9th FAI Junior World Gliding Championships 2015

Monday 30th November

It’s the day of the opening ceremony, and a day off – or almost a day off. The organization had a meeting at 10.00 at the auditorium about what has to be done for the opening ceremony and for the competition. Moving things to the park, and building flag poles for the “team march” was for the opening ceremony, putting up the IT (weather station, webcams and internet) was for the competition.

I promised to help Wojtek with the flagpoles, but those weren’t at the airfield yet. So we had some time off and decided to do laundry before that. He showed me where the laundromat was, it’s quite close to our hotel, as everything is nearby in Narromine.

After laundry we went back to the airfield with Beryl, she brought the poles from Dubbo. Since the job required drilling to get the hooks on the wooden poles, I saw it was better to leave it to men and make myself useful in the kitchen and cook some lunch.

You know, the breakfast and lunch are usually based on bread here. As I like cooking, I try to invent something from the ingredients which are in the fridge for us to use, instead of fixing a jamon y queso sandwich every day – that’s ham and cheese sandwich if you didn’t know. And quite often I do get attention if I am cooking, today the attention came from cooking with garlic. I put just one glove of garlic in there, and quite many at the clubhouse was asking am I using garlic and how much did I put it in the food. It’s not that common scent here, garlic I mean. Also I get lot of attention when cooking something else than bread, there are some people who are interested to see the outcome. Rob (Moore) usually says “and it wasn’t that hard to cook, it took the same time as fixing a sandwich”. True. I am glad we have the kitchen and fridge full of things, since it seems like I miss the cooking.

Neil, Brian and Arnie were fixing something of the electricity, and I got a feeling that it wasn’t going as easy as it should have been. I heard some strong language(!) coming from red faces. Hopefully they got it sorted out.

After the lunch I went to the Narromine pool – entrance fee is $4.00. There were Czechs, Aussies, Canada, some British, and I believe part of team New Zealand were there as well. And one Finn :-) So it was very international.

Clearly at one point school day was over, as the pool was crowded by yelling around 10 year old kids. They started talking with Ailsa, and she told them who we were. I was lying in the sun so I couldn’t see their faces, but I think they looked amazed when Ailsa told that she is a pilot and we all are from the airfield, they ouldn’t let Ailsa go, as they wanted to know more and just talk to her. Perhaps we have future pilots there. I saw them later at the opening ceremony, it was great that they came there.

Opening ceremony was quite short, official part lasted just little over an hour. First a brass band played Australian anthem and some music, then the teams were introduced. That was great actually, as Terry told some details of all pilots. There was supposed to be Hercules fly-by, but I was told that they had broken it on the last minute. What a shame. But there was enough program: few short speeches, a short aerobatic show, couple of aboriginal dance numbers and didgeridoo playing. The competition was opened by Troy Grant, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, followed by speech of Bill McAnally, the Narromine Mayor and Ruth Carney gave the Australian tradition “Welcome to country” –speech. Welcome to country can be a speech, or dance or a short ceremony where local older person welcomes the visitors to their land. I hope I got this right.

Beryl told me that Narromine means “place for honey” in Aboriginal language and Dubbo means “red earth”. We have here three official flags up: FAI of course, flag of Australia and one flag with half of red and black and yellow circle on it, which is an Aboriginal flag.

But back to the opening ceremony: I haven’t heard aboriginal language before and it sounded quite funny in my ears, but it also sounded like quite simple language. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Perhaps someone will teach me the key words, like Hello and Thank you and Bye bye. Overall the opening ceremony was quite good, speeches weren’t not at all too long as they’ve been in some places, and there were everything you could have hoped for. Of course what it comes to shortness of the event, we Finns might be one of the efficient ones.

After the official program it was time to eat and socialize. There were few food vans selling fish and chips, chicken burgers, potato chips on a stick and hot dogs and soda. At eight we started transferring all the things back to the airfield.

I have to reveal one thing: the FAI flag didn’t go up, because of the flag pole failure. But it worked quite well despite of that. It wasn’t a surprise that the flag got “stolen” at one point, but Terry saw that and he said to the microphone: “you have been spotted, bring it back”. According to Annex Z you are not allowed to steal the flag earlier than during 24 hours before the closing ceremony. I heard that this organization – or Beryl actually – is prepared for that to happen.

After the official program it was time to eat, there were few food vans. I tried chicken burger and it was pretty good, tasted quite fresh. Then it was time go back to the hotel. We sat in common room, talked and watched Start Trek with Wojtek and Pete before going to bed.

Tuesday 1st December

What can you write about a first official competition day, which was cancelled? The day was really hot from the morning and wind kept getting stronger. Jenny told in the briefing that despite of the high cloud, the weather should be good enough for about 500 km task, as the cloudbase would be high and some cumulus will develop under the high cloud. Towings started after 15 minutes of postponing at 12. Wind was really strong at that point, someone said it would have been 20 kts. Just a part of the club class was launched, when the wind had changed about 40 degrees. We were launching at runway 04, and we were just in a junction of runways 04 and 36. So all we had to do was change the direction of launches just a little bit. I heard that the Australian team “met man” Alex gave some information of the weather to one of the Australian team members. He had followed the weather from the morning and saw that the front was developing much faster and getting thicker than predicted. I heard the competition director & co having a short conversation should the day be cancelled or not. At that point the launches had been stopped for a while. The decision was made quite quickly, but I think it was based on good reasons.

After the cancellation I got back to the clubhouse and started going through all the suggestions what SGP guys have still for the website, and sorting out the pictures from yesterday and today. Then we had a meeting with Adam, Terry, Sean and Wojtek about the information and news, we were listened by the Head steward and Jury president Max.

