Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm in a state of suspended aviation

It's strange to have a gliding blog, yet not do be doing any gliding. A whole host of circumstances have stopped me from flying since I got back from Taupo and I'm tearing my hair out, worrying that I'm losing the skills I learned there.

After I got back from NZ and my solo in a week course, the weather in Sydney was woeful, with regular rain and storms. Our new kitchen was being installed, so I was kept fairly busy, but I still spent the three weeks of the rest of my holiday unable to get to Camden to fly. The plan was to drive down to Southern Cross Gliding Club and join up to continue my flying. No such luck.

Then between Christmas and New Year we travelled out west to Cootamundra to visit my mother, who had moved there from Wagga Wagga the week before. After a 4-hour drive we stopped at the information centre at Cootamundra train station, only to hear the unmistakeable sound of a towplane.

I looked up and there was a glider being towed over the town by a Pawnee! I quickly made some enquiries about the location of the gliding club (as my web searching before we left didn't reveal much chance of getting to fly while in Coota). I remembered then that the Southern Cross Club ("my" club) was having its summer flying camp at Cootamundra, and instead of being miles away as i had thought they were right here in town.

From the motel we stayed in, we could watch gliders (lots of them) on downwind and see them thermalling over the town. After visiting my Mum, I jumped in the car and went searching for the gliding club, finally finding them at the ghost-town-like Cootamundra airport.

It was the Camden guys and they had about 10 gliders there and one of the club's Pawnee tugs - but only one two-seater DG1000, which was fully booked for cross-country flights (and the weather was perfect for cross-country). I chatted for a while and the guys thought there might be a chance I could sign up and have a flight. This was an exciting prospect, because unlike Camden, where there's a 4,500 foot airspace, here it was described as "as high as you can hold your breath".

No chance of a flight today, but I brought Bibi and Ava out that evening to look at the parked up gliders and we also watched the ultralights buzzing around in the dusk, getting in wind-free flights.

The next day we drove out to see the chances for a flight. Bibi and Ava came with me and after watching gliders all the previous afternoon from the cool of the swimming pool, Bibi was a little interested in them (good wife, that). No chance of a flight that day either - the two-seater was in demand and we could see gliders overhead getting height before striking out cross-country.

More disappointment. The following day we were scheduled to drive out to Temora (about 50 kms west) to look at the town and see the aviation museum there. When we got out there we saw more gliders being prepped and got ready for flying and then I got a phone call from a club member to say I could probably get to fly (as long as the DG didn't land out) that afternoon. Only problem was we were heading home to Sydney around noon! Aargh.

So, here we are back in Sydney. I resolve to try to take Friday off and go down to Camden (the guys at Cootamundra had assured me there was a tug and an IS28 two-seater down there and my fine wife was prepaed to come down with me), but when I rang the duty pilot, he told me that of their two tugs still in Camden, one was out for an overhaul and the other was busted! So no flying that day, but try Sunday...

So today, as I post this on Sunday, the ewather is a bit iffy, but there's no answer on any of the gliding club's phone numbers, so I guess, no flying today....

Will I ever get a flight???

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