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LT fanfic: Christchurch spinoff of the Wellington story. Created Wednesday 26 July 2023

Christchurch Flying Club, S1 E1: I need to learn about aeronautics.

*You're the transcriber (same character as the narrator) and you clunk down on the play button on the tape recorder.*

*the whirring of a pre-collapse tape recorder, albeit with a post-collapse chassis, somehow still working after all this time, is heard, both on the microphone and by yourself.*

Left channel. Dear diary,

*that was too fast and also had interference from another diary ("Right channel. Dear dia-"), maybe last week's that was due to be erased. Of course, being both the writer and the scribe, you know the channel to pick. You click on the left channel only selection, and select stop (kerchunk), half speed (click), and play (kerchunk).*

It's the 4th of February, in the year [2178 - but substitute about three years before Seth and the M/V Molly Hughes 2 sail past] in the Christian calendar. It's quite hot, and sunny. And dry. Very dry. My family - not the ones who taught me to hate the Māori, they aren't my family anymore - tell me it's not normally like this, that it's usually dry (like last year) but not parching. This morning I went to the library. I wasn't allowed to check out every book I wanted to read, so I stayed behind to have a rifle through some of the more delicate ones.

I suppose I should back up a step. Maybe someone else will hear this. Maybe my dictaphone is bugged, and I want you to be able to understand me if you are listening. I know nobody's listening but me. Anyway. Last week, I failed my hang-glider pilot's test at the Christchurch Flying Club. You don't need a hang-glider pilot's licence to be a hang-glider pilot, but people tend to come back alive more often from the journey if they know how to maintain these delicate craft, and keep them pointed where they want to go, and a bit down to retain airspeed. You also get issued an HF and a VHF radio, a battery, a squeeze-crank generator, and an antenna, all of the weight of which makes you glide a mildly shorter distance, but you can also contact search and rescue on 12'500 kilocycles, AM upper side (said in full, for emphasis), so you can be rescued to die in front of your family rather than alone in the hills. That's usually how it ends, we only expend the resources on setting bones and people likely to survive without treatment anyway, but you don't have to pay anything at least, and it's always more comforting to be with your family in your last moments.

I was instructed to check out or take notes from aeronautics textbooks by my examiner. I'm told I'm actually a relatively good pilot - knowing how to use the navaids when they work (they generally don't work, but I was able to make using the local news station work; my instructor recounts tall tales from his instructor's instructor, when the power was more reliable and she could make an entire flight, in a comfortable box, not need to worry about thermals, and get where she wanted to go solely by reference to radio navaids ^{[this needs to be split off into its own paragraph]}), using a sextant on clear nights, knowing the difference between a real thermal and stick lift (a term carried over from the days when gliders had cabins and sticks you manipulated for control; now, only people favoured by the mayor get those kinds of gliders because they use up valuable wood, which is conserved for heating during our winters, which aren't particularly severe, but a nice, roaring rocket fire takes the chill off nicely^{[this needs to be split off into its own paragraph, maybe in another issue?]}), cleaning the airspeed meter, all that - but that I need to know some physics, and why we can't have solar panels and propellers on our gliders, something I wanted to try to retrofit to mine.

I'll note that I also got distracted and ended up in the books on radio, which also included obsolete bandplans for all the ITU regions (apparently our country was in region 2?), and mention of the tropical radio bands.

I'll dub from my other cassette recorder my audio notes (I prefer this over writing; my hand gets cramped easily and I only have a home typewriter) from then.

*the sounds of cassette recorders being connected are heard on the tape, as well as the grunting of the character doing so*


*tape hiss noise roars instantaneously into double*

*the character being admonished to handle the delicate, pre-dark ages book carefully* I will, madam. *the sounds of the page being gently turned to the part of the book about the shortwave spectrum are heard* I see.. Back then they used 120m for local radio in the tropics! Every frequency I see for a radio station nowadays is between 2'300 kilocycles and 5'000 kilocycles (I think I saw one at 8'000)- the fabled tropical band. I wonder why that is.


*tape noise fades back to single, almost instantaneously*

I asked around and I was later told about a shortage of power that made VHF broadcasting impractical because it needed too much power. I'm told the short-MF system, more because it's AM than because it's short-MF, requires a lot less power for the same coverage, and so, because of the endemic power shortages - the library was not lit when I went there, though it was when I went there last week - now our local news radio station's frequency is 3130U (on the tape, this is read as thirty-one thirty upper-side) rather than 92'700F (ninety-two thousand seven hundred, FM).


After a bit of puzzling, and listening to my taped notes and reading my diagrams and written notes (mostly tape counter positions) before I started recording this, I think I get it. The batteries and motors are heavy, and the panels impinge on the airflow and are also scarce. It would work, but not very well, and it wouldn't be worth it - I might as well fit all these things to one of the big, impressive wooden gliders, and it'd work better. I'm told I'm on track for one of those.