The text below is an email published by Alf McMillan on the Geelong Gliding Club's mailing list.
Today - after a collection of lectures and debates we did something incredible. We set a task and tried to fly it! Woo-hoo! We'd decided to get our own temp trace, so Phil McCann and Peter Weisenfeld took off in a Jabiru to get the data.
The day was not going to be great, but we were filled with anticipation when David Wilson (met man) said there was a chance of thermal wave. The shear was expected to be at about 3,000ft with NW above 3,000ft and NE below 3,000ft. We had been looking at people drawing pictures and talking about this for the last 2 days straight, so a chance to fly in it was quite attractive. JB and I got the Janus ready and we towed out to the grid.
After sending Bernard Eckey's lumbering great bird off behind the Pawnee, a local Jabiru launched a single seater then we got our launch with the Pawnee. On tow, we saw BE turning above, marking a thermal very nicely. We got off tow earlier than planned and joined the gaggle that had started to form. Thermalling around as we drifted East towards Dooen, we climbed above 4,000ft and followed a few others (BE had disappeared by this stage) on track. Five minutes later we found more lift and took it to top up back to 4,000ft. Pushing off again, we adjusted our heading to counteract the drift, and decided we would avoid too much correction as there was a large cloud shadow coming over to shut off the heating. We moved further East to get away from the shadow after trying a difficult climb near its' edge. Climbing away again, we decided to abandon the task and follow the energy back to Horsham. The ground to the West looked fair, but produced nothing, so we deviated North to a brown paddock with a tractor working in it. We spotted David Wilson and Andrew Kerton in the Duo above us to the East. We climbed some more and then returned to our track. After getting low enough to start paddock picking again, we found a decent thermal and got close to 4,000ft again. We decided to try for Wail, and nearly made it before the options ran out and we turned for home, looking for a final climb. Only able to top up slightly, we were marginal for a final glide. Back on track we had good air mostly, and although we couldn't do a circuit, we decided a straight in approach was the best option to arrive with plenty of height. As we got closer, the windsock confirmed that this was still on, so we lined up on 17 and set the flaps for landing.
A great flight - all the more satisfying to find that no-one that didn't use their engine had completed the task. The massive steaks at the Dooen pub were a great end to the day. Not to mention writing this report and looking at the trace back at the classroom.