Australia - Morn. Glory 2011 - 17'000 km Gliding

The maps shows the route we follwed this year. This is about the same flying from Madrid to Moscow to Bagdad and back to Madrid - or for the Americans flying from LA to Montreal to Florida and back to LA!
Morning Glory 2011
Three adventures - getting there, being there and getting back

Stemme S10-34, VH-GTS, with Achim Sehm (Stemme Owner from South Africa) & Rob Hanbury (from Perth) started on a great trip to cross Australia and visit the mystique of the Morning Glory clouds on the usual wet blustery day, September 18th. We went with two Ximangos and a Dimona from Perth, some went direct via Ayers Rock, the Olgas, Alice Springs while others went around the south and up the middle, Birdsville etc. 


We only did a short leg on Sunday, 100km, and were then stopped by weather. Next day made up for it. Strong 100 kph tailwind had us cover 1'600 km via Kalgoorlie and onto Ayers Rock on Monday. Average 200kph on the 1'100 km leg.


The Olgas with Ayers Rock (Ularu) in the background

The next day we did a tour around Ayers Rock, in the Stemme, and then onto Alice Springs. A short hop of 2 hours but there were many fires in the area and we had to climb to 9000ft to get over one smoke plume, hard in an S10. Then Alice was deep in the smoke. A scary experience for us VFR glider pilots. Luckily Air Traffic control was there and willing to help guide us in under a Special VFR with insufficient visibility, flying just in ground visual but on GPS nav.

We arrived through the thick smoke of the bush fires throughout the North East, almost IFR in places, into Burketown. Glad to be on the ground.


Tidal salt flats near Burketown

Burketown - Town and Airport
The Morning Glory is a set of waves that sometimes occur in the early morning in September October over the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The short timelapse gives you of good impression of the fast rotating Morning Glory clouds.

Timelapse of Morning Glory

The Morning Glories can be seen on satellite photos, sometimes 1'000 km long.

Sunday - First Sight of a Glory - John Hodgsen

Monday - Classic Morning Glory - John Hodgsen

Tuesday - Surfing the Glory - John Hodgson

Wednesday - Shear Line - John Hodgson

Thursday - Rows of Glories - John Hodgson

The Morning Glory come in many interesting patterns that are wonderful for sailplanes to surf. We run along them in  good smooth lift, sometimes doing Vne and climbing for hours, just like surfers.  They are elusive and we takeoff at dawn each day to hunt them. A perfect touring motorglider outing (it can work for self-launchers but not so often.)

The Stemme demands its share of  care and attention with the Oohs and aahs of impressed glider-pilots. I can luckily take my hobbies (gliding and maintenance) with me on holiday. One needs to on a 100hr trip through the outback.

We met  with about 10 gliders from all round Australia (Hobart being almost as far as us) and so met many interesting pilots who have made the pilgrimage. Geoff Pratt the guru has been 16 times in a row and sure knows it - he did over 900km partly on the MG and part on thermals. The Stemme with her high performance did 250 km out at 240 kph on a good one.

We had a few good rides, one spectacular strong Glory, and a few others.  Most aircraft stayed for two weeks to give enough time to wait for the glories, I stayed for a month and had two international friends along to show off this unique event.

Lawn Hill Gorge flying trip from Burketown in the afternoon
The morning glory either does not come or is over by mid morning. So we return for the second breakfast and then find adventures to keep us occupied in the afternoon. Photo shoots for local wildlife and trips (flying or driving) to local scenic attractions such as Lawn Hill Gorge.

The map shows the route we followed this year. This is about the same as flying from Madrid to Moscow to Bagdad and back to Madrid. Or for the Americans; from LA to Montreal to Florida and back to LA!
In 2008 we went via the northern route shown by red airplanes and in 2006 across the middle and back. So this Stemme has really been around Australia a few times. 

She now has 2'350 hours on the airframe and 900 hrs on the Limbach motor - still in excellent condition. And over all the time has averaged 0.16L/100km (1470miles/gal(US) - now that is green!

Bonha Queensland - Pretty - Mountainous country
So I continued on my own from Burketown with my camping gear in a backpack in the copilots seat. The route was on around towards Cairns, down to Kingaroy, Lake Keepit, Bathurst, and Temora , where I stayed at the gliding clubs and soared with other glider pilots. It was great to meet so many and see the eastern clubs.
Here the Stemme was surrounded by a bush fire but protected by the Undara Lodge firefighters all night - Thanks Guys, I slept well. An interesting visit to the Lava tubes.



Then back home via the central deserts, the Flinders Ranges, Lake Eyre, Coober Pedy, a 630 km glide to historic Forrest airport, through the wind and storms and back to Perth. 17'000 km in 170 hours flying time, using 100 hrs of motor time.


Desert sand dunes with Lake Eyre in the background

William Creek airstrip and town in the desert near lake Eyre

I am lucky to own a great touring motorglider and be able to do such wonderful adventures.


Now, where to next? Maybe I will meet you along the way!


                                                                   Rob Hanbury


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