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Great Lakes Gliding in the air – but with restrictions

June 26, 2020   ·   0 Comments

The gliders are airborne at the Great Lakes Gliding Club just outside of Tottenham, but don’t expect to be taking a flight if you’re a passenger this summer.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the only gliders that will be taking to the skies are single seaters to avoid having two people in close proximity.

“This is our first day out here,” said club member Thomas Martin as he waited his turn to take his place in the pilot seat of a club glider. “We usually start flying in May.”

The pilots at the Club on Saturday, June 13, were all doing their start of season check flights.

Since glider pilots don’t generally fly during the winter, they must get checked out by an instructor after not being in the air for several months.

“There’s seven of us here today,” Martin said. “Everyone has to do a check ride before we go into the single seater planes. Most of them are privately owned. It’s Club rules that you have to do a flight in one of the trainers before you go up on your own.”

In the spring the Club also has to wait until the airstrip is has become firm after losing the excess moisture from the winter.

“We usually wait till the runway is dry,” said pilot Dave Philip. “The craft are light be they land on one wheel. You can put ruts in the runway if it’s too wet.”

The Club was operating one aircraft on opening day and one two plane to get them up in the air.

As with all sports, there are currently restrictions in place to limit human contact.

“We not doing any dual rides this year,” Philip said. “Basically, it will licensed pilots only. If you’re a soloing student, you’re done because you need a check ride with an instructor. There won’t be any guest rides this year. Transport Canada has stopped dual ride instruction. That might change this year but then it will be up to the individual instructors.”

The Club has around 30 members who take to the skies every year from their 2000-foot grass runway.

By Brian Lockhart


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