Comps and Events, News

Hang gliding: Forbes Odyssey 2001

Sunday 4 February, 2001

Forbes Flatlands flying in 2007

Carol Binder and Wesley Ian Hill report from the Australian flatlands aerotow meet in 2001…

The Dragonflies from Hay flew over to Forbes on one of the hottest days I can remember. Driving along the Mid Western Highway going towards West Wylong we spotted a German with very short shorts, he was towing a caravan. ’It was Lukas Bader’. After catching up with him later that night, he explained to me that he had had a pretty testing day. He´d had three flat tyres because of the hot sealed bitumen surface melting his tyres.

We arrived at Forbes the tow paddock to find what Davis Straub said looked like a scene out of Mad Max.
The paddock was the hottest spot in the area. A burnt out, flat packed paddock, just waiting for something to happen. Dust devils surrounded it and were easier than normal to spot all black and full of ash.

Over eighty pilots entered the Forbes Odyssey with Vicki Cain from Moyes organising the meet . Bill Moyes was in charge of all the towing, and put together a fantastic crew from all over. Steve “Stumpy” Gilmore was meet director.

On the first day of competition (January 14th) the temperature in Forbes hovered around the 40-45*c. The entire field of 82 pilots launched and were out of the paddock within three hours, an excellent first day effort from the ground crew. Five dragonflies and one trike were used to aerotow the entire field. The first task was a 121.4km dog leg to Trundle then Condobolin.

Most pilots made the turnpoint but high cloud shut down the thermal activity and forced pilots to land on the second leg. Gerolf Heinrichs landed 4.6 km short of goal but on the wrong side of a river in the middle of nowwhere. He tried to swim to goal by crossing the river, but the goalies had already packed up and gone home, so he had to wait for his retrieve team. In the meantime, Bernd Weber of Germany who had made it to within 6.5 km of goal (Atos) having no radio or mobile service made his way to Gerolf’s glider.

After being attacked by mosquitoes Bernd removed Gerolf´s glider bag and wrapped himself up in it. At 2 am Gerolf’s team found the glider and Bernd. Gerold was sure he put the glider bag on and started to wonder how the glider was now bagless. The Austrian retrieve team then had two flat tyres which stranded them at Condobolin overnight. Gerolf ended up winning the day.

Day two was set on one of the hottest days in sixty-two years in Forbes. With the temperature in the paddock again around 40-45*c in the shade and the wind at 20 knots below 1500m, and 30 knots above 1500 m, some pilots began setting up, some sort of endurance event I think, but after some intense cycles ripping through the paddock and with winds strengthening, the safety committee recommended that the day be cancelled. It was.

The next day was much cooler with the thermometer registering at 38*c. A 136 km cross wind task was set for task two just to the south east to Rye Park, west of Boorowa. The window opened at 13:15 with all pilots in the air by 14:45. Conditions were very light to start with, but as the course moved into more undulating countryside, altitudes of 2500m were reached.

The start gate was once again a 10km radius cylinder around the tow paddock which proved very popular with competitors. Seventeen pilots crossed the goal line with several landings less than fifty metres short. The tail wind on the approach to goal changed to a strong head wind at lower altitudes and this made judging final glide very difficult. Some suggested it was the seabreeze coming in.

With strengthening WSW winds at 25 knots and with a number of gliders tumbling on the ground the first potential task three was cancelled.

On January 18th task three, a 136km task to the SW strong early morning winds out of the east prevailed but lightened during the day. Clouds developed nicely on course but conditions fooled a few good pilots who out landed.

Tom Weissenberger AUS, previously in 5th place, and leading Australian Conrad Loten both failed to make goal. Bernd Weber GER in his Atos drifted 22 km past goal after getting low and was last into goal. Junko Hikobe was the real legend of the day flying a Moyes XT, an intermediate glider into goal. Gordon Rigg was first to goal and won the day. In total, 55 pilots made it.

The task committee negotiated a long task for task four with a 228 kilometer run to the NNW via a turnpoint 22km to the WNW of Forbes to avoid airspace. With quite gusty launch conditions many pilots arrived at start for a better start time. Things got messy 30kms out from goal just on dusk with pilots batteries going flat after the five to six hour flight with pilots following tracks leading nowhere.

Unfortunately pilots discovered the fifteen kilometers of dense forest directly in front of the thistle inundated goal paddock. Some pilots desperate for distance opted to land on inaccessible patches of cleared forest or on the main dirt road leading to goal. Eighteen pilots made the 228km task with the last pilot, Mike Barber reaching goal at 8:15pm on dark.

Task five saw the top four pilots all contenders for first position. The task was a 134km dog leg to the SW at Ariah Park. With very light and variable winds in the tow paddock and regular dusties, pilots were keen to get the hell out of there.

Richard Walbec of France managed to avoid a major dusty only to break his carbon fibre A-frame after opting for a foot launch in nil wind. He re-launched after repairing the A-frame, and with a constant right hand turn landed at the turn point. Conrad Loten representing Australia, won the day with Gerolf Heinrichs of Austria maintaining his overall lead with Jon Durand Jnr on his tail becoming the leading Australian.

The final day and task six saw a 118km race to Tomingley with a turnpoint once again avoiding airspace this time at Parkes. Everyone was aware that the last day was the crucial day with scores very close. The top four pilots were all in the running and this day will determine the winner of the meet.

The launch window opened whilst pilots suddenly become aware of the fact that the southern half of the sky was completely overcast, while the north is still blue. Betinho won the day with Davis Straub wining Class II ending up in third position over all. An unbelievable 58 pilots made goal. Tish was the highest placing female with Kari Castle second.

1 HEINRICHS, Gerolf Moyes Litespeed 4 AUT
2SCHMITZ, Betinho Moyes Litespeed 4BRA
3 BARBER, Mike Moyes Litespeed 4USA
4 HAZLETT, Brett Moyes Litespeed 4 CAN
5 BONDARCHUK, Oleg Aeros Combat UKR
6 HAGEWOOD, Robert Wills Wing Fusion USA
7 DURAND, Jon Jnr Moyes Litespeed 4 AUS
8 WEISSENBERGER, Tom Moyes Litespeed 4 AUT
9 BERTOK, Attila Moyes Litespeed 5 HUN
10 LOTEN, Conrad Moyes Litespeed 4 AUS

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