Dartmoor Gliding News-Malcolm Soars Mount Cook

I had arranged to do some glider flying at Omarama on the South Island of New Zealand on 13th November 2007 and with that in mind we booked a nearby hotel for the nights before and after. We arrived the morning before so went straight to the airfield to finalise the arrangements for the following day.

Chris Rudge and the Duo .
I met Chris Rudge and he started with the bad news that heavy rain was now forecast for the following day and all the club gliders were flying in a competition today and were still airborne and reporting wave activity so only his Duo Discus was available. We could do some ridge soaring and hope for wave so I decided to go for it. It is normal practice to have a check flight in a 2-seater before flying club gliders at an unfamiliar site.

View across Lake Pukaki to the Tasman Glacier
from above the Barrier Range
The wave cloud over Lake Pukaki starts forming,
when we got there we were climbing at 16.7 knots 
We towed to a nearby hill which was providing good lift and I quickly climbed to over 4,000' and was going to drop back to the nearby mountains as planned but Chris suggested we try for a bit more height and then push into wind as there might be a chance to get to the upwind mountains before the rain arrived.

Looking back over the Barrier Range
We set off at about 5,000' and gained another couple of thousand in a rotor, then headed north-westwards to a spot known for good wave.

Heading back over the Barrier Range.
On arrival at this spot we found only weak wave but did get to 10,000' and donned our oxygen masks. A good looking wave cloud was forming over Lake Pukaki and we could see the top of Mount Cook so decided to head that way. As we slipped under the cloud we started to climb and Chris called ATC to ask permission to climb higher as there was controlled airspace above us. We were given permission to climb to 20,000' which was fortunate as by now our climb rate was 16.7 kts average -, that's nearly 1,700 feet per minute!

Another view of the wave cloud over Mount Cook
 - even at nearly 20,000' it was way above us!
As we passed 19,000' we started increasing speed to reduce the rate of ascent and flew towards Mount Cook at over 100knots with a maximum height of 19,650'. We turned past Mount Cook and headed southwards again towards Queenstown where Chris wanted to photograph a glacier not far from Omarama. We had already photographed the Tasman glacier.

Approaching Mount Cook
Another wave cloud has started to form over Mount Cook below us
A last look back at Mount Cook as we leave

By now we were slowly descending and keeping an eye on the airfield and the thickening clouds below us. Chris got his photos and we headed back to the airfield for an uneventful landing and put everything away before the first drops of rain appeared.

That's me after our epic flight.
We had flown 265 kms in 3 hrs 20 minutes and visited Mount Cook and 2 glaciers.

Malcolm Wilton-Jones

No comments: