14 May 2007

New personal best: 152 km!

Sunday 13 May doubled my personal distance record, to a whoppy 152 km. A small group of pilots met at Kiikala airfield. Top-pilot Ari "Arska" Sahlström thought that it could be record day as the predictions were for good thermals, a cloudbase of almost 2000m and a moderate south-easterly winds that would change to south later in the day. Thus the winds would help to fly around the Tampere TMA and he suggested we set ourselves the challenging taks to fly to Kauhajoki, 235 km to the north.
Arska was towed up first but didn't catch any thermals. Some 20 minutes later it was my turn and I got a reasonable thermal and started to work my way up. The thermal wasn't very strong and drifter northwards but it felt good enough to hang on and leave the airfield.
The sky was overdeveloping quite fast and soon virtually all the surface was in the shadow. Nevertheless thermals were quite plenty albeit not very strong. It didn't take vey long to pass Somero. In the neighbourhood of Jokionen found a small stretch that got some sun and by following that made a bit faster progress for a while. When I'd passed Humppila I could see the charicteristic waters around Vammala in the distance and headed for those. Most of the time flew between 800 and 1800 m, and often encountered light hail, funny enough usuall when going up. Before Vammala was really low for a while only 300m above the ground, but luckily found a thermal again over some rocky terrain. That was a great joy as I realized that I would now anyway pass the famous 100 km mark, a first for me.
From Vammala it was easy to navigate northwards to Jämi, in more familiar terrain, but everything was still overcast and thermals were getting fewer and weaker. I choose to take the easterly route to Jämi, as opposed to the westerly lane of fields to Kankaanpää. This as the Tampera TMA to the east was baking in the sun, and as it was getting later and making it to Jämi would be really nice. Moreover the Jämi ridge usually works at the end of the day. If I only could get there. Near Suodenniemi got low again, but once again could get up, but only to some 1300 m. And that was enough to make it to Pirttikylä, 4 km south of Jämi. After 5:40 hours I landed 152 km from my starting point!
Getting home wasn't very easy but also not too difficult. Tanneli from the Jämi hotel arranged for somebody to pick me up. And ordered me a taxi from Jämi to Ikaalinen where I was just in time to fetch the last bus to Tampere. In the bus heared how Finland lost from Canada in the ice-hockey world championship final; the roads were really empty! In Tampere then took a train to Helsinki and finally a bus home to Espoo. It took as long to get home as to fly!
I'll try to create a Google Earth track later this week.


Anonymous said...

Robert - congratulations on your personal best, and the new blog!

Noémie said...

Hello Robert,

just came across your blog with the buzz regarding your friend's incredible 303 km... Congrats for your 152 (mine's only 112)!
Being a French pilot, I didn't know such distances were possible in Finland (mostly flatlands i guess ?)
To create your GE track, You can try a little utility i've created (more oriented for the French League distance Cup, but you might find interresting data regarding your flight) :



Anonymous said...

Congrats Robert !!!