Weather and Flying
Alexandra is very much an inland location. Mountains and distance buffer Alex from moist coastal air so our climate is very dry and skies are often clear. Annual rainfall is usually less than 400mm and sunshine exceeds 2000 hours. We get our dose of wind just like any inland South Island location. Fog is uncommon except in the cooler months around Winter.
Summer provides good thermals from about October to late March with cloud base being typically 6-10,000'. During this period there are few days without some form of lift.
On a really good day a "sea breeze" can make it's way inland via the
Clutha valley and reach as far as the airfield later in the day. This results
in a 180 deg windshift (to the south) and a reduction in local thermal
activity. Thunderstorms are rare.
Sometimes a high pressure can result in stable conditions for a few days. In these conditions there is usually OK soaring up to a low level inversion at 3 - 4000', but cross country soaring requires a bit more skill or a higher tow to the hills.
Summer thermals are best from mid day onwards (NZ daylight time) and flying will continue til late. Remember the highest sun occurs at about 1:40pm NZ daylight time in summer. For thermals we'll usually aerotow to 2500-3500' QNH locally, or a bit higher on the foothills to the north. In average conditions it is common to "get away" from a 1400' winch launch although it might take a couple of attempts. Once established in lift the usual XC direction is the foothills (the "translator") and on along the ridge to "the Rock" on the Dunstan range. From here a ring of 5000-7000' mountains can be followed to Omarama, Wanaka or where ever...
The South Is of New Zealand sits in a generally westerly flow. The further
south you go the more windy it is!
At our latitude (45 deg South) we get a lot...
The winds often tend northwest, at right-angles to mountain ranges running the length of the island. Good wave is common at any time of year although there are two seasons when it's more likely (roughly Autumn and Spring).
We often get SW winds in our winter months. Mountains to the south create
reliable wave in these conditions too.
Typical wave will be contacted at 4000' after a lumpy tow. Once established you'll soon be going through 10,000' with the vario showing 6-10kts. The windspeed could be 50kts. How high? It's still pumping at 20,000'. Our location has been chosen for the attempt on the World Altitude record.
Landout options are pretty good. Paddocks are big and stock are few. Best to choose worked paddocks to avoid the worst rocks and rabbit holes. There's a good number of airstrips about.