Yippeee I’m back in the air again!

My philosophy with this site has always been to post about the positive. Well this one trumps them all, I cannot adequately express just how happy I am to be flying again :)

I had a self imposed break from flying when some poor lifestyle choices meant I had taken on too much ballast (got too fat). We’ve both been making some positive changes over the last 12 months that has seen us lose about 15kg each so far.

So now that I’m back under the magic cockpit seat limit, I’ve rejoined Western Australia’s best club – Narrogin Gliding Club. A three year break means that I’ll have to work to get some of my ratings back, but hopefully after re-building my hours the club may offer me some re-training if they want me back on the instructing roster!

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the challenges that winter thermals bring. I’ve not yet flown the Astir or Jantar again, but flying the Puchacz and DG-505 solo gives a nice low wing loading that has proved to be a good strategy in the light lift. In the two weekends I’ve been back, I have managed a solo of 1.5 hours both times.




I’m very excited to announce that I’m officially a Uni student! The plan was always to go to Uni and 6 TEE subjects were diligently studied in preparation for higher education. However some early indecision over career direction, marriage at 19, the pursuit of paid employment, a move to the country and starting a small business all put Uni on the back burner.

I suspect this situation is fairly typical for many Australians, with only the content of the ‘excuse list’ varying slightly. Certainly the ages and number of students in my classes indicates this is the case.

The fact that I had never advanced beyond Yr12 qualifications always bothered me and if I’m honest led to some self doubt surrounding competence and adequacy. I had a teacher in primary school who told us one day that it is an insult to be told ‘you have potential’, or at very best a hollow compliment. The inference being that potential means you may have the ability, but you haven’t bothered to apply yourself to achieve the possible goal or prove any meaningful ability. It struck me as harsh at the time, but the more I consider it, the more I find it to hold true in the majority of contexts. I have always held a genuine desire to go to university – but am I destined to live my life as a potential graduate? My TEE score and TER suggest I could cope with Uni – but so what? It’s no good talking about what I could potentially do….RMIT Homepage Screenshot

In July last year I finally took the plunge and signed up with Open Universities Australia. I’ve been working in IT for 10 years now and it’s a field that I mostly find fascinating, rewarding and challenging. It’s time to fill in the missing gaps in my knowledge and get that sought after piece of paper that says ‘Bachelor of xxxxx’.

So I’m studying a Bachelor of Technology from RMIT through Open Universities Australia. OUA split the year into 4 study periods running 365 days a year, a full time workload means two units at a time – totalling 8 for the year . While this doesn’t give the nice big breaks as enjoyed by our on-campus counterparts, it does spread the workload somewhat to allow Uni to fit in with the rest of life’s demands. Content delivery is all online and via textbook, with assignment submission, quizzes and tests online as well. Exams so far have all been paper based.

To date I’ve managed a nice run of ‘High Distinctions’ for all my units. It would be great to continue that for as long as possible but I realise that I’ll complete all the level 1 units soon and it’s going to get harder from here. I’m thoroughly enjoying the learning process and cannot recommend mature age study highly enough. I’m currently experiencing two very exciting by-products; one is that knowledge gained is already proving useful in everyday working life. The other is that my understanding, fascination and excitement regarding the world of IT and technology that surrounds us all is growing exponentially. It’s like a curtain that I never knew existed is being lifted and it just makes me want to learn more.

I am reminded of a quote from the Hogfather:

Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom? – Terry Pratchett

Sunset Sail

A huge thanks to Mel & Simon who gave us some vouchers for a Sunset Sail with Escapade Ecotours for our tenth wedding anniversary. We took the cruise on the 16th and the weather could not have been better. According to the BOM we had approx 9knots ESE and the ocean was about as close to billiard table flat as an ocean gets I think.

We left the fishing boat harbour, sailed up the inner harbour for a little while then spent the remainder of the time out on the ocean as the sun slowly set. It was awesome, about the best afternoon out we’ve had in a long time. It was so relaxing sitting on the deck or laying on the trampoline as the cat gently rose and fell with the water bubbling at the bows. The crew served some tasty nibbles and softies were on the house. As you can see we had fun with the camera, being silly and trying to get some arty shots. Once the sun set we made our way back to the harbour and followed up our voyage with fish and chips from Cicerello’s. What a perfect end to the week.

