Benalla Storm

Benalla Storm

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Women In Gliding Week

The Women In Gliding Week was a really great week.  I finally had the opportunity to interact with a large number of female pilots! We could sit and discuss "womanly" topics.  Attendees of the week had a large range of skill levels.  We also had the opportunity to be coached and instructed by some key people.  Another neat thing was that I was surrounded for a week by a group of individuals who were very focused to get out to the field and fly every day, and were optimistic about taking advantage of every good bit of available flying weather!  Some very cool gliders made their trek to the field that week including a Ka6! The one aspect of the week that I found challenging was that the group mentality stood in stark contrast to what I had just experienced at the Nationals.  What I mean by this is that at the Nationals I constantly felt inexperienced and positively challenged by better pilots.  In contrast during the WIG Week I felt as though I was the one challenging others.  An interesting turning of the tables.  However, I would most definitely encourage any female pilots who find the male world of flying daunting to take an opportunity to attend a Women in Gliding Seminar in the near future!

The first day of WIG was my best flight.  Despite having just finished the Nationals, one day off of flying left me feeling energised and keen to fly!  I knew that it could potentially be the best day of the entire week, and I wanted to make the most of it! I launched around 1 and set off on the task that was agreed upon by the group consensus from the WIG girls.  The task was set as Urangeline-Conargo-Benalla.  Initially I had been preparing myself to fly with some other pilots.  Unfortunately, with my keeness to set out, I found myself flying alone for the duration of the flight.  The first leg to Urangeline was slower than I had hoped, and I didn't get above 4500'.  The second leg to Conargo was a struggle and I soon found myself quite low before finding a corker climb all the way up to one of my highest altitudes of the season, 7500'.  Despite the killer climb the day was coming to its end and I didn't want to be caught landing out on the first day so I turned for Benalla early near Urana and had a great run home from such a high altitude.  This turned out to be the best flight by anyone for the duration of the week.

I also had the opportunity during WIG to have a coaching flight with Tobi Geiger.  We took an ASK 21 for an afternoon flight into the mountains.  This was my first foray into the hills beyond what I had experienced at Nationals.  It was great to be in the cockpit with a pilot who loves mountain flying and is so experienced with it!  I learned a lot about the general rules of mountain flying.  I was also shown how big of a safety margin I should have when flying close to the hills, and what my safe outlanding options and choices were.  We were reluctantly allowed to take the glider for a short three-hour flight.  Unfortunately the conditions were not stellar.  Despite our most valiant efforts (okok, Tobi's most valiant efforts), we were forced to land out at Wangaretta where we patiently waited for an aero-retrieve from Jeremy Birkbeck.

Overall, WIG was a great experience! Thanks so much to Louise O'Grady for putting in so much work to organise the week, instructors, gliders, and our awesome PINK shirts!

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