Glider club seeks new airstrip

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Pilot Bernie Massey soars over Waikare Inlet in the Bay of Islands.
Pilot Bernie Massey soars over Waikare Inlet in the Bay of Islands.

Enthusiastic glider pilots have been grounded until they can find a new airstrip to launch from.

The Whangarei District Gliding Club has been based at Puhipuhi, north of Whangarei, for the last 22 years on a patch of land that has launched hundreds of gliders into the air.

But this year a change in farm ownership means the club has to move out by the end of the month. Unfortunately the airstrip does not suit what the farmer has planned for the paddock.

Club members have hurriedly found alternative storage for their equipment and are now desperately looking for another airstrip.

Club member, secretary and treasurer Bill Rossiter said the club's three gliders, a retrieve vehicle, tractor and winch for launching gliders had been taken to a hangar at Whangarei Airport.

"We have been looking for a suitable site but as yet have not been able to find anything," he said.

A hangar and another smaller shed will remain at the Puhipuhi property as the club does not have the manpower or the time to remove the buildings.

While the winter months were non-flying, Mr Rossiter hoped the club would have found a new location by October.

Whangarei Airport is not an option. The Civil Aviation Authority ruled 25 years ago that the airport's proximity to the Whangarei Harbour made gliding unsafe.

Mr Rossiter said a strip of land about 50m wide and 800m long would be ideal.

He had been involved with the club for 39 years.

- Northern Advocate

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