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Flying Saturday 13 February 2010

It was one of those days!

Mark Newton turned up unexpectedly, after seeing that Derek was the only instructor on the list and feeling bad for him.  By the time he arrived KRO had been DI’ed. Hugh, Rob and Sam were waiting for various flavours of training. Mark took Hugh for a couple of checkflights prior to his solo circuits, during which Roger and Keith arrived for a look-see.

Next up was Rob, more checkflights.  The first one generated the first inconvenience of the day, when KRO’s tyre was found to be flat at the end of the landing roll.  It inflated ok from the portable air receiver. It was still holding when the aircraft was towed back to the launchpoint and after a 25 minute soaring flight.

But, whilst KRO was being towed back to the launchpoint after one of Sam’s flights, the tyre exploded.  No “pffffffft” noise, just a bang that sounded like a car backfiring followed by the instant stoppage of the glider in the gravel fill next to the cricket pitch. The culprit was a stone, which looked like it had a knife edge and a sharp point, located directly behind where the wheel stopped and about where it was when it went bang.

So several hundred kilograms of aircraft with a completely destroyed tyre and incapable of rolling on its wheel was stranded on the runway. With a combination of rollers and car-towed sleds, it took about 90 minutes to manhandle KRO 100m into the hangar.

Mark DI’ed FQW and continued Sam’s training – glider circuit planning and touch-and-goes. Sam has been flying tricycle undercarriage ultralights and needed introduction to tail-dragging gliders. They completed four circuits and had enough daylight to sensibly carry out another two.  After some debriefing Sam opened the throttle to take-off for the fifth time, the engine roared, and nothing happened.  The aircraft didn’t budge.

Another flat tyre.  This time 2/3rds of the distance between the clubhouse and strip intersection, in an aircraft significantly heavier than KRO.  It wasn’t moving, and injecting air into the tyre made absolutely no difference at all.

Getting it back to the hangars required two sleds (the first one, made out of roofing iron, wore through on the gravel and broke in half).  Once at the hangars FQW couldn’t be rolled in backwards so, at nearly 10pm, all admitted defeat. FQW was tied down in the expectation that Alan would have an assortment of jacks with him on Sunday that would enable the glider to be lifted onto a dolly and moved into the hangar until a spare tyre was sourced.

Despite the obnoxious deflationary events, there was a fair bit of training, so the day wasn’t a total loss.  Hugh and Rob have some post-solo stuff they can get on with and Sam has been taken through the principles of top-of-winch-launch and glider circuits.

Oh, and the Motorfalke’s tailwheel survived the day without a puncture, which was just great.