What's New! 2007/2008
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20 April 2008
The 2007/2008 soaring season finished in style. On Friday, our last day for the season, we did five flights totaling over five hours. Conditions were excellent and on our last flight we were treated to 13 kt thermals to just under 10,000 feet. It was a great way to end an excellent season. Very soon we will be adding another aircraft to our fleet. Come back soon to see what it is!
Jeff Blunt, a visiting pilot from Australia, gets the lucky last flight of the season over the upper Ahuriri River.
A huge convergence set up between Twizel and Lake Wanaka on Friday.
Looking down into Stew's Gully to the east of the Lindis. Air temperature at 9000 feet was -10'C.
Winter snow, time to go! The morning after our last day.
13 April 2008
Omarama is always full of surprises! This week an English pilot, Oli Llewellyn, phoned up asking if he could have a wave flight. With an anticyclone hovering over the country and no wind from the west, he was told there was no chance. At best it looked as though only a 30 minute flight was possible. In the end, Oli not only flew for over two hours in thermals, but he also got to climb in wave in the lee of Omarama Saddle - the first time we have seen wave in this area in a southerly wind! Naturally, Oli was one happy chappy!
Climbing up in wave to 7800 feet north of Omarama Saddle - St Marys Range in the distance. Photo: Oli Llewellyn
UK pilot Oli Llewellyn - another happy customer.
737 pilots trying to figure out where Queenstown is. . .
6 April 2008
This week saw our Duo Discus "Romeo Zulu" complete its 1000th flight - another milestone for the company. We also had some pleasant autumn flying with thermals to 6000 feet and wave on two days. Les Lamb headed back to Scotland this weekend and Don Mallinson departed for Singapore. That leaves just Chris and Darren holding the reins until we close for the winter in two weeks time.
Graham Walker and Chris Rudge after completing the 1000th flight in Southern Soaring's Duo Discus. Photo: Les Lamb
Evening light on the Benmore Range after flying in a convergence to the Lindis Pass and back.
Climbing up in blue thermals in the Rhonlerche on the north face of Mt St Cuthbert.
Les Lamb enjoys an hour and a half flight in ZK-GFA.
A brilliant sunrise before another wave day.
30 March 2008
Following the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow, we had a few unusual visitors throughout the week, including an LC-130 of the New York Air Guard which did several low passes. Mike Till and Marc Crozier have now headed north for the winter and things are much quieter around the airfield.
A ski-equipped LC-130 of the New York Air Guard makes a low pass over Omarama.
Victor Shaw enjoys his first flight in wave over Omarama.
Returning to Omarama after climbing to FL175.
24 March 2008
A big fire near Lake Ohau filled the Basin with smoke for much of the week. Even so, we had a couple of wave days and Herman and Chris enjoyed some late evening flights over the Main Divide. With excellent weather over Easter, we also had big flying days on Friday, Sunday and Monday with Don and Darren doing a lot of scenic flights. Marc was kept busy flying the towplane and Rod and Les coordinated ground activities.
Cruising home late evening from the Hunter Wave.
Smoke haze over the western mountains and wave clouds are reflected off the Duo Discus wing.
The view from the office after a busy day's flying.
Flying near Mount Sefton while heading north.
Summit ridge of Mount Cook - Tasman Glacier beyond.
Swiss surgeon Herman Oberli completes a two-week Mountain Soaring Course with Southern Soaring.
16 March 2008
Our last Mountain Soaring Course for the season started this week. Herman Oberli (Switzerland), who is with us for two weeks, got to fly to Mount Cook on Monday evening (Southern Soaring's Duo was the only glider to get into the wave that day). Herman described the experience as "Incredible! That was the best flight of my life!". On Tuesday it got even better. With strong winds (a maximum of 82 knots was recorded at FL175) all pilots had an exciting time. Other visiting pilots flying with us this week included Ian Blythe (UK), Collin Yeatman (Australia) and Marrin Ehrmann (Germany). On Monday we said goodbye to Irene, who headed back to Gairloch, Scotland, to run the Post Office there.
