A new gliding centre is to be developed near Greytown.

Wairarapa Gliding is joining forces with Wellington Gliding Club which is moving from its Kapiti Coast airport premises.

They will be sharing the Papawai airstrip, which is part of the farmland South Wairarapa District Council bought in 2013 for wastewater irrigation.

Wairarapa president Jim Bicknell said they were establishing the Greytown Soaring Centre together which would be the "umbrella" organisation for the clubs.


It is expected to be operating by next summer.

"There's still a lot of development to be done," said Mr Bicknell.

He said a second runway was being developed and the Wellington club may need to build hangars and a club room.

Mr Bicknell said this year the club would also like to offer scholarships to women to learn to fly, as there is a lack of female flyers.

The Wellington club it was moving because of the operational considerations associated with sharing an airfield with Air NZ, and no long term security of tenure.

"That lead us to take the difficult decision to leave our home of many years."

They also said the Wairarapa conditions were better suited to learning to fly gliders.

With Wairarapa, they will hold open days next summer for the public to come along and watch or take a trial instructional flight.


Both clubs have a strong focus on teaching young people how to fly and prepare them for conventional flying.

The Wairarapa club, which has been around since 1989, helped pioneer aviation studies at Kuranui College - one of the boys who had his first lesson with Mr Bicknell is now a captain for Eagle Air.

Mr Bicknell said there was not much in the way of aviation training in the region.

"The best thing to do is to learn to fly a glider first, then you have a pretty good understanding of flying."

Diana Braithwaite, a member of 10 years, said it was good to see several students who had learned to fly go on to work in the industry.

"If you have to train to fly a glider, you make a much better power pilot."

Member David Hirst said the centre plans were very exciting.

"Possibly in the future three to four clubs may use the centre, initially it will be just Wellington and ourselves operating parallel."

SWDC chief executive Paul Crimp said when the council bought the land, it was keen to ensure the club could continue as it was a great amenity for the district.

It would facilitate the centre lease but the clubs would be in charge of operational arrangements, he said.