Benalla Storm

Benalla Storm

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nats Day 1 & 2

I am terribly sorry to anybody who has been following my blog that I have not been diligent at updating it. For more up-to-date information from the contest directors please check out this website:

I will attempt to update the first few days, but it's already late so I will see how far I get...

Day 1 - Saturday, January 15

The best way to describe my flight on the first day was cautiously. My main goal was to stay up and get around the task. I had never flown a Libelle cross-country, and was very conscious of the fact that the performance and flight characteristics would be very different than the LS4 I had just been flying. As a result of this caution my speed was very conservative, 72.4 km/h. I made a large tactical error in the first turnpoint, making a huge deviation in an attempt to follow the clouds which in fact did not add any distance to my score. Lesson learned. Another thing I did this day was second-guess myself on several occasions and allow the flying of other pilots to influence my decisions. As Tobi said to me after, "Have a little self-confidence Selena." Otherwise the flight was alright, I came in just slightly over time. It was really good to be back in the air!

Day 2 - Sunday, January 16

I was determined to set out this day and fly my own flight. Although I would obviously pay attention to what others were doing, I didn't want to allow them to undermine my own decisions. The first leg went really well, and I was pretty stoked about my flying. I flew about 65km in about 45 minutes, so I decided to cross over the river and keep going deep into the first sector. Although this may have been a good decision at the time, it probably is what cost me at the end of the day. The second leg was much slower, and I found myself low. Luckily I had other gliders in sight, and used them to stay out of trouble. I realised that it was crucial to stay well within the higher working band as the lift was much stronger. At one point I found a killer climb to 7000' and soon found many other gliders underneath me. Boosted with confidence I carried on to the second turnpoint and started to head for home. It didn't take long before I found myself slipping out of the working band and was moderately low. I was anticipating a lot of sink while crossing the river, so decided to search for a climb before heading over. This resulted in me scraping north of the river between 800'-1500' for about 30 minutes. Brutal. Once I managed to climb away from this I was incredibly happy. Although I was still very cautious along the way, home was within my sights! I caught up with some other gliders along the way and had a good run until I got to Lake Mikoan. Just before I hit the lake I found the same two gliders in a mediocre climb. At this point I did the maths (I have no reliable flight computer) and thought I was on final glide. The previous day I had seen a glider circling at almost precisely the same point when I thought I had final glide and ended up being glad I trusted myself to leave them and head for home. No such luck this day. In doing my final glide calculations I neglected to sufficiently account for the wind and for the fact that I had drifted downwind from the final turnpoint. I landed myself in a paddock 8 km from home. Lucky for me I have made some great friends here. My text instructions to the retrieve crew were: "Grass is very high but field is dry. Bumpy. Bring a big vehicle if possible." Apparently they didn't believe me when I said the grass was high, they just thought I was short. Pictures will follow, but needless to say I am very glad that four people came to pick me up. Around the area where I landed there were grazing fields for livestock, a major highway, and lots of trees. I turned into a field with crop, and only on final approach did I realise how high it was. I will describe my stop into this field as a hockey skate stop, an analogy which goes over the head of most Aussies, but one that I hope my good old Canadian friends will understand. Luckily the grass absorbed most of the abrupt stop and both myself and the glider stopped in one piece. I was very frustrated with this outlanding as I was the only one to landout and I feel that had I been smarter it could have been prevented. 

Goodnight for now.


  1. Good Luck, Selena!
    I see someone got scored for a 6370km flight on day 3. Once that is fixed your point score should jump up quite a bit. Please say hello to my friend Terry Cubley for me. JS

  2. I gave a hello to Terry this morning and he was pleasantly surprised! And I told Jo that we would have to make a special plaque for her 6000+km flight! She said that the weather wasn't much good here so she decided to re-route to the Northern Hemisphere for a bit!