Glide Portmoak – Graham’s Story
Graham is Managing Director of Frasertech and has been gliding for almost 50 years.
Graham started his gliding journey earlier than most, sitting on his dad’s knee in the back seat aged 3 at Strathaven. He credits his father David, whose story you can read here, with inspiring him to glide.
“My early memories all revolve around the fun and excitement of going flying with my Dad and his easy nature and encouragement over the years, holds a very special place in my heart.
Learning to glide was never really a formal process for me, I just went gliding with Dad and picked it up as I went along. At the age of 17 I went on a one week course at the SGC to consolidate what I had done up until then and went solo that week. Once solo it was a bit more structured with evening courses specifically for training up to Bronze level. This flight was great fun as it was much more advanced and gave me real confidence in the aircraft and my own ability.”
Graham’s home site is the Scottish gliding Centre and he claims it’s one of the best places to fly in the UK. Although he has high praise for Feshie Bridge near Aviemore, and for Sisteron in the French Alps.
“I’ve made many friends through gliding all over the world, Gerry Marshall and Tony Brown stand out as great friends with over 30 years of happy memories, some flying, some not, but always including too much beer and too little sleep.”
Learning to Glide
Colin Goulding, who Graham claims had the patience of a saint, sent him solo and they remained close until Colin passed away. Graham has fond memories of Mike Ward, one of SGC’s clubs great characters. And Colin Hamilton and Dave Hatton who ran the Bronze course , which he claims was some of the most exciting and fun flying he ever did.
Graham learned to fly in a K13, a lovely glider to fly with, a great view out the window and very forgiving and easy to fly. By today’s standards perhaps not a very good performing glider, but a great training aircraft. His early solo flights were in the SGC’s K8 which had a plank of wood for a seat. Graham has a view that this was deliberate, so pilots wouldn’t want to fly it for too long due to the pain in your backside after about 30 minutes in the air!
He took to competing in the mid 90’s flying in the back seat of the ASH 25 at the Junior nationals aged 20 out of RAF Halton with Al Eddy from Deeside Gliding Club and loved the experience. The following year he took part in the Juniors flying his own glider, a DG300 from Bidford. He continues to compete at the Scottish Interclub which he describes as a friendly and great natured competition with a focus on encouraging pilots of all abilities to just have a go, with more emphasis on fun and enjoyment, rather than competition.
Graham tries to visit SGC around 2 or 3 times per month, depending on the weather conditions and is also one of our volunteer tug pilots, taking over those duties once a month or so.
As many other pilots discover, work and family can make it hard at times to fit flying into a busy life. The weather is also an important consideration as most gliding enthusiasts are looking for good cross country flying conditions which can be a bit of a hit or miss, fortunately gliding in Scotland can be good at any time of the year so be ready to grab the opportunities when they arise!
Back to Portmoak
Graham, like many others, missed the club during lockdown. “Ewan, my son, is now very keen on gliding, which has encouraged me to go to the club more often even if the weather is not so good. I am getting back into just enjoying being at Portmoak which is great. It allows me more time to help out, get involved and get to meet more of the members which is something I had lost and missed.”
When we asked Graham about how he would describe gliding, he had this to say:
“It is an amazing way to experience flying in one of its most purest forms and allows you the opportunity to make life-long friends. Gliding has been a constant thread throughout my life, it has provided a bond and common interest over 3 generations of my family for which I am very grateful. While other hobbies and adventures have come and gone, nothing has held my attention in the same way as flying gliders. It is a constantly evolving sport and every flight is different, keeping it fresh even after nearly 50 years.
Just give it a go, if you love it you will be hooked for life and it will open up a whole new world of friends and adventures!”