With the wave dumping on the ground north of the airfield, soil is lifted up over Mt Benmore and Totara Peak on Tuesday morning.
The wave over Omarama. Herman and Chris climbed to 16,000 feet from takeoff in under 20 minutes.
Running up the wave toward Lake Ohau. The lift was so strong that half the flight was flown with the airbrakes out as it was difficult to stay below FL175.
Flying in the Benmore wave west of the Grampians over Haldon Station. Pushing forward to the next wave saw a height loss of 10,000 feet thanks to the huge sink, distance between waves and the 70 knot headwind.
Herman Oberli thermalling up over Totara Peak on Wednesday. Lake Benmore is beyond.
9 March 2008
With more wave about again this week, we saw an increased number of visitors to Omarama. Overseas pilots flying with us included Andrew John (UK) who was on a Fish and Fly Programme, Graham Headey (who got to fly to the summit of Mt Cook on Thursday), Trevor Gorley (UK), Michael Heyen (Germany), Fred Polliart (France) and John Weber (USA). Early in the week we said good-bye to Adam Dalziel who is now flying Cessna Caravans on survey work in Saudi Arabia.
Early morning towing duties - Marc Crozier gets ready to tow John Ahearn towards some spectacular lenticulars on Friday morning. John was attempting a 1250 km flight.
Red sky in morning, wave pilots roaring - to go . . .
From this early morning photo, its easy to see why glider pilots come from all over the world to fly with Southern Soaring!
Friday ended like it started with wave filling the sky.
2 March 2008
The past week saw some of the best wave conditions experienced during the month of February. David Bailey (UK) completed a Mountain Soaring Course with Chris and flew in wave on four out of five days (including three flights to Mount Cook). Other international pilots flying with us this week included Tom Harding (UK) and Jacobus Verspaij (Netherlands).
Day One: Chris Rudge and David Bailey fly in wave up to the head of the Jollie River. Photo: David Bailey
Day Two: Heading up the Dobson along the Ben Ohau Range
Day Two: Looking across the Fairlie Basin while heading south along a convergence from the Two Thumb Range to the Grampian Mountains.
Day Three: David climbing in wave near Magic Mountain.
Day Four: Climbing up to FL200 on the front of New Zealand's famous North-West Arch over Mount Cook.
Day Four: Descending off the NW Arch near Lake Hawea after a straight run from Mount Cook.
Day Five: Mt Cook and Mt Tasman from FL180.
24 February 2008
More convergences this week saw some spectacular flights from Omarama with distances in excess of 500 km achieved. Even on half hour scenic flights, we were able to fly to Lake Ohau and back, climbing without turning to 8000 feet. Mark Morgan, flying with Don Mallinson, completed his "B Certificate" this week - well done! Visiting pilots that flew with us included Lee Johnson (Canada), Bram Bronsvoort (Netherlands), and Caroline and Kenneth Rhodes (UK).
Lee Johnson, a glider pilot from Canada, heads up to Mount Huxley.
Mount Tasman, New Zealand's second highest peak.
Margaret Delwyn, age 75, enjoys the views above Lake Ohau at 8000 feet.
All in a days work - the view from the Dakota while flying to Fernside for maintenance. Photo: Marc Crozier
17 February 2008
This week was notable for the big swing in temperatures - hot at the start of the week but then snow arriving on Thursday night! In addition to a steady trade of scenic flights, we had a number of visiting overseas pilots including Murray Wood (UK), Jocken Schmidt (Germany), Andrew Anderson (flying the ASW28), and Geddes and Helen Chalmers (the latter three from Scotland).
