TryGliding Just Go membership Classifieds

The Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA) held their 2024 Education Day at the Sunraysia Gliding club in Mildura, VIC, home of the 2023 FAI Club Class World Gliding Champion James Nugent.

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By Dominique Brassier – AWPA and Bathurst Soaring Club

The Education Day was part of the 2024 annual AWPA conference with the theme FLY YOUR WAY. We had various workshops where over a hundred conference attendees could learn about ballooning, drones, powered paragliding, remotely guided model aircrafts and of course, gliding.

Varied Membership
AWPA’s membership is quite varied: around 60% fly for fun, mostly fixed wings in GA or RAAUS (it includes a few glider pilots!) and the rest fly professionally, including flying schools, airlines, Air Force and Navy, and so on. So, it was quite unique for all these lady pilots from different disciplines to get together, exchange, compare and learn from one another, and do all of this at a gliding field!

Bronni Bowen (AWPA member) from Global Ballooning Australia demonstrated the balloon inflation technique talking us through the technicalities and challenges of a balloon flight. A balloon pilot relies 100% on the wind for direction. The ability to read it at various altitudes from the ground up before flying is an essential skill for 'precision' flying in touring or in competition.

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Bronni activating the main burner on her baloon.

Katie Kubiak and Dale Worthington fly powered paragliders or ‘paramotors'. They showed us their equipment and educated us on the phases of the flight. Early morning and late evening are the best time for paramotor flying as thermal activity makes it an unpleasant experience, therefore, completely opposite to us, they avoid thermals.
They can fly as high as above 10,000 ft and low enough to drag a foot on the ground, thus making paramotor flying a unique experience. Paramotor pilots use VHF and such programs as Gaggle, so they rely on the same protocols as other aviation to stay safe in the air, such as lookout, making radio calls and using the programs to alert us of other aircraft nearby.

If you are curious about how they fly, have a look on Sunraysia Gliding Club FB page. The 18 April post shows a video of Dale’s and Katie’s early morning flights

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If you want to operate commercial drones in Australia, as an individual, you will need to conduct drone training to obtain a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL), which Kayley Ross, drone instructor at UAVAIR described.

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Kayley Ross
Photo by Kathy Mexted

Kayley demonstrated her drone yaw, roll, pitch and throttle (up and down) capabilities. She also mentioned some of the many burgeoning applications for drones as well as career opportunities for drone pilots.

Drones have to fly below 400ft above the ground, at least 30m from people and at least 5.5km away from any controlled aerodrome, although they are allowed to fly within 5.5km of any other airfield. So, with the proliferation of drones for deliveries, agriculture and other applications, I am wondering how likely we are, as glider pilots, to encounter one. This could possibly happen while landing back at our gliding field or landing out in a paddock. Drone pilots do monitor radio calls but I am wondering if 122.7 is part of the frequencies they monitor. Education Day surely fulfilled its purpose to make us think and spark discussion across aviation disciplines.

The Sunraysia Aeromodellers club members, James Perry, Jack Dodd and Graham Nutt showed us quite a selection of aircraft models. These miniature replicas varied in size and type of aircraft. Some of the larger ones were amazing in the level of detail and accuracy both for the hull, engine and power to weight ratio.

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model ASH 31 mi

Graham described the features of his model ASH 31 mi glider, complete with its little pop-up engine. The control unit held by the pilot on the ground has two sticks and several switches.

In order to control what glider pilots normally control with one stick, rudder pedals and an airbrake lever, the model pilot uses one stick to control the rudder and elevator and operates the other stick to control the ailerons and airbrakes. A switch operates the engine - pop up and start, stop and retract, and another switch operates the landing flaps and another one to raise and lower the undercarriage. Adapting to these controls would take a little getting used to for sure, not to mention switches to modify the camber of the wing to imitate positive flaps for thermaling and negative flap for cruising. Also, as for any model aircraft, the pilot has to reverse left and right on the control sticks depending on whether the aircraft is coming towards the pilot or going away.

All of this could make first attempts at controlling the glider interesting! Thank God for the instructor who has a separate transmitter to override the student, “my aircraft”(nice to be able to fly a single seater with an instructor though). Although it is surely a matter of practice, I think I prefer the real thing. Graham gave me a link where you can see model Ash31 mi gliders in action Click here.

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Qantas 787 First Officer Haidee Wong checking out the LX200 telescope.

Ian Hammerton from The Oasis Stargazers club, located on the gliding club grounds, showed us the club’s telescopes. Unfortunately, since it was lunchtime, observations were limited. With the larger telescope, a 16-inch Dobsonian, we were able to observe details of airliners flying by at 40,000ft. As the moon was not cooperating, we were able to assess the performance of the LX200 14-inch telescope by looking at the fibres on a windsock located 1km away. With the solar scope, we observed solar flares in the corona of the sun as well as sunspots on the sun’s surface. What a shame we were not there a month later when the sun storm occured!

Our Education Day would not have been complete without a safety presentation from CASA. Terry Horsam reminded us, through a case study of an incident at Port Macquarie airport, of the utmost importance of lookout, spatial awareness around aerodromes, communicating on and monitoring of the correct radio frequency and having the volume of the radio sufficiently turned up. This reminder is relevant to all of us, no matter what we are flying and where we are flying and the relevance to gliding is no exception! Check out the CASA education website Click here for CASA webinars and podcasts

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Two curious Navy helicopter pilots

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Ian and David captivating their audience.

Finally, our hosts from the Sunraysia Gliding Club, President Ian Benning and CFI David Nugent gave presentations on the gliders on display (ASK 21b and 18m single seater AS 34Me) as well as on the specificities of flying a glider, touching on pilot training and cross country flying. These were interactive presentations where Ian and David also answered the many questions of very curious ladies. During the afternoon, as well as on the afternoons of the two consecutive AWPA conference days, our attendees got to experience gliding and winch launching to their delight, some even returning for more. Maybe the Sunraysia team will have converted a few. I hope the club has now recovered from this invasion of lady pilots (a first in Sunraysia Gliding Club’s history?)

Upon asking Ian and David their impression of our visit, here is what they had to say

Ian Benning: “There have not been so many flying enthusiasts at our club since we hosted gliding competitions in the 1980s. The women were full of enthusiasm to know more about gliders and our particular situation where we launch gliders by winch. The AWPA committee did a fine job to make the day a success for all participants."
David Nugent said,  "I had a great time explaining the finer points of flying and also racing sailplanes. I met some very intelligent and informed women from 787 and military Sea Hawk helicopter pilots through to RAA pilots. After the Thursday morning talking, it was a pleasure to fly with multiple AWPA members. They are welcome to come back to our field at any time."

I think all the ladies who flew appreciated all the volunteers’ time and effort and realised it needed quite a team to run the operations. Thank you to Ian Benning, David Nugent, Rob Wood, Adrian Ginn and all the club members for the warm welcome and for helping with and flying the many AWPA passengers over the three days.

AWPA members enjoying their gilding flight at Sunraysia Gliding Club

 Vicky Page5

Vicky TAS

Cate page5

Cate VIC

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Louise VIC

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Cathy - VIC "Such an amazing pure flying experience. I loved feeling that lift, and the aerobatics were awesome."

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Fiona VIC

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Gretta - TAS

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Katie - VIC "I loved to be up in the air and feel so light and free, with just the whistling of the wind."

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Dominique (Betty) NSW

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Our winch driver and instructor David