14 February, 2024

Gliding contest a success

Last week 38 gliders took to the Wimmera-Mallee skies for the Horsham Flying Club's annual Gliding Week.

By Chris Graetz

Gliders lined up ready to take to the air
Gliders lined up ready to take to the air

Starting on Saturday, February 3, and concluding on Saturday, February 10, pilots came from all over Victoria, NSW and South Australia to take to the skies.

Gliders can get to 120 knots and can travel up to 500km each day. Of the eight days, only two were abandoned due to weather conditions.

Sunday, February 4 was the biggest day where gliders travelled over 500km.

Michael Hogan, one of the ground operations crew, said that was the best day they have had in a long time.

"The conditions were booming. There was a bit of instability in the atmosphere and it made Sunday the best day we have had for many years," Hogan said.

"We had pilots that were undertaking their final glide at the South Australian border at very fast speeds of 120-130 knots.

"They had good altitude to get them back to Horsham without thermals on the way."

On the other days they flew, they were getting altitude of 7000-8000 feet and were traveling 280-400km.

For the first time, they had three JS3 Aircrafts compete. JS3 Aircrafts are electric self-launching gliders. Hogan said everyone enjoyed themselves.

"The pilots had a great week. They thought they were going to get about 5000 feet," Hogan said.

"We had people that were here for the first time and others that have attended for years. Overall, everyone was pleased with how the week went.

"A lot of people have already registered their interest from next year so that shows how much they enjoyed themselves."

The winner of the 'Club Class' was Steve Jinks from Bendigo Gliding Club with Jaroslaw Mosiejewksi of Geelong Gliding Club second and Terry Cubley of the Gliding Club of Victoria third.

The winner of the 15M / Standard Class was Jack Hart of the Bendigo Gliding Club. Gordon Trollip also from Bendigo was second with Neil Campbell from the Gliding Club of Victoria third.

The winner of the 18M / Open Class was Rayan Driscoll from Gliding Club of Victoria. Craig Vinall from Waikerie Gliding Club and Bruce Cowan from Gliding Club of Victoria were second and third.

Hogan would like to see more people get involved in the sport.

"Whilst gliding is progressing, I hope to see more young people, particularly women, get into the sport," he said.

"Rayan Driscoll is in his early 20's and he is from a gliding family.

"There were also a couple of women gliding but we want to see more. We are working hard to support women with training as pilots and also as instructors and ground engineers to help build up skills and qualifications and want to see more get involved."

Horsham Flying Club President Michael Sudholz echoed Hogan's sentiments.

"We have a couple of girls that were getting introduced into the sport doing the towing and gliding and they are great pilots. I would like to see more get involved," Sudholz explained.

"We are always looking for members. You pay your membership and start training and you do it at your own pace.

"You learn how it works, get confidence in the machine and you are taught safety from day one. Your first day is all about safety in everything you do. There are dozens of different levels of training."

2023 World Champion in club class, James Nugent from Mildura attended and talked at their dinner on Saturday night which Sudholz said was a great experience for everyone involved and that everyone learned a lot from Nugent's talk.

"James Nugent is only one of four people in Australia that has been world champion and he is the only one that has done it in his class and one the youngest at 25 years of age," Sudholz said.

"When he gave his talk, he said they talked to the Australian Sports Institute and they compared it to Formula 1 driving.

"Their competition is over 48 hours, whereas ours is over seven days and people couldn't believe the amount of level of concentration you need in this sport."

Sudholz concluded that if anyone wants to join the Horsham Flying Club, to contact the club directly or go to their website.

"Just contact us and get involved. You won't be disappointed."


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