Another first for Omarama - Southern Soaring's vintage Rhonlerche II (the last airworthy strutted glider in the South Island), takes the first tow behind ZK-BPA which was recently purchased by Bo Nilsson and Jeff Campbell. Photo: Adam Dalziel
One of the easiest aircraft to land, the Rhonlerche returns to Omarama. Mark Morgan and Chris Rudge went ridge soaring in the glider for an hour later that afternoon. Photo: Adam Dalziel
Marc Crozier gets last minute instructions from Eoin Coutts prior to launching Eoin in his Cobra glider. Photo: Rod Dew
On Friday an Indian film crew used Southern Soaring's Twin Astir as a backdrop for a music video. The Team then got in on the act with the lead singer!
Cold winds from the south on Thursday were preceded by a powerful convergence - one of the biggest seen at Omarama.
Running along the convergence with climb rates in excess of 10 knots. Bolts of lightning came out of this cloud a couple of hours later! Photo: Adam Dalziel
10 February 2008
The weather has been very settled lately with clear skies and great views of the higher mountains. This week saw a number of visitors taking advantage of the good weather to do early morning and evening flights. Interest in next season is strong - we now have confirmed bookings for Mountain Soaring Courses in November, December and January. For those thinking of doing a course with us, we recommend booking soon so that you don't miss out on your preferred dates.
Who said the sky was the limit? In this spectacular photo, Southern Soaring's Duo Discus returns from a "Moon" flight. Photo: Adam Dalziel
Irene Lamb arrives back at Omarama after her first flight in Romeo Zulu. Photo: Adam Dalziel
Launching gliders is a serious business! Les Lamb and Rod Dew wait for a glider to return. Photo: Adam Dalziel.
Rod Dew about to head away for a check flight with Chris. Photo: Adam Dalziel.
3 February 2008
Statistics for January have shown Southern Soaring is continuing to grow with record flight numbers - thanks to our great team. In addition to our normal scenic flights, overseas glider pilots who flew with us this week included Michael Vickery (UK), Peter Kilkelly (UK), Mingrino Roberto (Switzerland) and John Lavery (Ireland). Auckland gliding pilot Bevin Buchanan also got to enjoy the special soaring conditions at Omarama. William, who has been with us for seven days, also completed a Learn-to-Fly Course and went solo today!
Rose Turbott from Auckland, one of our youngest clients at 12 years of age, flew with Adam Dalziel on Friday morning. Her father, Chris Turbott, flew with us the previous evening.
UK pilot Michael Vickery gets a chance to explore the Ben Ohau wave on a two-hour flight. Lake Pukaki is at right.
William comes in to land on his first solo flight after a week's instruction with Mike Till and Adam Dalziel. Photo: Adam Dalziel.
Peter Kilkelly enjoys a rainbow at 7500 feet while climbing up in the lee of the St Bathan Range on Friday morning.
27 January 2008
We have had another fun week with only one day lost due to rain - which was much needed as the airfield is very parched. During the week, Jakub Kubicki finished his Mountain Soaring Course and Phillipe Rossier (Switzerland) enjoyed flying Sierra Sierra.
Tin Goose meets Titanic - Luke Dale demonstrates how stable a glider can be while flying a Blanik without a canopy.
A view from above - heading down the Buscot ridge towards Omarama in an easterly wind.
Leesa Gibbs (Cairns, Australia) models one of Southern Soaring's popular bucket hats after a flight with Mike Till.
Phillpe Rossier flying Southern Soaring's ASW28 over the northern end of Lake Benmore.
Les Lamb with son Philip after his first glider flight.
Canterbury Gliding Club Chief Flying Instructor Geoff Soper flies in formation with our Duo Discus.
20 January 2008
The good soaring weather continues! Daily temperatures have hovered around 26'C and we have had wave on several days. Jakub Kubicki (Poland) joined us for a Mountain Soaring Course and we had a number of overseas pilots fly with us including Ian Bull (UK), Aimee Rohner (Alaska), Tomas Torsein (Sweden), and Filipe Rossier (Switzerland).
Thermalling with Luke Dale below the Ohau Skifield.
Flying along the southern end of the Neumann Range.
