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15 to 17 April 2016
This part of the year is normally very busy with many events being held. Wangaratta Jets is one of the premier event for the Victorian Jet Community. The event organisation for this year was excellent with pilot registration being able to be completed online, with the first 50 to receiving a goodie bag. This option was taking up pretty quickly and it was not long before 50 pilots were registered to come along for 3 days of jet flying.
As we draw closer to the event there was a sense of excitement and the eagerness to get up to Wangaratta. Mother Nature certainly helped as the long range weather forecast indicated she was going to provide outstanding few days of sunshine. So all in all, the event was heading for new heights in participation and models on the ground.
From the Marsh, Ken Mollison, Garry Thiele, my wife Judi and myself headed up to Wangaratta on the Thursday to set up our camp and prepare for a fantastic weekend. We had a few additional pilots who joined us such Jason Sagaidak from the Cobram Club, Bob Down (Robert Gibson) and Neil Down (Neil Fulthorp) from the Pittwater Club (NSW) made up the crew for our little patch of paradise. 4 off 3 x 3m Gazebos, tables, chairs, mobile workshops, it was all there…
As the rest of the day progressed (Thursday) more pilots arrived setting up more tents and shelters for the weekend ahead. There were a number of new models on the scene and pilots came from all over Australia to be part of the action.
Ken and Garry took up their new mini Avanti’s which is a sleek looking model. These little dynamos are powered by a KingTech 4.5 kg turbine (about the size of a coke can) and we were all interested to see how they would go. Ken Mollison had seen Tyson Dodd fly his Avanti in QLD on his recent trip and on Facebook the videos posted indicated a great flyer. Being a small model, speed and distance would be a factor to be considered.
Ken is not new to testing new models and without hesitation, Ken was on the flight line on the Friday. Result was awesome. The model flew like it was on rails with no bad vices. Good job. For Garry it was a big step as this was the first time stepping into the jet world. Many people, including some Club Members, thought his model would not last too long based on Garry being a petrol head and has two speeds, stop and go. But before Garry ventured out with the Avanti, he bought up an old Spectra from years gone by….
The Spectra is a ducted fan and in its day was the model to be with as turbines were still out of reach for many of us. The model needed repairs and Garry completed these a while back and has been waiting a while to give is a go. On the Friday is come out to play and when Garry started up the OS 91, it was amazing how many pilots stopped as they recognised the distinct sound of the fan and a motor spinning at about 24,000 RPM. A glow plug change and a bit more of tuning and Garry was on the runway. I think at this moment, everyone stopped to watch.
As Garry opened the tap up she moved forward gaining speed and it seemed it took forever to get off the ground, but it did and the show was on. Once in the air and achieved velocity, the model flew very well. Everyone that had flown a Spectra was in memory mode and just enjoyed the flight. The landing was a bit ordinary and some damage was done, a typical Spectra landing with the nose wheel not locking down but Garry did a great job and bought some smiles to many. Ken was Garry’s caller which kept him at ease with comments of “don’t stuff up the landing, everyone is watching”…..Hmmmm
So Garry’s smile on his face was priceless and he achieved his first goal. Now for the Avanti. The next day the model was prepared as Ken had flown his already on the day and once again flew very well. Ken was Garry’s caller again so off to the flight line. Final checks were done and Garry took up his position for take-off. Once again, the model went straight down the runway, picked up speed and gentle climbed up to be with the big boys. Yes, she flew like she was on rails only needing about two clicks of something and the rest his history. All in all, Garry had 5 flights of the Avanti and did a great job in flying her. So all the doubters need to eat humble pie as the smile on Garry’s face will take a while to come off…
Ken’s Xcalibur Plus flew beautifully as it has done in past flights and I was lucky enough to have a fly. Nice and steady with plenty of go if needed. The smoke trail had many looking up enjoying the sound and maneuverers Ken was completing. Jason Sagaidak flew his Hawk, Tiger Shark and a number of other jets while I flew the old faithful Foremost which unfortunately met its demise on the last day (RIP). Seems a faulty flap servo or mount caused a snap as I was on my downwind leg of my landing approach. Oh well, that is the way it goes and I am busy now building another. Thanks Ken as I know it was the best flying model you had……. Well maybe second.. L
Michael Whelan and wife Maria came up on the Sunday for the day which surprised us all, but it was great to see them both to share the great weather and a few laughs. As per normal, Michael took one or two photos as did Jason. I helped by using their camera and taking some more. The photos show what an awesome time we had and the great turn out of pilots and models. From my point of view, I think it was one of the best turn outs for the VJAA with 78 pilots and with 120 models. The other great part of the whole event was the camaraderie and fun we had. The evening BBQs and chit chat with a drinks or two (if you believe that), was relaxing and enjoyable.
The next Jet event will be at Mangalore on Sunday, 15 May and yes I will be going up……… I won’t have a model so it is back to being a Pit “B” again. Ken said he will take it easy on me……. Yeah right!!
So if you want to come up and have a look on how these events are conducted, come along. Everyone is made welcome and as long as the weather is good, then flying is the go. I am looking forward to the next meet and share some hours with friends. I am lucky I have so many….