Horsham Week has been a major fixture on the soaring calendar since 1967. The 41st Horsham Week again incorporated the Victorian State Competition, as has been the case since 2003. 40 pilots competed over 8 days; there were 2 no-fly days. Conditions weakened as the Week progressed.
Wimmera Soaring Club retired from running Horsham Week 5 years ago and the pilots took over, with continuing strong support from Max Hedt and many other club members. Max is an almost-retired grain grower whose son Rolf has also been active in gliding over the years.
Max Hedt was a founding member of Wimmera Soaring Club in 1963 together with Tommy Thompson (Jeremy Thompson's father) and several others. The Club's first glider, a Slingsby T31 tandem tutor, arrived later that year. Their first competition was at Dooen in the Easter of 1966.
Max had read a book called "8 Days at Angers" (France) and this gave the Club the idea to run an 8 day comp. The best timing for conditions seemed to be early February, rather than Easter, and the first Horsham Week was held in 1967 at Dooen. 8 pilots competed including David Wilson (dedicated Horsham Week met-man who has competed nearly every year) in a Boomerang, Tony Tabart in his Bocian (Tony has competed in just about every Horsham Week) and Alan Patching.
In 1967, Wimmera Soaring Club received permission to locate at Horsham airfield and the hangar was moved. The first flight out of Horsham was in October 1967. The first Horsham Week at Horsham (the second Horsham Week) was in February 1968.
Jenny & Jeremy Thompson competed this year in their first Horsham Week, sharing their aircraft, to conclude a 2 month gliding holiday on the east coast. Jenny is a former President of Darling Downs Soaring Club and Jeremy is CFI.
Jeremy started gliding at Horsham in a Kookabura when he was 14 years old, encouraged by his father. The family moved to Sydney before Jeremy went solo.
Jenny & Jeremy described Horsham Week as "very relaxed and a good atmosphere. It's great country to fly over - large paddocks and many tasking and outlanding opportunities. We've found that the differences in NSW and Victoria compared with Queensland are the length of the days and the fact that you can do much bigger distances here. We love flying in Queensland, but we came down here to get away from some of the limitations we experience up there".
Jenny was the only female solo pilot "which is another difference with Queensland - we have a lot of female pilots participating in competitions".
Before the comp, Jenny broke an Australian female record for a 500km out and return at 134 kph from Corowa. Jenny started flying gliders when she was 15 when her father gave up sailing as a hobby and they took up gliding together - gliding looked similar to sailing because of the elements.
Aaron Stroop from Bathurst Soaring Club started gliding in 1975 and the next year, not yet solo, came to his first Horsham Week in Sunraysia's 2 seater Blanik with Reg Hudson as his instructor. Aaron competed in lots of Horsham Weeks but stopped attending when he moved to NSW.
"This is the first time that I've been back to Horsham since living in Sydney and I thought that it was time - and I'm glad that I did. I love flying out of Horsham; it's so different from NSW. I fly over undulating hilly land and the thermals are consistent, but it's very different here - hard to explain. I've known all the pilots for years and it's good to come back and fly with friends in a low key event. So many of the competitions that I fly are very serious. This is fun as well as good flying."
Ben Loxton (Victorian Motorless Flight Group) was the youngest pilot competing. Horsham Week subsidises Australian juniors and supported Ben for the last 2 years with nil entry fees. Ben has been flying for 4 years, has always been interested in aircraft and flying and is in final year aerospace engineering at RMIT University.
"Gliding is the logical start as it's much cheaper than power flying, which I hope to eventually take up. This is my third Horsham Week. The first I was coached in a Janus by David Wilson. I really enjoy flying here as everyone is very supportive of junior pilots and they're all willing to share their knowledge with me. I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
Craig Dilks (President, Bendigo Gliding Club) flew his 4th Horsham Week in the Club's Super Arrow - which is 7 years older than Craig. He had a couple of wins in his first year. Craig has been a Bendigo GC member for 16 years: "I hope to become a Level 1 instructor this year. Because I work in retail, it's hard to get time off in the Jan/Dec period, so this comp suits me. I fly every weekend possible; the main reason I come to Horsham Week is to see how much I've improved - or not. It's a good test of my skills in a friendly competitive environment.