Now we’ve just got to figure out how to make enough dosh so we can afford to do this sort of thing every day! All donations gratefully accepted.

For those that are interested, the Cat is a Seawind 1200 and has to be seen to be believed. I get that 12m is big, but even compared to our little Windrush 14 this thing is a tardis. Luxurious too. The cabin, living and entertaining spaces are huge and really well appointed. So the big question is do we have another 8 friends or family willing to share the $1900 required to secure this beauty for a day trip to Rotto next season? Because I can’t wait to go again.

More Goodies for the Bike

The new bike is going really well and the new accessories are starting to grow slowly. I’ve added some pages in the V-Strom section for my new Top Box setup and a page for Stickers which are both for function and eye candy.

I’ve got a heap of goodies on order to build up the new switch plate I got from Dan Vesel. When complete I should have a 12v cigarette lighter socket, a battery voltage and charging status LED and a permanent 3V supply for my eTrex GPS, all with independent switching. I can’t wait to crack out the soldering iron again, it’s been a while.

Farkle my V-Strom

Here’s something cool I’ve been up to. A Farkle for my V-Strom (no that’s not a rude word – look it up *Edit 21Mar21 – OK, so maybe one use of the word is really rude, but the rest are clean I promise). I now have a luggage guard for my bike so it’s ready to accept a set of soft panniers :)

Made by Dan Vesel in the US, this is a first prototype and bolted straight on thanks do Dan’s meticulous workmanship.

Click to see more about my Luggage Guard, or have a look at all the other products Dan makes for V-Stroms of all years.

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Welcome back me!

Phew, that was a close call. I’ve been pretty inactive here lately and by chance a colleague asked me a few days ago if I still had my domain / blog. I said yes – because I thought I did.

So I loaded the URL just for a peek at what I’d posted here last and got a shock. My beautiful blog had been replaced by one of those bullshit ‘looks legit but is just a page of adverts’ pages. It did have a pretty girl holding some textbooks at what looked like a University which was nice. But I have a wife who is even prettier and she has textbooks of her own so I didn’t really need to keep advertising girl around for any longer than necessary.

Turns out my host / domain registrar stuffed up but I was terrified someone else had bought  the domain and that was the end of it for me. After some anxious emails and one cranky support ticked submission it was all resolved within 24 hours of discovery. The moral of the story – if you own a domain stay on top of the registration and check it regularly, even if you ‘know it’s up to date’.

So if you’re reading this blog, and have made it this far into a thoroughly boring post then you must enjoy my random and sporadic waffle. In that case I have a treat  in store for you! I’ve got a few news worthy things to post soon so stay tuned :-)

Oooh goody it’s new toy time

After some time to recuperate, some lessons with a professional instructor for my R class license (<250cc) and hopefully in two weeks a ‘pass’ I should be back on a bike again.

<- I’ve put a deposit on this beauty. It’s a DL650AL2 Suzuki V-Strom in ‘Metallic Fox Orange’. When we looked online I was not really taken with the orange, I definitely didn’t want black and decided that the white might be better on visibility grounds. But have a look at the way the sunlight sets that tank off! I’m getting the orange because it’s the last one left on the floor, but after seeing it in the flesh I think it’s the best of the three colours.

Let’s hope those big twin discs at the front and the ABS helps me keep out of trouble and that this one spends its entire life ‘right way up’.

Not Again!

Bloody hell it’s happened again. This time I’m equally as lucky but the damage is a bit worse. My shiny new Shoei TZR doesn’t look too bad but I’ll bin it anyway, I’m now limping and the Sherpa is a write off.

