Glider attracts eagles in flight

Shot with a camera outside the craft by glider/photographic enthusiast Bob King is front seat pilot Andrew Luland on the final approach to the Eatonsville airstrip.
Shot with a camera outside the craft by glider/photographic enthusiast Bob King is front seat pilot Andrew Luland on the final approach to the Eatonsville airstrip.

HOW can you soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys?

It’s a rhetorical question often put by frustrated “would-be” high flyers about their less adventurous peers.

But glider pilots, including 78-year-old Des Muir, of Grafton, are fortunate to be able to literally soar with these majestic creatures on special occasions.

Mr Muir, a record-setting glider veteran with 37 years’ experience, was flying over the Baryulgil area on Friday, February 18, when two wedge-tailed eagles began to fly right next to him in formation, one on either side of the sailplane.

It soon became evident the birds of prey were in a playful mood as they took turns coming closer to the cockpit – as close as three metres – and riding the air flowing over the curvature of the wing almost all the way to Shannon Creek Dam.

While thrilled at the spectacle, Mr Muir said it was not uncommon for eagles and hawks to fly in company of gliders with no noisy engine to deter them.

The Grafton Gliding Club runs weekly meets from its Eatonsville airstrip, with takeoffs powered by a V8 engine, 1400 metres of rope and a pulley system.

Glider pilots face many challenges, but one of the biggest is to cover as much distance as possible with one take off, utilising the updraft of thermals (warm air) to gain altitude before the gentle downward glide to the next thermal.

Mr Muir flew for 329 kilometres on his five hours, 14 minutes flight recently and used one of the area’s best-known thermals – the Grafton Bridge, which heats up in the daytime – to lift him towards the end of the flight.

Asked if he ever found himself in a situation where there were simply no thermals and no accessible runways, Mr Muir explained: “Yes, that does happen from time to time and yes it is character building, especially around here where there are a lot of mountains and trees and short paddocks ... it’s different out west.”

But the appeal of gliding was truly addictive, he said.

“It’s basically the sound of the wind and your heart beat up there and that’s it,” he said.

The Grafton Gliding Club flies weekly and offers joy flights each Saturday from about 11am. It can be found on Gliding Club Rd, Eatonsville or inquiries can be made to veteran glider Warren Morrow (43 years’ experience) on 6643 4432.

The Advocate's fresh new look online

We have updated the presentation of The Coffs Coast Advocate website today to enhance your online reading experience.

Today sees the launch of a new look Advocate website

Major development plans in pipeline for Corindi

The rezoning of the land will potentially enable around 33 new houses, a 6,100m2 commercial centre which will include a medical centre, and a 4,600m2 motel site with a restruarant/cafe and pool.

Medical centre, motel and dozens of new houses if plans are approved

Local Partners

Join Ivory Crush protest against elephant products

MAROOCHYDORE resident Sharon Pincott is calling on anyone who owns ivory or rhino horn products to surrender them as part of a national protest.

Skoda Superb wagon is spacious and nimble — the anti-SUV

Skoda Superb Wagon 162TSI.

Why drag an extra half a tonne of useless, expensive metal around?

5 words you are using incorrectly

VOCABULARY: This do would never homework where the word icon was incorrectly used.

How to avoid sounding like a teenager, even if you are one

To the stranger who Photoshopped my picture

This is what mum and I actually look like, imperfections and all. Photo: Supplied.

A stranger Photoshopped my pictures and shared them on Instagram

Don't delay: this test could save your life

LIFE-SAVING: Rob Patch is on a mission to convince people to have their sleep apnoea checked in order to prevent an early death.

"The doctors said I had come there to die.”

Cricket's Merv Hughes can’t stomach drink and drug-drivers

AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 26: Merv Hughes of Australia prepares to bowl on December 26, 1990 in Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)

former Australian cricketer’s first car was an HT Holden wagon.

Russia’s seedy ‘virginity trade’

On Russian social media, young girls and women are being recruited to sell their virginity to wealthy men. Picture: The Sun

Girls as young as 17 sell their virginity