Gutsy gliders took to the Gloucester skies for the annual gliding camp despite some pretty gusty conditions.
With a record number of pilots and aircraft registered to attend the nearly 40 year old event, a little wind wasn't going to stop these avid flyers from getting off the ground.
More than 30 pilots and 15 aircraft were set to attend the Central Coast Soaring Club (CCSC) eight day event at the Gloucester Aero Club from August 15-23, however numbers wavered each day depending on the winds.
The first few days offered some excellent conditions but by Wednesday, August 19, things were getting a bit tricky with the winds set to get very gusty by the afternoon leading into the weekend.
But the weather report didn't hindered these keen pilots with many of them setting off early in order to get a flight or two in before conditions deteriorated. With 12 gliders on the ground, flights started launching just after 9am.
According to club member and pilot, Michael Woolley the gusting wind isn't an issue for the glider once it's up in the air.
"The glider is very robust but the tug has a limit of cross wind for take off," Michael explained.
The tug is the aircraft the launches a glider up to the optimal thermal winds. Once the glider pilot is happy with the height, they released the line from the tug and attempt to ride the thermal waves. It's all about how high you can get and how long you can stay up for.
The Gloucester valley is a particularly special spot for gliders this time of year due to the westerly winds that roll over the Barrington Tops and rise over the Mograni.
On Wednesday morning, the gusty winds weren't so much the issue for getting up in the air, it was the coming back down.
"The issue is with the landing," Michael explained.
Pilots have to reconsider where they land so they are heading into the wind, so an alternative landing location is prepared.
A tug is just one of the way glider can fly. Another option is a self-propelled model or a self-launch, like the one owned by Paul Tridgell from Richmond. He held the wing of his glider for two of his mates as they launched on Wednesday.
"They are hoping to get to 18,000 feet. They're plan is to fly to Taree and land at the airport," Paul explained.
According to pilot Mark Suchting from the Central Coast, it's the highest a pilot can go in Gloucester due to the airspace restrictions.
"If they had clearance the prediction was for a wave lift up to 35,000 feet. It's special to this area," Paul said.
All gliders come equipped with oxygen tanks which is used once over 10,000 feet.