Gliding to a better place on a sunny Saturday

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2011
gliding
CAMERON BURNELL
WHICH WAY"S UP: Norfolk Aviation Sports Club glider pilot Grant Wisnewski performs a loop high above Taranaki on Saturday. A snow capped Mt Taranaki can be seen in the distance.

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Soaring in an aircraft at 3000 feet with no engine could be a daunting experience – but for Norfolk Aviation Sports Club members that is the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.

Throw a new glider into the mix it becomes even more appealing.

The club has just added to its fleet a 1987 $50,000 glider imported from the Unitec States.

It has better gliding ability than most of its existing gliders, which allows for longer air time, pilot Grant Wisnewski said.

For the past few months members have been testing its performance with aerobatic stunts such as wingovers, stalls and loops.

The club, which has 14 members and nearly 20 gliders, is one of two such clubs in Taranaki.

"We're probably the only club in New Zealand that has more gliders than pilots to fly them," Mr Wisnewski said.

The challenge of staying up in the air along with the relaxation and peacefulness of gliding were Mr Wisnewski's favourite elements of the hobby.

"You're just about competing against yourself to stay up. It's quite a skill."

Taranaki was not a great place for gliding because there was often a strong sea breeze blowing, he said. But on good days wave cloud formations formed from Mt Taranaki all the way to Whangamomona. "You can just travel that back and forth all day long."

The club had open membership and was always looking for new members.

At Easter the club is to host a Vintage Kiwi weekend, which will feature vintage and classic gliders. It will also have a specially designed $200,000 glider from Auckland which can be used to take physically disabled passengers for flights. To view more photos of Taranaki gliding action visitwww.taranakidailynews.co.nz

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- Taranaki Daily News

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