[top] Russ congratulates Dennis after giving a neat speech prior to the hand over to Dennis - with special mention of Gill Bird who has had a rough time of it, health wise, of late.
[third down] Don Slatter (another part of the DMAC backbone) bringing us all back up to speed on the postals procedures and allocated teams before the start, in his normal lighthearted fashion.
The DMAC visit to Karkloof Country Club this past Sunday had a special twist (as if flying at that Eden is not special enough ;-) in that it included a very special hand over to Dennis Bird, who has quietly been most of the glue holding the club soaring side together for well over a decade. Michel Leusch had been moved to comment at one of the recent events, whilst watching Dennis navigate a thermal soarer craft around the sky in his normal ultra smooooth fashion, "Gee, imagine what a threat Dennis would be if he had a really hot moldie thermal plane......?" Thus started the fermenting of some behind the scenes negotiations, driven by Michel and Russ Conradt in cahoots with someone up north. We as a group gladly got involved in supporting the venture and all were looking forward to the Valentine's day hand over. The morning dawned kind of iffy weather wise and it took some smooth cell talking from Russ to lure Dennis up the field, where he was presented the moldie, bedecked in red and white ribbon for the occasion.
New blood is always healthy and the Leusch clan leading us astray from our normal haunt and habit proved a master stroke. The cloudy conditions were nice and mild for flyers and families alike and there was no pain at all in being located on one of the adjacent fields as the main field was being re-planted. Russ's family was moved to comment that they would enjoy these visits with such company again and there were some of us even suggesting once a quarter such gatherings for the postals! (hint hint to Don ;-) DMAC has always preferred a group rather than a fractured "on any Sunday" approach to its postal events and this took it one step better.
The second bottom pic shows Dennis with his new toy and bottom pic below the happy band of flyers and callers, probably one of the nicest thermal outings I have enjoyed and I was not even flying (e-plane not finished in time)! Missing in the photograph is Adrian from Port Shepstone, a power pilot of quarter scale aircraft who thoroughly enjoyed his first outing in contest thermal soaring, ably guided by Russ, who also had a magic day with the green Shrek plane. Adrian's last scratch after a hairy launch was top draw and he was moved to comment that he could easily make the trip from "Sheppie" to this stunning venue on many more occasions. It was also a first time out for Mark Buckshorpe on the Mike Summers "Sabre" and Mark had two superb flights at the end, once the ideal trim had been achieved.
Second from right in the bottom photograph is Mark Phillips who became DMAC's first pilot ever to fly the postals using the e-soaring mode of launch. The newly developed "CAM" gizmo faultlessly shut the electric propeller down at 200 metres or 30 seconds on each and every launch and his hybrid Impulse fuselage with Midwest Essence wing was only hampered by the good breeze which, in turn, made for some pretty good winch launching, especially from Simon Nelson who has been tweaking the launch setting on his new craft. Michel already has two new electric folk interested in a acquiring the e launch gizmos and Gert's move to include this launch option in the postals can only serve to bolster this legendary thermal series. The switch to "power off" was so markedly obvious that it was a simple matter to pick up the flight watch start time, as per normal glider soaring.
[Those in the bottom pic, left to right: Ryan Nelson, Andre Leusch, Simon Nelson, Allan Sneedon, Mark Buckthorpe, Michel Leusch, Dave Greer, Mike Stark, Don Slatter, Brian Fanning and Russ Conradt - thanks to young Kelly Conradt and Mike Stark for supplying the pics].
With this kind of clubbie spirit, local thermal soaring can only go from strength to strength.