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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Volksrust Trip December 2007

A couple of us went down to Volksrust on Friday and Saturday and what a fantastic weekend it turned out to be. The weather man got it spot on. We arrived at the slope at about 08h30 and the wing was light out of the NE. So we went to the point. Robert tested the air with his Zagi, but alas there wasn't any lift and down he went. After an hours search we finally found his Zagi and headed to the Cross site.

There we found Lionel and Andre flying their light planes in the light lift that was blowing straight onto the slope. By 11h00 the lift was strong enough for Zagi combat with occasional lulls when a thermal would develop in front of the slope. Of course this caught Robert out again and down he went for another walk of shame. But, to his credit, he managed, on another occasion, to find the thermal that had blocked the lift on the slope face and worked his Spirit Elite back up from very low down.

All the while the wind strength was increasing and by 14h00 it was strong enough for all the heavies. Trevor, Kobus and Wesley had their Jarts and Trevor was first to maiden his. Followed shortly by Kobus. Unfortunately, Wesleys did not fly because of sticking ailerons. But these models really fly beautifully. Very fast and twitchy at first until the pilots got used to the sensitivity.

Evan on top of the rock outcrop posing the question: Where did it go?

The wind just kept getting stronger all day and we flew our hearts out. By about 17h00 we had all had enough. Power reserves were low in both models and body so we headed down to town to buy some groceries and then off to Oom Louis we went. A lekker braai with great company and the accompanying stories kept us entertained until bedtime.

The wind kept blowing all night and at one point was so strong that it woke me up.

The next morning we were treated to some fantastic espresso kindly supplied by Michel. One sip and we were wide awake and rearing to go.

After breakfast we headed back up to slope to be greeted by even stronger winds straight onto the SE slope. It was rather chilly in the wind and launching was tricky in the buffety conditions right at the lip. Hats and caps had to be tied or taped to ones head and wind breakers were essential.

Trevor, Kobus and Wesley had gone home the previous evening so no more Jarts to entertain us, but all the other heavies could fly.

Once again Robert (aka BJ - ask him how he got the name) did the walk of shame when his 'ill Billy went down.

Derek and Martie joined us for the day. So I'll leave the rest of the Saturdays rambling to Derek. He'll no doubt tell you about Roberts 6th "walk of shame" for the weekend.


Baudis Banana ready to goMartie and I decided last minute to go out to Volksrust for the day. Quickly packed breakfast and lunch, picked up my Dad in Heidelberg on the way and headed further south for The CampsiteVolksrust, The long grass along the roadside indicated a good breeze and a call from Evan already on the slope confirmed the wind was pumping on the slope.

We arrived at about 11:00 to join Evan, Robert, Michel and Lionel having some greatTito hovering inverted over the slope flying time. We set up camp next to Michel's Expresso machine on wheels and put the Tito up to test the air. The more I fly this little aerobatic model the more I am getting to like it.

Unfortunately the wind was a little too strong and gusty for the scale models. Neither Lionel or I unpacked our Discus models. But Evan was prepared to give his DG1000 a bash if he didn't damage the elevator servo extension lead. I have no doubt these little scale models would have flown well in the conditions, but there was not much chance they would have survived the landings. The rotor was vicious - standing facing the wind ten meters back from the slope face you could actually feel wind coming at you from behind!

Great though for the Zagis, Toko, Tito and Banana and it wasn't often there weren't any models flying. And other than a few hard landings (which most of the models flying could handle) there weren't any incidents or casualties for the morning.

Rob Street MemorialBut almost as if ordinary good clean fun is just never enough - after lunch Evan and Robert decided to head off with their Zagis to the "Street Bowl" - the area at Rob Street's Memorial where the wind gets compressed into a little bowl to produce phenomenal lift. After cleaning up around Rob's Memorial it was fun time and the Zagis were launched off into the stiff breeze.Evan and Robert at the 'Street Bowl'
Evan very successfully demonstrated an impressive manouver where from far out the model is dived downwind in towards the slope, is forced up the slope in the bowl The rock outcrop around which Rob's Zagi disappearedand then when overhead is pulled inverted and rolled out into the wind. Rob had fair success with the manouver as well but then seemed to get carried away with some other undefined manouver which took the model out of sight behind the rock outcrop on the left. Despite frantic stick twiddling and neck stretching, the model just refused to reappear.

So where did that Zagi go?Well, not much left but to partake in Rob's 6th "walk of shame" - but this time no luck. We searched all accessible terrain to no avail. I doubt the Zagi flew too far as Zagis don't fly too well on their own and I doubt Rob's frantic stick twiddling gave out the correct control signals for the required straight and level flight. It probably went down into the the thickest bushes on the steepest rock face and we just couldn't get in there. Just have to wait for the locals to find it and then fork out the reward money!

Back at the Cross site Michel lauched his Trinity and Evan his Prodij. A bit of slope racing and not long before the Prodij clipped off one half of the Trinity's V-tails. Evan managed to land the Prodij with only one operational aileron and the Trinity did a slow spiral down into the slope face. Amazingly the only damage to the Trinity was the broken V-tail.

Enough fun then, and with no sign of the wind calming so that we could give the Discus a try, everyone decided to pack up and head back to Gauteng. I believe Mike is off to the Volksrust slope over the New Year period - should be worth the trip to see that DG500 ELAN fly. Hope the conditions are good and best of luck there, Mike.

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