Finaly a flight

One of the perks of working from home is that I can work from anywhere. So last Monday I headed down to Canowindra to get some pre-work flying in and finally get some actual practice in.

I did not have any crew for Tuesday morning, so I headed out on my own ready to strap my bike to the side of the basket and use that for retrieve. Unfortunately every pibal I let off went straight up and I really did not want to end up becalmed over town without a crew to help retrieve me. So I decided not to fly, but spend a couple of hours checking the accuracy of the new map that has been produced.

For the last 20 years we have been flying on a decent, but old (hand drawn) map. This has now been replaced by a new digital data map that my mate Sean Kavanagh has put together. The map is great to fly with, but unfortunately the data that has been supplied is missing a number of the intersections that we have previously used as goals. I went and checked out these intersections and it appears that the issue is that these intersections are actually substantial drive ways and hence the data did not classify them as roads. I have brought this to the attention of the competition director (Garry Lockyer). At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if the road is not marked, because we will be simply flying to the waypoint.

Example of one of the missing tracks

Example of one of the missing tracks

Wednesday morning was another very still morning, but fortunately I had one of the local balloonists, Caitlin, come out to drive for me. The morning ended up being a typical Canowindra morning, where the wind drained down the river valley at sunrise. So I decided to do the normal Fly In to the ovals in town. My plan for the morning was really to just get a feel for flying again because it had been 4 months since I had flown. I had also just purchased a third large 76L and I wanted to get used to the extra weight. The flight ended up only being about an hour, because there were a lot of rain showers on the horizon and I really did not want to pack up a balloon in the rain.

Rain in Cowra

Rain in Cowra

I was really happy with the way I flew. I managed to get about a 20cm Gravity Marker Drop (i.e. vertical marker drop rather than throwing it) on the cricket pitch on the oval.

Gravity Marker Drop

Gravity Marker Drop

The extra weight in the basket also made a great difference. The main benefit (apart from having more fuel than I will ever need to use) is that the balloon stays a lot more stable when doing really fast descents. When you are too light, the balloon needs to dump more air to go fast and then starts distorting more to come down.

Probably the best thing of these couple of days is that I feel like I am now actually getting ready for the Nationals. I have spent so much time in the last year working on my physical and mental fitness, but I was really getting a bit tense about not flying.

We plan to head down to Canowindra next week and then I will be doing a Monday/Tuesday with Matt and Nicola Scaife the following week. So hopefully we will get another 4 flights in before the event.

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