Visiting pilots from as far away as England have arrived in Benalla for the soaring season.
A container of gliders arrived at Benalla Airfield on Monday, ready for the soaring season, and a group of pilots are hard at work rigging and preparing them for action.
Most of the pilots have already been in Benalla for a couple of weeks, and most will be staying until March next year.
Benalla Gliding Club of Victoria president Jonathan McAliece said he was thrilled to welcome the overseas pilots and their gliders to the club.
‘‘There are pilots from a number of countries arriving, but the container that is packed from the United Kingdom has already arrived with six gliders,’’ Mr McAliece said.
‘‘A lot of the pilots have already arrived, and a few will arrive over the next few weeks before their gliders get here, to ensure they get through customs.’’
Mr McAliece said some would simply use the club as a fly-by, but most would stay in Benalla for four to six months — escaping the cold northern hemisphere weather.
Several others will visit for shorter periods during the summer.
All pilots have told airfield officials that they are looking forward to the excellent soaring conditions that are available in the area, and flights of up to and beyond 1000km will be attempted on many days.
On good gliding days, pilots can reach altitudes of 10000-foot or more and often visit the mountain ranges to the south as well as the plains of NSW and western Victoria.
Mr McAliece said he hoped the international pilots would help make the gliding club and Benalla a destination for gliders across the world.
Especially in the summer months, the Gliding Club of Victoria welcomes visitors from all over Australia and the world for training and passenger flying as well as helping more experienced pilots to enjoy the sport.