By Kevin Rodda
Earlier in the year, Laurie Simpkins sent out the word to an eccentric group of glider pilots and their eclectic group of vintage/classic gliders to join a rally at Warwick Aerodrome at Massie. Located 14km northwest of the City of Warwick on the beautiful Darling Downs in Southeast Queensland, the group enjoyed a week of fun, flying and friendship.
When the VGA’s Dave Goldsmith thanked him for organising an excellent week of gliding, Laurie humbly commented, “I just told them that the tug was organised and that they should come to Warwick for the week!”
A great time was had by all as can be seen from the pictorial report included here. Most of the nine days – Saturday through to Sunday of the following week – were very productive. Although we were grounded on a couple of days due to windy conditions, some spectacular sunrises and sunsets featured as well.
Pilots and gliders were on hand from Warwick, Grafton, Hunter Valley, Mangrove Mountain, Caboolture and Bendigo and we had visits from Bert Persson, Peter Pretorius, Sid Decker, Denis Costigan, Dieter Hildenbrand and John Zoenetti, which made for lots of social catching up opportunities.
In the bottom hangar (Warwick’s original hangar) are Kevin Rodda, Graeme Manietta, Bruce Edwards, Brian Gilby, Laurie Simpkins, Bernard ‘Speedy’ Gonsalves, Bert Persson, Rob Moffat, Jenne Goldsmith and David Goldsmith.
Bert Persson has recently retired from flying gliders after a legendary career in gliding as a world class pilot that included flying back home to qualify and represent Sweden for many years. Bert was also an excellent aeronautical engineer. He and Ingo Renner were good mates and worked together for Bill Riley at Sportavia (Tocumwal) for many years.
Bert has been to Tasmania only twice. On both occasions, he landed there in a non-motorised glider after releasing from aero-tows behind a tug piloted by Bill Riley, and flying from Tocumwal on the NSW/Victoria border across Victoria and Bass Straight. Bert also mentioned to us that the last time he had been at Warwick Airfield was when he flew an L-13 Blanik over the Great Dividing Range from Caboolture to compete in a gliding competition there.
It was also great to welcome Graeme Manietta back to Warwick. He is in the process of reinstating his gliding credentials to allow him to fly his 1963 Cherokee II (VH-GNR).