A Privilege and a Passion
A 40 year love affair with aviation started for Bernard as a young boy when he visited a model aircraft field. After 15 years of building, flying and later even designing model aircraft, he decided to take up gliding and obtained his German license in 1982. His passion for the sport is infectious.
Soaring like a bird and observing nature in peace and quiet from lofty heights is what every aviator’s dreams are made of. Gliding is a fascinating sport and without doubt the most peaceful, most affordable and the quietest form of aviation; forever challenging, but also very satisfying and rewarding. Keeping a glider airbourne for hours on end and, at the same time, travelling hundreds or even thousands of kilometres without ever resorting to an engine is perhaps the ultimate challenge for modern aviators.
Every day, thousands of glider pilots around the world escape the pressures of everyday life and enter a world of tranquillity and harmony with the environment. For some, the attraction is the fun of silent flight, for others it is long journeys of airbourne discovery. It focuses the mind magnificently and offers a lasting and overwhelming sense of achievement. Yes, gliding is a sport but it is more than that – it is an absorbing passion difficult to express in words. Real determination to succeed is a good starting point but real progress in a complex sport like gliding requires research as well as competent training: get out and read as much as you can about ‘powerless’ flight.
A glider pilot’s greatest reward is their constantly changing impression of our still beautiful Mother Earth. Regardless whether we turn into mountaineers on wings soaring high over rugged mountains or admire the red earth of sun-baked central Australia, the serene bird’s eye view of nature is a privilege glider pilots will forever treasure and protect. All of this is possible with expert training and a good knowledge of the many forms of updraughts circling high above us.
Earthbound problems are left far behind when the pilot ascends into a fabulous world of three dimensional freedom whilst enjoying the cosy comforts of today’s modern cockpits. The immense satisfaction of gliding upon the same updraughts used by soaring birds frequently creates feelings of elation. But gliding is more than an intimate relationship with nature. It requires a basic understanding of the atmospheric forces at work and an appreciation of the almost endless possibilities of modern gliders so skilfully designed and constructed by dedicated craftsmen.
Even on the ground, today’s modern gliders encapsulate the aerodynamic marvels that they really are. Science and human ingenuity have combined to create elegant aircraft, astonishing to look at and delightful to fly. Glide ratios of 70:1 are no longer a dream but present day reality: to make full use of these technological masterpieces, pilots need to master Nature’s winds, thermals and updraughts and confront the challenges along the way.
This is what gliding is all about – an aviation activity affordable to the average income earner and, at the same time, offering the immense satisfaction of flying without polluting our already stressed environment.
Try it, learn it and realise your full potential.