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Trouble in Paradise (Omarama)

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Old March 15th 20, 12:11 AM
Ventus_a Ventus_a is offline
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Posts: 186

Originally Posted by Martin Gregorie[_6_] View Post
On Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:15:23 -0700, David Hirst wrote:

As to why GO has chosen to shut down rather than re-certify, you'll have
to ask the people involved (on boths sides). There is a lot of history
to consider in the interaction of GO and CAA; the NZ aviation community
(including the regulator) is a small family, gliding even smaller, and
in any small family argument it's the personalities involved who dictate
the outcome. The general feeling is that a (recertified) phoenix of
some sort will rise eventually, so watch this space.

For my own curiosity, how much of GO's business was rides and trial
flights, anyway?

I have flown there, but only for one day, and I had an excellent
introduction to mountain flying (I'm a flatland pilot, usually operating
in the East Midlands of the UK.

The reason I'm asking is just that I don't think there were any non-
pilots at that morning briefing. If that's typical it calls the whole
rationale for applying Part 115 'Adventure Flights for non-pilots' rules
to GO into question.

Martin | martin at
Gregorie | gregorie dot org
I wouldn't be expecting to see joyriding trial flighters at a morning pilot briefing. They generally rock up through out the day in time for their flight and usually don't hang around for long either.

Just straight cash injections for the operation but given gliding's generally very good track record I think part 115 is over the top and not justified for gliding in NZ

Old March 29th 20, 02:51 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Trouble in Paradise (Omarama)

Update: Glide Omarama is now expected to re-open again this coming September, contrary to their earlier announcements.
Old March 29th 20, 03:34 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Trouble in Paradise (Omarama)

On Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 9:51:27 PM UTC-4, Duster wrote:
Update: Glide Omarama is now expected to re-open again this coming September, contrary to their earlier announcements.

Yay!!! Back on the 'bucket list' it goes! :-)

Old March 29th 20, 04:00 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Stephen Szikora
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Default Trouble in Paradise (Omarama)

I suspected a case of brinksmanship. Someone blinked.
Old March 30th 20, 03:46 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Charlie Papa[_2_]
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Default Trouble in Paradise (Omarama)

On Saturday, 28 March 2020 23:00:26 UTC-4, Stephen Szikora wrote:
I suspected a case of brinksmanship. Someone blinked.

