DAY 233: Having a go on a glider

21 Apr

WE’RE tooling around the Grampians, finding our every route thwarted by recent flooding, when we pass a field with two gliders and a tug plane lined up in a row.

“Let’s ask them to give you a ride,” yells the bush pirate, over the roar of his trusty ute.

By some curious coincidence, getting in a glider has always been fairly near the top of my “I’m never doing that” list – just below hang-gliding. I pretend not to hear at first, then protest that they won’t want me dorking around, but by the time we reach the third bend in the road, we’re pulling a u-ey and heading back. It’s shockingly easy to twist my arm.

Looks perfectly safe.

No sooner have we pulled up than glider bloke Brian is agreeing I should go for a whirl, and signs me up as a member. What luck. I’m strapped in to the featherweight fuselage.

“How do you get down?” I ask the man who’s walking me through the various knobs and dials around my knees.

“Awkwardly,” he hoots. “Oh, and don’t touch this red lever – it jettisons the towrope, which can be really embarrassing. And this yellow one ejects the canopy. Best not touch that, either.”

John is my copilot, and he’s got decades of flying experience, having served in the air force. On several occasions he likens the humble glider to a Porsche in terms of control – which might be his way of admitting he’s driven a Porsche – and insists it’s as maneuverable as a fighter jet; capable of all sorts of acrobatics.

“It’s too rough out here,” crackles someone on the radio, which no one but me seems to be alarmed at. We’re connected to the jolly yellow tug plane by a very low-tech looking rope, then yanked off into the air, surprisingly smoothly.

As the tug plane climbs in front of us like a bandy-legged goose, we hit pockets of air and I cling on to the only thing that isn’t a deadly lever – the little map pocket. John keeps up the bedside manner to make me feel better, but once he releases the towrope we careen off to the right before correcting. We’re much higher than I’d expected, and a few times we have to lurch off at speed to avoid the other glider, which is looping the loop and generally fannying around in a reckless manner. John lets me have a go at steering – there are dual controls – and we stay up for around 20 minutes; enough for my mouth to dry out, but not enough to be sick.

The landing is smooth as butter, thanks to the wee wheels beneath the glider that you can’t see. We touch down and follow the narrow crevice in the grass of previous gliders with total accuracy.

Keeper? Probably not about to become a regular, but I love hearing nerdish enthusiasts talk about their obsessions. Love it.

One Response to “DAY 233: Having a go on a glider”


  1. Hey Man, the highlight reel « Hey man, now you're really living - November 24, 2012

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