This article was first published in The Weekly Advertiser newspaper.
Glider pilots from Germany, the USA and New Zealand are busy preparing to take to the sky above Horsham in December to vie for honors in an elite international competition.[/dropcap]
Horsham Flying Club will host the sole Australian leg of the prestigious 2017 International Sailplane Grand Prix 8th Series from December 14 to 20.
Club president Arnold Niewand said a former F111 fighter-bomber pilot and former airline pilot were among elite international sailplane enthusiasts who had registered for the event.
Entry is restricted to 20 glider pilots.
He said the 30-member Horsham club was now seeking volunteers to help run the event, expected to attract about 100 support crew to the Wimmera for a week to 10 days.
The club also expects large crowds to view the spectacle of craft leaving and returning to the Horsham airfield.
Organisers are planning displays and aerial entertainment for the week.
Mr Niewand said footage of and details about the event would reach an estimated million people worldwide via the internet.
“And this could ultimately boost tourism on all levels for our region," he said.
“This will be the most exciting gliding event seen in Horsham. And it will showcase the region well."
Mr Niewand said the Wimmera in December was renowned for producing ideal gliding conditions.
“Glider pilots are able to harness sun and wind energy to their best advantage to power their glider over a set course," he said.
“And with harvest in full swing there will be plenty of activity in the nearby paddocks, which will help activate the thermals and provide many lift opportunities.
“Each afternoon pilots will follow a set course, which will vary daily, depending on the weather."
The Horsham competition is a lead-up event to the 34th World Gliding Championships planned for Benalla in January next year.