For those of you with this on your bucket list, and time to spend self-isolating, here is n article I wrote a few years ago for AOPA. Please understand, it was written for power pilots, - not glider pilots, and the objective was to cause them to reconsider the stereotypical idea they had of gliding, - rether like taking a toboggan up an altitude hile nd then sliding down, adn rather pointlessly, repeating. So I tried to uyse a 'pilot's pilot', and relate his experience gliding. It goes:
Mountain Flying in Omarama NZ
Like almost all group flying courses, the Mountain Flying course at Glide Omarama began with each student introducing himself: where and what we fly, and describing our experience. And like most such exercises, it naturally included some hangar flying. Marty Abbott’s story won hands down.
Asked about his previous experience, he had only one glider flight to describe. It began in 1974, at the age of 21, and Marty had just received his RCAF wings. He was assigned to fly the CF-104 in Germany. On his first training flight at RCAF Cold Lake, the engine on his Starfighter disintegrated at 40,000 feet while doing Mach 2.4. The 104 was now a glider, and its best glide speed was 260 knots. Faster than a waxed brick.
The modified C2 ejection seat that blew the pilot out the top had an explosive charge strong enough to yield 14 G's to ensure clearing the tail. At 1000' agl Marty pulled the D ring handle, was slammed vertically 600 feet, and then was hit by the truck, or so it felt as the slipstream blew his flight suit to shreds. His attention was then diverted with the onset of the pain from losing all the fillings in the top of his mouth. Now that's G's for you. Then more pain: through the ice and into chest deep water. It got worse: his portable ELT didn't work, but, amazingly his little signal mirror brought him a helicopter rescue after spending an hour or two in knee deep in water wearing his long underwear.
Marty left the sir force with 2000 hours in fighters, and these days flies a Turbine Legend (that guzzles 52 GPH), in Scottsdale AZ, but winters in Auckland New Zealand. A flying buddy convinced him to join him at Glide Omarama, (http://www.glideomarama.com) on the South Island, home of “The Most Spectacular Soaring on Earth”. And they're not exaggerating..
Marty took two conversion days in a mid-performance Grob 103, - and then the next day, a 4 hour flight with Gavin Wills, founder and owner, in a high performance Duo Discus.
He proclaimed it his 'best flight ever'.
“It was absolutely quiet, and the glider's plexi canopy offers incredible visibility, ahead, to the side and overhead. Flying so slowly (50 – 85 Kts.) just hundreds of feet or less over majestic mountains for hours with no engine, you could see everything; - it was just incredible!”
I am a glider pilot, and Omarama has been a bucket list item for me for more than a decade.
What makes Omarama so special that it is a dream of almost every glider pilot? Well, it is the combination of the location in the Southern Alps, the complex air flow dynamics produced by the winds interacting with the island's topography, the super Duo Discus gliders, and instructors who are both excellent pilots and superb teachers.
Gliders work like bicycles with no pedals; they go forward by going downhill. So gravity is their engine, and altitude is their fuel. The challenge of soaring is to find and utilize atmospheric energy, - 'lift' (air rising faster than the glider is descending) which is available in four varieties: thermal, ridge, convergence and wave, to climb again and again, and thus sustain flight for many hours and miles. The magic combination of powerful wind roaring across the Tasman Sea , sun, and the topography of New Zealand's South Island offers all four of these types of lift, sometimes on the same day.
The friction of the mountains of the Southern Alps (rising up as high as 12,000' Mt. Cook along the divide), slows the wind causing it to curl inwards, and is amplified by the advective sea breezes, from both sides. Where two air masses, often of different temperatures, collide, the air must go up. Find the distinctive clouds produced, and so too do we. That's convergence.
The ridge lift is found where wind blowing against a ridge or mountain, must rise to go over it. Fly close to that ridge in the rising air, and again we are lifted higher. Sometimes it is amplified by the thermal effect of the air heated by contact with the sun warmed rock of a mountain face, rising up until it breaks free into a turbulent and often narrow column of rising air we call mountain thermals . These can be very challenging, calling for angles of bank up to 60 degrees, and constant corrections as the strong currents try to throw the aircraft out of the thermal. And the fourth is wave, or sometimes called by its more formal label 'lee mountain wave'. This is a phenomenon is not unlike the standing waves we see when water in a fast flowing stream passes over a rock below the surface, creating a series of waves: one over the rock and secondary echoes downstream where no rocks exist. This form of 'lift' has carried gliders to heights exceeding 50,000'.
The airport itself is amazing: a very lengthy 5000' turf runway, three large hangars that can house up to 80 gliders (a legacy of the world contest held there some years ago), and a large terminal building (the original hangar) where briefing rooms, offices, and club house facilities are enviable. Alongside this aggressively irrigated runway, are almost 30 chalets (privately owned but available for rent to visiting pilots), a well treed campground, a motel, and a cute cafe.
Each day starts with a public weather briefing, and the complex and thorough material includes wind, cloud, thermal and esoterica like Skew T graphs. Then the group for the Mountain Flying course assembles upstairs in a private briefing room, and begins with a review of the previous day's flights. Each glider is equipped with a logger that takes a three dimensional fix every few seconds, creates a file that can be animated by the program See You, projecting a flight trace and topographical map on a white board. At intervals the speed-adjustable replay is paused so the staff can sketch wind and cloud info with dry markers on the board, enhancing the understanding of the source of the lift we enjoyed, - or, its evil twin, - 'sink'. Comments, questions and opinions from students and instructors flow in animated fashion.
Then, after a break, we assemble again for some ground school, - detailed insight into one of the types of lift, or advice on technique, centering a thermal, or the structure of a wave and how to work your way into one, for example. We break at noon for lunch (very civilized, this sport), and will find our ships, gridded on the flight line by the staff, at the appointed hour, usually 13:00 to 13:30. A Piper Pawnee 260 hooks up on a 200' line, and off we go. Tow height will be decided by the instructor based on the conditions. My tows were between 4000' and 1500', and you are charged by the height.
Now the practical lesson: flying, - and the fun begins. Our options are to tow to a ridge that offers lift from a wind against it, or to the clouds over a ridge, that indicate the areas of convection, or lift. These clouds are formed when the rising air is cooled adiabatically by 3 degrees C/thousand feet, until it reaches the dew point, where the invisible vapour condenses into visible tiny particles of liquid water, forming cumulus clouds, - and providing good markers for where to find our lift.