In the afternoon some peculiar weather system started developing, and all I can say that I’ve seen similar in Khartoum, Sudan. That’s haboob – a sandstorm coming in the afternoon just before the raining front arrives. But this was apparently much milder, as you could see the airfield, but not the woods behind it as usual. Also there was heavy winds, I got some of that on video. I noticed the weather as I saw on the corner of my eye how Adam was running towards the official flags. When I got up, I saw he was holding the FAI flag against his chest. I don’t know if the wind had ripped it off from the pole or what, but Adam said something about the wind trying to steal the flag. I heard that two of the gliders were damaged, an ASW28 needs a new rudder, but about the other one’s damage I don’t know better. Hopefully everything gets fixed, this is only beginning of the competition.

I thought this would have been easy day because of the cancellation, but I left the airfield same time as always. I don’t have a car here and because I have lot of stuff with me, it’s not that great idea to walk or drive a bike to the hotel. That’s why I always try to find a lift, which has been quite successful so far. In the beginning I was calling to Pete to take me here and there, but I started feeling quite uncomfortable about that. So I will just start walking towards the town, and hope some car will go out as well. So far I have never had to walk out from the gate. Today was the same. I got a lift to the town from Italian team, it was great as we don’t talk that much with them.

Perhaps they will now know that I won’t bite.

After all I had dinner with 10 other people at the local RSL club. Few other teams was there too. Then I heard that the party which had been originally planned to be in the hangar, was going to take place at the Royal hotel. I had just got up to leave and see the party, and then Andy Davis and his wife Pam arrived to our table. I’ve heard so many hero-stories of Andy that I thought that I should stay there for a while so I could tell stories at home. But I didn’t, but headed to the Royal hotel just to find out that it was raining outside and that the party had ended half an hour ago. I walked back to my hotel – which wasn’t far as nothing isn’t – and saw some kind of party at the Imperial verandah. I am not sure if that was German team or part of it there, but their language sure sounded like that.

Evenings start to be alike, I sat in common room with Pete and Wojtek and we watched the next part of the Star Trek movies. Well, mostly we talked and followed this one big cockroach which flew in and was chasing after Wojtek’s chocolate cookies. 

Wednesday 2nd December

Wind was again strong in the morning, I had to wear jeans and a jacket, which I ended up wearing all day, that’s a surprise. Others had found their warmer clothes as well. The wind was really strong during launches and I am surprised that the flying day was that successful after all, as we had only 8 outlandings.

I went to see the tie down area during landings, and saw Swiss team taking photos of a flag. They told me that the flag is their aero club’s flag and Roger’s father is the president of it, and he had said to Roger that he has to take the flag here and take a picture of it here. Roger told about his flying, that during 3 hour AAT task weather was first ok and then it wasn’t as the thermals were only up to 1200 m or less, but it got better when coming towards Narromine. Some outlanded today, sadly Finnish Petri as well. He is flying Adam’s glider (W1) and Adam said that the plane has never outlanded when he has owned it. Well, it happened today.

There was supposed to be a hangar party in the evening – a new try after yesterday - and I talked for a while with Andy (Maddocks) in front of the hangar. I heard that Jess and Rachel are planning the social calendar for coming weeks, and there will be few events during the following 10 days. Now as you start counting the days, even this event has just started, it almost feels like it’s almost over.

I told to Andy that we have talked which the JWGC’s has been the best, so far Benjamin (FRA) and Andy (AUS) are voting for the Räyskälä, but I have to put my vote on Musbach. But let’s see if Narromine will have my vote after this competition.

Andy mentioned that in Musbach I had been in the parties with them, but could disappear from the party without anybody to notice. And still I knew who had done and what with whom, he also continued that they could come to me and ask if someone had a boy/girlfriend etc. You know, I might spot those things easily. But if you look at this crowd here and compare it to previous JWGC’s, I feel like something is changing. Some of the people are still the same, but we are 6 years older. That’s a long time, especially when you are on your 20’s or 30’s. And the rest of the people here are not anymore that “party hardy”-people, I feel like pilots are nowadays taking the championships much more serious than in 2009 or 2011. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t – I mean aren’t able – to have fun. Of course we can, but we might think of “fun” to be something different than some years ago. It might be sad, but it’s true. Besides, I don’t think it would be good idea to have a massive hangover when being at the airfield in 40 C heat. Call me old, but it doesn’t sound very appealing to me. Also what comes to “who likes whom” thing :-) Sure it happens at the airfield, but if I look around, I feel like there aren’t that many available girls around, all seem to be here with their boyfriends, or have I understood it totally wrong…?

Dinner was “chicken parmagina” – we laughed with Vicki to the name as it sounded pretty funny. I assume they meant “chicken parmigiana”. Anyway it was chicken schnitzel with melted cheese on top and some tomato-based sauce with potatoes and salad. It was good to have food in your stomach.

Pete took my things to the hotel and I decided to walk back as the weather was cool enough. The wall takes just about 20 minutes and it was just getting dark. This is quiet town, so there’s nothing to worry about walking in the dark.

And let’s start that “who did and what”. I know that the Swiss team ate at the RSL club, even they didn’t tell me that. And Terry, Vicki, Max and Rob (my yesterday’s dinner company) ate at the Imperial hotel at the same table as Czech team. Hungarian pilot Tamás was very disappointed when I met him by the Imperial Hotel, as he had outlanded.

