The runway is clear, the air traffic controller has been notified, the adrenaline is building and seconds later you’re in the air with the Bundaberg Gliding Club soaring peacefully.
There’s no motor noise, just the sound of wind past the windows, and the breathtaking views of cane fields, farmland and the bright blue coastline in the distance.
Bundaberg Gliding Club’s Grant Davies has been gliding for 12 years — after his first flight on his 40th birthday he was hooked — and by knowing every aspect of gliding the handling seems laid-back and effortless.
Guided by several dials on the dashboard, Grant said the two at the top right-hand side were varios and informed the pilot if they were rising or falling as they fly.
Bundaberg pilots can typically reach a height of about 5000 feet, but Grant said on a blue-sky day he has been fortunate to reach a height of 8500 feet.
“Clouds are the limiting factor,” Grant said.
“It really depends on the day and the atmospheric conditions, but I have been up to 8500 feet out here.”
Grant said when gliding at the average of 3000 to 5000 feet and cruising about 60-65 knots, or 120kmh above the Bundaberg Region, it was easy to see significant landmarks including the Mount Walsh, Lake Monduran and the Burnett River as it snakes its way throughout the district.
Learning the basics to start
Knowing the basics of weather can help when it comes to gliding, but Grant said the first steps were learning how to take off and land the gliders.
“Then we learn how to use thermals and can move away from the airstrip and that’s what we call cross-country,” he said.
“The wind comes along and blows the bubble of hot air and the hot air rises up and it’s what we call a thermal.
“That’s why we go around in circles, we try to stay in the column of rising air because we are always going down in a glider, we still need air over the wings to actually fly.
“The only way to go up is to find that column of rising air.”
Grant said gliders would often venture out over Childers or towards the coast, before returning to Bundaberg, and some could be in the air for hours at a time if the conditions were right.
Landing is as seamless as taking off, as the airbrakes come out slowing the glider down ready to land on Bundaberg’s only gliding airfield.
Bundaberg Gliding Club open to all
The Bundaberg Soaring Club was formed in 1965 at a field in Monduran; After a couple of years it moved to the club’s current site at the Elliott Airfield 20klms south on the Childers Road, just down from the Forestry Tower.
The Bundaberg Gliding Club operates every Sunday (weather permitting) between 10am and 3pm.
The Bundaberg Gliding Club has a winch to hoist the gliders into the air so there is no need for another aircraft’s assistance to make it mobile in the sky.
For people wanting to take to the sky over the Bundaberg Region the Bundaberg Gliding Club offer an Air Experience Flight or if you wish to learn to fly a glider you can join the club and learn to fly.
With instructors donating their time it is a very cheap way to get in the air and enjoy the serenity that is our Bundaberg Region.
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