Go Membership

Team Britain off to a Great Start for for

World Gliding Championships Benalla

The British Team for WGC 2017 Benalla

Following on from the entries received from the highly experienced Dutch team, the British team has now been decided and is no less accomplished with a long list of top competition results.


Team Captain Max Kirschner said, ‘It’s great to be bringing an experienced team to Benalla, and we are looking forward to the competition. I’m also looking forward to meeting old friends, having spent many British winters enjoying the weather at Benalla and the hospitality of the Gliding Club of Victoria.’

Max was the Summer Operations Manager at Benalla for several years and so may be the British not-so-secret weapon when it comes to the region’s logistical and flying challenges.

Open Class - Andy Davis and Russell Cheetham

Andy Davis, two times World Gliding Champion, has maintained his current World Ranking of 7. He won his first world title at Borlänge, Sweden in 1993 in Standard Class. He went on to fly WGCs in Germany 1999, South Africa 2001, and Poland 2003 where he again took Gold in Standard Class. He also represented Britain at the Worlds in Sweden 2006 and took Silver in Open class at WGC Poland 2014. Along the way won he won the South African Sailplane Grand Prix in 2012.

Since his Gold medal achievement in 2003, Andy has competed in numerous British Nationals, winning seven times including 2015, making him the current British Champion in Open Class. 

Andy, 59 years old, is an airline pilot by profession and was surely born to fly. Can Andy achieve an historic third win at WGC 2017? Entries for Benalla are flowing in now and we shall soon learn who his rivals for the top spot will be.

Teammate Russell Cheetham will undoubtedly be among the top competitors challenging Andy in open class. Russell is a highly experienced and successful competition glider pilot with European Championship titles in both Open and 18m Class.

Russell also flew in the 1999 Bayreuth and 2001 South Africa WGCs, and many British Overseas Championships in Spain. He also competed in European and British Championships, Worlds at Sweden, Germany and Hungary. In Poland 2014, he achieved his best placing at a Worlds coming in 4th in Open Class. In the FAI Sailplane Grand Prix, just finished in Italy, he came 7th. Russell , is 55 and ranked No. 12 in the world.

18m Class: Steve Jones and Peter Harvey

Steve’s first WGC was New Zealand in 1995. He won the first ever 18m Class World Championships, which were held in Spain 2001. In Poland 2003, he took the Silver medal in 18m. He took the Silver medal in Open Class in Hungary in 2010. At Lithuania 2014, he finished in Gold position in 20m Two Seat Class,. He also flew at the WGCs in Sweden 2006 and Germany 2008. Steve has finished in the top eight positions in all of his WGCs. Of course, he has also flown many European Championships and British Nationals. His current world ranking is 36.

Pete Harvey is the Chairman of the British Gliding Association. Pete stared his flying in Hang gliding having gained international success he moved to Gliding. He won the European Gliding Championship three times in a row in Open Class in 2005, 2007 and 2009. He has represented
Great Britain in seven WGCs. Six in Open Class and in New Zealand in 2007 in 15m. His best World Championship placing was 5th in the USA in 2012. He ranks 34 on the world ranking.

15m Class: Ed Johnston and Derren Francis

Ed Johnston won the 2015 British Nationals in 15m for his best competition result to date. His world ranking is up seven spots at No.100, putting the entire British team in the top 100 pilots in the world. Ed’s first European Championships were in France in 2000, flying Standard Class. He has flown in 18 British Nationals and came 6th at WGC USA 2012 in 15m. At 45 years old he may be at peak age for gliding and a highly competitive entrant. 

Derren Francis’ ranking is down but he still comes in at No. 84 in the world. He has flown numerous British Nationals in both 18m and 15m since 2004. He has flown two European Championships. Derren is the only first-time WGC contestant on the British team.

The European gliding calendar is rich with competitions, locations and varied gliding terrain and weather. At the same time, Benalla has its own charms and challenges and lots of booming gliding conditions. But look out for more about that as we get closer to WGC2017 Benalla.

facebook.com/WGCBenalla for updates

Andy Davis BBC

Andy Davis - Two times World Gliding Champion - photo BBC

Russell Cheetham Ritz deluy

Russell Cheetham - Two times European Gliding Champion - by Ritz Deluy

Steve Jones

Steve Jones - Two times World Gliding Champion

Pete Harvey Ritz deluy

Pete Harvey - Chairman, British Gliding Association  - by Ritz Deluy

Ed Johnston

Ed Johnston - 15m Class

Derren Francis

Derren Francis - 15 M Class

Max Kirchner

Team Captain Max Kirschner

For high resolution images contac This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.%20">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




WGC are held every two years in several classes. Club, Standard and Two seater, 15 metre, 18 metre and Open classes. Attracting pilots from over 30 countries, the sport is keenly competitive.


The sport of gliding is an exhilarating, spectacular and serene flying experience. Gliders take to the air like birds with wings outstretched, soaring on rising air currents, immersed in three-dimensional space and flying silently with an eagle’s view of the world.

Men and women of all ages can learn to fly gliders. In Australia you can fly solo from the age of 15 and some pilots continue gliding into their eighties. It is never too late to learn to glide and many pilots take up the sport in their 40s, 50s or even 70s. 


The modern glider is a sophisticated, highly aerodynamic aircraft without an engine, designed to travel at speeds approaching 300 kph and capable of heights in excess of 10,000 metres.


The 34th FAI World Gliding Championships will be held in Benalla, Victoria, on 8 - 21 January 2017. Over 100 competitors from 30 nations are expected to compete in one of the greatest sport aviation events in the world.

** Multiclass - 15 metre, 18 metre and Open classes


Benalla, Victoria, 8 - 21 January 2017

Visitors welcome - Gliders - Simulators - Family friendly - Great day out


World Gliding Championships wgc2017.com/ Facebook .facebook.com/WGCBenalla

Twitter  twitter.com/WGC2017 GFA glidingaustralia.org

Sean Young

Media Relations


T + 61 02 9332 2822

M + 61 0490 502 323

World Gliding Championships wgc2017.com/ Facebook .facebook.com/WGCBenalla

Twitter  twitter.com/WGC2017 GFA glidingaustralia.org