We watched some photos with Pete from his iPad in the evening. We found out that we have been in Uvalde 2012 at the same time, wouldn’t it be funny if I happened to be in one of his pictures. But I wasn’t

Thursday 3rd December

Would this be that day when I tell that days are alike…? Wake up after seven, shower etc., driving together with Adam to the airfield at 8, some updates to facebook and checking received emails from Finland where day is just ending, breakfast, working, briefing, working, launches, help-yourself lunch from the fridge (there’s food for volunteers), editing the pictures which I took at launches, waiting for the finishes, trying to find a place where to take photos of the landings if there is time (if not, it means that I am stuck with my computer), glass of wine, dinner at the clubhouse or at the town, shower, tv, writing my “blog” and bed.

It was almost like that, Pete took me to the airfield to take photos of the landings, but it was difficult to find a good spot. It was a surprise that the sun was so hot – burning hot – after six in the evening. As I was standing in a middle of dust and dead looking cut crop field, I surely felt that if the climate change continues, there will be areas on Earth which aren’t suitable for living.

Official organizers had a dinner at Narromine in the evening, for us was arranged an informal “get together”-party at the hangar starting at 20:00. I had dinner with Pete at RSL club and we came to see how the party was. Time was already after 21.00 at that time. Everybody sat outside, people were sitting on few groups, one big and few smaller ones. They all seemed to be flying so I thought that it’s too late for me to try to catch the conversation and so we went back to the hotel. I was just going to bed, when Gus came and we sat outside for a while and talked about coming parties etc.


About today’s flying day…well, you can read most of that from the official news and results. I followed the tracking at one point, and it looked like they we’re playing “follow the leader”-game. Wojtek said about the task that it was just pure luck who was the winner. The sky was blue and pilots followed the task, heading from one turnpoint to next, circling only if happened to find a lift and then continuing the task line. That means that there’s not too big differences on points after a day like this, of course outlandings will cause some difference.

Ah, this is going a little bit backwards, but there was a great interactive safety minute this morning at the briefing. It was about flying in thermal together with other gliders and joining in thermal as well. First Eric (AUS) was invited front of the briefing and he was told to spread his wings and fly in thermal. He spread his hands as wide as he could and started “flying” in thermal. Everybody was laughing as it seemed to become a great show. Adam invited more pilots there one by one and at least Alex (NZL), Sam (GBR) and Ger (NLD) were there, I don’t remember who else were there, but there were quite many “planes”. As more “planes” came there, they noticed that they have to spread out to fit in thermal and move out a bit where the lift isn’t that good. It was a great laugh!

Suddenly Martti’s (Finnish team captain) name was called as Adam said “we need one Open class pilot here, Martti?” He was surprised, but he spread his wings and joined in the thermal. First they we’re flying as supposed, but soon Martti started doing maneuvers which are typical for those pilots who don’t care about others; so he flew across the thermal and in the middle of it where the best lift is. I would not have believed this, if I didn’t see it on my own eyes. Too bad my phone was again on tilt at that time and I couldn’t take a video of it. I trust that someone has one, since there were many cameras up.

Friday 4th December 

It was “A Blue Day, sequel 3” and there’s nothing for me to tell. It’s like a poem:

Morning was cold
Sky was blue
Pilots flew well
Hana was chased by others on the sky
Afternoon was warm
I felt tired

In the briefing Adam always has some notices to begin with. Today there was a notice “loggers can’t walk”. Simon, Danish pilot had outlanded just before entering the finish ring. But he had a plan: after landing he jumped out from the glider, took the logger and tried to walk (or run) to the finish ring. Except that there was a barb wire fence on his way and he hurt his hand while trying to get the logger on the other side of the fence, inside the finish ring. Now he has to wear a bandage in his hand. It’s not that bad as it looks like, he said. But he admitted that he was trying to cheat. That’s Thursday’s news.

There was a gliding trivia at the clubhouse evening at 20, but I almost felt I was sleepwalking so I didn’t go there. Jess told me that it was quite a successful evening, since they’ve started with about 10 people and there was about 40 when they ended the trivia around 22:00 in the evening.

Ahh, about Hana (CZE). Wojtek is following the tracking daily and he called me that I might want to have a look of the tracking as everybody seems to be chasing Hana. It was like that, Hana flying in front and bunch of other gliders well behind of her. It made it even funnier as her color on tracking was girly pink.

Saturday 5th December

Today Simon Hackett arrived with his own PC-12, a nice looking aircraft. Simon is very important person for Australian Junior Gliding Nationals as he has been sponsoring it from the start if I understood it right, he gave an inspirational speech at briefing. Simon Hackett has worked on the development of the Internet since its early days in Australia. In 1991 Simon founded company called Internode which became a very large Internet Service Provider. Simon has supported junior gliding in Australia since the beginning, providing generous support and sponsorship for the Australian Junior National Championships. His support has allowed the costs of this event to be significantly reduced - a key factor in the success of the competition and junior gliding in Australia.

Simon, and his family foundation The Hackett Foundation, have continued to support junior gliding and has generously made a substantial donation in support of the Junior World Gliding Championships, to help ensure that it is the best event possible.  (Thank you Adam for helping me with the story). 

Yesterday’s winner at club class was Australian own boy James Nugent, who is the youngest pilot ever to win a day in an international contest. Think about that, he doesn’t even have his own driver’s license yet. Well done!

Lisa has bought a lot of different things as daily prizes, since we are awarding always the three best of each class. There is always three different prizes, where pilots can choose from. Most popular prize today was an oximeter which you can put in your finger to measure the oxygen level in your blood. Matt Davis was the winner in Standard class and he chose it as did James. Adam made a joke and said to Matt that he can leave the oximeter in Australia when he goes back home as he won’t be needing that in Great Britain.

