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Gliding club farewells historic training glider

Old and new members of the Gliding Club of Victoria farewelled the club’s last IS-28 glider on its final flight over Benalla last week.

MONIQUE FREER May 8, 2014 3:37am

Former Gliding Club of Victoria instructor Doug Robinson takes the IS-28 on one of the last flights before its retirement last Wednesday.

Dedicated past and present members of the Gliding Club of Victoria turned out to farewell the club’s last IS-28 glider on its final flight over Benalla last week.

The glider — used primarily for training — was retired last Wednesday after reaching the end of its 35-year allowed flying time.

Gliding Club of Victoria vice-president Tim Shirley said the IS-28 gliders were introduced to the club in 1975 and had played a big role in the development of aspiring glider pilots.

‘‘It’s a very good training glider,’’ Mr Shirley said.

‘‘At certain times, at its most they had six flying here simultaneously.’’

Although the IS-28 gliders have been in part superceded by more modern aircraft, Mr Shirley said they were the lifeblood of the club for many years.

‘‘Most people, particularly those who’d flown it a lot in the past, would feel pretty nostalgic because they spent a lot of time in and around it,’’ he said.

‘‘Even though these days there are much more modern aircrafts available to us, it still has a sense of nostalgia.

‘‘It is as much nostalgia as it is history; it’s the end of an era.’’

Former employee and leading instructor Doug Robinson took the second-last flight in the glider, while former president Jim Barton took the glider on its final flight across Benalla.

Mr Barton was president of the club from 1959 to 1994 and travelled from Melbourne last week for the occasion.

‘‘I introduced them into the club back in 1975 and we finished up having a fleet of six,’’ Mr Barton said.

‘‘I consider it one of the best training airplanes ever flown.’’

A former commercial pilot for more than 30 years, Mr Barton said gliding was unique because it gave a sense of freedom.

‘‘I love it because of the freedom it gives you up in the air and the pleasure of not having a motor,’’ he said.

The former president was the first person to fly in an IS-28 glider at Benalla and he said it was a privilege to farewell it personally.

‘‘I’m rather sad, it was a pleasure to fly it,’’ he said.

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