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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Great Soaring Weekend at Estcourt

Friday afternoon 30th October 2008, having checked and rechecked the content of the trailer box, all the gliders and equipment are present! Now we can depart. After a pleasant journey we, my Wife and I, arrive shortly after 6 pm at the Blue Haze Lodge in Escourt. Already on the way the wind was blowing from NNW, a promising weekend of Fun-Flying.

We are just in the process of unpacking the trailer, when a car arrives at the parking lot with 3 “starring” gentleman. “Are you Michel?......You look like Michel!” says the driver. Colin, William and Marco from Durban are at the Lodge. After a warm welcome, we settle the meeting time for Saturday 9 am at the Blue Haze Lodge. Colin and his companions are staying at the Wagon Drift Resort.

Settled in at the Bar we wait for the other companions to arrive. First to arrive is Boris, shortly after, Wolfgang with his better half Anne. After the initial drinks, still at the well equipped Bar, we all have a good dinner with the appropriate bottle of “Veuve Clicquot”.



The next morning, after a good breakfast, all is ready and everybody present for the Slope-Venture.

A 20 min drive, then we are at the Slope. A wonderful African sunny day, a nice NNW wind and a beautiful scenery greets us at our arrival on the slope.

Wind speed varying between 20 and 30 knots, straight up from the valley………what more do you ask for!

















William is the first one to launch his 2kg heavy “Pig”. In seconds it is airborne and starts to perform a kaleidoscope of aerobatic maneuvers. We are all watching and enjoying the air show.















The full interest is on the landing, with the heavy rotor and the somehow unknown ground effect, but easy does it, a nice approach from the left, put the glider on final and gently and gracefully place the glider at your feet. A bit of an Ace-Flyer, I say!
















Then, naturally, everybody else is gaining confidence. Soon all the gliders are assembled. I am next with the Toko, then Boris with his scale Dg 500/22 4,5m and a Trinity, Wolfgang with the ASW 22 3m, an Eish and a Zagi, Marco, William and Colin with the respective “Slopies”. The show is on, turn, loops, roll, diving, speed runs, you name it, everybody is having FUN!



The wind has now increased, I measure and it’s pumping at 30 to 34 Knots, great!

I assemble the ASW 26 4,5m for its “maiden” flight. For this glider (approx 9kg of weight) I have in mind to use a catapult, as they use in Europe, two silicone-rubber 5m long tubing anchored on the edge of the slope stretched for another 5m and anchored to a quick release mechanism that allows the glider to rest on a launch-ramp and be released by pulling at the release cord.
Theory all well …… but practice?





























Boris decides that the plane can be launched from the edge ,there is enough wind to get airborne. So, there we go, Boris as the test-flyer at the commands, I hold the plane with both hands and start running towards the edge of the cliff……..give a big push (as a 60 year old can give)………. Nose down?………..crash into the rocks! No big damage, a scratch here and there, the canopy hinge as become dislodged, otherwise the plane is fine. Boris is now giving me a lecture and as soon as the plane is ready again, he will launch it with the strength of a 20 year old!



With all efforts, help and goodwill, the big glider was ready for the second maiden-flight. Suddenly, on final radio check smoke and an electrical burning smell propagates from the one wing, a servo decides to cook-it-self. I now decide to pack the glider back in the box and play with the Toko and the Eagle.










Back to the wind, it is now getting a bit gusty, Verena and Anne have prepared a “Super-Duper” spread for lunch, only to be launched (slope-style), inclusive table (the lid of one of the boxes) into the air by a gust of wind.











Some repair has to be done to the vertical bracing of the awning. Marco and Willian are attending to the matter with hammer and ….. persistence!








The Durban Guys, Colin, Marco and William have fun as well, they brought 11 planes to play with, they are all “Slopies” beautifully coloured and perfectly built, it’s amazing what you can fit in a small Sedan, 3 grown-up people ……(grown-up and still playing with rc-models?)…..and 11 planes.

The sky is the limit, everyone performs all sorts of aerobatic and you can see from their faces that they are truly enjoying the fun.





Wolfgang has now the Eish into action and shortly thereafter the Zagi……(or was this the other way around? ….c.r.a.f.t. moment I guess!) Anyway, we are having Fun-Fun-Fun!