Yesterday I was advertising on our website and the facebook that today will be another blue day. That seemed to help, as it looks like the air mass is changing as there were few cumulus in horizon. By saying few, I saw at least four clouds.

As usual, I was in the grid today. Rob gave me a lift there, and we talked how different men and women are in Australia compared to Finland. For example in Finland women have been taught that they are equal with men, and that means that women are used to do same jobs as men and quite often women don’t expect men to open doors for them or bring flowers. Hmm, I could write a book about this topic. Anyway, I have to say that I like it when men are polite and opening the doors for me etc. Rather than saying “I don’t give a s**t, do it yourself”.

In the grid I was standing by Roger’s (SUI) wingtip just when he was about to launch, and suddenly a phone was ringing somewhere nearby. I thought Roger’s crew Pascal’s phone was ringing but he don’t want to answer as he was busy helping Roger to start. Roger started and I saw Pascal holding something, it was a ringing tracker! Trackers are based on phones, but even our scoring boys didn’t know that it would be possible to call to those as they didn’t know that those tracker-phones would have phone numbers at all. I wonder what would have happened if we would have answered to that phone… Perhaps somebody wanted to ask “are you happy with your service provider”.

Tasks were 3h and 3,5h AAT’s today. AAT makes the life quite easy here at the airfield. I mean it is easy because you are able to estimate when pilots are back from the task. We had lunch at Royal hotel with Pete and Wojtek. Their lasagna was great! Before we left, Sandra reminded us “remember to be careful, don’t talk to strangers” etc. warnings. It was hilarious!

In the evening we had a party at the Imperial Hotel, which was very convenient for me, as the Imperial is just next door from my hotel Courthouse. There was some gliding movies, we ate and had couple of glasses wine. But mostly there were organizers, or at least I spent my time with them.

There is one week left of this competition. I have been mostly spending my evenings with Wojtek and Pete, as we are staying at the same hotel, and it seems that the “officials” of the competition are either busy in the evening or having their own dinner arrangements. And it’s a pity that we meet on these competitions with the teams around the world, but we don’t spend time together at all. It would be great to have dinner together and meet you somewhere else than in the grid, briefing or international evening or closing ceremony. But I guess teams are having their own routines where “outsiders” like me do not fit and I totally understand it. It’s a pity, but I understand. Perhaps next time I should be in crew as well :-)

Sunday 6th December

Today is Finland’s Independence Day. On 5th December we always have aero club’s Christmas party, because next day will be a day off. I have to admit that it’s a bit difficult to be here when l know that my friends are starting to have their party when I wake up. And I heard today that for some reason quite many of the teams didn’t hear that there was a party at the Imperial. How that can be, they said it in the briefing?!

They (task setters, comp. directors and weather lady) knew already yesterday that weather today will be mostly blue, and thermals will be up to 3000-4000 meters, that’s high. They reminded in the briefing that it’s important to use oxygen and to drink water. They also knew that launches has to start early, so briefing was 10:00 as normal, but launches were supposed to start at 11:30. Tasks were quite long, 611 km for Standard class and 450 km for Club class. Towings started after 15 min postponing and first landings were after 17:00. While we waited, I went to do my laundry and had a nap. The day was really warm and I start to understand Spain and Italy and other countries which have “siesta” during the hottest time of the day, as the heat makes you tired.

After the landings I went to walk around the tie down area. It was clear what would be the “topic of the moment”, and that was really successful flying day. All pilots who I talked with, seemed to be really pleased with the day and flying conditions. Roger told me that actually there was clouds at the task area.  It’s always a surprise since it seems like Narromine is located such area that here is sky is blue always, so that’s why I am writing that it was a blue day.

Anyway, back to the pilots. As you know, they have all sort of meters in the cockpit, so they will know for example what their average speed has been. I heard Matt telling that his speed had been more than 150 km/h. We were all amazed “what, did you say 150” and then someone knew that even in Club class the speeds had gone up to 130 km/h. I haven’t heard of that kind of speeds in Club class, perhaps ever. But I have to admit that I don’t follow all competitions. Speeds were the topic of the evening, and I don’t wonder at all why. It might have been a record day in Junior World Gliding Championships for speeds and perhaps altitude. But not in distance, as we had in JWGC2009 longer tasks on Day 1, Club class flew 531 km and Standard Class 623 km.

Evening ended at RSL club, which was full of local people sitting on long tables. We sat with Pete and Wojtek, but after Sandra and her husband Dieter had left, Rob and Max sat with us. We had great laugh. I need a rest, as working in this hot climate is quite overwhelming. I wake up at seven every day and work almost 12 hours. Even the work isn’t that hard, I mean I am not shoveling sand or building houses outside, still I think the hot weather makes you tired.

Monday 7th December

I watched the news and weather forecast this morning and it looked like a big cloud system is coming towards us. So it looked like the resting day might be tomorrow. We already made some plans for the resting day, it would be great to go to Dubbo zoo.

There was again an international safety minute at the briefing, Andy Davis was telling examples of joining and leaving the thermal and how you have to watch not only left and right, but also up and under your wing. Boyd (USA) and Sam (UK) were the pilots thermalling in front of us.

Also it was confirmed in the briefing that the international evening will be today and tomorrow is a resting day. I don’t know how many noticed, but on Jenny’s weather information was a warning for Wednesday morning about possible storm with hails. So it might be that we lose one more day for the weather before the end.

