Almost getting arrested, snow, trees and over development.

Just some of the hazards of Vol Biv Flying in the Indian Himalaya.

Nick Neynens' latest post from India with Byran Moore and Glen Stevens.

Get the full story here.


18 April.

Weather: NNE 25kph winds. Heavy coverage of cloud with rain possible in the late afternoon. Cloud base 5500ft.

Task: Dalby Airport to Millmerran Airport 76Km to the south.

With pilots having flown over 25hrs so far, the short task to Millmerran Airport was welcomed for the last day. Dense cloud cover did not allow a lot of sun in but with the dark bases and strong tail wind it looked to be a quick run. This proved to be wrong.

The first half of the course was slow and hard to find lift. Zeros had to be made the most of until about 35km from goal when good lift was found. About 30 pilots made it to goal with Konrad making goal first in 1hr 11min. A great last day task.

Chris Lawry was the first Kiwi in, coming in 2nd followed by Conrad Loten in 4th place.

John Durand Snr took out the overall winner.

Nils Vesk in second place and Konrad Heilmann came 3rd.

Hagen was the highest scoring Kiwi coming 7th followed by John in 10th place, Chris Lawry 12th, Conrad Loten 13th.

Captain Flockhearts final log entry: Many Lessons were learnt and will hopefully be applied at the next Dalby Big Air.


17 April.

Wind: NE flow 15 -20kph, 30kph at boundary layer. 550ft/m climbs Temp 30deg.

Task: Dalby Airport to Flint, WSW 182Km.

As towing started, the skies above Dalby airport started to blue out. But with a 10km start circle which allowed pilots to find clouds around the perimeter of the airfield. A half an hour before the start the main gaggle was above the town of Dalby gaining good height. As the start neared the cloud started to dissipate and only a few pilots managed to stay high for the start.                

The course out to the second forest crossing had good lift which allowed the pilots to stay within sight of each other. Pilots who were fast on this part of the course had good climbs over the second forest but those slightly behind found weak broken thermals just before and this slowed them down and spread out the field.              

After crossing the second forest the sky had blued with only a few cumulus clouds and with high cloud moving in, things started to slow down. Good lift could be found to over 6000ft but at around 50Km from goal only light lift and slow climbs could be found and a few pilots started to land out.    
If you were lucky enough to stay up, the ground started to give off heat and good climbs could be found. 15 pilots made it to goal, with John Smith arriving first.

Landing out was tough as there was no phone reception and no one in many of the homesteads. On the way back to Dalby well after dark many roo’s made driving back treacherous. We sighted a Brahma bull just before sunset at the side of the road that must of weighed well over 1000kg. Not something you would want to run into.

John Smith had a bad start but he pushed on fast under good clouds and caught up with the leaders at the first forest . Going left of the course line at the second forest and getting in front of the group after the crossing.  Finding a  few clouds over 6000ft lift in blue and with high cloud moving in the group of three flew in zeros for half an hour preserving height until the sun came out again.

Being the first to find lift, John had the jump on them 30km out and getting to 7000ft on a good climb and being 25km out from goal, John went for goal needing a 22:1 glide. Finding sink along the way he needed to stay in zeros. 10km short until he found lift and then got a 12:1 glide and made it to goal on course line.

Captain Flockheart’s log: A search to windward should always be considered before heading off down wind.


16 April.

Weather: Blue day with 20Km easterly winds.

Task: NNE 57Km to Diamons and d then WSW 49Km to Warra.

The first blue day at Dalby and with winds a bit stronger than forecast, it made for a difficult day.

Towing started for the main launch at 11:30 and with slow climbs to 3000ft, an early start was a bonus. The thermal strength increased above 3000ft but they drifted to the west and pilots who got too far downwind, had a fight to get back upwind to the windward side of the start circle to get in the best position for a start and a cross wind leg to the first waypoint.

Those pilots in the lead gaggle at 6000ft found good thermals for the first 20Km on the way to Diamons. But progressing further on, the terrain became very green and thermals very had to find.

Unfortunately with the wind strength up to 25kph and the weak thermals around Diamons pilots going too fast paid the price and found themselves landing short of Wpt 1. One Pilot made it to goal and that was Niles Vesk, making it in a time of 3hrs 22min and putting Niles into first position overall.

Guy Williams had the best day of the Kiwi team coming 8th for the day and Hagen 10th.              

Geoff Robertson was the only other pilot to get around Wpt 1, landing 30km short of goal

Lisa’s Log: The girls flew 45km downwind to Warra planning to give all the pilots who made it to goal a warm welcome. Niles got it all.

Captains Flockhart’s Log: On a blue day Always take the climb to the Top otherwise you will end up in Deliverance country.


15 April.

Weather: Light easterly dropping off around midday and increasing late afternoon. Clouds.

Task: WNW to Warra then NE to Jandowae, ESE to Bell racecourse then back to Dalby 133Km.

