Slope soaring at the beach

North-east wind flow over Aramoana beach

Today it was a beautiful blue sunny sky with a reasonable North-East breeze, which means that the wind would be coming directly onshore at Aramoana beach. There is a tall cliff a little back from the water’s edge, and I wanted to try slope soaring on this from its base. However, as I drove out there, the wind speed picked up until I was unsure if I’d be able to fly.

I carried my Libelle over the dunes, fighting with the wind the entire way, a little worried that it would pull the wings off. I finally took off and made a test flight over the dunes. But the wind was too strong, so although I was able to stay in the air, the Libelle’s ground track was continually moving downwind.

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Found a new place to soar

I had some really great flights today! Two of the edges of the field I fly at (Opoho Park, Dunedin) are big slopes that fall away into a valley and into the city respectively. I’ve never flown on them before because they’re covered in trees, and there are trees planted around the edge of the field obscuring the view downslope and making last-minute landings impossible. But since my discus throw has been improving, I’ve been able to get enough launch altitude to clear the trees on the edge of the field and have a reasonable chance of safely returning even in dead air.

So today I drove through drizzle to the field and squelched through the mud to the edge of the hill. It’s heavy overcast and 8 degrees with only a breath of wind, so I wasn’t expecting much. I threw four or five tosses alongside, then slightly above and beyond the trees, without having any issue returning back to the field in time for landing. I got bolder and bolder, and flew further from the edge of the hill. This is the view past the cemetery towards the city, seen through a gap in the trees:

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