Sunday, 19 July 2020

2021 Central Districts Gliding Championships

These are scheduled to be held from Waipukurau Airfield from Saturday 20th February 2021 (practice day) to Saturday 27th February 2021 inclusive.

Further information will be available closer to the event.

For any queries, please e-mail

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Report on Centralines Central Districts Gliding Championships 2020

Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau hosted the Centralines 2020 Central Districts Gliding Championships from Waipukurau Airfield from the 22nd to 29th February inclusive. The aim was to have a friendly, low key contest with tasks achievable for pilots of all abilities and glider types. Local airspace is unrestricted to 9,500ft which minimised potential airspace issues.

With almost 30 entrants, even after some last minute withdrawals, word must be getting around that the event is worth attending. Task setter Graham White did an admirable job with a field ranging from a PW5 to ASH25M.

Under the aegis of John Etches the contest director, things got off to an inauspicious start with practice day seeing just a ferry flight from Bridge Pa and a local area familiarisation flight by the Auckland Duo Discus. It did, however, allow pilots to arrive and get rigged and ready. Sunday then proved to be a damp squib with no flying at all.

With the positive attitude of the contest director helping the weather, the next seven days were all soarable even though it looked unlikely on some days. Pilots enjoyed thermals, convergence and wave at various times. Mike Strathern also reported doing some ridge soaring in a Libelle.

While there were just three contest days, local, no stress, flying was possible on other days with some notable flights. On the Wednesday with local conditions dying just after the start of the contest launch, conditions looked great on and over the western ranges. Taking a long tow in the ASH25M, Graham White and Jason Kelly were joined by Tim Bromhead in his Ventus CT 17.6m to explore the western ranges area south to in sight of the windmills and northwest past Taihape at heights of over 9,000ft.

There were only a few landouts during the contest with Derek Shipley taking the prize for achieving the most. He has written a separate article about his exploits. A longer task and the weather bluing out earlier than forecast on the Friday saw the most landouts in a day.

Youth pilot Kieran Cassidy, flying a DG 101 in his first contest, impressed with his flying abilities to finish 2nd on the 3rd day and 4th overall in the racing class.

A large contingent of pilots camped on the airfield and they were well fed with club run BBQ’s on the Sunday and Wednesday nights. The final dinner was held at a local cafĂ© on the Friday evening.

With a cold front approaching with predicted rain mid-afternoon, the contest was declared ended on the Saturday morning. However, as forecast, there was good, silky smooth, easy to get into wave ahead of the predicted rain which allowed climbs to 9,500ft (the local airspace limit) without problems. A number of pilots took advantage of this while most packed up and headed home after prize giving.

Congratulations to the winners:
Open Class:
1          GOP   Tim Bromhead                                    2,986
2          GDX   Nigel McPhee & Lucas Bottin           2,019
3          GVA   Stewart Barton                                    1,958

Racing Class:
1          GNM   Trace Austin               2,685
2          GHN    Mike Strathern           2,462
3          GKP    Steve Foreman            2,289

Sports 13.5m:
1          GNR   Grahame Player         1,637
2          GGN   Clinton Steele            1,479
3          GET    John Tullet                 1,414

Thanks must be given to all who helped run the event – contest director and scorer John Etches, weather man and task setter Graham White, BBQ organiser Brian Kelly, tow pilots, ground runners, radio operators and flight followers, time keepers etc. Without your help, contests cannot be run.

The 2021 event is currently again scheduled for Waipukurau in the last week of February so mark your diaries now and we look forward to seeing you then. 

Moon landing by Derek Shipley

So with a great looking sky, probably one of the best of the week, I headed into the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges in ML, all too confident that the lift would be plentiful. Not so, and the 3,000’ on the altimeter was barely 1,500’ above the lower slopes. Very quickly the game was up and I was looking for landout options.

