In late November 1980, I returned to Waikerie for three weeks.
I did a "Silver C" duration flight of 5 hours 19
minutes on 24-Nov-1980. The next day I backed up for
a "Silver C" height, distance and duration flight
by flying to Loxton and landing. On Friday 5th December
1980, at the end of a great three weeks, I succeeded on my first
attempt at a 300 km goal flight to qualify for the
"Gold Distance" and "Diamond Goal".
From then on, most of my annual leave plus long weekends
were spent at Waikerie. I was hooked. In June 1992, I put
pen to paper and wrote an item "Plane Sailing" for BHP's Grapevine
magazine, describing my feelings about gliding.
In a Hornet at
In July 1982 I accompanied Gene Baddonas, a BHP work
colleague, to the Benella Gliding Club, Victoria. Gene had
just recently flown solo for the first time and was being
allowed to fly solo in the club's IS28B2 two seat trainers.
I had flights in the club's Hornet and Mosquito gliders.
Some weeks later I took Gene to Waikerie where he flew in a
Grob Astir CS, his first single seater, plus joined me on a
brief cross-country flight.
On 31-Jan-1983 I did my "Gold Height" flight:
1600 ft launch, 12,600 ft max height, for an 11,000 ft
height gain. Flight time: 1 hour 21 minutes.
In February 1983, I entered my first contest. Amazingly
I managed to win it flying a Twin Astir, even with a strong
field of international and Australian competitors. My first and last competition — why ruin a
Lining up on the pad for a day of
competition at Waikerie
I turned my focus to becoming an instructor. In April
1986, I qualified as an Assistant Instructor after
completing the week course at Gawler, South Australia.
Memorable and testing flying with senior instructors: Reg
Moore, Geoff Howard, Mike Vallentine and Rob Moore.
On the June long weekend the Waikerie Gliding Club goes
to Black Springs in the Flinders Ranges for its annual
ridge soaring camp. June 1986 was my first exposure to this
and I loved it. I was fortunate to be one of the pilots
participating in a dual tow to the ridge, plus a ferry
flight back from the ridge. I vividly remember a great one
hour flight on the Monday playing chase the squalls with
Maurie Bradney (in a second glider) as everyone else stayed
on the ground.
Heading South at Black Springs,
ridge on left, high and slow
Wing skimming the ridge,
ridge on right, low and fast
Camping at Black Springs
I was honoured to be chosen to participate in a
fly past for Ron Thayne's funeral on 30-Mar-1987. Ron was a great human
being and a stalwart of the Waikerie Gliding Club. The next
day I sent my first student, Paul Donnovan, solo. Ron would
have loved that synergy.
Barratt and the Pelican
I was also honoured to be chosen by Jock Barratt to be one of
five people allowed to become part owners of the Pelican, a
side-by-side, two seat, wood and fabric glider that is a
part of Australian aviation history. Jock was a founding
member of the Waikerie Gliding Club. He designed and built
the Pelican which I think had its maiden flight in the late
The Pelican syndicate all but banned Jock and myself from
flying together. We had a habit of doing an aerobatics
routine which the others thought was too much for the old
girl! I remember with delight the wink Jock would give me
and the twinkle in his eye as we prepared for our flights
together. To fly with someone with so much integrity,
knowledge and experience was just so very, very special.
Jock Barratt getting ready to take
someone up in the Pelican.
In his 80's and still soaring in the glider he
designed and built!
Monday, 01 April 2013