The Vintage & Classic Glider Club of New Zealand Inc


 VK National Rally at Springfield Christchurch, South Island - 2016

A little while a go there was a bit of a discussion amongst the Vintage Kiwi team as to ‘where to from here’ as far as Rally venues were concerned.  By tradition we have generally chosen to go to both Taupo and Inglewood in the North Island and support those two clubs, but it was felt it was now time for a change.  Taumarunui in the North Island’s King Country was one of the chosen possibilities and that’s where Vintage Kiwi went in February 2015, which made for the highest attended rally ever.  

So then, why not go ahead and plan for a Vintage Kiwi southern assault to the South Island of New Zealand.  If the English  can ‘pop across the channel’ to attend and fly in Vintage Rallies in all parts of Europe why can’t we do the same?  Cross our Cook Strait and do a similar ‘mass invasion’, meet up and fly with some of our South Island members.  So we did just that. The plan was to spend nine days at Springfield, inland from Christchurch, and a further five days flying at Nelson Lakes on the way home.

Seven gliders from all parts of the North Island, all securely tucked up in their trailers decided to make the big journey south. Not since the 1970s very active competition scene had so many gliders journeyed en-mass from the North Island down to the South Island.  From Alexander, John Robinson and his PIK 20 traveled north to join our VK rally.  Chris Richards from Blenheim trailered the Discus down and joined in as well.  A surprise visitor was Frank Saxton who flew from Nelson Lakes to Springfield.  A day later he returned to Nelson Lakes using the Big Wave.

Our host club for the first nine days was the Canterbury Gliding Club who are based at their Springfield property which is a drive of about 45 minutes from Christchurch towards the mountains and the west coast of the South Island.  Several of their senior members took a week away from work and family to support our stay as an Instructor and tow pilot so we could fly every day.  Most of the VK attendees stayed in the very comfortable converted farm house that was the original residence when the land was acquired some years ago.       

A meet and greet BBQ was arranged by the local club on the second evening really helped to set the scene for the very active flying days that followed.  The Canterbury Gliding Club aero tow with a couple of LSA (light sport aircraft), their big powerful Piper Pawnee now having been retired and sold.  Most of the Vintage Kiwi team had never towed behind a ‘microlight’ before but had no issues in doing so.

We all experienced their famous North West Wave, great thermals with a small amount of limited ridge flying depending on the conditions of the day. The Vintage Kiwi syndicated K 8 landed out at a airstrip in the Porters Pass on the first day. Some very good hours were put up by everyone with only two days lost because of weather related issues.  The South Island weather gods were obviously kind to us on this trip.  On one non-flying day the mountain winds turned on a spectacular display of wind gusts up to 40 plus knots at the airfield that required a couple of cars to be used as a wind break to stop a tent from being bowled over by the conditions that lasted 14 hours or so.  The gliders and the trailers were very well secured (south island style) and survived.  The maximum gust was about 50 knots according to the locals… Amazing!

On the last Saturday night we all went out with some of our new Canterbury friends to the local Springfield Pub for a ‘bit of a session’ and the following day we reluctantly all headed off.        

And so onto Nelson Lakes.  This was a very scenic road journey through the mountains via the famous Lewis Pass.  Nelson Lakes is a winching only club which was a good change both in venue and launching system.   We flew five days out of five, which was very satisfying for the Vintage Kiwi group.  Again we experienced their wave, thermals and ridges in a potpourri of conditions.  We all had a number of social get together’s down at the local pub after flying which again created a great atmosphere for the week.  Nelson Lakes has a great winch site and is a club well worth a visit.  

Saturday saw us all journey off to Picton for the ferry back home to the North Island with some great memories.  It was a great scenic road trip of NZ for some and a lot of very good flying was achieved.  Next year?  It’s back to Taumarunui in the North Island.  However, now that Cook Strait has been ‘reconquered’ by the North Islanders it will be interesting to see if we might be able to prise some of our South Island members out of the security of their mountains and join us on the ‘rolling flats’ of the King Country.

                                                                                                                                              Roger Brown                

Rally Photos

Rae Kerr and the Syndicate K8b

Derry’s Briegleb BG12-16 ZK-GMR

Libelles GOS and GGJ