Thrill-seeking glider pilots chase the ultimate rush
TAKING to the skies free as a bird, soaring in a glider is among the most exhilarating ways to fly.
Often referred to as the purest forms of human flight, gliding in a sail plane is an experience like none other.
Using only rising thermal lift to stay sky high, gliders ride the currents of air to reach incredible heights with only the whoosh of wind racing past the cockpit as their soundtrack.
For Darling Downs Soaring Club President Jenny Thompson the fascination with motorless flight rarely waivers.
"Flying a glider is an incredibly rewarding experience," Mrs Thompson said.
"For me the initial attraction was learning how to fly however now it is all about the individual challenge of each flight."
"Every glider flight is different and each day different weather conditions provide pilots with a new puzzle to take on."
Having been involved in gliding for more than 20 years, Mrs Thompson said she has seen a wide range of newcomers to the sport.
"I have taken passengers from as young as 11 to as old as 80 for flights," she said.
"The thrill of flight is something that transcends all ages.
"What I quite often find is the majority of people I take for flights are there for a one off experience however there is 10% which absolutely fall in love with the sport and end up joining the club."
It was one chance glider flight 20 years ago for Pacific Soaring and Kingaroy Gliding Club's Al Sim which had the now gliding instructor hooked.
"I have always been fascinated by flying and after being invited to go for a glider flight in 1995 I knew it was for me." Mr Sim said
"I had been exposed to gliding when I was growing up in Adelaide however it was that one flight at the Caboolture club which really inspired me to get my licence to fly solo.
"The challenge of using only natural energy to fly is something that continues to fascinate me."
While most glider pilots are restricted by the need for a tow plane or winch to launch them into the sky, Mr Sim has been able to explore new territories with Pacific Soaring's powered Super Dimona touring glider.
"It is great to be able to take off yourself and then mid flight switch off the engine," He said.
"It is very rewarding to witness first time passengers experiencing the same exhilaration and thrill I did when I went for my first flight."
Since that very first flight Mr Sim has gone on to fly the Morning Glory roll cloud above Burketown.
One of soaring's truly unique experiences.
"I have made three trips to Burketown and they are some of the best flying moments I have had," he said.
"It is an incredibly unique experience and one I won't forget anytime soon."
Another experience not to be forgotten is the world record glider flight of 1027km by local pilot Lisa Trotter.
The historic ten hour flight in December 2013 saw Mrs Trotter break a total of 31 world, national and continental records.
Introduced to the sport at a young age, the record setting pilot has conquered some of gilding's toughest achievements.
"My father was an airline pilot and took me on a week long gliding holiday when I was growing up," Mrs Trotter said.
"Funnily enough he wasn't very interested in gliding after that week but I was hooked."
"I had wanted to attempt the triangular distance record for some time and it was an incredible feeling of achievement when I knew I had completed it.
"I had done quite a bit of preparation so it was great to know all the hard work had paid off."