With the rising cost of transport it has made it more difficult for the average Slope flyer to go to a distant slope site like Volksrust. One has to budget and plan your long distant trips carefully these days. When Mike ask me a month ago to join a group of BERG members for a Slope outing in August it was with a heavy heart that I had to turn down the offer . To complicate the issue I had the extra expense of paying the excess on my car insurance after managing to drive my car into a stationary trailer nosecone boom at work and inflicting some damage to the value R11,000. (ouch !).
Then last Wednesday, three days before the trip Charl phoned me and asked me if I would like to travel with him as Herman (of the BERG Club) could not go with as Herman had to recover and repair a real sailplane that did a out landing in the Darkens berg. Well needless to say it did not take much more of an arm twisting to go along. I was not sure if it was me or my toy pilot, Teddy Brown, that were more excited about the trip. He (Teddy Brown) also made it quite clear that he was not going to fly unless I take some extra diapers along as the last landing on the Slope was really fast and he made real royal mess of his cockpit.
Anyway with three day’s to prepare for the trip I manage to get a reasonable mix of gliders together with my scale 2.5 Meter Discus on top of the list, followed by my now ageing Tsotsi (the first one of 40 that was produced by Evan of Black Eagle Models fame) and as Charl would say “a bit poked”, a Hillbilly, bagged Zagi and if the conditions were going to be really good, a F3B ellipse.
Charl arrived at 5 AM sharp on Saturday morning and after some reshuffling and careful repacking our models, we left my home at round 5.30 AM and then rendezvous with Mike at the Springs Plaza at around 6.oo AM. The weather forecast for weekend look promising with a NW wind predicted for both Saturday and Sunday.
Like usual we stopped at Standerton to refuel an have a welcoming breakfast at the Wimpy. The last stretch of the trip to Volksrust (+/- 80 Km to 100Km) takes +/- 1 Hour and after a another quick stop a Volksrust to buy some refreshments for the slope and meat for the Saturday evening, we arrived on top the slope at around 10.00 AM. Izak Theron, a member of the ETB club, must have been shortly on our heals because he caught up with us as we turned into the gate at Oom Jan’s farm at the bottom of the slope.
By 11.00 AM the wind started to pick up nicely. Izak with a foam Zagi was the first to go over the edge in the light and some what cold morning lift, followed by me with my Tsotsi, Mike with his OD electric 2M model and Charl with his Cumulus electric and apart from me landing occasional when the lift disappeared, we all managed to get close to an hours flying in on our first flight. Unfortunately Charl manage to break the tail boom of his cumulus on a bad landing and had to retire it for the rest of the week end.
At roundabout 2 PM the wind strength pickup more and the direction shifted to easterly, we had to move to the East slope were we could fly our Hillbilly’s, Zagi’s and Mike’s JART (Nommer 2) maiden flight.
Charl once again was the unlucky one when I launched his Hillbilly in what look like good lift only to find that the lift died on him and the very next moment, he made a 180 Deg turn and not gaining nor losing a centimeter head straight back to the launching pad where every one had to scramble for cover as the his Hillbilly hit the rocks with hard thump. This time round he stripped both his aileron servos gear trains and he was not very impressed at all with the brand of servos and mumbling something that “he will never buy those servos again”. Ag well, sometimes these slope trips can throw you a curved ball (or should I say rock) and become what I term "a Smashing Success". Charl then had to fly the rest of the weekend with his “Brain-storm” and his “Grand Expire” and had no further incidence with any other rocks or for that matter dear old mother Earth.
This was the first time that I flew of the easterly slope at Volksrust with a reasonable wind and found it not to bad at all although the lift band did not quite match that of the NW slope, the landing however was more confined and tricky.
At around 4 PM the wind started to dwindle away and nobody was in for the “ Big Walk of Shame” at this hour of the day. We decided to retire (hurt in Charl’s case) to Oom Louise Farm for a well deserved Sun downer and to start the Bomma and Braai firer’s.
Izak still had some energy left to fly his electric E-hawk-2 1500 in near calm condition on the small field in front of Oom Louis place.
Now for those that have never been to Hallo Nina (the name Oom Louis named the over night accommodation) this is as good as any flying activity during day.
The absolute silence and the soft crackling of the wood fire as the sunset is something that one will not easily forget and with a cold beverage of your favorite kind you can easily and quickly over come the mishaps of the day.
Later on as the charcoal fire is ready, everyone gathers around to braai their meat and believe me, the aroma of the boerewors and other meat smells twice as nice when you are out here. All this goes together with lots of chatter and telling of jokes and other relate flying stories.
This time round I did not get to make 8.30 pm and once I got to bed hit dreamland instantly. (Must be those beverages and food or the fresh air and Sun or maybe all.)
Next morning when you wake up take a stroll to the neat dining room to make a nice cup of Coffee. (If you wake up here with out a headache then you have done everything right the previous evening so don’t say that I did not warn you !!!.)
Before breakfast, Izak once again had his electric E-hawk 2-1500 up in near calm conditions and after landing commented ”that was a smooth flight”.
Now the next best thing of a slope trip like this is the Breakfast that “Oom” Louis and his wife “Tannie” Johanna makes and at the rates they ask I don’t think one can find a better deal.
Once Breakfast is over and all the money maters settled you pack up all your clothes, planes ,chargers and extras and it is time to take the road up the mountain again. The dust trail behind the Bakkie is a early tell tail how the wind direction might be for the rest of the day.
This happened to be so on Sunday (blowing from the NW) and once again when we got to the to top could fly our light thermal glider straight away and gradually got stronger until it was ok to fly the Teddy Brown CMP Discus.
After a short flight brief and a word of encouragement the young Teddy Brown was a ready as can be for his second flight in his flying career. The launch was text book perfect as seen of the launch camera Blog Shot picture that Izak took of Charl, Teddy Brown and the Discus, but here comes the strange but true part: When I assembled Teddy Brown I mistakenly placed him with his head somewhat turned to the LEFT looking at the canopy from the front. But on the picture that Izak took (and I enlarged it) his head is definitely turned to RIGHT as If he wanted to pose for the camera. Or am I seeing a optical illusion here. You tell me.
Anyway, for me this the was best flight of the weekend and lasting about 20 minutes in total and the landing once again on the fast side. (Thanks to Teddy Brown for wearing a disposable diaper the canopy an cockpit is still clean).
Next time round I shim the tail up as Derek did with his Discus.
Shortly after I landed the Discus the wind once again started to swing to a Easterly direction Round about 1.00 PM . Mike manage to get his Dianna in the air but a flutter on a inboard flap forced him to land and unfortunately made contact with a lose tree trunk in the grass that took his vertical fin off. According to him the damaged is no to bad and that The Dianna could be flying on the next trip again.
The time was then close to 2.00 pm and we decided to pack up and take the 3 and half hour return journey back to Concrete Jungle. Charl dropped me off at my home at 5.30 pm and once again we had a fantastic time on “Tamatie Berg” Volksrust.
To those R/C glider pilot's that have not done this trip yet, save your money because this is a trip that you have to make at least once in your model flying career.
Hope to see you on slope at Volksrust next time around.