Thermal Riders Club Flyaway to Bela Bela 19th - 21 March 2017


I decided after our first visit to Bela Bela last year around this time, that we really needed to go back there for another club Fly Away. Our club based at Aviators paradise is not really suitable for those pilots who have not aerotowed before, as obstacles are found too close to the runway and it can be unsafe. We were in the process of converting Ephert, Chris, Dayne, Patrick and Phillip onto aerotow.
I suggested we go over the long weekend of the 19 to 21 March, that would give us four days of flying and the chance to get the guys converted over the four days was good. You could just feel the excitement in the camp as the days grew nearer to the big event, a "whatsapp" group was created and the plans started flowing.
A week before, after a great day of flying at Aviators, we had packed up all the necessary equipment and Latsie and Ephert were assigned to collect it  and bring it over the Bela Bela flyaway.


Well the day finally arrived and we all made way over to Bela Bela aerodrome for a weekend of fun and Flying. Only Patrick and Samantha arrived the night before with Daniel 4 years and Sarah 1 year old with their home-built camper.




Before long the club house grounds at the airfield was littered with tents and flying equipment. Gliders were rigged very soon after and the fun began.
We started off with scooter towing up all the newbies and getting them ready for their high speed tows which we do before they go behind the trike. It's a technique we use to simulate the speed of the trike towing without the dangers of actually putting them behind a trike. They are placed on a take off Dolly and attached to a line that is pulled by a winch 900 meters away. The winch will pull the trainee pilot extremely fast  while the pilot is under radio communication with an instructor. Once they have completed this training they then move on to be towed up by the trike tug.



The best time of the day came fast and the more experienced guys got into their flying machines and made their way over to the towing area to be pulled up by the trike tug to 2000ft above the ground. Soon there were pilots all over the sky flying their colorful kites and being joined by the local vultures from the area.  Flying with Vultures can be so rewarding, watching this magisterial bird flying just inches from your wing brings on a certain feeling of satisfaction that's not experienced by others who don't fly without engines.



Frank and Tobie made absolute pigs of themselves with the great flying conditions. landed hours later and pulling off some spectacular landings. Here is Franks landing.



I had built a special Dolly for moving glides around the airfield, it works like a charm and can also be used to take off from. A driver at the rear end of the dolly steers it and can save the pilot a lot of effort carting his wing around the field if the wind is not in the right direction for take off. It is fitted with a 50cc Honda scooter engine, so is self propelled.
The Power dolly as we call it is also great for collecting pilots who end up landing a fair distance from the designated de-rigging area.

lunch time we all gathered around the clubhouse Boma to recharge.  

Harness adjustment always seems high on the cards. With all the experts around to help and lend advise on how to get the best from your equipment.

Patrick and Samantha's Little girl Sarah was the star of the weekend, she just crept into everyone's heart. from the the youngest to the oldest she used her charm to make us play with her.


The time finally came for Patrick and Chris to do their first tows Aerotows, needless to say with all the training they had done the previous day on the winch doing high speed tows they made it look so easy. Here is Patrick landing his Wills Wing U2 after a perfect Aerotow.

Chris was not far behind and with minutes to spare before it got too dark. he performed his very first Aerotow.

 The following day which was our last day of the weekend I woke up the camp early to get Ephert and Dayne onto the Aerotwing system.  At 06h30 Dayne was first to go. you can imagine how my heart was beating, my nerves were in overdrive but he knew his stuff and performed his first perfect tow to 1000ft above the airfield with Frank flying the trike tugg.
The following day which was our last day of the weekend I woke up the camp early to get Ephert and Dayne onto the Aerotwing system.  At 06h30 Dayne was first to go. you can imagine how my heart was beating, my nerves were in overdrive but he knew his stuff and performed his first perfect tow to 1000ft above the airfield with Frank flying the trike tugg.



Ephert was next to tow up on his very first Aerotow behind Frank in the trike tug. Ephert also performed a flawless firs tow to 1000ft above the airfield.






What a wonderful and successful long weekend we had. many of the guys managed to overcome and concur their fears. we managed to get another 5 pilots back into the air from behind the trike tug namely Dayne, Ephert, Patrick, Chris and Phillip. I spent just under two hours flying all over the area with the vultures as did many of the other experienced guys who were there.




A huge thank you to the following people:

Latsie and Ephert for going to collect all the towing gear from Aviators and then taking it back after the weekend.
Johan B for the use of your fridge, without it, all our food would have certainly gone bad.
To Gerrie and Averal for the use of your hanger to store our wings during the night.
To all the Tug pilots, without you guys this weekend would not have been possible.
Last but definitely not least, to Peter and his triplets who arranged our stay at the airfield and kept us entertained over our stay there. you guys all went far and beyond what was asked for and made our weekend one that will be remembered for years to come.
Looking so forward to our next trip out there.
Thank you
Mike Spike










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