…and it was just my third SOLO in Omarama, where I had such amazing and exciting experiences. I took off from RWY 27 and released at 2500 ft. I centralized some thermal and climbed to 4000 ft. I had just enough height for soaring and I was not expecting a long flight. I decided to leave from the thermal and head northeast.
As I am flying ahead, there is lifting and sinking but I am not interested in it. However now, something strange happens. There is a lift of 1knt, 2knts, but it is still climbing! It is not like any thermal I have met before. I am flying straight ahead and the glider is climbing higher and higher. It’s amazing! Just heard somebody on the radio saying that front is coming. Mike calls me on the radio and asks me about my height. „Over 4200ft and it is still climbing“. He advised me to fly far from the mountains and he told me that it would be better to land. I confirmed to him that I would land in few minutes and then I turned westerly. But what should I do? I would like to land, but it’s still climbing! The only idea I had was to open airbrakes and speed up the glider for maybe 80knts. Finally, I was in 2500ft and joined the circuit. I was almost in a half of the downwind leg, still quite high and even when I closed the brakes, there was a lift of about 2knts. The only option was the brakes again. It was just my third solo and I had practically no experience. The only feeling I had was, „There is something strange around me“.
To make sure that the glider was flying, I speeded it up. RWY 27, against the wind, aiming point just behind the fence of an airfield but full airbrakes and the speed up to maybe 70knts. Just after the flare, I am changing my mind. It’s the last flight for today and therefore I am closing airbrakes slowly and landing safely in the middle of Omarama airfield… Mike is driving down to get the glider and me but before he comes I have just enough time to look at the windsocks… This is strange! I am sure that I have landed against the wind, but now the windsock in front of me is still directed from the west, but windsock behind me is directed from the east! „Yes, it sometimes happens“, Mike explains to me later: „The front was coming…“
I had a couple of flights in Central Otago (Alexandra) but later I joined gliding club in Hawke’s Bay. I have found excellent people in Hastings – so kind, patient and friendly towards me. I also had my next three solos there (with such a gentle glider Twin Astir ZK-GMX). I remember all of them (John, James, Malcolm, …), but especially I remember president of gliding club David. Thanks his friendly, sensitive and experinced words I found how much easier is to land, when the angle of descent, speed and aiming point are correct. I have found how gentle and peaceful flying of gliders can be.
My photos: OMARAMA, Central Otago, Hawke´s Bay.