Gliding

I’m not going to mess around—yesterday was awesome and all I want to talk about! The scene was the Kranskop Gliding Club at Brits. The occasion was a special open day for various students and interns from previously disadvantaged communities who are part of a couple of programmes to encourage flying as a profession as well as a recreation. A colleague of mine, Daniel Ralefeta, a pilot and all-round good guy, organised the whole thing. It involved getting more than 30 glider and powered flights done in a day at an airstrip where they usually manage 9. He did it!

I was asked to take pics, including air-to-air from a Lambada, a small plane and motor glider. When I got there I realised how small. The 70-200 lens was way too big for the cockpit!

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Then I discovered just how difficult it is to take pics of an aircraft from another aircraft when the two are not flying in pre-arranged formation. My pilot threw that little plane around the sky, causing my already-heavy camera to suddenly become unbearably heavy in twists and turns as we followed the gliders. I have never before in my life flown like that! It was awesome! I got some help from a pro aircraft photojournalist who was there to cover to event for a couple of magazines. After that the long lens stayed on the ground! But there were some successes – click on the first one to see the tow cable that’s just been released!

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It wasn’t all about gliding, with powered flights also there for the students (and lucky onlookers). The most amazing was the 1947 model Ercoupe – a wonderful shining aluminium and canvas classic. The owner is a 21 year-old whose father bought it three years ago and refurbished it as a present for her. Now you know what to do for your kids’ big birthdays! The pilot and owner is petite, pretty and gives a perfect Amelia Earhart image when she stands on the wing of her shiny toy!

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But the highlight of the day, of course was gliding. This was the real thing. And it was the real thing for wonderful, wonderful Linda! It is scary barrelling down the runway with your bum 6 inches off the tar. And it’s surprisingly noisy as the wind rushes by and the airframe creaks and groans. But it is so wonderful up there.

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My flight was one of the last of the day. Although the air was totally devoid of any thermals, I think I got the best deal!

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We are so blessed to be able to get out there and live life!

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