Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Water births..

To quote from Wikipedia,

Water birth is a method of giving birth in a bathtub or pool full of warm water. Proponents believe this method has many benefits for both mother and infant, and is a safe alternative to standard types of delivery. Critics cite the introduction of an unnecessary risk factor to infants."

For balloons I have to say that I agree with the critics.

With the Australian National championship fast approaching, my dear Dad has come up against a most predictable problem. You see, in the same way that an electricians house is never rewired, or the plumbers house is the last to have new pipes, the balloon manufacture is often the last in queue for his new balloon.

So here we are with down to the last few days to get the test inflation done on Phils new 77 so that CASA can process the Certificate of Airworthiness before the Nationals. A deepening low of the east coast of Australia is lashing us with wind and rain and will do so for a few days yet.

What do you do? The one thing we tell all our customers not to do - put a balloon (a brand new balloon!) up in the rain. Trust me kids do not try this at home, it is not fun and we would never, ever do it with your new balloon.

So have a good laugh at us. Wet like drowned rats. We weighed the balloon before it got wet and again afterwards purely for science. An extra 90kg of water was added to the balloon once back in the bag.

Ironically, this is the second time in as many days that I have had to deal with a wet balloon. I got rained on in a 350 on Sunday while we were packing up. Before that it had been the best part of 10 years since I got really wet ballooning, I plan to make it another 10 years before I do it again.

I have more photos but Blogger seems to be having problems uploading them..check back soon to see just what happens in the rain.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Check mail...Doh!...Check mail...Doh!...

Doh! Webcentral has finally fallen over and let me down.

Along with no doubt many other businesses in Australia who use this normally fast and reliable web hosting company I have been tearing my hair out since their email system went down yesterday.

I can get webmail some times but normal POP access has failed. Apologies for delays in replying to emails - it is not my fault, I may never have got the initial question.

On the other hand, the silence is bliss.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Home sweet home

A final update to the Byron trip. I got home to find that the roof was still on my house after a some wild weather down here in Sydney.

My last flight in the glider last Friday was great fun. I even got to do the landing which felt great. I have probably done a few thousand approaches and landings in balloons but none at 70knots.

A link to the manufacturers web page for the ASK 21 mi will give you more info about this cool little self launching glider. All I have to do now is find the 300k to buy one!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bus mans holiday

Ahhh, a bus mans holiday in Byron Bay.

I have just had the most amazing week of flying in the Byron Bay area of NSW. I drove up last weekend just after Sydney and the Hunter region got hammered by some storms and flooding, into the most perfect week of weather you could have hoped for.

I have been training Nic in the ever reliable “Tweetie” (VH-SOK). This long suffering balloon has probably had almost as many student hours in it as it has by me personally and at 14 years and now 480 hours it just keeps going. Two up we have been averaging about 0.6 liters/min, which is pretty damn good in my books. Considering this balloon was the test batch for our new Duralife fabric way back in 1994 I am wondering if it will ever wear out.

All up we have done a total of 9.2 hours of instruction in 7 flights. All have been over a wide range of conditions and also included Nic's first solo.

A highlight of the week has been the start of some gliding lessons. Unfortunately with the focus being on balloon training I have not had the time to focus on the gliding but I have had two instructional flights in an ASK21 mi and will have another this afternoon. This little baby is a fantastic little motor glider that has a tiny radial engine an prop that folds away behind the cockpit. It is fully acrobatic and a real pleasure to fly.

No landings yet but I am getting it around the circuit and lined up on final which feels great. On my second flight I got to weave in and out of the top of a little cumulus cloud – it felt like I was zipping in and out of a mountain!

I am going to have to come up to focus on the gliding for a few weeks some time, it is so much fun.

Back to the real world soon which is on one hand a bit sad because the people up here have been great to hang out with and despite flying so much, I have been feeling the most relaxed I have felt for a while.

Next stop, the Nationals. I can't wait.

Thomas and I getting ready for a flight in the ASK21 motor glider.

The view towards Mt. Warning as we approached cloud base in the glider. Just an amazing place to be flying balloons and gliders.

Me and Nic after she nailed a landing on top of a hill one afternoon. Great spot to land.

Nic and Matt Scaife on an afternoon flight near Byron. Here we are only about 1km in from the coast (out of shot on the left!) This was the second training flight and the grin just got bigger as the week went on.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A town like...

Just back form a few days in Alice Springs. Bloody cold and windy! Last time I was up there (1995 or 1996?)it was January and 44 degrees in the shade. This time is was a maximum of about 10 or 12 degrees....

Had the pleasure of screaming along in a 260 with about an 8kt launch, 20+ knots at about 200 feet and greasing into a landing at something in between. Kept reasonably busy at that speed in a half hour hop so no photos which is a bugger as it was a very nice flight and my first in that area.

Went for a drive out to Simpsons Gap for a walk and look at something other than balloons. Simpsons gap is a prominent water hole in the west MacDonell ranges about 20km west of Alice Springs and is home to the endangered black footed rock wallabies. Amazing colours in the rocks, sand and flora.

Anyhow, back to the real world for a few days before my week in Byron Bay learning to fly gliders and teaching Nic to fly balloons. It is all training for the Nationals, honest!