That could have been better

The 2012 Central Area Rally dawned an absolute gem of a day.  A very light SW wind and clear skies, a marked contrast to last years event.  Once again I drove down, and as I was competing in the liferaft competition I volunteered to take the rafts down in the back of my car rather than take up valuable payload in the back of the 172.

Te Kuiti was going to be the location for this years Regional Competition.  I had happy memories of the last time I was here for the Regionals, back in 2005.  Dispatcher Andrew and I arrived in the nick of time to grab our registration package before attending the pilots briefing.

We were not due to fly until after lunch, so our morning was spent watching the others compete in their various disciplines.  The wind was favouring the opposing runway to what I used in 2005, but that was 7 years ago and I'm a little more experienced so it didn't bother me at all.

Sadly by the time it came around for me to fly, that gentle southwesterly breeze had turned into a reasonable wind, and the terrain combined with the hot sun was guaranteeing a lumpy ride.

Te Kuiti is located in a valley.  Normally this is not a problem for aircraft in the circuit because they are at 1000 feet AGL which is far above the height of the surrounding hills.  For the Liferaft Drop you must fly at 500 feet which means a much closer in circuit to keep you clear of terrain.  Being low down in the valley didn't make the turbulence any better either.

My first run at the target I was trying hard to see the target grid and pick a suitable landmark to use when I inadvertantly let the aircraft climb (better than descending) and we lost a ton of points for being high.  Our drop was long.  The second and final run the height and speed were great but I dropped even longer than previously and the line wasn't quite right.

A bit of a let down but I learned a lot to take away for future competitions.  The guys I was up against have been doing this sort of thing for years and years so it was a bit much to expect to do well, I just didn't perform as well as I could have which is a disappointment for me.

The club did fairly well, but we missed out on the all important Wigram Cup.  Oh well, there's always next year.