The Vintage & Classic Glider Club of New Zealand Inc


  Taumarunui National Rally - 2017                

What a difference a week makes.

One week our from our Taumarunui Rally the weather was fantastic and the long range forecast was indeed promising.  However a day after our arrival the weather gods certainly played a very cruel hand by producing out of nowhere, a low pressure system in the Tasman Sea which quickly developed onto a much deeper one.  There it remained semi stationary for six days whilst it circulated a series of fronts with some very heavy rain that lashed most of the north island and created all sorts of flooding and wind damage mayhem.  However, in Taumarunui we stayed in a sort of micro climate just short of its southern tentacles and flew in what thermals could be found under a sky of ever threatening and thickening high cloud.  Thus we achieved only three days actual flying out of the nine we planned for.  With the forecaster’s consistent threat of this weather bomb moving onto our neck of the woods, we decided to call it a day, de-rig before it all came our way and go home with our tail between our legs.  In summary our NZ summer never did arrive and the hope was that March may have brought the summer we never had. Obviously that was not to be.  

On the bonus side we all flew, drank a lot, ate a lot, and talked a lot.  Twelve Sailplanes turned up including a few newbies.  A Schleicher Ka6e from Stratford, a self-launching Russia from Wellsford, a Standard Cirrus, and a two seat TEST self-launcher from Matamata.  Aero tow launching was provided by a Wilga based from Inglewood.  One of the main logistic issues was to to provide avgas as there are no longer GA refueling facilities at Taumarunui, so 900 litres was trucked in with a mini tanker towed behind a utility vehicle all the way from Inglewood.  Kevin Wisnewski was the key logistics player here by not only delivering the fuel, but was back the following day with his Wilga ready to tow.  Fantastic commitment one has to say. Thank you so much Kevin.  


The local council held a community open day with a free Dinner at the Domain.  They asked if a glider / sailplane could be put on display as an attraction, which V.K were more than happy to do as council were very supportive for us to use their airfield.  Payback time…   Roger Brown’s Libelle was dispatched and was the star attraction it seems.   


Meanwhile a couple of the attendees did get out and about over the king country wilderness.  Kevin Clark in Open Libelle GOS and Tim  Hardwick-Smith in Discus b GXC struck out some 25 kms towards the mountains under a  heavy and increasingly overcast sky.  Honor was done as they slowly made their way back to Taumarunui and landed a few hours later.  The TEST team newbies were never on the ground.  They only planned to be there for three days as work commitments necessitated they leave Tuesday morning, so they made sure they did not waste a minute.  Due to the conditions some had some very good long flights, others however had shorter ones as conditions rapidly changed over the three days. All agreed that we had no control of the weather that was dealt to the rally so a mass de-rigging session took place on the Wednesday, the fleet having endured a previous night in the rain.  Luckily Wednesday was fine and gave a window of opportunity to dry out and de-rig before the really bad weather set its sights on the King Country and southern areas the following day.

There were also some on the ground moments that could truly not be forgotten.  Task…  Securely place five single thick plastic panels on the ground to make a gliding signal arrow.  Result…  “What do I do with the spare part?”… Yep, it certainly was one to remember for sure.

Roger Brown: VK Chairman

Rally Photos

Ka6e Rigged

Taumarunui Airfield looking North

Greg Douglas in Dart 17R GEZ