I was on my way home on Kalamunda rd when out of nowhere a car turned right across my lane – right in front of me. I had enough time to start applying brakes but there was no room or time to try anything more evasive. I slammed into the passenger side and was thrown over the car and down the road. Thank goodness there was only a little sliding, lots of rolling and most importantly no bones breaking. Once again all my gear did it’s job. My worst injuries are to my left leg; a bit of skin missing, some of the biggest nastiest bruises I’ve ever seen and a stiff knee. Oh and here’s one nobody warned me about – the seating arrangement means the crown jewels took a beating, they did get their own back by tearing off my tank bag and mirror as I went past though! Read the rest of this entry »

The Gentle Advancer – Out of Mothballs (again)

Very early on in the life of this blog I posted a couple of pieces about my ‘Gentle Advancer’ which is a marriage of Quiet Advancer wings and a Gentle Lady fuselage. Both of these gliders are simple 2 metre span 2 channel rudder / elevator gliders with flat bottom Aquilla aerofoils. Re-reading them again has reminded me of the excitement I felt at the time I got her back into the air.

I mentioned that I intended to try my hand at slope soaring. Well it turns out I did and that led to my love of sloping and models like the Duck, Alula and Zip55. However on that initial exploratory flight I broke her :( it was a great landing by any standards in very blustery conditions but the short landing slide on the granite outcrop stove in the leading edge when it caught a wayward rock. The wings were already a bit the worse for wear and I mentioned I wanted to do a rebuild anyway but this forced my hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Zip55 and Slope Soaring in Albany

This story starts in Oct 2010 when I saw a build thread on RC Groups for a new model called a Zip55 from Zaerotech in Hawaii. After a few weeks of reading & lusting and a few emails to Kevin about shipping costs I had one on the way. This model appealed for a number of reasons. I was already on the lookout for a higher performance slope soarer now that I’m getting more confident with the Alula and Duck. I love the idea of a model that packs up small and I also love to build from a kit or from scratch. On top of this, the Zip55 has some extraordinary design features including a removable, foldable V-Tail with automatic control surface connections and a magnetic wing retention system. Last of all the Zip55 is a wingeron which means the entire wing rotates about the main spar to provide roll control instead of using ailerons. This video is worth watching to see all the nifty features.

We visited Albany recently to go to a mates wedding. I couldn’t resist packing the models and all my slopers got some good airtime. Kristy was really good, not only did she put up with my incessant quest for an into-wind slope, she performed camera duty and drew some serious blood from those lovely legs while retrieving the Alula from the scrub. Yes she volunteered for that but I guess my answer should have been “No honey that’s OK” instead of “Thanks honey, I’ll just launch the Duck now since the wind is good”. That all happened on the first outing when we flew at the blowholes.

On the second outing an Easterly of approx 10kts was blowing so the Salmon Holes seemed to be the best spot. What ensued can best be described as a ‘slopegasm’. The lift was like nothing I’ve flown in before. I did dumb thumb the Duck into the bushes twice (yes I did my own retrievals) but it was such a hoot screaming around the curve of the slope, scraping the bushes and trying to get close for the camera. I haven’t really had the Duck grooving like this before, usually I’m working hard to stay up because conditions are light and I’m just desperate for a flight.

Then came the climax that still has a silly grin plastered all over my face. I assembled the Zip55, Kristy took what I was sure would be its final photos and I plucked up the courage to launch all my hard work off the edge. I had already clocked up 1 hour with the Zip55 at Mullaloo on her maiden flight but that didn’t ease the nerves. I needn’t have worried because she behaved impeccably from the moment she left my hand. I thought the Duck was good in the conditions but the Zip55 was amazing. It’s very clean aerodynamically and those thin high aspect ratio wings really get moving compared with a lump of flying foam. It seems to pull through tight turns really hard without showing signs of stalling and the energy retention is incredible. I had heaps of fun flying half pipes – doing passes along the slope as fast as I could before pulling vertical into a stall turn, diving back down and doing it all again. Possibly the most exciting part was the landing though. Top landing didn’t seem like an option so I got Kristy to guide me down the steps to the beach below while I flew high and stayed out of trouble. The next challenge was to bleed off enough energy to get it low and slow over the beach. Of course the only way to do that is fly far enough out over the ocean where there’s no slope lift….. The video below tells the story.