In March 2014 my job brought me for a short period of time from Berlin, Germany, to Brisbane. During winter in Germany glider pilots are practically grounded and therefore I was very curious if it would be possible to charter a glider from somewhere during my time in Australia. A friend recommended the Darling Downs Soaring Club to me. 

Hence I got in contact with the club and Jenny Thompson, the club president, was very welcoming and supportive so that I could prepare my time at the club.

The possibility of the one month membership is great: I signed up for this short time membership in the DDSC and GFA and got my check flight. During the check flight it was Bob Flood who gave me a much appreciated introduction into the landscape and landmarks of the Darling Downs. As well all other club members gave a very warm welcome and helped where they could so that I could more easily handle all the thousand little things you need to get yourself oriented when flying from a different airfield, in a different glider. Thanks mates!

The flying itself from McCaffreys airfield is nice and easy. The Piper Pawnee tug with its powerful engine is the perfect tow plane and with the Astir, Hornet, LS7 and Duo Discus available for charter the fleet is just perfect for nice cross country flying.

The Darling Downs offers good conditions for cross country flying. A lot of airstrips are to be found and should you be really short of altitude you find more than enough wide and long paddocks useful for your outlanding. The Bunya Mountains to the north east are a permanently visible landmark which allow for easy orientation in this otherwise pretty flat landscape.

Within the 5 weekends I could spent at McCaffrey’s airfield I found only two days on which cross country flying was not possible. All the other days had nice to strong conditions which allowed me to fly me fastest 200km so far. These good conditions are due to the Great Dividing Range which protects the Darling Downs from the maritime influences.

Cloudbase is high usually and this allows in the evening some very relaxed final glides. And once landed it is a pleasure to share with the club members the experiences of the day and enjoy dinner either with a nice BBQ or in the pub at Bowenville.

I loved staying with the DDSC and thank all club members for making this wonderful experience possible!

Arndt Wilke

FCC Berlin