First FAI triangle over 1000 km in Queensland! Lake Keepit!Airbus A380 !

Alphen aan den Rijn     November 22 2009

Back home ! The trip back was good,  easy going and enough to look at. I have visited Brisbane twice, though it was not planned! First Virgin cancelled my flight from Melbourne to Cairns and changed it in a Melbourne-Brisbane to Cairns and now Cathay changed last week their flight Hong Kong to Cairns to Brisbane first. So I had a good look at the national and international transit halls from Brisbane.
Flying from Brisbane to Hong Kong showed us the great Barrier Reef from high. but still superb. Also , but not so superb, I counted about 50 smaller and bigger fires, between Cairns and Brisbane only!!!! The biggest up the top of Australia NE. Due to the smoke of burning trees we flew for a moment through the grey mass of extra clouds. Incredible to see fires on high mountains just burning in the middle of nowhere. No fire brigade in those areas! As I told you already Australia suffers from heat waves all around. Tocumwal had 41 dgr. and as I heard from Dieter it was no fun! On his balcony  out of the sun it was still 46 dgr.

Here we have also 10 dgr. above the average temperature! A pleasant 17 dgr. yesterday with sunny conditions! Tough wind today however [7 b. at the sea] and rain!

The first Trans Atlantic Air France-KLM flight from an Airbus A 380  2 days ago, had 538 passengers. 380 Guests had paid for their chair through an auction and 300.000 Euro was “collected” for several charity destinations as projects in India, Brazil and Madagascar. The “maiden”- flight was from Paris to New York.

The Lake Keepit Nationals for club class  are over and had 11 days of flying. Winner was Peter Trotter in the ASW 20 A, before Paul Mander in a Libelle. After 11 days flying in Sports Class the clear winner was David Jansen with 10.422 points , runner up was Bruce Taylor with 10.102 points.Look for more news and more results on

This weekend Ingo and Judy Renner are in Sydney. Ingo is rewarded a place on the WALL of FAME in the Olympic Stadium . Great to see also glider pilots achieve such great recognition. Congratulations Ingo!
This is the message they got;
It gives me great pleasure to officially advise that you have been selected for inclusion into the New South Wales Hall of Champions at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre in recognition of your impressive sporting achievements.”

Last but not least the story from Aussie top pilot David Jansen. Yes,…the winner in Sports class in Lake Keepit! He was the first pilot to fly a 1000 km FAI triangle in Queensland where the days are not too long. Enjoy it, as it is a great story!

The first 1000 km FAI Triangle in Queensland

By David Jansen

On the 10thOctober at the Kingaroy morning briefing people asked me what I thought of the weather. RASP showed a south easterly airstream off the Queensland coast turning to a north easterly crossing the coast line. The thermal prediction showed conditions being almost un-flyable over Kingaroy by early in the morning whilst inland and moving further west throughout the day conditions were predicted to boom to better than 10,000’ with Cumulus.

None of the soaring prediction software actually reconciled with what we could see out the window as well developed cumulus were forming by 0900 and it didn’t “look like” they were going to go away!

I’d been flying the ASG29 empty since returning from the pre-worlds in Hungary earlier this year in preparation for the Sports/Club class competition at Lake Keepit in November 2009 and as the day was predicted to fall apart I didn’t change that, however I did have an idea to try for a 763km triangle from Kingaroy to Thangool (near Rockhampton) to The Gums (south west of Tara) and return.

Well, the day didn’t die. Cumulus went to in excess of 10,000’ with 8-10 knot climbs, and the flight was completed in 5hours 32 minutes at 138kph from a start at 1046 with an obvious 2 hours of convection available before I even got airborne! And this occurred on a day when we considered that we may not even be able to fly!

Eight days later on the 18th October 2009 exactly the same picture appeared on the prediction software.

The day before on the 17thOctober, I had been flying in the coastal air mass with a flight from Kingaroy to Wattsn Bridge to Gympie, Ban Ban, Chinchilla and return. There was a lot of coastal moisture and cumulus until returning inland where conditions dried out and became blue from Ban Ban to Chinchilla and back to Kingaroy. Late in day a strong NE sea breeze arrived and undercut the local cumulus that now had bases in excess of 9,000’.

I was restless that night as the possibility of a good day on Sunday kept me thinking of what might be possible.

I was in the hangar by 0630 filling the glider for the first time this season to the 600kg weight limit and looking at options on SeeYou for possible tasks. I stored two 750km options and two 1000km “dreams” and set the Altair up for the requirements of an FAI flight claim, something I’d neglected to do the previous week. I listened to the Kingaroy AWIS, the temperature was low, the humidity was high and the wind was light.

