Four Grafton men who have completed the five-hour fling time. Grafton Gliding Club members Val Preston, who did his near Parkes, Andrew Luland, Warren Morrow, and Des Muizr.
Four Grafton men who have completed the five-hour fling time. Grafton Gliding Club members Val Preston, who did his near Parkes, Andrew Luland, Warren Morrow, and Des Muizr.

Landing the tricky bit for gliders

GLIDING over Grafton is no big deal for Andrew Luland. He was up above the Clarence Valley for over five hours on Thursday afternoon in his K7 sailplane.

During his five-hour and 36-minute flight, Andrew was gliding over Seelands, Ramornie and Junction Hill, all without a motor and is now two-thirds of the way to achieving his Silver Sea, having fulfilled two of the requirements attached to the award.

“To get your Silver Sea, you have to have done a single flight that lasts five hours, reach a height of 1000 metres and travel a distance of 50 kilometres,” Andrew said.

The Grafton area is known by gliders for being notoriously difficult to achieve the five-hour flight time, with only three people to have completed the task since the club opened in 1974.

“I started flying last February and I was scared of heights. I think the first three times I went up, I had my eyes closed so tight,” Andrew said.

“It is a really weird feeling. To get the glider up in the air, we connect them to a kind of winch and it flings us up in the air like a slingshot. We get to about 1700 feet in 35 seconds.

“You can put motors on these planes, but we don’t. They are so much cheaper to run and are just so fun.”

Landing, however, is a bit trickier with every landing being forced, which leaves no room for error.

“You only have one shot when landing a glider so you have to do it with confidence,” he said.

“It is like the mental stress of playing chess and keeping seven moves ahead of the clouds and then when you miss the clouds, it’s like playing Russian roulette with the trees,” he said.



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