Towings usually start here when they are intended to start, so you don’t see those hours and hours waiting, like in Europe when the weather is bad. That’s good, since it wouldn’t be great to wait in these hot conditions. Today was different from that. First towings were postponed half an hour to 12:00, before that Standard class task time was shortened from 5 hours to 4,5 hours. Also Club class got a B task. After Standard class was launched, towings were stopped for a while, Team captains were asked again in front of the grid as there was a C task for Club class. Their task was originally 507 km, but it was changed completely and distance shortened to 360 km.

While we were waiting, and the high Cirrus cloud was getting over us and becoming thicker and thicker, some speculation started arising in the grid. It is very traditional, it is as traditional as the International evening is. Every time there will be questions like “since the weather is like this, how many people do you think will be in the international evening”, meaning that people will land out and since crews are collecting their pilots back, the party is pretty quiet. I’ve heard those speculations as many times as I’ve been in international evening-parties. Also some comment on the frequency is usual, the comment is usually quite martyr-like “start the party without me, this isn’t going well”.

I talked with the task setter Paul about the speculations and he told me that they knew about those. But he said that they are confident that the flying weather will be good despite of the cirrus cloud. That thick cirrus cloud would definitely kill the flying weather if we would be in Europe, but it doesn’t happen here.

This was proven when the club class finished the task easily. But problem on Standard class might have been that their task time was still 4,5 h, but they weren’t able to start before 14:00-14:15 and the day (flying weather) was going to end quite soon after 18.00. Sun was setting when club class had arrived, but there were just first signs of the standard class. Half of them made it, but rest of them had retrieval towings or crews collecting them from the field.

So the international evening started slowly, but more and more people arrived and it was very traditional party after all. Only thing was that teams were more concentrated on liquor than food, as it’s forbidden to bring any food to Australia.

We tried to find the Southern Cross in the evening, as the sky was really clear. But there was no luck, but I think I found it just when we were about to leave. I had looked for it too low on the sky. Perhaps there will be another chance to see it before it’s time to go home.

Tuesday 8th December

It was the official resting day, and I can tell that people needed that. Not only because of late night yesterday, but also because of long flying days. After sleeping late, we decided to go to Dubbo Zoo with Pete and Wojtek. Before that we went to the airfield to have some breakfast, it was around 11 in the morning. When we arrived to the airfield, it was obvious that there had been a party on previous evening. Good example of that was feet coming over one pick up car tailboard. That was yesterday’s birthday boy, Michael, who had his 21st birthday. I must say that it was a good birthday party for him. Also FAI flag was found from the beacon light tower.

Dubbo Zoo was worth to see, we met also Swedish and part of German team there. Finnish team had been there earlier than us, on Norwegian team came there later. We met Finnish team by coincidence at Hungry Jack’s (which Europeans would know as Burger King).

In the evening we walked to the local bowling club and had a dinner with 15 other from the organization. Thunderstorm started when I was ordering some wine(!) and lights went out for a second. Thunder was gone in few minutes, but it was raining when we got back from the club.

Thursday 10th December

After yesterday’s thunders and rains, the weather – actually I would like to say “air” - felt lot more humid than days before. I’ve learned so far that the weather, I mean the flying weather, doesn’t behave the same way we have learnt in Europe. But this morning it felt like it would be possible to get cumulus even at Narromine area, if you have read my stories, you might have heard couple of times how sky here is blue and blue and blue.

In the briefing Adam was holding a big glass jar and told that there was a spider inside. He invited everybody to come and see it after briefing, but I didn’t want to cause any nightmares to me or to you by taking a photo of it. If the jar is still there tomorrow morning, I might be brave enough to take a closer look.

Adam is giving special “prize” at the briefing for doing something…hmmm..I would say stupid or silly. The prize is to wear a pink flying hat all day long. Matt Davis got the hat today as he had been complaining that his variometer isn’t working, they’ve changed other vario on his glider, but it didn’t work either. Somebody figured out that the reason isn’t the vario, but that the probe would be blocked. Reason was the he had blocked the vario air holes with tie-down gear.

Tasks were really long, 501km for Club class and 631,46km for Standard class, I heard that it is longest task in JWGC history, as that’s some kilometers more than we had in Räyskälä 2009. We expected pilots to arrive around 17.30-18.30. I had a nap and a swim in Narromine pool while we waited. I have to build my tan, otherwise nobody will believe that I’ve been here. :-D

Surprise was that they all arrived almost at the same time, both classes I mean. Just after five in the evening we heard first “10 nautical miles” announcements on the radio, and after that announcement didn’t stop. Landings were over quite soon.

I went to have a walk around the tie-down area and asked how the day had been. Radek’s comment was “we flew 145 km/h and we weren’t the fastest”. That seemed to be true, since on results you can see that two Dutch guys flew 158 km/h. If I heard it right, Adam said that that’s 65th fastest average speed on Soaring Spot in general.

Topic of the evening was again the Danish guy Simon, as he was last to finish. I mean there was couple of hours between his landing and the others. We got contact on him, and he said that he is not far away, but he is not that high anymore. Also he said “turn on the runway lights” as it was getting dark already. I left at the airfield around the time when sun was already setting and our safety group was still waiting for him. When I met Ailsa & co. at Courthouse terrace, I saw a glider flying just above the trees. The airfield is close to the town, so I think it was Simon. I met him at the Royal in the evening, and he told that he didn’t actually see the airfield anymore when he landed as it was twilight. Ah, I am talking about his landing, but he landed just before the finish ring, but got a retrieval towing back. Long wait, but as easy for the crew as it can be. Remember the story when Simon hurt his hand? This is that same Simon, and when he came back, we joked that he should have tried to throw the logger to the finish ring as he was again very close to that.