By 0800 I was towing to the flight line and shortly thereafter I was in a ditch with one wing on the ground, water running out of the left wing, the tow-out gear distorted and twisted sideways on the back of the glider and no one around to help. This is the joy of a partial water load and uneven terrain that raised the wing with the wing towing gear attached, above the level of even! A quick intervention got the towing gear off the car and the wings back to level. Thankfully there was no damage to the glider and I was able to re-address the ditch straight-on and park the glider in front of the club house.

Time was ticking away and the sky was filling with cu! “Was there a tug pilot available for an early launch?” I asked of everyone in general as I entered the club house .As everything was being organised “on the fly” no tuggie had been pre-arranged so I was very thankful when Greg Kolb immediately volunteered. It was 0820 and I asked for a launch at 0845. I suggested that the 1000km flight might be on, but the only way to tell if it was going to be possible was to have a go!

My wife Lesley had joined me by this time so whilst Greg readied the tug, I had a quick breakfast and Lesley prepared a light in-flight lunch consisting of a jam sandwich an apple and two snack bars. I’d previously added some electrolytes to my drinking water so we were all set to go….so….which way?

The turn points for the 1000km flight are Dululu 331km to the NNW and Muckadilla 348km due west of Kingaroy. The options of going to either turnpoint first were stored in the Altair flight plan data base so all I had to do was choose the “right” one (and declare it electronically, just for fun!).

There was very promising cu to the west; lots of them and good solid looking bases. This also appeared to be downwind, an advantage in the weaker early part of the day.

The tug arrived, I made my choice, declared it, and with a kiss from Lesley I was on my way.

According to the FAI Sporting Code I can only lose a maximum of 1000m or 3,281’ between my start height and my finish height on a speed task. Kingaroy is around 1,500’ amsl so if I want to finish low the maximum start height can be no more than 4,781’ as I cross the start line or leave the start observation zone (whichever is the most to my advantage). Cloud base is 5,000’ and I stay on tow until 6,000’ in smooth air.

My ASG29E has a small turbo (not self launching, just enough power to keep an empty glider in the air) and the terrain on some parts of this flight is very forbidding. I want to give the little motor a run before I start the task, just to get some re-assurance that it might fire up if the day falls apart and I need it to get home. The motor can never be considered a resource that will be available if you get into trouble over bad terrain and a flight should never be flown with this option as your last resort!

The motor starts and I run it for only a few seconds before shutting it down and stowing it. I dive towards the start line and cross it at 4,757’.

The time is 0904 and I’m on my way north to Dululu.

I can’t say why I chose north to begin. It didn’t look like the best direction in the sky. I just guessed it would work OK and I was hoping that the western sky would work later in the day on my way home.

The glider is a different beast after having flown it dry for so many flights. It races away to 95kts and the nose attitude is noticeable higher.

0911 – I’m down to 3,400’ (2,041’agl) and the first climb averages around 2kts to 4,900’. The second climb averages 4kts to 5,300’ and there are cu everywhere.

The high humidity means the sky is changing fast and there is a very real threat of overdevelopment even at this early stage of the flight.

1013 – I’m 140km out from Kingaroy between Mundubbera and Eidsvold. 2,500 agl and the sky seems confused.  There is overdevelopment everywhere and whilst the sky is full of cloud the climbs are difficult to find and the track has to be carefully chosen. This is a period of transition as the early morning development gives way to the higher dryer part of the day.

1115 – 70km from Dululu. Hmmm..I wonder how low these airspace steps into Rocky go? Fortunately I have the latest terminal chart on board, they are not going to be a problem at these altitudes. Stay on track.

1142 – I reach Dululu. The climbs are going to just over 6,500’ and the sky is opening up again. It’s taken 2 hours and 39 minutes to reach the first turn averaging 125kph.

It’s easy to get these exact statistics post flight however in my mind I’m thinking 2:45 for the first leg, hopefully the same for the others, that means if I can make Muckadilla by 1430 I can be home (or close to it) by 1715. Yesterday went until 1700 and the last 100km could be final glide…..I’m in with a chance, keep going. What time does the sun set at Kingaroy? The Altair tells me 1800….

1236 – I’m approaching the edge of the Expedition  National Park which covers 130,000 hectares of land with sheer sandstone cliffs over 100m high and 100% terrain cover. The park straddles the Expedition range between Rolleston, Bauhinia Downs and Taroom and is largely inaccessible, except by properly equipped and experienced bushwalkers. A trough has formed, and it’s raining ahead with cumulonimbus and overdevelopment. To make things worse, smoke from bushfires is obscuring the sky in front.

I can’t tell if the development is local or part of a broader weather change that has obliterated the sky on track and also back to Kingaroy. I can’t use the motor in the rain even if I want to as it will destroy the propeller. I have to be conservative and make safe choices. I’m over 300km from home in a straight line and I’m flying to Melbourne tomorrow and then taking the QF93 to LA (operating) on Tuesday. I need to stay high! The mind is busy.

