kilometers had been flown by a world renowned German pilot Hans Werner
Grosse, from Mt Newman in a 26 meter glider, no West Australian had
achieved the feat.
Gliding Club of WA has been well known in the West as a club that
pushes the distances and speeds.
Repton's 1000km flight
This flight had
been in the planning for four years and James Cooper Russell Brieley
and I had made four previous attempts at the 1000 kilometer distance.
All the four attempts had been made with launches between 8:45 and
9:00 Western Standard time and resulted in flights up to 915km with
no early out landings.
Early in the week of December 16th James rang to say that the Met
office had not suggested good conditions over the weekend but believed
this not to be the case. Our preparations were in place and the met
man declared that the day would not be suitable for a long flight.
My suspicions were completely the opposite but not being sure we decided
not to attempt the flight on the Saturday. The first Cu's went up
at 9:50 and the realization that we had missed the day set in. The
clouds proceeded to develop with climbs to 8,000ft, and four five
hundred km flights were flown from the club, so I called James and
we decided to be ready for an early launch on Sunday. With the gliders
prepared the met man still said not a good day, 6000ft climbs predicted.
With much early activity four gliders were ready for a launch by 8:00
CQI DG 200 Andrew Repton, XIF SZD 55 James Cooper, GUX Pic 20E Bob
Smoothy, XJE Jantar 3 Richard McFarland Our ever reliable tug pilot
Jim Paynter who has launched us on all our previous attempts was ready
as usual. I launched at 8:55 with the hope of early thermals and a
release height of 2500ft AGL, then a glide straight out to find the
first thermal. This was to enable James to launch straight after and
pair up quickly. However at 1500ft after a very smooth launch the
first bump was felt so I asked Jim to turn. coming around I released
at 1800ft in 1.5 Knots, this toped out at 2500ft after a struggle,
by then Bob Smoothy in the Pic and James in the SZD were above me
by 400ft so a decision was made to start 9:15. Five kilometers at
1500ft a reasonable climb began. James and Bob left the climb at about
3000ft whilst I continued to climb. Each time I was about to leave
with the thermal running out it gave another burst on two occasions
and I eventually left at 4500ft 3.2 knots average. The glide was smooth
with more sink than to be expected for an early start so hopes were
up for some strong lift. The next climb was back to 4500 at 3.5 knots
and on leaving this thermal the first climb appeared 5 km in front
and dead on track 9:40 and ten minutes before the previous day. James
had unfortunately already passed this thermal and view it as he took
a thermal at about 800ft AGL, a few K behind him. Flying at 80 knots
to the cloud that gave a climb of 5.8 knots to 6000ft with the cloud
still above. I called Bob in who left a 5 knot to join me he was delighted
and stayed close by for the next 100k. In the mean time James was
still in the weeds till 10:45.
The rest of the leg 258K to Perenjori was straight forward with no
significant low points and heights around 6000 for an average speed
of 85 kph with 4.5 knots average climbs, not all Cu's giving predictable
After turning Perenjori the speed increased dramatically with the
trip back to Dalwalinu (100k) averaging 150 kph 6-knot climbs going
to 9000 with some good pull-ups. The total length of the second leg
was 365 k to Corrigin with an average speed of 143 kph. Having turned
Corrigin and heading north the sea breeze could be seen 75k to the
west preparing to ruin the day for us (The met man had said no sea
breeze today.) North of Shackleton I saw two Beverley gliders thermalling
in front and hoped for an easy center and good climb headed for them
at high speed only to be disappointed in their thermal choice, it
was not even worth a pull up. Crossing the highway at Tammin with
340 k to go I heard the Beverly gliders I had passed scurrying for
home with the sea breeze now at Beverley. With the average still over
120 kph it looked as if the task was achievable with a flight time
of 9 hours, so there would be no problem with the length of the day.
Conditions were now beginning to deteriorate with a mass of cloud
forming over the task area and particularly to the west on the sea
breeze. May be we could run the sea breeze at high speed, this was
not to be the case. With climbs only under every third of fourth cloud.
Bringing the speed back to 110. The sea breeze was now getting close
to the next turning point Dalwalinu and was moving in fast. I got
into Dalwalinu at 6300 with the last cloud as the sea breeze was to
cut it off and signed the end of the day for James who was some considerable
distance behind me.
With 170K to get home it was time for some major decisions do I risk
running the sea breeze front that appeared unreliable and confirmed
by James. So I headed further off track to the east to obtain better
trough conditions. After a glide of 30 K with no lift and the feeling
that this may be another failed attempt from nowhere I stumbled into
5.8-knot climb that went to 11,000 ft and cloud base for the first
time in the day. This was enough to get the 1000k but not enough to
get home. I would take anything that would give me the extra 3000-ft
to get home. The track home took me 40 k off track passing over Cadoux
where 1.8 knots gave me an extra 4500ft plenty to get home 1500ft
in reserve so I thought. I decided to best glide home and save the
1500ft just in case as the sea breeze was lifting dust. The final
glide went well until just past the 1000k mark when James who had
had to fly 35k into the sea breeze and try to get back under the cu
radioed to say that he was out landing at Kalannie about 60k???? east
of track, achieving 922K and breaking his old standard class record.
had kept the 1500ft extra until 36k out when the head wind from the
sea breeze began to take effect. I used up 1600ft of my 1500ft and
floated over the strip at 600ft, and straight into circuit after nine
hours and forty-four minutes on track.
Total time 10h
On task 9h 44min
Best average climb
Average for the
Speed 106 Kph
Wing loading 42
Ballast 80 liters
all the way
from Cunderdin 15 -16 December
298km Astir CS
- Gina Rocket
300km Ka 6BR -
4 x 500km
600k Jantar Std.2
- Denis McNeil
750km Pic 20 E
- Bob Smoothy
SZD 55 - James Cooper
1033 DG 200 -
A lot when the met man said stay at home.
Lessons learnt on the day.
1) Vital that
you get a climb early to ensure progress when other gliders are higher
up, in other words stop and be patient to gain extra height reducing
the probability of being in the weeds early on and thus being forced
to take anything.
2) Don't give up unless it is really obvious that the sea breeze is
going to stop thermal activity. James and I flew for four hours after
the Beverley gliders went for home.
3) Turn the radio off as over a long flight on a good day the excessive
radio chatter can flatten the battery at a time when it is most required.
4) Don't have a too height wing loading as it will not gain later
in the day what is lost early.
5) Be ready to launch early, very early. Be in the air by 9:00 latest.
6) Be prepared to land on the first glide out.
7) Top up with small irregular climbs early in the day to keep the
pressure off in needing to spend a long time in one thermal that makes
you feel you are not making progress, this keeps a rhythm going.
was the 27th Australian pilot to achieve this task no mean feat.
Return to Top of the