Demand for Wellington Gliding Club soaring ahead of move

Aspiring flyers have less than two months to glide from the Wellington Gliding Club's Paraparaumu home, and already they are clamouring for their fill. 

The club is moving to Greytown at the end of March after 51 years at Kapiti Coast Airport. 

Gliding instructor Ross Sutherland said demand had skyrocketed in recent times. 

"It's gone crazy. We had our busiest day [on Sunday] for two years.

"People have come down saying they've been watching them for years, and they wanted to come down and have a go." 

There were 25 launches on Sunday. 

In the last week of March the club will be having what Sutherland has called "the final hurrah".

He said depending on the weather, the club is hoping to fly everyone in Kapiti who's always wished to have a go but not been able to.

Ex-workers, dignitaries and previous flyers will all be at the club during that week. 

The club is fundraising for new amenities, including a hangar under construction at the new premises at Greytown's Papawai Airfield. 

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The Wellington Gliding Club was approached by the South Wairarapa District Council about a year ago to amalgamate with Wairarapa Gliding, ahead of their Kapiti Coast Airport lease expiring. 

The Greytown airfield is about twice the size of the Paraparaumu space. It has two intersecting runways, each about three kilometres long, to allow planes to take off in different directions depending on weather conditions. The gliding club's current runway is 1.3km long. 

"It's sad in a way, but also we're really looking forward to the change," Sutherland said.

"Everyone comes down [from the flight] with a big smile on their face.

"We've really enjoyed being here. A lot of pilots now flying internationally have come through the ranks."

The Greytown club also boast a Skylaunch winch launching system Sutherland said will reduce costs by between a third and a half, as planes will not need to be towed across the runway to be launched. 

"It'll be more affordable for young people to fly." 

 - Stuff

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