My Eagle takes off like a rocket, steady and just beautiful. I put in the fuzz about 400gr of ballast, the wind is still “pumping” and the plane is penetrating well.

As previously mentioned, the landing is no problem no incidents. There is such a great flat surface with short grass and no stones or bushes that could create a hazard, if you plan your approach well, you can land at you feet. I am happy to bring my plane safe to the ground…..say no-more!

By about 2.00 pm, Boris has to leave for home. We are all continuing with our fun. The wind, even after 4pm, is still blowing and does not seem to subside. Colin, Marco and William are packing up at about 4pm, Wolfgang and myself with our consorts are still holding on, it’s nearing sunset and the scenery is really not to be missed.

Suddenly, by 5pm, the wind is stopping and is changing direction, from NNW to S. It is, then that we call it “The Day”. The packing is done very swiftly and each helps where he can. By 7pm we are back at the lodge. Tonight is a big night, a big party, a big number………it’s my 60th birthday. All the participants are present and even Allen and his wife Angela (The Lodge Owners) are attending. A nobel meal with joyful company, crowned by a magical day of flying.




Its morning again, and we are back on the slope. The wind at first marginal but taking on more and more strength. By 11 am it is BLOWING! 40 to nearly 50 knots. William “The Brave” launches his “Pig” and what a launch! The plane is “screeeeeeeming!” the elliptical wings of his “Slopie” are performing to the maximum. All of us are sitting comfortably in our deck-chairs and enjoying the spectacle.










































Enticed by William, I assemble my Toko. William is launching, the Toko it has a second of hesitation, then like a rocket, starts climbing,…… nose down! Softly on the elevator, the speed is increasing, turn into wind, gains another 10 or 20 meters, dive, the little plane is picking up speed, whistling through the air, another turn, a repeated low pass, an other climb, ………I have gone toooo far, suddenly a gust of wind takes control of the Toko, I got it in the rotor that is developing, just behind the edge. Unexpectedly the Toko is uncontrollable, gets into a disorderly tumble and disappears behind the hill.

The search is on, what will I find? Some unrecognizable pieces scattered all over the place? A plane-impaled cow? Colin is the first to spot the shape of a possible plane, a long walk, and……… well, for what the poor Toko had to go through it is still…….at least recognizable. The wing broken in two, the fuzz cracked in few places, besides that still repairable! Marco, returning to the “airfield”, is showing great interest in the Toko. I sold it to him for 50cents! He has already sent me a pick of the initial repair!















The wind does not seem to soften, nobody is flying, Wolfgang and I are having fun with a Rock-Crawler-Truck, (everlasting-kids). The Durban guys are starting to pack. It is past lunch-time, and we all decide to pack up and some of us to take the long way back home. Verena and I are leaving only on Monday, so we have a comfortable evening at the Lodge.

I would like to thank all the Guys and the Girls for a wonderful weekend, full of laughter, fun flying and a great camaraderie. The sport of RC flying brings a beautiful bunch of fun–loving-people together with a great sense of humour! Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to my wife Verena for taking all the Great Photos!!!!!

5 comments:

Piet Rheeders said...

Hi Michel,

Looks like you had a lot of fun on a great slope, next time can you pack me in one of your flight boxes.(100kg + full scale)

Can you give us the exact distance to this slope from JHB.

Well done on a nice pictures and report.
If you need a name for this even I suggest it to be the “Estcourt Extravaganza”

Regards,
Piet

Anonymous said...

Nice report. What is the cordinates of this slope.
Cheers
Gert

glenglider said...

Nice report Michel, and congratulations on your 60th birthday. That looks like a fine slope, will have to get there soon. Sorry I missed this trip, but I was also celebrating a birthday that weekend (I'm only 50)and family would have not been impressed if I went away to fly, plus I had stock take at work. Glad you enjoyed the weekend. Thanks for sharing.
Glen

colinw said...

Nice report Michel. We definately had a good time. Thank you once again for Staurday evening.Good company.

colinw said...

Hi Michel. Nice report.We definatly had a good time. Thanks again for Saturday evening. Good company.