All went reasonably to plan, and although downwind with about 5 knots behind, the paddock was large and had a body of dry looking grass which offered a nice bit of drag on the undercarriage, and it was very slightly up hill. The landing roll was however a rougher ride than expected and went on a bit longer than I might have hoped.

Canopy off, and expletives out of the way, it was time to have a look around.

The first thing I noticed was rocks.... everywhere. Most scattered on the surface some embedded. They varied in size from cricket ball dimensions up to rugby ball size. They were spread about at approximately one metre intervals. I had to be grateful that I hadn’t damaged the glider. The general view is that I had landed in a dried out river bed.

The second thing to notice was this was a very isolated little spot.

With sporadic cellular coverage, communication with contest director John Etches was patchy, but good enough for me to let him know that the surface was, ignoring the grass, a bit moon like, and for him to let me know that access for a trailer looked very short on prospects. There followed a period of no cellular contact while I walked around to see if the rock count was less in other areas. Meanwhile back at base, pouring over Google maps and talking with tug pilots, it was decided to send the Citabria out with Ross Kent and Pawnee pilot Ron Sanders to size up whether the Pawnee could do a retrieve.

They circled overhead, and eventually landed a couple of paddocks north of me. It was a good choice, with fewer rocks, but enough to still play on the mind.

Together we sized up the best area to try and tow off and pushed the glider up to what would be the starting point for the take off. It was far from perfect, and as Ron and Ross left me, the best thing I could do was occupy myself with rock clearance. I would have needed all day to get sufficient rocks moved off to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. It kept going through my mind, that just one rock could upset the Pawnee or the glider. I had set up an old fence post to support a wing for takeoff, but I was racked with doubt that I could keep the wing from dropping. The cellular signal wasn’t playing ball and so I couldn’t communicate these concerns.

Fortunately, back at base, there was some thought going into things, and I was very relieved to see the Pawnee approaching in company with the Citabria. So, assuming they could both land safely, I would have a tow and a wing runner. I have to say I was uneasy watching the landing roll of both aircraft, I knew the further into the paddock they ran the more rocks there were. Both bounced around uncomfortably from a spectator’s view, but thankfully, Ron Sanders in the Pawnee and Neil Faulkner in the Citabria had made it through the landing.

Using a short tow rope, and with a bit of headwind, we managed to get the combination airborne more quickly than we might have hoped. Without Neil running the wing though, I just don’t think I would have wanted to risk it.

About 10-15 minutes into the tow back towards Waipukurau I was pleased to see the Citabria come alongside.

Undeterred, the next day I landed out again, which surprised some people....yeah right. Anyway that’s another story.

In case it is not obvious enough already, I am very grateful for everyone’s help on the day.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Pilot Information - 2020 Central Districts Gliding Championships

Saturday 22nd February (practice day), competition Sunday 23rd February to Saturday 29th February inclusive

Welcome to all.

We thank our major sponsor Centralines.

Daily briefings will be held in the club rooms on the aerodrome at Waipukurau (there is a map to the airfield on our club web site at

The draft programme is as follows:

1. 10:30am Saturday 22nd February - initial briefing if flyable starting at 10:30am. If unsoarable, nothing formal will be arranged. A decision on setting a practice task will be made on the day. All entrants will be required to fully complete and sign an entry form if they have not already done so. Limited aerotowing will be available on Saturday.

2. Sunday 23rd through to Saturday 29th inclusive - contest days. 10:00am daily briefing – every day Sunday through Saturday inclusive unless otherwise advised.

3. Planned Meals (subject to confirmation):
a. Sunday evening – our Club is running a BBQ at the airfield
b. Wednesday evening – our Club is running a BBQ at the airfield
c. Friday evening - at a location yet to be confirmed or a BBQ at the airfield

Numbers will be requested and costs confirmed closer to each planned meal.

There are a number of supermarkets, bakeries and cafes in Waipukurau for other food requirements.