Climbing up the south side of Ram Hill with the Hopkins Valley beyond.
Heading back to Omarama with "Uniform Oscar".
Jakub Kubicki approaching the summit of Mt Cook on Thursday evening.
Looking down into the Douglas Valley with the Douglas Neve at right.
13 January 2008
The weather has remained excellent for soaring with a number of good wave days. Adam Dalziel (who has returned from flying overseas to instruct over the peak period) and Mark Morgan (UK) had a couple of excellent flights up to Mount Cook in the Twin Astir. Visiting pilot Chris Lobban (UK) also got to experience the excellent conditions - his first soaring flight after logging 30 hours in England without staying up! This week, we also saw Ralph Bowsfield and Bud Pratt return to fly the ASW28 and LS4.
Mark Morgan tracks up the Landsborough River towards Mount Cook. Photo: Adam Dalziel
Soaring up the Main Divide. Photo: Adam Dalziel
Looking back at the summit ridge of Mount Cook. Photo: Adam Dalziel
6 January 2008
The period after Christmas has been our busiest so far this season. On one day Marc did 34 tows and Mike did nine flights. Rod has been flat out with extra single-seat gliders to look after (our ASW28 being flown by Itsuo Takahashi and the LS4 being flown by Kenichiro Kaneka, both from Japan). In addition to flying, Don has been busy filling many visiting gliders with oxygen. Les and Irene have been doing a stirling job in running the office and transporting clients out to the gliders. Chris completed another Mountain Soaring Course with Scott Jones. The New Year has also bought some excellent wave flying - conditions more typical of spring.
A stunning lenticular over the Omarama Airfield on Thursday evening.
On 3 January, Chris and Scott Jones did a 400+ km flight in wave averaging 150 kph - all before lunch and any other glider from Omarama getting into the wave! This view is looking south down the Tasman Glacier from overhead Tasman Saddle.
Crossing the Liebig Range into the Godley over Mt Hutton. The terminal lake of the Classen Glacier is visible at top left.
Heading up the Hunter Range on Monday afternoon.
Scott Jones logged over 18 hours during his five-day Mountain Soaring Course and completed three trips to Mount Cook. He enjoyed the experience so much, he has already booked in for another week of flying in November.
John Ahearn landed his glider out at Hororata Airfield (near Christchurch) after trying to fly to Hanmer and back on Thursday afternoon. Seconds after he touched down Chris, Scott, Scott's wife Susie, and Tara arrived in a Cessna 172 to drop Susie off to go horse riding for the weekend. John couldn't believe his luck. All he had to do was put his glider in the hangar, grab a cold drink, take the spare seat and he was back in Omarama an hour later.
24 December 2007
The FAI World Grand Prix Gliding Championship finished today with a quick but exciting race from Omarama up to the Two Thumbs Range and back. Ben Flewett (NZ), who was ahead on points going into the last day, wasn't able to make the best use of the conditions and slipped back to second equal overall with Uli Schwenk (Germany). The overall winner was Sebastian Kawa (Poland). Congratulations!
Sebastian Kawa shortly after winning the event.
Sebastian Kawa about to launch in his Diana 2 glider
The "Head Eagle" - Chris and Pierre Portmann prior to flying in Southern Soaring's Duo Discus. As President of Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), Pierre oversees all air sports throughout the world. Photo: Don Mallinson
Sarah, Susan and Tim McAllister (USA) prior to launching earlier in the competition. Tim hired a Ventus glider through Southern Soaring.
22 December 2007
The Grand Prix Final began on Wednesday and media interest was high. It was great to see how each pilot's tactics varied as they were tracked around the task using GPS telemetry. Bruce Greef returned and was able to make good use of the weather to finish his Mountain Soaring Course with Chris by flying to Makarora and then up to Lake Tekapo.
Climbing up above Mt Ernest opposite the Wilkin Valley. Photo: Bruce Greef
Overhead the Cass River looking at the top end of Lake Tekapo. Photo: Bruce Greef.