In the evening we had a dinner at Royal with big bunch of people, all of them Australian team members or organizers. Some of them I haven’t seen before, and the evening was their meeting after a long time, so I left quite early since there wasn’t any conversation which I could participate in. Alex (the Australian team met-man) told that he had found the spider from his hat at their crew camp.

Evening ended at Courthouse common room, Al came to sit with us and we had a drink and a chat together.

Wednesday 9th December

The morning was very humid and thick high cloud on the sky. I saw the weather forecast on TV and would have never believed that the day would end up being so beautiful. First the sky cleared up and then cumulus started popping.

Task setters & co. wanted to wait and see how the weather will develop, so briefing was delayed until 10.45. Jenny told that the clouds will overdevelop and there will be some isolated thunders in the evening. Even the safety minute was about landing in a thunderstorm. Because of the expected weather conditions, tasks were AAT’s 2,5 h for Club class which was launched first and 2 h for Standard class as they started last. Everybody knew that it would be important to start as early as possible.

On a day like this, there’s not much time to do anything special during the day. I had just time to send postcards home – finally.

Pilots started arriving back to Narromine around 16.00, but there was no thunders in sight at Narromine. Surprising news were that lifts weren’t that good today. Like Paul said, it looked like all lifts would be 8 kts. But pilots said those had been only 2 kts or so. One thunderstorm reached Narromine around dinner time, but it was as quickly over as it started. We didn’t have to wet our feet when we went to the RSL club, I had dinner with Rob, Max and Wojtek. From there our path went to Imperial where was a big table of “our people” sitting and having fun. From there we continued to Courthouse balcony and talked about Australian humour among all other things. It was a warm evening with some distant lightning on the horizon.

Do you know Ritz? She came today, you can follow her blog at http://soaring.eu/. Also “family Levin” parents arrived here, it’s great to see familiar faces.

Thursday 10th December

After yesterday’s thunders and rains, the weather – actually I would like to say “air” - felt lot more humid than days before. I’ve learned so far that the weather, I mean the flying weather, doesn’t behave the same way we have learnt in Europe. But this morning it felt like it would be possible to get cumulus even at Narromine area, if you have read my stories, you might have heard couple of times how sky here is blue and blue and blue 

In the briefing Adam was holding a big glass jar and told that there was a spider inside. He invited everybody to come and see it after briefing, but I didn’t want to cause any nightmares to me or to you by taking a photo of it. If the jar is still there tomorrow morning, I might be brave enough to take a closer look.

Adam is giving special “prize” at the briefing for doing something…hmmm..I would say stupid or silly. The prize is to wear a pink flying hat all day long. Matt Davis got the hat today as he had been complaining that his variometer isn’t working, they’ve changed other vario on his glider, but it didn’t work either. Somebody figured out that the reason isn’t the vario, but that the probe would be blocked. Reason was the he had blocked the vario air holes with tie-down gear.

Tasks were really long, 501km for Club class and 631,46km for Standard class, I heard that it is longest task in JWGC history, as that’s some kilometers more than we had in Räyskälä 2009. We expected pilots to arrive around 17.30-18.30. I had a nap and a swim in Narromine pool while we waited. I have to build my tan, otherwise nobody will believe that I’ve been here. :-D

Surprise was that they all arrived almost at the same time, both classes I mean. Just after five in the evening we heard first “10 nautical miles” announcements on the radio, and after that announcement didn’t stop. Landings were over quite soon.

I went to have a walk around the tie-down area and asked how the day had been. Radek’s comment was “we flew 145 km/h and we weren’t the fastest”. That seemed to be true, since on results you can see that two Dutch guys flew 158 km/h. If I heard it right, Adam said that that’s 65th fastest average speed on Soaring Spot in general.

Topic of the evening was again the Danish guy Simon, as he was last to finish. I mean there was couple of hours between his landing and the others. We got contact on him, and he said that he is not far away, but he is not that high anymore. Also he said “turn on the runway lights” as it was getting dark already. I left at the airfield around the time when sun was already setting and our safety group was still waiting for him. When I met Ailsa & co. at Courthouse terrace, I saw a glider flying just above the trees. The airfield is close to the town, so I think it was Simon. I met him at the Royal in the evening, and he told that he didn’t actually see the airfield anymore when he landed as it was twilight. Ah, I am talking about his landing, but he landed just before the finish ring, but got a retrieval towing back. Long wait, but as easy for the crew as it can be. Remember the story when Simon hurt his hand? This is that same Simon, and when he came back, we joked that he should have tried to throw the logger to the finish ring as he was again very close to that.

In the evening we had a dinner at Royal with big bunch of people, all of them Australian team members or organizers. Some of them I haven’t seen before, and the evening was their meeting after a long time, so I left quite early since there wasn’t any conversation which I could participate in. Alex (the Australian team met-man) told that he had found the spider from his hat at their crew camp.

Evening ended at Courthouse common room, Al came to sit with us and we had a drink and a chat together.

Friday 11th December

The day started with normal routine, at 8 to the airfield. In the briefing the pink hat went to our Finnish Petri, as it seems that he had flown his gear down for the whole flight. He have had some problems with his air breaks, and the gear certainly doesn’t help with the speed.

The weather charts this morning on TV said the same thing as Jenny’s slide show. There would be a front over us in the evening. But she said that weather should be good today. Surprise was that the wind was getting stronger and changing the direction already during the towings. Club class was towed first, but there was already some relights quite soon. Before Standard class was towed, towings were stopped for a while and team captains were asked in front of the grid. Standard class got a C task, which was significantly shorter.

