Eurofox towplane under a cumulus laden sky
A lot has been happening at the Bendigo Gliding Club in recent times, which is somewhat surprising in light of the various lockdowns and restrictions in Victoria over the past year or two.
None of this progress has been accidental or simple luck, however, as a lot of work by our members and the committee has seen the club on a drive not only to increase membership, but also to improve the general infrastructure and facilities.
Over the past year, membership has grown from 43 to 53, an impressive increase of 23% - all during Covid times. This welcome increase has mainly been due to people from outside the Bendigo area joining up to experience the excellent central Victorian cross-country soaring conditions. Several have brought their gliders with them.
Work at the club has been continuous, although restricted, throughout Covid and setting up our new east-west runway has been proceeding very nicely. The airstrip is smooth, nicely grassed and has new fences, a new wind sock and is now fully operational.
Both ends of the runway have nice big outlanding paddocks present, and in fact all of the runways at Raywood have plenty of alternatives regarding safe off-field landing in the event of a rope break or other launch failure, or even just falling short on a final glide and not quite making it.
Working on glider in new workshop
This new strip has already seen a reasonable amount of use and has been helpful particularly for our Eurofox towplane operations.
Great work by our Treasurer Steve Baldini has resulted in the club gaining a number of grants in the past year. One important grant of $22,124 has gone to partially paying for a new solar power system, complete with batteries, consisting of 20 x 450W Solar Panels with 7.68 kWh battery capacity. This new system will now supplement our existing one, which has proven excellent in its 12 years of service, but has definitely been straining to keep up with growing electricity demands. We are looking forward to the installation of the new system.
Solar power is just one example of how Bendigo Gliding Club is self-sufficient. We provide our own power, and have huge water tanks that meet our own water needs. We also own our launching facilities, maintain our own airfield and all the equipment on it, and run camping and hangar facilities, all owned by the club and its members.
Speaking of hangars, Hangar Four is complete and operational now that the tracks and drainage are finished. This new hangar, as well as better use of existing hangars, has enabled a new contingent of private gliders to reside at the club, including an Arcus M, a brace of Ventuses – or is that Venti? – and a humble Ka6cr.
A cloud street over Raywood
The new members, gliders and hangars at the club have made the operation a hive of activity and have given the club much to consider in its Development Plan.
Attention is being given to:
* Completion of new toilets closer to the launch areas.
* Completion of a glider workshop, which will support Form II inspections on site.
* Erection of another hangar (Hangar Five) to accommodate eight more gliders on site.
* Purchase of another tractor to augment the old one, which now has twice the area to mow with the addition of the new runway.
* Replacing the old pie-cart with something a bit more comfortable (and reliable).
* Purchase of another towplane in order to launch the heavier gliders more easily and reduce waiting times.
* Replacement of or addition to the current club glider fleet, consisting of one two-seat and two single-seat gliders.
While Covid has impacted a number of our events such as dinners, barbecues, open days, bonfire night, working bees and so on, we are a friendly club and we'll have plenty of activities happening again soon.
Raywood is a great place to fly and the club hopes even more new members will have the opportunity to experience the central Victorian thermals and contribute to developing and enjoying our constantly improving facilities.