4. Further information will be given at the briefings each morning.

5. Glider trailers - the paddock next to the clubhouse is available for trailer parking. All trailers are to be parked in there or parked immediately to the north of the gliding hangar rather than scattered around in aircraft maneuvering and parking areas.

6. Please ensure that the area where aircraft cross the drive where the concrete pad is remains clear of parked gliders and vehicles at all times.

7. For those wishing to camp on the airfield at Waipukurau Airfield, please contact Ross Macdonald prior to arrival. His cellphone number is 021 262-9550, e-mail address and tell him you are coming for the gliding competition. The camping cost charged by the Aeroclub is $15 per night per person. They normally charge us this and it is added to the pilots competition account. Please advise Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau Club Treasurer John McConville of the number of nights you have camped. A sheet will be provided in the club house for this.

8. Tow fees, meal costs, camping costs and any outstanding entry fees will be invoiced by e-mail after the completion of the contest for prompt payment. Actual tow costs will be charged based on the costs incurred.

Enjoy your time in Hawkes Bay and further afield.

Keep the weather gods happy by having some refreshments for them each evening at the friendly aeroclub bar which is scheduled to be open at least from 6pm each night. Please note it is a cash only bar (no credit cards or EFTPOS available).
Competition Information

1. Grid lines will be allocated for Sunday and then rotated every flying day for fairness. First to arrive in each line is to grid on the far side of the runway so the next glider can go alongside.

2. Contest Director is John Etches, phone 021 980 610. Text landout co-ordinates to this number if possible. All co-ordinates are to be in Degrees: Minutes: Decimal minutes.

3. The Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau Club contact phone is 027-288-7522. This is for general club inquiries only.

4. The Waipukurau Aerodrome phone number is 06 858-8226. Note this is not always manned.

5. Within 5 nautical miles of the airfield all traffic will use 119.1
                           a. Outside this range use 133.55
                           b. In Napier Control call 124.8
                           c. In Hastings CFZ use 125.8
                           d. In upper airspace call Ohakea on 126.2
                           e. In the Dannevirke/Gorge airspace call Ohakea 125.1
                           f. Transponders are mandatory in Napier and Ohakea airspace
Refer to current airways maps for required frequencies and airspace requirements. These will also be covered in the briefings.

6. All thermalling within 5 nautical miles of the airfield will be left hand. Outside this normal thermal rules apply; first into thermal dictates the direction.

7. Starts are to be given out on only on 133.55 within 15 minutes of starting.

8. Unless being SPOT or otherwise tracked by the competition director, Ops Normal calls on 133.55 hourly or on request in format “Yankee Papa, Leg Two, Ops Normal” are required.

9. Do not taxi or use a motor in rigging or tie down areas.

10. Pilots without a personal crew must have a vehicle attached to their trailer and keys identified and available on the designated board.

11. Cloud flying is prohibited.

12. GPS tracks from a height recording GPS are the only acceptable soaring mechanism. More than one unit may be accepted at the discretion of the Contest Director. GPS units shall be handed in as soon as possible on return to the airfield.

13. Pilots shall announce distance and direction of finish at 5 nautical miles and at 2 nautical miles on 119.1.

14. Waipukurau Aerodrome is 430ft ASL, radio for circuits 119.1. All circuits (both left hand [runway 02] and right hand [runway 20]) are to the west of the aerodrome away from the town.

15. When landing, please consider other aircraft traffic and land to give maximum room to other aircraft and vacate the runway and surrounds as soon as possible.

16. Pilots may land straight in as far left as practical or fly through (High Energy). High Energy finishes must be notified on 119.1. The minimum altitude for a High Energy finish is 100ft AGL.

17. Because of poor mobile coverage, pilots should try to radio the planned out-landing site co-ordinates in degrees, minutes and decimal minutes.

18. Pilots shall complete and hand in land out sheets (see below) that include land out co-ordinates and landowner’s name, address and phone number when available.

19. All distances are to be given in nautical miles.