First day, we opt for the ridge, because ridge technique will be the focus of the day. Almost all my own experience, either at my club, York Soaring Association (www.yorksoaring.com), or at Seminole Lake FBO in central Florida (www.soarfl.com), where I snowbird in the winter months, is over flat terrain. As a flatland pilot, I have an instinctive comfort with altitude below me, and it is contra-intuitive to fly closer to terrain. But that is where the good lift is found. There are protocols to keep us safe. For example, after a traverse, we always turn away from the rocks as we work back and forth in an area of lift, - never succumbing to the temptation to circle as we would in a thermal, lest the drift of the wind take us too close to complete the turn without colliding with the rocks. So we fly elongated figure eights back and forth in front of the ridge where we have found good lift. And often, the wing tip is closer to the rock than it is to us, for that is where the lift is strongest. It is also important to keep enough speed to enable a nimble response should we encounter an unexpected down gust, turning towards the safety of the valley where there is altitude below. Low and slow is a no-no!
And for the bowls there is a poetic variation of this technique; my instructor G demonstrates after my too-tentative venture into one. These bowls can concentrate the lift of the wind, and G takes us back to where I started by putting out the spoilers (air brakes) to begin at the same altitude. He then flies in close to the bowl, turning with the wings parallel to the slope round the bowl, which yields a rich gain in altitude. I try it again, mimicking his technique, and the easy success is exhilarating. We spend almost four hours exploring the effects of different wind angles and different topography: spurs off a ridge line, flattened tops of ridges, lee side turbulence, etc.
G shows empathy for the workload of the uninitiated, never overloading me with too much information, but always keeping me on a steep learning curve. After almost four hours, the day is still flyable with ample lift, but we (I) have had enough, we return to the field, and there is one more surprising lesson. The wind a few thousand feet over the runway is light from the West, but the wind on the ground is ~25 Kt. From the East. It is a reverse wind gradient, the wind getting stronger as it gets closer to the ground. Woe to he who lands downwind; the airspeed will drop on approach, and lowering the nose to pick up speed will put the aircraft into lower airspeed yet. Danger Will Robinson!
The weather briefing next day is not optimistic, but G is cautiously so. He says the mountains are very efficient at scrubbing the rain and the moisture out of the atmosphere, - and he proves right. Today's focus will be convergence. G combines his extensive local knowledge with the information from the weather briefing, given each day by Lemmy, the CFI, and his experience reading the clouds to locate and utilize this lift. It is, as I said, the result of two converging winds, and if one is colder or has higher humidity, it will form a cloud base lower than the other air mass, resulting in a raggedy line of cumulus with a shelf-like wall between the two, beside which we find the lift we seek. We fly close to the curtain of misty cloud that joins the two layers, often with one wing right in this cloud, and the lift is good, enabling us to choose speed when we can't climb while too close to the ceiling of the upper layer. We cover a different area of the island today, and will each day. G knows every ridge by name, and by what he can expect, and shares his knowledge well. As an instructor myself, I appreciate his pedagogic technique, and am awed by his airmanship.
This convergence can also be found in the valleys and plains of the incredibly varying terrain of this relatively small island. We use it the next day to go North to the large mountains that form the impressive watershed along the West coast. Then we start climbing the mountains. The scenery is like a sequence of post card photos. The lakes have that unique turquoise colour from the glacial sediment emulsified in the water. The mountains, in the midst of mid-summer, have remains of snow, even on the 'dry side' to the East of the divide. And we cross from one set of peaks to another, over valleys with rivers and lakes, but most of the flight is spent at altitudes of only a few hundred feet agl, or less. I can't stop feeling like a country kid on his first visit to the big city. Not that I want to. The scenery is truly deserving of the adjective 'awesome'! The video on the Omarama web site will give you a better look than my words can describe, but the live show is better yet.
Over these peaks, it is the slope's orientation to the sun angle that plays the biggest role in choosing our flight path. A steep slope of bare rock facing the sun will become relatively very hot, and this heat is transferred to the air touching it, - and keeps heating it as it accelerates, flowing up the rock face to the summit, where it mixes with slower, less heated air from the shady side, forming gusty powerful thermals that challenge the pilot's skill in staying centered in the fastest flowing core of the thermal.. When we have sufficient height, we can fly to the next peak. This day took us to within half a mile of famous Mt. Cook, but the congested weather on the West side prevented flying around the peak.
The Duo Discus, with its 20 meter (65.5 foot) wings has a best glide ratio of almost 45:1, and these long legs can take it amazing distances. And G has a wonder thingy in his panel; he is a beta tester for one of the flight computers glider pilots use to show turnpoints and range, among other things. And G's Clear Nav instrument offers a unique feature valuable in the mountains: it has a data base of the terrain contours and projects what it calls its 'amoeba' of achievable glide areas, considering the effect on the range required to fly around ridges or peaks below our glide slope when we can safely have final glide to home. What could go wrong?
Although the weather forecast had been pessimistic about the week I had booked to fly, we flew great flights four out of 5 days. That is the average during the season, the antipodal summer. I flew from San Francisco to Aukland NZ, a 12.5 hour flight, but only a 3 hour time zone change. A two hour flight to to Queenstown (closest service to Omarama, and the approach is worth searching on YouTube) and then a further two hour drie in a rental car got me to the field on a Sunday, to settle in for the course start on a Monday. It is a long way to go, but the scenery in the Lord of the Rings films was not computer generated, and you'll see it up close and personal. I did find New Zealand is a little expensive compared to North American prices, but so too is most of the world.
Without hesitation, I recommend you make this a red starred item on your bucket list. If you want to maximize your time at Omarama, and have only flown power, I suggest you visit a local gliding club; most offer a 5 lesson introductory deal, and 'conversion' from power is an easy task. But you won't believe how important your rudder has become! You can get both an interactive map of soaring clubs and FBO's, from www.ssa.org.

About the Author
Charles Petersen is a retired business executive and recovering sailboat racer who began flying in 1998, and is now a Flight Instructor, Gliders, and an Aerobatic Instructor, Gliders, with over 2300 hours. He owns a Discus 2cT, a high-performance cross country glider with a small engine that will get him home if needs be. Charles is Chairman of Youth Flight Canada Education Fund, a registered Canadian charity that promotes flight training for young pilots, and through its sponsorship of the Freedom's Wings Canada federation, offers Inspiration flights to those with disabilities, and at some locations, flight training for paraplegics in modified gliders.


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