Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Ailsa is soaring to new heights

The sport of gliding is an exhilarating, spectacular yet serene and very moving flying experience. Gliders take to the air, soar on rising air currents, and fly silently with an eagle’s view of the world.

The first gliders were made well over 100 years ago – before the Wright Brothers pioneered powered flight – and were constructed from wood and cloth. Today, gliders are manufactured with hi-tech composite materials designed using the latest aerodynamic modelling techniques. They are comfortable to sit in, easy to fly and have similar in-flight instruments to powered aircraft.

During the month of April, the Victorian Soaring Association is offering a ‘Try It, Fly It’ opportunity for Active April participants. The offer is available every day during April but is weather dependent. For further information on the gliding club as well as contact details visit

Ailsa from Benalla loves soaring, but there’s nothing up in the air about her commitment to promoting Premier’s Active April. She is joining thousands of Victorians in April taking the pledge to do 30 minutes of exercise every day.

1. What are your favourite ways to keep active outdoors?

There’s a really nice walk around the lake in Benalla, so it’s always fun to go down there over the weekend. Otherwise, there’s a lot more work involved in going soaring than you’d think! We all work together pushing the gliders out of the hangars, and then retrieving them after they land.

2. What are your tips for keeping active every day?

It’s sometimes the little things that can help – like fitting in a quick walk around the block before dinner, or if you drive to the shops/work, then parking a little further away.

3. How did you find out about soaring?

It was something my dad had done as a kid through the air cadets in the UK and he was keen to take it up again, so we went to the local club for my brother’s birthday.

4. What was running through your head before getting into the skies for the first time?

Oh yeah, before my first flight I was quite nervous. It was fairly bumpy to start with but when we were in the air it was much better. It was in the middle of January and really hot, so I ended up being sick during the flight – but after that I felt fine and told the pilot, so we stayed up for an extra 15 minutes. Even from that first flight I had so many questions running through my head, and could see that there was so much to learn, so when dad asked if I was interested to learn to fly it was a definite ‘Yes!’.

5. What are the top three must-have for soaring for someone who wants to give it a go?

Lots of water, an entirely unfashionable bucket hat and a good pair of sunnies!

6. What do you love most about soaring and what has soaring taught you?

It’s a huge privilege to be able to see the world from the air. That feeling never really leaves. I also love that it’s something so infinite. You get different weather each time, and there’s always something else out there to achieve and aim for.

Soaring teaches you a lot about yourself. You are responsible as a pilot for making safe decisions, and that’s a responsibility you can take on from 15, which is the youngest you can fly solo. Because of that, you need to learn about your own limitations, and be confident in your ability to make decisions – like sometimes having to land sooner than you’d hoped if you see rain heading towards the airfield.

7. Why should Active April participants try soaring?

Because it’s something totally different, and something that you might just fall in love with.


Victorian Soaring Association 

Gliders fly at speeds of up to 300kph and can cover distances of over 1,000km in a flying day. Altitudes of over 40,000ft have been achieved. On a good cross-country flying day in Australia, you could expect to fly a triangular course of 300 to 500km at a height of 6,000 to 10,000ft using satellite navigation (GPS) to accurately guide you on your journey and back to your home airfield for landing.

Gliding is for all ages – 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.

There are gliding clubs all around Victoria, providing gliders with a close and friendly community that can offer support, advice and training. Once you have learned the basics of soaring and have the skill to safely fly a glider, your instructor will send you solo. Then you can relax on a quiet local flight, either on your own or in a two-seater glider with another glider pilot or friend.

From there, you can develop your skills further to experience the thrills of soaring across the countryside or the excitement of aerobatics. For those with a competitive spirit, there are many regional and international racing competitions where you will meet the top glider pilots, coaches and fellow competitors in an intense and friendly learning experience.

*Terms and Conditions apply to all offers and prizes.


Last updated: March 12, 2019 at: 1:49 pm

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