Day 5 – the comp visits Queensland
January 8, 2020
January 7, 2020
Day 4 was Day 3 :)
January 7, 2020
Today the weather was much more promising – most of the smoke gone from our area although climbs not forecast to be quite as strong as yesterday and with an early cut-off. Clubbies on the front with a 3h30 AAT, then Standards with 3:15 and finally 18m with 3:00. Launching commenced at the early hour of 11:30 by which time there were extensive cumulus around the area but also quite a lot of thick top cover – exactly as forecast. With the best weather forecast to the southwest and over the central Kaputar range, all tasks went south, then west then north followed by a run home. With cloud encroaching on the first sector and conditions deteriorating at Keepit, it was important to get going – but for the 18m at least, it was never really soarable near their startline and it was a long glide into the start and down track to the decent conditions. The team whilst flying in separate classes are exchanging information where it’s relevant, and the ground crew are doing a good job with such gliders as are visible on the tracking systems and keeping an eye on weather conditions around the sectors. The southern sector for Standard and 18m included the Liverpool Range of mountains and these were working well; elsewhere we all found that just when it looked as if it would go blue ahead, another nice line of Cu appeared just where it was needed. So after yesterday’s difficult and ultimately fruitless day, it was a great romp round and another solid performance. Pic above is of an 18m gaggle in the launchpoint shade shelter before the launch – Liz, Alena Netusilova of the Czech Republic (today’s day winner) and Katrin Senne from Germany.
Day 3 Cancelled / Australia Night
January 6, 2020
Today’s tasks were cancelled around 2.5 hours after the pilots had started on task when the tracks crossed a large area where smoke from the bushfires reduced visibility such that it was unsafe to continue. This was both from the perspective of see and avoid and also ensuring they had safe landing options if they failed to find lift – a particular issue as much of the terrain on track was high and unlandable, with pilots needing to keep sight of a safe exit route.
Everyone made their way carefully home, and our hosts welcomed us back with Australia Night – typical Aussie food and a band comprised of local pilots – and perhaps a few cold beers? (Not for the pilots!)
Australian Bush Fires, the Women’s World Gliding Championships and TeamGB
January 6, 2020
We have had a number of inquiries from family, friends and the media about how the bushfires in Australia are affecting the World Championships and if the British team is safe.
Being here allows us to comprehend the sheer scale and number of bushfires in Australia. Simply put, a few TV clips fail to portray how vast some of the fires are and how much property and wildlife has been destroyed. Fortunately for us, the competition is being held in an area away from the worst of the bushfires. Also the competition team and Lake Keepit gliding club are both safety focussed and very competent. As team manager I have every confidence that if there was any risk to the teams competing here it would be communicated to us immediately. One of TeamGB’s crew, who is from Australia, is regularly checking the fire reports and updating the team.
The bushfires are affecting the competition in two different ways. Firstly, the competition and individual glider pilots have a responsibility to keep out of the way of water bombing and fire spotting aircraft. The competition is in regular liaison with the team directing fire related aeronautical operations and tasks are set so the gliders are routed away from fires and fire operations to ensure there is no conflict between gliders and fire related aircraft.
The biggest effect on the competition is that visibility is reduced, sometimes very significantly. The density of the smoke changes from day to day depending on the wind direction and where the air is coming from and how large the fires are. As the gliders are attempting tasks that take them up to 150 miles from the airfield the visibility changes all the time as they encounter the different winds.
Today (Monday 6th of January), the competition tasks were cancelled 2.5 hours into the day’s racing when the pilots encountered unanticipated very poor visibility which resulted in there being a significant issue with seeing other gliders and also ensuring they had safe landing options if they failed to find lift and were forced to land.
In summary, we are safe and very fortunate to be well away from the worst of the fires. Like you the news and the scale of this disaster horrifies us.
Day 2 Roundup
January 5, 2020