Bird’s-eye view for first-timer

The Queensland Times journalist Anna Hartley hits the skies in a glider. Photo: Contributed
The Queensland Times journalist Anna Hartley hits the skies in a glider. Photo: Contributed Contributed

THE weather was perfect as we arrived at Boonah Airfield at the weekend.

The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and the nerves were certainly building.

My stomach was churning as I prepared to get into a plane without an engine and glide 1500m above the ground. On Saturday, I tried gliding for the first, and certainly not the last, time at the Boonah Gliding Club.

Not helping my nerves was the fact that the passenger seat was at the front of the aircraft, while the pilot seat was at the back.

My pilot was Dylan Lampard, 18, who quickly calmed any remaining nerves with his relaxed approach.

After a few last-minute checks, the clear lid of the glider was lowered. The tow plane in front of the glider began to move forward, pulling us along the grassy runway at increasing speed.

After a few small bumps the plane began its ascent.

As we gained speed I asked the pilot if we had almost reached the highest point of the trip.

He laughed as he said we had only reached a height of 228m and still had another 1295m to go.

Having grown up in the Boonah area, I thought I had seen it all.

However, even at less than 305m the flight offered an entirely new perspective of the Scenic Rim.

At 1524m I pulled a yellow lever and the tow rope immediately detached from our plane. Our safety net was gone, leaving the glider to rely on the natural wind and the skill of a pilot three years my junior to control its descent.

On clear days pilots can see as far as the Gold Coast and Brisbane from the Boonah Airfield, however it was the closer views of the many mountains, lakes and dams that were the most spectacular.

The scene below looked like a painting as the green of the fields contrasted with the dry, golden grass in paddocks and the water of Moogerah Dam glistened.

Though I was nervous, once the plane touched the ground I immediately wished we were back in the air.

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