"Over the years, we've had 3 knots to 5,000' so this year I brought the Super Arrow because I needed a glider that could climb. Though as it turned out, the wind made my life difficult."
Craig was flying against his father, Paul Dilks, in Sports Class and beat him by 513 points. Craig was awarded the Best Achiever Trophy for 'flogging around so well in these conditions in the Super Arrow'.Brian Wood, CFI, Tug Master & Treasurer of Grampians Soaring Club was tug master and scorer for 2007 Horsham Week. Brian flew Horsham in 1992 and 1994 in Sports Class and won both times. He first flew a tug at Horsham at the multiclass nationals in 1997 and has towed at every Horsham Week since. He took on the role of tug master when the pilots started running the comp themselves. "I like to be here and to be part of the system - it's all pretty good."
June Nakamura, the newest member of Beaufort Gliding Club, is a hang glider pilot with 20 years experience who took up gliding 10 years ago. June was born and raised in Japan and is now living in Melbourne and studying nursing at LaTrobe University. She soloed in Hawaii and flew Las Vegas and has around 160 hours gliding. June flew with Noel Vagg in the Club's Janus.
"I'm enjoying being here because everyone is very friendly and helpful - all the pilots, the Wimmera Soaring Club people who are looking after us in the kitchen, everyone. Although we didn't get the best conditions for the last few days, flying over the flat land is good because there are lots of outlanding possibilities which makes me feel safer. The farmer was very friendly about us outlanding on the day that we did.
"Flying in Japan is very different - very small outlanding spots in between very hilly country. We can't go cross country in Japan unless we are absolutely sure that the day is right."
DooDa Perkins - not yet solo - flew the Corangamite Soaring Club Janus with Bryan Bailey and John Lee. DooDa became interested in gliding 2 years ago and has 10 hours under instruction. This year he decided to take 12 months leave from hydrographic surveying to concentrate more on gliding during this summer and next.
"This is my second Horsham Week and again I am impressed by the level of organisation and great social atmosphere, coupled with challenging flying conditions. Even after each day's flying, I've gained much from renditions by senior experienced pilots about what did happen and what should have happened!"
(Old) Bill Hatfield (Kingaroy Gliding Club) flew his second Horsham Week. He has been gliding for 38 years and power flying for 45 years. "I made the trip because I'm now a full time gliding (pilot). It seems a tradition to always return to Horsham, so I've now become part of the tradition. The flying is challenging, the company is excellent - there is extraordinary fellowship amongst the pilots. So many stay on the field in tents, caravans and the bunkhouse that it creates a sense of old-fashion camaraderie."
Michael Sommer (Germany), current World Gliding Champion Open Class, managed 3 days of flying in between work commitments. Michael has lived and worked in Australia for the past 4 years as a purchasing manager for automotive industry supplier, Siemens VDO. Michael has been gliding for 20 years and was introduced to the sport as a teenager through his family. "I started gliding when I was 14. A colleague of my dad was the president of the gliding club. As I was doing RC model flying already, he asked my dad to bring me over as soon as I was old enough. From my first flight I knew that this was what I wanted to do.
"It's good here at Horsham. It's a competition with a lot of tradition and I am surprised to see such a well organised and well attended competition in the Victorian country side. I am glad that I had the opportunity to fly a few days in the competition."
A run task was set into a strong southerly for the last day. There were some cues but the day was cycling fast, and if you got low you were out; it was a day that reshuffled the points table.
Top 3 overall results after 6 competition days:
At 2007 Horsham Week, approx 50% of gliders were carrying FLARM. The pilots' meeting brought lengthy discussion regarding making the unit compulsory and how to equip gliders that are without one. It was agreed that a 'warning device' be compulsory for 2008 Horsham Week and that the VSA be strongly encouraged to purchase units for rental purposes.