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Vic West - Day 1


Permalink 20:51:00, by admin, 547 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, circuits & landings, ASW 20

Today was the first day of my annual soaring excursion, this time to the Karoo to join the Cape Gliding Club (CGC) at a week's gliding camp hosted by them in Victoria West.

Small DustyVictoria West (FAVW) has proven, historically, to be a good place to fly out from. It is located in the dry Karoo and to the west of that annoying trough line that brings so much rain and thunder storms to the central South African interior over summer. Other good points are that it is also relatively close to home as it is only a five hour drive towing a trailer and the airfield is in a pretty good condition with three serviceable runways and a few hangars. The town of Victoria West is also a reasonable size with a few shops and guest houses for accommodation.

My day started off early and I drove straight through to arrive in Victoria West at 2 pm in the heat of the day. With some help the 20 was quickly rigged and as the afternoon was getting late, I pondered the merits of taking a late launch or not. Shortly after the 20 was rigged another guy with his Cirrus arrived and he was determined to get a flight in for the day, so I thought, what the hell, let's go for it.

The sooner I get a take off and landing at a strange airfield behind me, the better. Tends to be a little nerve racking at the best of times.

Standard Cirrus ready to launchThe sun was still nice and high when I took my 4 pm launch. The launch was however anything but fun and rather (very) scary. The runways at FAVW are dirt (i.e. pure dust) and the wind was blowing straight down the runway. The initial 20 metres of the ground run was pure 100% complete IMC as the tug plane, a 180hp Super Cub, kicked up lots and lots of dust. Some how I kept the wings level and the glider behind the tug and after a few seconds, that felt like a few hours, the 20 popped off the runway and I managed to get a slight view of the tug in front of me as she ran along the ground. As the speeds increased the visibility got better and better and soon things were fine behind the tug.

So here I am, off the ground, behind a strange tug at a strange airfield and the tow is going very well with little turbulence or bumps. Mmmhhh, been behind the tug for quite a while now, aahhhh, that felt like a nice bump. Pull the yellow knob. Darn, no so good, it's not working, oh crap, I released at like 800 feet and the runway is all the way over there.... So with my tail between my legs I land over another glider for an expensive and very short first FAVW flight.

A bit silly of me, but why did I release so low? Back home after 5 minutes behind a tug (which it what this felt like here) I would have been well over a 1000 ft and I think, with this programmed in me, and the bump, I released. Next time check the altimeter first and do nothing less than like 1400 ft AGL.

So that was day one. Interesting and FUN.