With a prediction for another hot day with plenty of cumulus and a reasonable chance of over development, the 4-hour area tasks looked a bit bold. And so they proved, for a number of pilots.
One hint to possible difficulties was a finish cylinder radius of 20km, aimed at dealing with the possibility of unsoarable conditions near the airfield. These did not develop, but the final leg home from the northwest was challenging for many, and several reached the finish but were unable to get home.
Among these was Sarah, who after a fast flight couldn’t get the altitude necessary for a penalty-free finish and ended up landing about 15km out, in a huge & beautiful field – pretty much the last good landing choice between there and home (if you discount the shores of Lake Keepit). I soon had the trailer hooked up and ready to go, and found local expert Ian Downes to show me the short way (via several semi-obscure gravel roads).
We soon reached Sarah and her Cirrus, who reported that much walking had not turned up any evidence of a gate. (This seems typical of Australian paddocks: huge, with limited access.) We guessed that the gate was probably on the far side, a couple of kilometers drive away. The wisdom of having Ian along then became apparent: he is a towpilot here, flying his own Cessna 180. The Lake Keepit Club towplanes are not authorized to do paddock retrieves, but Ian can – and volunteered to do so. We decided that it was too late to complete that mission in the remaining daylight, so made the plan to meet at 7:00 for an early morning retrieve.
Sylvia also outlanded (also after a good flight), a good deal further from home. Her initial report was that this might be a “carry out” retrieve, her paddock offering no evident access. Fortunately, in the time it took husband Hugh to drive there, she did manage to find a gate, and the retrieve proceeded normally. They were back on the airfield by 10 pm, and found that dinner had been saved for them.
Update: The morning aerotow went smoothly. It was a 6-minute flight out in the C-180, and a 7-minute flight back in the Cirrus. The morning wind was ideal for the takeoff – though probably unnecessary, given a smooth surface, a light glider, a powerful towplane, and 4000’ of runway. The only issue was a powerline, but this was close to the glider, so easy to stay underneath.