Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 Sungazer (or is that Cloudgazer).....

Although the weekend turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as far as the weather goes, the socializing, the Saturday evening free barbecue, salads and beers, the free cold drinks and hot dogs on the slope all make up for the lack of flying. Even though the gloomy weather prevented quite a few pilots from coming, the collection of aircraft that made it to the slope was something to behold. Altogether 22 scale gliders in the line-up for the group photo and a few others sitting on the sidelines made for impressive viewing.

With this being the 3rd Sungazer, the trend towards ever bigger and bigger gliders is quite apparent as the growing collection of 4m+ gliders and the noticeably smaller number of Far East ARF's present will testify. Quite a few "old timer" gliders were also dragged out the hangars with two Minimoas, a Grunau baby, a Ka6, Ka8 and a very unique SG38 filling up the ranks. Pity we never saw the SG38 flying.

Battery power saved the day for many of us and enabled us to at least get some airtime. Ken Kearns' electric ASH26 saw the most airtime of all by far and also managed to chalk up the furthest out landing I think anyone has ever had the privilege to witness at this venue. The ASH's powertrain gave up the ghost and Ken nonchalantly bettered his Fox’s record of last year by at least another 200-300m. Measured on Google Earth (is it as the ASH flies or as the crow flies…..?) the ASH landed at least 1800m from where Ken was standing! All this without putting a scratch on the plane.... We won't say anything about his ego ;o)

Charl has promised to build a Scratching Post Trophy for next year and knowing how daring Ken is, he’ll probably be first in line as contender. Another fearless pilot trying out for this future trophy was Herman Weber who tempted fate twice over the weekend but each time managed to save himself the walk of shame. First with his Junk Mail Special (an unidentified scale looking glider) and the second time around with the immaculately detailed ASG29 complete with retract that he recently scooped up from Andries Gouws.

Paul's well weathered Fox, Norbert's inimitable SB10 and Johan’s classic Minimoa all saw some airtime on Sunday afternoon on the Northern slope when a 30-45minute window presented some usable lift. Yours truly chickened out from tossing the ASG29 and rather tried playing photographer in the tricky light conditions. This point on the slope is not visited all that often as the prevailing wind direction is NW, but in recent times it has occurred all too often that the wind has come from the direction of Majuba power station.

I left at 13h00 on Monday, and as Murphy would have it, the chaps who stayed behind had some good flying late afternoon. Funny how that happens….

The Sungazer committee did an outstanding job of organizing the event and this year even saw some temporary ablution facilities being dragged up the mountain. Well done boys! If this is a trend for future Sungazer events then I might even be able to persuade the other half to join me next year. Thanks to the committee and the sponsors for making this another memorable event. Just fire the chap who forgot to order the wind.... ;o)

And here are some more pics

Ken Kearn's Ka6...... and his Ka8 that won Best Vintage Glider award.......and his electric ASH26 that did the record out landing.

Gert Nieuwoudt's MinimoaAnother of Ken's Ka6Grunau Baby of ...
This SG38 is truly an amazing work of art. Everyone ogled over the exquisite covering job and the intricate rigging.
After initial "servo problems" that turned out to be a servo plugged into the wrong RX channel, Johan's Minimoa gracefully took to the sky
And the look of satisfaction says it all

Roll on Sungazer 2011!!!