A diversion to the west is the only safe choice as I track along the storm front keeping sunny ground in view further out. This is where the Altair and the XCSoar software really shine. The glide range display shows me all the airfields I can reach from my current height and the safety margin. First Arcadia is available so I can stay closer to track than I might otherwise visualise. I can get around the storm and the visibility starts to improve, I can see sunshine ahead and what looks to be shadows from the cumulus. Heading more on track now and taking weaker climbs to maintain a safe height I fly over the un-landable terrain knowing I can escape to a safe landing if needed.

I carry a spot tracking device on every flight. Lesley later told me she was very aware there didn’t appear to be many roads around during this part of the flight (she was monitoring my progress throughout the day). I also drew some comfort from knowing she would have a place to start looking if I didn’t get back.

1324 – 9,000’. Injune is within easy reach 50km away and the country is starting to open up again. The national park gives way to isolated fields and what looks to be natural gas exploration. The air is drying rapidly and I reach cloud base at 10,000’ with the last cumulus about 70km from the second turn at Muckadilla. There is one more climb in the blue and then the glide…

Apart from the blue, something is different. The wind is now a south westerly and the air whilst bumpy isn’t producing good thermals. I take a couple of 4kt climbs but they fall apart after 1,000’. Take it slow, get around the turn and then try for the cumulus again another 90km out on the 3rd leg home.

1418 – Muckadilla west or Roma 5,600 agl. Not a lot to see out here. Where is that farmer stripping his crop, what other trigger sources are available? The country is featureless and there is no one in the paddocks. There aren’t any fires. It’s blue and quite. I’ve made good time but it’s a long way back to the cumulus.

1434 – Overflying Roma 3,600’ agl. Still nothing that gives an effective climb.

1436 – 2,600’ agl and I can see the Qantas Dash 8 coming in from the east for an approach into Roma. I’m well clear but getting lower. The whole day is about to fall apart then….

7.5kts takes me back to over 8,000’ the air has come alive again but I’m still in the blue. Those cumuli are another 70km away but there are hints in between. Little puffs of cloud that indicates the convection and the road home.

1535 – Passing Miles now well established under the cumulus and 164km from home. I listen to the Oakey ATIS. The wind is 050/10-15kts with scattered cumulus at 11,000’. I haven’t been that high yet but if I can get there soon I’ll have the last 100km of final glide home for free.

Caution now the last cumulus might be undercut with cool sea air and whilst looking great they are actually not connected to a thermal source. There is a convergence line in front of me, heading sort of across track and sort or towards Kingaroy. There is lots of overdevelopment and whilst there is generally good air, no great climbs.

I’m not looking for speed; I just need to get home. I listen to the AWIS at Kingaroy. It’s blowing an easterly there as well. I’ve still got a SW at altitude but where will that change into a headwind?

1610 – I’ve stopped in 5kts 96km from home. I want to take this as high as possible. I can’t see through the convergence line but I can see isolated rain and I suspect there is nothing on the other side in the Kingaroy valley.

1613 – 11,200’ and a 30:1 glide back to Kingaroy. There is still that convergence to get around and the bottom is falling out of the cu. I work my way around the descending cloud, get a little rain and then fly into the clear but overcast sky. I can see the Bunyas have a cumulonimbus over them and it’s raining heavily. I’m glad I didn’t divert that way and Kingaroy should be in easy reach. I’m 2,500’ over a 5kt final glide on the Altair with a fully loaded glider….I should have felt very comfortable but the enormity of what I was about to achieve for the first time solely in Queensland weighted on my mind.

1633 – 20km out, 3,600’agl. I call on the CTAF and get a response from Foxtrot Delta Tango – The flying doctor is conducting a practice NDB approach from the north and wants to know when I’ll be in the circuit area? I give him 1639. There is a call from Kingaroy ground wanting to know if I have enough height for a “speed finish” and where I will cross the airfield. “Afirm” I reply.

I start getting rid of the ballast and cross the finish line at 16:38:25.

The Altair says the task is finished amid congratulatory radio calls from the ground, but I stay high in the circuit and cross the line again high before landing just in case I messed up the start height calculation.

This late on a Sunday most of the club members have usually gone home so I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have stayed behind to welcome me back. A bottle of amber fluid is thrust into my hand, a kiss from Lesley and there are pictures all around.

I hope the logger has worked OK?

At the end of the day I flew 1023.8km in 7hours 34 minutes and averaged 135.26kph

The speed exceeds both the Open and 18m 1000km triangle records and qualifies for the 18m 750km triangle record as well.

All in all….an interesting day out.

THANK YOU DAVID!!!! Good luck in Szeged!
Cheers Ritz

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