Bruce Greef after a six and a half hour flight.
16 December 2007
Things began to get busier at Omarama this week with the arrival of more pilots for the Grand Prix. Unfortunately the weather hasn't been the best and few pilots got to practice. Bruce Greef (South Africa) did nearly five hours of local thermal flying but was unable to get out of the Basin. He will be returning next week when we hope to see the sun! Tim McAllister's support crew has also arrived - wife Susan and 18-month old daughter Sarah. We're hoping the weather improves for the Grand Prix this week.
A stunning photo of Southern Soaring's Duo Discus above the Tasman Glacier taken last week. Photo: Jerry O'Neill
9 December 2007
What a fun week! UK pilot Mark Sempers got to experience everything Omarama can offer during a five-day Mountain Soaring Course with Chris - thermals, wave, ridge and convergence flying. The highlight of his course was a trip to the summit of Mount Cook. Other achievements for the week were Wilson Ellery getting his passenger rating and flying his father, and Sven Ermich (Germany) doing a number of soaring flights with Mike Till, including flying to Ohau skifield. We also welcomed Tim McAllister from the USA who will be flying in the Grand Prix.
Mark Sempers flies north along a convergence over the St Bathan Range.
Interesting clouds above the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's longest.
Evening wind patterns on Lake Ohau
Mark Sempers enjoys the views just prior to overflying the summit of Mount Cook.
2 December 2007
Three containers full of gliders from Germany and the UK arrived this week for the Grand Prix Final to be held in Omarama later this month. Throughout the week we had continued good weather. Chris Sterritt has been flying the LS4 and Mark King is enjoying his time in the ASW28. Early in the week, Mark achieved his Diamond Height Gain in excellent wave conditions. Wilson Ellery returned to fly with us and complete his Qualified Glider Pilot (QGP) rating with Mike Till.
Phil Plane and Lemmy Tanner look on as an empty container is reloaded back onto a truck.
25 November 2007
Over the past week, we have been very busy with courses. Mike Keating (UK) joined us for a Learn-to-Fly Course. Chris Sterritt (Lasham Gliding Club, UK) completed our classic five-day Mountain Soaring Course and flew up to Mount Cook with Chris Rudge on three consecutive days in blue wave conditions. He then achieved his Diamond Height Gain on his first solo flight out of Omarama! He was one very happy customer!
Approaching the summit ridge of Mount Cook on Thursday afternoon with the Tasman Glacier at right.
After half an hour soaring along the summit ridge, we were joined by another Duo Discus.
Soaring above Mount Cook on Wednesday evening at about 6.00 pm in blue wave.
On the first day of the course, Chris Sterritt and Chris Rudge flew west in thermals to the McKerrow Range. Lake Hawea can be seen in the middle distance.
Flying up the Young Range past Mt Brewster.
Les Lamb paints advertising on a DC3 nose section. The cockpit now sits on the front lawn of the Countrytime Hotel and can be seen by everyone on the main highway. Photo: Tarn Jones
18 November 2007
The exciting news this week is that Southern Soaring has new owners! Les and Irene Lamb have purchased the business from Peter Hehir. Chris Rudge remains as CFI and has a shareholding in the new company. As part of the change, we have purchased five new hangar spaces and a Duo Discus which had previously been leased. For more on this exciting development, please read the article in the first edition of Soaring New Zealand - the new gliding magazine coming out in early December.
The South Island Regional Gliding Champs were held in Omarama this week. The event was run by the Canterbury Gliding Club and was a relaxed affair with some excellent tasks.
During the week we had a number of excellent flights. In this photo, visiting UK pilot Malcolm Wilton-Jones gets to ride up to Mt Cook in the Ben Ohau wave
Derek Kraak gets an aerotow retrieve from Ben Avon during the competition.
