop and with sufficient height to glide back to Mt Beauty pushed on towards Mt Hotham again maintaining height above 8,000 ft. and getting wonderful scenic views of the snow covered ranges and the ski fields at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham.  With daylight starting to fade and with a domestic doghouse looming for me, we did a last run up towards Running Creek and a final glide into Mt Beauty landing after two and three quarter hours airborne.

We rarely get south east winds in winter at Mt Beauty.  This time it was because a stationary or very slow moving high pressure system was located south of Australia, an unusual event in winter.  Normally high pressure systems are located much further north in winter giving us north westerly to south westerly stream weather most of the time.  Next time we get steady south easterly winds, most likely in summer, we will know what to look for and where to find any wave lift.

See www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=-1928850975

The route and altitude chart from the OLC.

Mark Bland’s Pictures from the flight

Shortly after engine shutdown at 7,500 ft. on climb showing the cap cloud on Mt Bogong
Heading towards Dartmouth at 9,000 ft
Back past Mt Bogong at around 10,000 ft
Clear out on the plains looking down the Ovens Valley from near Mt Feathertop
10,000 ft again heading east.
Towards Dartmouth at 10,000 ft.
Snow visible near Mt Hotham
Looking towards Falls Creek from near Mt Feathertop.
Mt Beauty just before landing with Mt Bogong in the background.