Paul Spooner's story
I attended the Grampians Soaring Club Wave Camp at Noelhurst farm over Queens Birthday long weekend. The intention was that if conditions were right to try for Gold Height which requires an Altitude gain of 3000 metres (circa 10,000ft). As the weekend came into weather forecast range it wasn’t looking good for mountain wave, a large high pressure producing light south easterly winds was forecast which is exactly opposite to the wind direction and strength required to produce wave conditions on the east side of the Grampians range. While the forecast was not good for wave conditions it was certainly looking okay for ridge soaring and thermal soaring in what is very picturesque country.
Grampians Soaring Club provided advice on preparation for attendees and I have reproduced the advice here for others who may be considering attendance at this event next year:
- have a true airspeed chart on your panel (corrected for altitude);
- have lots of warm clothing;
- two radios, one for glider frequency and one for area frequency;
- a clear view panel;
- a GPS;
- use a maximum descent rate of about 500 ft/sec to prevent gelcoat cracking and perhaps stresses in the underlying structures;
- have your glider lubricated with low temperature grease and oil;
- an outside air temperature gauge would be useful; and
- a blood oxygen indicator (fingertip clip oxymeter) almost essential to ensure that you are getting enough oxygen.
I arrived at Noelhurst farm near Pomonal, which has a 1000m airstrip running in a North West/South East direction. The main runway is marked out down the centre of the strip with old tyres, but it is possible to land to the left and the right of the marked out strip, giving plenty of options, if multiple gliders were to return at the same time.
The ground was remarkably firm compared to Bacchus at the moment. No mud, no wheel tracks, the locals said they have had a fairly dry autumn/winter so far.
In total there were 10 gliders present, about five were associated with the Grampians Soaring Club, four from Geelong Gliding Club and myself in the Ventus. The faithful Call Air tug from the Grampians soaring club did the tugging.
It was fairly chilly overnight and in the morning the gliders were covered in ice. Over the 3 days of the weekend the Saturday and the Sunday had light winds, little to no ridge lift but some weak thermals would slow the descent rate. Monday was by far the best day with Cu’s popping around midday and some longer flights were possible.
I did a total of five flights over the weekend with the longest being on the Monday where I did an hour and half, cut short by the need to de‐rig and head for home. Some of the Grampians soaring club flew their gliders back to Ararat to save de‐rigging.
Overall it was a great weekend, the weather was good for local soaring in fantastic scenery, the operation was well run and a fair amount of behind the scenes organisation had gone into making the camp a success, with drums of fuel for the tug, toilet facilities a caravan and no doubt clearing the sheep out the paddock.
Thank you to John Anselmi and Jim Nugent and rest of the Grampians soaring club for arranging the weekend.