Sunday, November 4, 2007

A bit about me

Well, as the date for my week's soaring approaches, here's some info about me.

I'm 46 and live in Sydney Australia with my wife and little daughter. I've always been fascinated by flight. When I was a kid I wanted to join the air force and my Uncle in Canberra paid for a couple of TIFs (training instructional flights) for me in a Piper Cherokee.

Joining the air force never worked out, but I never lost my interest in flying. Travelling for work in New Zealand, I found myself standing on the apron at Tauranga airport on the north island, watching the General Aviation (GA) aircraft doing circuits and spins, while I waited for my flights home. A few times I noticed gliders being launched from a grass strip at the end of the runway there and once I watched one over Mount Maunganui, searching unsuccessfully for lift.

Finally, in Taupo NZ for a conference, on my way with other delegates to Taupo racetrack for a road safety demonstration, we were driven past Taupo Gliding Club - a glider parked on the grass caught my eye. At the road safety display, I found myself watching the glider being towed into the airfrom the back of the rcaetrack spectator area, instead of watching the car demonstration and on the way back I wrote down the phone number for the gliding club as the coach went past.

A couple of days later, during a break in the conference, myself and a colleague drove back to the club in his car and we each had an experience flight.

I was hooked. My flight was a tow to 3,500 feet, with instructor Tom in the back seat of the club's PW-6, then a flight over to a nearby ridge (can't remember the name of the mountain!) where I had a few passes in ridge lift, climbing to 4,200 feet. Then a search for lift (it was a bit cold and stable in August - nothing to be found), then a loop and some stooging about, then landing.

I took the stick for about 10 minutes flying, including making 3 passes along the ridge. It felt fantastic, though for the first few minutes that I thought Tom was handling the rudder pedals, I was supposed to be, so the nose moved around a lot before I realised I was supposed to be operating the rudder!

Back on the ground, I spoke to three guys who were completing the club's Solo in a Week program. That was it - I travel to NZ a lot, so here was a great opportunity. I planned my leave after consulting with the club to identify the best tme of the year and booked in for the Solo in a Week.

Starting 19 November, I'll be in Taupo learning to fly a sailplane!

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