With light lift above the airfield, it was a slow climb to cloud base at 5900ft.  Gaggles formed to the west of take-off but had to keep moving up-wind to stay within the 5Km start circle. Most pilots were in the air when the 12:30 start gate opened but not all made it high enough to leave.

John Smith was one of the lower pilots and lead the lower pilots to the first thermal from start. It was a good climb and even the higher pilots stopped to top up. There was a fast pace to Warra and the few pilots that got low at the turn-point had slow climbs up.

The lead gaggle had a fast line to the second turn-point but those who got low along this part of the course had slow climbs out as the cloud shadows on the ground left very little room for sun to get through. Many low saves were made on route to wpt 3. John said over breakfast the next day “That if he had got a save at wpt 3 that he would have gone to Jesus”. But when John’s feet hit the ground he accepted the inevitability of his position and realised the only way he was going to get to goal was by car.

With the high cloud moving in and the wind picking up the day started to slow down with a lot of pilots landing around Bell.  Big John went well north of the task line to Bell and this manoeuvre won him the day.

Those lucky enough to get around Wpt 3 had a 21Km run to Dalby airport with a sky that was blueing out, so those who stayed high managed to get to goal, with around 12 pilots making it in.

Conrad was the first Kiwi in with quite a few pilots dropping just short of goal.      

It was a very technical day and the cycles very different from the previous days when climbs where everywhere. Most of the young guys who had been doing well did not make goal with most of the old timers making it. Staying high seemed to be the best course for the day.                

Another great day at Dalby and it does not look like there will be a lay day as the forecast for the rest of the comp is good.

Quote of the day from Captain Flockhart log: "Survive the course filters".

Advice for the day “Pace yourself”.


14 April.

Clear blue skies with clouds building early morning. Wind light and variable filling in from the NE around 16:00 and becoming stronger up to 17kph. Clouding in from the east 6500 -7000 increasing to a 8000ft cloud base later on in the day.

Task: Dalby to Broadwater Dam 26.5km to the SW. Then north 61Km to Jandowae and return to Dalby Airport. 132 km triangle.

The start gate opened and the gaggle to the west of take-off were in the best position.

The lift around the airport was light and shifty in some places and stronger in others and those who got high quick had no problem staying high. The run down to Broadwater Dam was fast and the pilots did not thin till the run down to turn point 2. A few pilots got low along here but most managed to find good lift back to cloud base. For the lead pilots, those who stayed right of course had the quicker fly and in a good position for the run to goal.

A cloud street to the east of course allowed pilots to get a good glide towards goal only needing a slight top up on the way. Some pilots had a low save in a massive thermal which became a cloud of Sorghum as it sucked all the leaves off the ground. Other pilots got into thermals with dozens of Swifts that were feeding on the bugs in the thermal.

John Smith was on the left of course to Wpt 2 and got down to 2000ft AGL and lost 10 minutes getting back to cloud base and put him into 6th for the day. The forecast wind had not developed which allowed around 20 pilots to make it to goal, three of those are on the Kiwi Trans-Tasman Challenge team, John, Hargen and Conrad.

Kurt Warren won the day.

Lisa put in another fantastic fly in her fluro red Moyes Malibu. Taking off at 13:00 she made a slow but steady pace around the course to land at 17:00. Four hours in the air to get within 15Km of turn point 2. Asking Lisa about her day all that was said was “Awesome!” Well done Lisa.

How good is DALBY, three fantastic flying days in a row. So far this has been an Out Standing Dalby!

Trans-Tasman Challenge; The Australians are winning with 12,505 points and the Kiwi team have 8991 points.

Captain Flockhart’s quote of the day:  "if you’re not in Dalby where the hell are you."

Advice for the day: Don’t always follow the gaggle if you think their decision is wrong.


14 April.

Task: West to Kumbrilla Rd intersection then west again to Meandarra Hwy.
A quartering tail wind with a slight dog leg lay ahead.

Again clear blue skies in the morning and clouds started to form around 10:00am. Winds light ESE.
It was forecasted to overdevelop from the east.

Briefing was at 9:00am with the usual banter and a few helpful remarks on the towing for the previous day. A pilot was missing but was found late at night due to not having a radio and having lost his cell phone.

It was decided to have the start gate at 12:15 due to the overdevelopment, so there was a bit of a rush to get set up and ready. The Sport class got away first followed by the Alternate launch and then the Main launch started.

Thermals were strong around the airfield with one sitting just to the east of take-off. A gaggle had formed high above the airstrip, with a second gaggle a few km to the west, both topping out at 6800ft.

Ten minutes before the start, the pilots over the airfield joined the main gaggle to the west and when the first start gate opened over 30 pilots headed west looking like a formation of planes flying off to battle. With around 30 pilots in the air thermals were found easily and height gained quickly but the top guns pulled away from the rest and as progress was made towards Wpt 1 the gaggles started to thin out.

A few top pilots landed on the first part of the course but they were pushing hard to get out in front.