As wind was shaking parasols on club’s terrace, there was again some speculation if it was a good decision to let pilots fly today or would cancellation have been wiser solution. I was asking myself that is it possible to cancel the day after the start line has been opened. We went through Annex A, but didn’t find anything from that.

I had a quick swim and when we came back to the airfield with Pete, we saw some wave clouds on sky, if pilots will find that, they will be ok. All of us – Europeans I mean – should remember that the flying weather is developing much different here than in Europe. Even it looks depressing, those guys are flying! Ok, this kind of weather is not the easiest, but it certainly wasn’t worth of cancellation either.

Boyd (USA) was the surprise of the club class, as he was the only one to finish the task! He told me that he didn’t know that he would make it, not before he was 5 km from the airfield. Also there was some happy faces in Standard class pilots. Polish guys did it very well, as their average speed was 138 km/h, which is great speed even on a normal day. Only half of the Standard class made it back to Narromine.

Adam told me that some teams had problems with finding the pilot, problems were exactly what Lisa told us in the safety briefing in the beginning of the competition: remember that half tank of fuel isn’t enough as petrol stations are not open at night, the phone service can be bad. Some team had to drive 100 km to find signal for making a phone call.

Talking about signals, most of the pilots are flying with spot-trackers of their own. Annemik’s crew was concerned because they didn’t reach her by phone, but worries were over when they saw that Annemik was walking with the spot-tracker. That’s clever idea I think, I mean how to send a signal to your crew and tell that you are ok when phones don’t find signal.

There was a party at the hangar in the evening, but I had couple of quick visits there and noticed it wasn’t for me. Tomorrow will be anyway a party in the hangar, so I wanted to have something else instead. We had “final dinner” with Wojtek and Pete at the RSL Club.

Saturday 12th December

It’s the last competition day. Let’s see how pilots are flying today, Adam told me this morning that it was quite late evening for quite many teams and for him as well, as he was asked back to the airfield after midnight.

I was really tired in the morning and when I said that out loud, someone made immediately an assumption that I must be partying too much. Oh, I wish. Waking up at 5 in the morning because bed is uncomfortable or it’s too hot, and working 3 weeks in a row with only one resting day, the “party theory” didn’t feel great. Perhaps I am getting old as I am waking up so early or getting tired in this heat.

Club class got today 3h AAT and Standard class 366km tasks, towings started 12.35 after 5 minutes delay. They started quite late. As it is a blue day, we saw some gaggles above the clubhouse. Also there was an introduction of Australian tradition: that’s flying in the core of the thermal and throwing out a roll of toilet paper. Then you have to dive and try to cut the paper in two pieces. I had a short lens on my camera at that time, so I couldn’t take any evidence of that. Claire told us that it is tradition on last competition days. I think our toilet paper is much stronger than here, so I wouldn’t do that in Finland :-D

Meanwhile pilots were flying, we had some “flying fun” with Wille, Wellu and Claire. I mean when people among aviation are having fun, it’s not trying to get a white ball on a hole or reading books or running etc. It’s about flying! You might be doing formation flying, or some low passes, or aerobatics etc. That’s proper way to have fun, isn’t it.

We went with John Buchanan on his helicopter to Dubbo as he was going there for refueling and then we came back, so it was only a short visit. Wellu informed us quite loudly that he will take the front seat. Well, this is something you would get used to in Finland. But here, all men have been most polite, opening doors and gates, letting me go first, offering rides to the town and back, asking what I wanted and so on. So I teased boys a little bit and said that as Wille and Wellu are gentlemen, they should let us women to sit on front seat. And as Brian is flying, C comes after that so Claire will sit on front seat when we go to Dubbo and as Katja is before W on alphabets, I will be sitting on front seat when we come back.

But Wellu didn’t accept my proposal of alphabetical order, obviously he didn’t want to be a gentleman either, so he was explaining fast and loud all the reasons why I can’t sit on front seat. One of the biggest reasons was that I’ve been on a helicopter before and my husband is a pilot. Hmm…perhaps that “being a pilot” means to him that it’ll bring manna from heaven or something, I don’t know… I had great fun listening his arguments, and as I said, I was surprised of his reaction after spending a lot of time with these “easy going” polite men. Anyway, I don’t blame him, if something would be important to me, I might behave like that as well. 

It’s true that I’ve been on a helicopter before, and the others hadn’t. So my plan was to give my seat to one of the brothers when we come back. But I got a story of a yelling Wellu instead :-) Or should I say Peter 1. As we were pushing the helicopter out from the hangar for suitable place for us to start, John asked Wellu’s name and it was too difficult to pronounce. So he decided that Wellu is Peter 1 and Wille is Peter 2. 

Both Wellu and Claire got to fly the helicopter and they both had wide smiles after the flight. I told her that as my mom gave me this trip to Australia as a Christmas present, surely she will get a helicopter license for next Christmas. If she was flying at that time when John was telling her what to do, I think she is natural talent and did really well.

There's not much to tell about the farewell party, we had some food and ice creams, also bar was open. Pilots and crews were running around the dancing floor and ended up having a water war. What was really special on this party was that the music was good, modern music. Usually I end up out of the party hangar listening a tear in the corner of my eye as it’s sad that the competition ends and the music is usually some “oldies”, anyway not danceable except for slow dancing. I’ve always wondered why it has to be like that. I’m glad we had Gus as our DJ.

It was anyway great evening, I am glad I went to bed early enough so I could sleep 5 hours before it was time to get up, even it felt like the evening ended too soon. I saw also the Southern Cross finally, and I was taught how to find south with it.

