WHAT GLIDER IS THAT?
Some contestants are shipping gliders to Benalla that have never been seen in Australia before. Glider manufactures from around the world release new machines especially for World Championships, looking for victories to drive sales, and some pilots even create special modified gliders. Costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, they are extreme, high-performance aircraft. They will be flown by the world’s top pilots at Benalla, providing a thrilling spectacle for spectators - and great photo opportunities.
The newest model is the Ventus 3, which has never been tested in a World Championship before. There will be six of these new super 18m ships in the skies around northern Victoria and southern NSW. Glider pilots, keep your eyes peeled! Steve Jones from the UK, Börje Eriksson of Sweden and New Zealander John Coutts will be flying the pure glider variety. Italian Giorgio Galetto, plus Wolfgang Janowitsch and Andreas Lutz from Austria, will be flying the turbo version.
The Binder EB29 is another extreme high performance glider due to its incredible wingspan of 29m, competing in Open Class. It was flown to victory by four times Open Class World Champion Michael Sommer at Leszno in 2014. In fact, since 2010 Michael has won two WGCs and placed second at Uvalde in 2012, as well as winning at several European and national championships in his EB29. Jan Andersen, one of four pilots who also flew at Benalla 1987, will be flying an EB29, along with Germans Stephan Beck and Tassilo Bode, Belgian Pierre de Broqueville and Sebastian Eder from Austria.
The current World Gliding Champion in 15m Class Sebastian Kawa and his Polish team mate Lukasz Grabowski will be flying the elegant Diana 2. Sebastian won the 2012 and 2014 WGC in the Diana 2 as well as three World Grand Prix Championships. In addition, Janusz Centka took top place in a Diana 2 way back in 2006.
Italian Stefano Ghiorzo won the WGC in Hungary in 2010 in his Diana 2, and then modified it in 2015 into a 13.5m glider, the Diana VersVS, winning the WGC in Lithuania. For the 2017 WGC in Benalla, he has modified his glider once again into a self-launching craft and will fly in 15m
World Champion Sebastian Kawa in a Diana 2
Owe Engström from Sweden is bringing his pride and joy to Benalla. Named the Ash25-EB28, his glider’s design is based on the classic ASH 25. The glider’s manufacturer Binder purchased unfinished fuselages and inner wing panels from another company, Alexander Schleicher, and fitted modified, larger outer wing panels with a super-wide 28m wingspan and a single-piece canopy.
Binder also installed a Solo engine with an extension and retraction system he designed himself. Owe’s impressive glider will be easy to recognise this both in the air and on the ground at Benalla.
Owe Engström with his ASH25 EB28.
WGC Benalla is the Olympics of gliding
The World Gliding Championships will be the largest gliding event ever held in Australia, and
the Southern Hemisphere.
116 competitors from 28 countries will be at the airfield from just after Christmas until the closing ceremony on 22 January.