After reaching Wpt 1 you found you had 71km to goal and not far away was a 6km stretch of forest that had to be crossed. This was not a problem as cloud base had gained height up to 7800ft and an easy glide over this part of the course was not a problem, even for the kingpost gliders.

Out past the forest and flying south of Tara I encounted two wedged tail eagles that joined me as I entered the thermal at 4600ft, and stayed with me all the way up to 7200ft hanging not far off my starboard wing. I was quite nervous that they might shred my sail but this was not the case, even though one of them passed over my leading edge with its talons missing my sail by 300mm while we looked each other in the eye, no aggression was shown.

For those of us who were a little slow around the course the clouds started to thin out and look raggedy but as the farmers were ploughing their fields late in the day and thermals were still popping off,  goal was easily reached. Staying between 5000ft and 8000ft during the day meant you got cold but with every cloud working there was not much chance of getting low.

There were a lot of happy faces in goal with around 30 pilots reaching goal and among them a few king post gliders. Every member of the Kiwi Trans-Tasman Challenge team got to goal.

John had a lucky break 30km from goal when he broke away from the gaggle and found a good 700ft climb to cloud base and allowed him to go on final glide to goal. With this height he only had to top up slightly on course to goal which allowed him to win the day in 2hrs 17min and gaining 998 points.

Lisa, who has been doing a great job being the Trolley Dolly for the comp,  bringing back the dollies once the pilot has been towed up, managed a fantastic flight on her Fluro Orange Moyes Malibu.

After everyone got away she flew cross wind to near Chinchilla where she to land before she entered airspace flying crosswind 76km. Even Floaters can do it!  

With Dalby at its best for task two, can it get any better than this?

Captain Flockhart's log:

He was heard to say that with his winning pace to Wpt 1 he was leading the day and then a snail’s pace to goal followed after taking a different line to everyone else that did not pay off. Safety in numbers was the best course.


12 April

Blue skies in the morning with cumulus clouds popping off by 10am and a light S-SE wind, task 124Km triangle. Out to Jandowae then SW to Brigalow then 53Km back to Dalby.

Towing started at 11:30 after the Sports Class were towed up and those who picked low numbers for start order had up to 45 minutes to wait for the first start, but staying up was not a problem with lift around 600ft min. Even those who had weak links break were able to get away low if you were lucky enough to find a thermal on your glide back to the tow line. My weak link broke at 340ft and lots of swear words were coming out of my mouth when I heard the vario start to beep and hooking into the lift I out climbed a tug and tow and carried on up to over 6500ft.                        

The course to Wpt 1 was littered with clouds with good lift, cloud base reaching 8400ft, which made the first wpt reachable to most pilots.

John Smith was racing to wpt 1 and got low (300ft) and managed to scratch up and get back in the race.

Getting away from Wpt 1 was made difficult by the thermal drift which was to the E, with Wpt 2 in a SW direction.

Even the first couple of thermals on route to Wpt 2 were slow going as the drift took you back towards Wpt 1. Further down the course Wpt 2 came into sight but for those who got there late the heat of the day was wearing off as the clouds had thinned out and the glides between clouds increased.

Slowing up was the best plan. Under most clouds the lift was smooth with a constant climb of around 300-400ft min.

Once Wpt 2 was reached a cross head wind up to 15kph was encountered which made the run to goal slow for those who had not kept up the pace around the course to beat the day as the day softened up making final glide difficult.

Kurt Warren won the day coming in 3 hours and 2 minutes after start. 14 pilots made it to goal.

How good is Dalby with classic race conditions and a technical day for those here to win?

Results can be found on the Oz Report or for full results the Dalby club web site.

The Trans Tasman Cup is being fought for again with NZ pilots Hargen, Guy, John Smith, Conrad and Tash. Results when they come to hand.

DALBY BIG AIR 11 - 18 APRIL 2015

Tasman crossers, John Smith, Hargen, Guy Williams, Chris Lawry, Tash Lawry, Mark Alton
Expats Conrad Logan, Kath Abott, Viv Clements, Dave (Rangi) Stevens.

11 April Practice day.

Winds ESE fresh in the morning but dropping off in the afternoon with morning cloud breaking up. Fresh juice was made by Rangi at Lisa and John's Kitchen at the airfield campground.

After an unofficial practice day yesterday when the conditions were perfect from midday till 15:00 a handful of pilots had a great afternoon flying.

The airfield at Dalby turned into a campground over night with pilots turning up from Western Australia, Melbourne, Cairns, New Zealand and Brazil for the great flying at Dalby.

The comp was limited to 53 pilots and most of them took to the air when the wind dropped off to brush up on their towing skills and pick up thermals around the airstrip to 7000ft and if you did not get there on your first tow you could land and get towed up again.

Guy was busy most of the day putting a new RX sail on his RS frame and John got to fly Viv’s new Laminar which he said, “ flew better than his Combat L”, but he is aiming to win the comp after coming 2nd last year .

Winglets seemed to be in fashion on the Laminar’s and T2C’s. Will Moyes follow suit?