Glider pilot forced to land on farm
COORAN glider pilot Graham White made the best decision he could when he ran out of thermals. It happened on his return flight to Kybong aerodrome about 3pm Sunday, Gympie Gliding Club chief instructor Trevor Burke (pictured) said yesterday.
"It was a forced landing, but not an emergency landing.
"We try not to land in paddocks, but occasionally it happens," Mr Burke said.
Mr White landed on the Glastonbury property of grazier Jim Viner, who said yesterday he was happy everyone was safe.
CHANGED weather conditions were a let down, literally, for Cooran sailplane pilot Graham White.
His instructor Trevor Burke said Mr White had landed "while on a cross country flight after changed weather conditions meant he could no longer reach the Gympie airfield".
Mr Burke said outlandings, similar to that forced on Mr White, could often happen in later afternoon, when winds came up and thermals tended to disappear.
"We have events where contestants look for thermals."
They are, he explained, the upwardly spiralling air that often can be found under "one of those nice fluffy clouds that are flat underneath".
Pilots follow the spiral upwards, gaining altitude before heading off to the next one.
"We try not to get too low, because thermals are narrower toward the ground and harder to find."
He said he had just returned from a return flight to Kilcoy in his own glider, a powered sailplane able to take off under its own power.
And if it gets too low, the pilot can start up the motor and regain altitude for the rest of the journey.
The return trip to Kilcoy took about two hours, he said.
"We have events where people set out to cover distances and, if they miscalculate, outlandings can happen.
"We always try to get back to the airfield, because it's easier, for a start.
"But if someone has to come down in a paddock, we go out in the truck and help them recover the aircraft.
"We went out to Glastonbury and de-rigged the aircraft (effectively dismantling it) in the paddock; taking the wings off for trailer transport.
"Our main difficulty was we had to take it across a very small creek to get it back to the trailer.
"There was no damage and no injuries," he said.