Northumberland gliding club celebrates 50 years of flying high

A north Northumberland gliding club has celebrated its 50th birthday.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 14:20 pm
Borders (Milfield) Gliding Club chairman Mark Fielding, Gordon Beal, Frances Blackburn, Alastair Fish, George Brown and Andy Bardgett.

Borders Gliding Club, formed in 1969 originally for flying, started gliding in 1970 from the old RAF airfield at Milfield owned by local farmer Bill Brodie.

Over 90 members past and present attended a function in an airfield hangar on Saturday.

These included founder member Gordon Beal of Charlton Mires and Jane Coltman and Frances Blackburn, daughters of George Wright, a former RAF navigator who originally broached the idea of flying there to a few local enthusiasts.

The Slingsby Eagle which was brought from Portmoak for the 50th anniversary of Borders (Milfield) Gliding Club.

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On Saturday the glider which first launched from the site, a Slingsby Eagle, was brought from its present base at Portmoak in Scotland to join in the celebrations. It was launched, in this case by the club’s Piper Super Cub aircraft instead of by winch as it was in former years.

In its 50 years the club has seen many changes. The original airfield was excavated for gravel, resulting in the updating from winch launching to aerotow operations.

In 1985 a move to the nearby site at Galewood allowed flying to continue. In 1996 British Gas wanted to build a pumping station on the west end of the airfield. They funded the club’s relocation to its spiritual home on the remains of the old airfield.

It is now one of the foremost gliding clubs in the country.

The fleet comprises two tug aircraft, three two-seat training gliders and a single seater for pilots to progress before joining private syndicates.

The club is open every weekend and selected periods during the year for members and visitors.