We had booked to go gliding with GlideOmarama at 1pm and had been told there would be a weather briefing at 10:30am. So we checked out of our hotel and went to the airfield café, which was closed, and instead went to the Wrinkly Rams café and had breakfast before going to the briefing.

There were a number of friendly people hovering in the gliding building but until we arrived it looked like there might not be a briefing – the weather wasn’t great nor going to be great for some days. However, seeing us, they decided to have a briefing and we had a very useful insight into what interests glider pilots and what online resources they make use of, some of which I think we’ll incorporate into our weather flight planning.

There was going to be no chance to do the sort of gliding we’d hoped – using thermals and ridges etc to make us better powered pilots – the air was far too stable, as can be seen in some of the photos with the low cloud. But Gavin Wills said we might be able to go up for 30 mins just to get a feel for the glider. First though, he and another chap were going to have 3 flights to practice their duo display ready for Warbirds over Wanaka airshow at the weekend.

We walked over to the hangar with him and 2 dogs, one of which was a Christchurch earthquake survivor and he said it had a resulting nervous twitch. Getting one of the two gliders out.


The glider tug, a Gippsland GA200 Fatman. Yes, really!


Sorting out Gavin’s glider.


The two gliders were towed into the air on one tow…

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…and then released for their display…


…ending with them landing together!

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Another tow up.

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While they had 3 practice flights we had a great time watching them and chatting to the other pilots gathered around. Then it was our turn! Noel was in the Duo Discus, ZK-GDD, nearest the tow plane with Darren and I was in the Duo Discus behind, ZK-GQQ, with Gavin. We sat in the front seats. Gavin asked if I was a powered pilot so I said I was and that I had about 600 hours but that I had never been in a glider. His response was to say that he would need to train me out of some bad habits and teach me to make use of the rudder. Hearing his response to my 600hrs I thought I would stay quiet about gaining a recent Tiger Moth rating and time spent in a Citabria 3 weeks ago, both of which necessitated good use of the rudder! :/

Here’s a log of my flight.

View from Noel’s glider.

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View from my glider.

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Noel’s view again.


My view again. The idea was that Noel’s glider would be above the tow plane’s slipstream while my glider would be below the slipstream. There was very minor buffeting if we went too high and into the slipstream. The instrument to use to determine the amount of rudder required was not the turn and slip indicator but the simple piece of string attached to the windscreen. The rudder pedal to press was the one the string pointed to.


Not nice weather out there but still spectacular.


View from Noel’s glider.


Noel’s glider tow was dropped first followed by mine. The tow plane, which was slightly to our left, started to turn right followed by the 2 tow cables so Gavin told him to turn left away from us. Me in front!


It was really quiet and we weren’t wearing headsets – very different to powered flying, brilliant!

Still me.


Noel’s glider. The airfield is roughly in the centre, just beyond the second ridge from the right.


Noel’s glider.


Noel’s glider.


The view from my cockpit. Gavin let me have control shortly after this point. I was determined to use the rudder well!!!






Me ahead. Gavin had told me to aim for the hill and once we got near then turn left to run alongside it. He also said I was using the rudder well. Phew!


Omarama airfield, with the start of the hill to the left that we were aiming for in the previous picture. Shortly before this Gavin had done a loop and then a wing-over and then I saw Noel’s glider doing the same. 🙂

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Noel’s glider is at the other end of the runway about to join downwind.


Coming in to land.


‘My’ glider.


Noel, Gavin and Darren.


At about this point we saw 5 planes coming from the north – 4 Yak52s (part of the Red Star display team) and an RV-8.


They were on their way down to Wanaka for the airshow at the weekend.

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‘Lucy’, one of the two very friendly dogs at the airfield.


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Lined up, ready to roll…

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Once they had gone, Noel and I went inside and paid for our 30min flights. We had hoped, since we had shared one aero-tow, that the price might be slightly cheaper than for two 30min separate flights (eg somewhere between two 30min flights and a single 1hr flight) but it wasn’t. Having a 30min flight is not the best financial way to learn to glide! My feeling is that it would be a really great place to learn – very friendly people, beautiful scenery enabling some amazing gliding and first-rate instruction – but it comes at a price. It could be financially better to convert to gliders elsewhere and then have instruction at Omarama when trying to improve technique or make use of the environment.

After leaving we found some (very late) lunch and checked back in to the hotel we had used the night before.