This article was first published on 05 February 2021 on the Horsham Rural City Council website.

It’s perhaps the longest continuous running gliding competition in the world, and Horsham will again play host to soaring club members from across Victoria and interstate.

Horsham Flying Club will celebrate 55 consecutive years of the Horsham Week Gliding Competition, which runs from February 6 to 13.

President Arnold Neiwand said the club had been preparing for the event for some time now, despite the ever-present risk of cancellation due to COVID.

“We’re very proud of our record of consecutive competitions, so we were always determined to put on some sort of a contest,” Mr. Niewand said.

“As it’s turned out, COVID-19 has not reduced the size of our event, although we’ve had to adjust some of the procedures in and around our clubrooms to make sure we are following the rules.”

This year, the club will benefit from a new commercial fridge that was purchased via Horsham Rural City Council’s Community Grants Program.

In previous years, the club has used the grants to acquire updated communication equipment which soarers use to help maintain the club’s impeccable safety record.

“We have certainly benefited from grants program.  I’d encourage other groups to make use of it too,” he said. 

Mr. Niewand said the annual competition would attract 40 glider pilots plus their families and support crew.

Pilots must complete a different task for each of the eight days of gliding.

“The tasks we fly are set out each day and are dependent on the weather conditions,” Mr. Niewand said.

“We mostly set the tasks around the Wimmera, but we sometimes can go as far as the Grampians and Birchip in the north. Tasks can range from 250 kilometers to 400 kilometers long.

“The modern glider is a very efficient machine and they’re able to fly at high speeds of between 100 to 160km/h.

“It’s all about being able to find the next thermal and being able to look ahead.”