11 November 2007
Things got fairly busy this week with visitors from Australia and the Canterbury Gliding Club running a cross country course. The unusual feature of the week were day after day of south-westerly breezes - excellent for running down the Hawkdun Ranges.
A "dust devil" (thermal) rises up from near the Ben Omar airstrip north of Omarama.
4 November 2007
After several weeks of strong wind, the weather was more settled this week and we had some great thermal days. Bookings have also picked up for our Learn-to-Fly and Mountain Soaring Courses.
"Dove of Peace", the Wanaka-based P-51 Mustang owned by Robert Borrius-Broek, put on a short display over Omarama on Friday. It is always a privilege to have the aircraft visit us.
Serge Kohualir, a retired airline pilot from Nevada USA, enjoys a flight near Mt Huxley with Chris Rudge.
Lake Benmore from above the Benmore Dam. Cloudbase was 10,000 feet over the higher mountains.
28 October 2007
A highlight of the past week was flying a number of visiting pilots in addition to other casual visitors. Marc and Chris did wave flights with Phil Brett (Australia), Crister Bjork (Sweden), Alan Waters (Scotland) and Richard Scheper (USA).
Heading south at FL170 with the Barrier Range at right. The headwind component at this altitude was 65 knots.
21 October 2007
In addition to our local flights out of Omarama this week (some of which were done by Don Mallinson, who has returned from Singapore), our pilots got to do some spectacular flying. On Wednesday, Chris and Rod flew up to Mt Cook on a day when no other gliders were flying. For a story on this flight written by Rod, please click here. Chris also got to fly his vintage Rhonlerche glider after a tow behind Youth Glide Omarama's new Cessna 172 towplane.
The Murchison Glacier and Liebig Range viewed from 20,000 feet. Photo: Rod Dew
Turning back to Omarama with Mt Cook just visible in the cloud below. Photo: Rod Dew
A classic view from a classic glider - Magic Mountain and the upper Ahuriri River Valley taken from the only strutted two-seat glider currently flying in the South Island.
On Sunday Chris caught up with fellow Canterbury Gliding Club members, who were on their annual camp at Flock Hill. This is the view from the back seat of Oscar Romeo as Kevin Hughes learns to fly in the wave along the Black Range near Arthur's Pass.
14 October 2007
The past week was a busy one with Marc and Chris completing a five-day Class Two Glider Engineers Course run by well-known Gliding New Zealand identity Roger Harris. We also had a visit by six Airtrainers from RNZAF Ohakea.
The RNZAF visited Omarama early in the week with six Airtrainers from Ohakea.
Roger Harris and Marc Crozier inspect the wing of a wooden glider as part of the engineering course.
7 October 2007
Marc arrived from Canada on Wednesday. After completing a check flight with Chris on Friday, he took visiting Australian pilot Dave Belenholtz up on a four hour wave flight yesterday. Marc did five and a half hours of flying in total that day - which represents 10% of all the gliding he did in Canada over the whole of last summer!
A highlight last week was supporting a fundraising event for kids with serious illnesses. In the race from Auckland to Queenstown, Southern Soaring supervised a challenge where competitors built model gliders and then flew them into a landing zone. It was a lot of fun!
"Evel Knievel" from the Budget Bunch - one of the competitors in the 2007 Accor $10 Queenstown Race To Cure Kids.
Looking north towards Lake Ohau and the Ben Ohau Range. Photo: Marc Crozier
A stunning wave cloud in the lee of the Ben Ohau Range with Lake Pukaki at left. From this photo it is easy to see why so many overseas pilots come to fly with us! Photo: Marc Crozier
30 September 2007
We have had an excellent start to the season with some great gliding conditions between active fronts. Rod and Chris held the fort for the first two weeks and got the office, aircraft and equipment ready for the season.
Rod Dew hard at work polishing the underside of Mike November's wings
First flight for the season - six knots to 7000 feet.
Judith Auld after the first flight on 17 September. "It was amazing . . . I shall be recommending Southern Soaring to all."
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