I had a plan to stay here until Monday, but it starts to feel that it would be better idea to spend one day somewhere else than between Narromine-Dubbo-Sydney. So I am making arrangements that I can leave from here after the closing ceremony.

13th December - The End 

First I want to congratulate all the winners, especially new champions: Tom Arscott from Great Britain in Club class and Australian own boy Matthew Scutter in Standard class! Also I want to congratulate all of them who have reached their goals and/or learned something new here.

As it is the end, I think it is a good time to tell Tony’s story. Even this event is - or was - about young competitors, I want to talk about older ones as well. Mostly this is a pointer for aeroclubs, especially in Finland.

I want to take you back to the beginning of the competition. We had dinners at warm Narromine weather on practice week evenings, it was also time for getting to know “who is who”. At one point I ended up talking with Tony Edge. I asked him when he started gliding, and he said: 12 years ago at the age of 67. I was really surprised, as I thought the answer would have been more like “I’ve been here since I was a little boy”. I asked him how he had found gliding. He told me his story, it’s not too long, but interesting anyway.

The “until death do us apart” had happened 12 years ago when Tony lost his wife, they had been married 47 years. Tony told me that he was sitting at home and thinking what to do, as the life had changed so dramatically. Answer was: he will start gliding. Well, Tony had a dream of flying since he was a small boy, as he had followed the aircrafts landing to air force base in Dover, UK.

At gliding field you can find people to talk with, there’s always something to do for everybody and all sorts of skills are needed, and of course you will get up to the sky once in a while, if not alone, there’s always somebody who will take you to fly. Gliding field is a good place to be, as if you live alone, wake up alone, have your meals alone and watch TV alone, you will turn to vegetable soon. Everybody needs social life to keep their brains active, don’t they.

In Finland we have a common problem among the aeroclubs, and that’s not getting enough new members in the club, and the old members are…well, getting old. But I don’t know if that is a problem or not. Perhaps the solution for recruiting is to get young ones to dream about flying, but we should remember that the most potential glider pilots aren’t always on their teenage years, but they might be those whose kids have moved out and they are thinking what to do with their lives. There’s also good examples of families who has discovered flying, my parents were pilots, and I know several others with similar stories. And I have to say, gliding field is pretty good environment to grow up, as you might have heard the saying “it takes a village to grow a child”.

I think Tony’s decision was very good. I hope he will have lots of fun with gliding.

I will end my story telling about me and Finnish twins (fin-twins) Wille and Wellu. You might have been wondering why here has been Finnish girl (woman) doing the website, photos and social media, and two Finnish guys as field runners and marshalling.

Well, all three of us have been working in several gliding competitions in Finland, Räyskälä; at local competitions, nationals and at international competitions. After JWGC2009 in Räyskälä I was asked to Musbach for German Junior Nationals 2010, then to JWGC2011 Musbach again and from there to JWGC2013 Leszno. At Leszno I told to Beryl that if they need somebody at Narromine, I would be interested to come. Terry was in Räyskälä WGC2014, where I was doing the website, photos etc. and Terry asked if I would be interested to come here. I said yes.

People have asked me how it is possible that I am travelling from one competition to another. Well, one reason is because I have been asked to, but the other reason is that I’ve told to people that I would like to come and help. That’s exactly what Wille and Wellu did, they told that they would be interested to come here and help, and they were welcomed.

We all paid our own flight tickets here, so we do not get rich when coming here, I mean rich by money. Also our families are waiting in Finland, and being here when family is far away, it can be difficult. But we do get something else than money. We are experiencing new things, learning to know new people, learning to know ourselves better, getting new friends and seeing new places.

So if you would be interested to participate, that’s possible. Just tell that, don’t wait that someone will call you and collect you from home.

My trip to Australia lasted one month. Thank you for having me in Narromine. It’s time for me to continue my trip.

See you somewhere!

Monday 14th December

I arrived to my hotel yesterday evening just before nine in the evening. I travelled with Gus, our “internet and social event guru”. During our drive we talked everything and nothing, we didn’t go to “small talk” at all, but talked about his marriage and my relationship and so on. There was some long silent moments as well and I have to say that I appreciate people who are able to be silent together, without it feeling awkward.  We visited his mom’s place and I regret that I didn’t take any pictures from there. Anyway, the view from her balcony was so amazing that I just had to say that if I had that kind of view, I would sit there every evening drinking red wine and wouldn’t need TV at all. Gut told me that that was pretty much what her mom and her visiting friends do. I must ask a photo from Gus. Also the house was more or less like skiing chalet, those who have had skiing trips with me in Austria and France know what I mean.

So I arrived with Gus to my hotel just before nine, had a bit different experience of staying in a hotel compared to Narromine. Don’t take it wrong, at Courthouse the hostess herself carried my +20kg luggage to next floor and they all were most helpful. But this hotel experience I really needed, a bit of luxury before going home.

I spent some time by the pool after the breakfast and wanted to build my tan lines ;-) But all the time I was enjoying the (burning hot) sun, I could hear in my head all the comments Australians had made during the competition; meaning that people in Australia are more seeking for the shade, covering themselves with long sleeve clothes rather than taking their tops off and sunbathing as people from North Europe might do. I got some nice tanning lines anyway J

I had asked around what other teams are doing after the competition, and Matthew – our new champion in Standard class – was organizing a dinner and drinks-happening at Quarrymans, Sydney. It was quite interesting walk+train+walk+bus trip to get there, but it all ended up happily. We had a great meal and shared a taxi to the airport hotels after 2 o’clock at night with Swiss. I was glad I had a late wake up and so my flight home started.