Gliding is very much a family affair at the Scottish Gliding Centre and we’ve been catching up with our very own inter-generational gliding family!
David, Graham and Ewan make up three generations of the Fraser family, all glider pilots and all passionate about their sport. We talked to them about their gliding journeys and asked them to share some of their most memorable experiences in the air.
David’s Gliding Story.
David has been gliding for over 60 years and at a sprightly 84, still gets up in the air with his son Graham on occasion. David started his gliding journey with the Air Training Corp 137 Squadron in Ayr in 1950 and remembers his first glider flight well.
“For training I went to the Royal Air Force at RAF Dumfries at weekends way back in the early fifties. Learning to glide and the theory was very well organised by the RAF. I remember my very first flight in an open cockpit glider called a Sedberg at RAF Dumfries. It was a two seater side by side glider and the experience was absolutely thrilling! There is still one flying at the Scottish Gliding Centre, and I’d recommend it.”
David learned to glide in the T21 Sedberg and the T31. Standard training gliders at the time, both were open cockpit gliders but are now mostly obsolete. Glass fibre gliders are now most common with better performance and comfort.
As with many, life gets in the way of gliding and David reports a gap of many years after his solo flights with the ATC.
Inspiring a gliding generation
“I had been married about two years when our son Graham was born. He made such a racket prior to feeding time that one Sunday I left our home Hamilton and went up to the gliding airfield five miles away at Strathaven to get some piece. That was the start of it. Needless to say, I was hooked again! We went up the airfield a lot and after a few years I ended up their chief flying instructor. I’m still in touch with several of my fellow pilots from that time.”
Graham must have quietened down eventually as David used to take him along as a toddler, something Graham vividly remembers. You can read Graham’s gliding reminisces here.
Gliding became a huge part of David’s life and they spent many happy weekends travelling to other clubs around Scotland, with Feshie Bridge being a particular favourite. And not always for gliding!
“It was great fun flying there in the mountains when the weather was suitable. It is still a gliding site well worth a visit. When the weather was bad we got up to all sorts of fun!”
David has some fantastic stories about his gliding life including sharing a thermal with an eagle at Feshie Bridge, flying in amongst a flock of geese in V formation and the real danger of being pelted with shellfish near Oban.
“North Connel is an old wartime RAF Coastal Command aerodrome. The hard runways were covered in broken sea shells as the gulls pick them off the beach, fly over the runway and drop the shells to open them. Taking off in an open cockpit T21 two seater you had to keep your head down to avoid being hit by the missiles!”
David’s most memorable flight was again at North Connel where he flew to around 21,000 feet over Fort Augustus.
“I got an aerotow to around 4,000 feet where I contacted wave. The wind was from the north west and sort of rippled over the mountains causing a waving effect which gave smooth flying in very smooth conditions. I was on oxygen around 10,000 feet. That was a truly memorable flight.”
At 84, David doesn’t fly solo any longer but does go gliding with his son Graham as often as he can. We are in no doubt his enthusiasm for gliding has inspired not only his own family, but many others besides.