Soaring through life on fun flight plan

Yvonne Loader says she is “so glad” aviation found her.

mrs Loader, who is in her late 60s, has a passion for flying and has made her mark in the air, flying both powered craft and gliders.

The softly spoken Christchurch woman, who is at the national gliding championships in Omarama this week, started learning powered flying in the early 1970s.

She later came under pressure to compete and quickly became “hooked” on competition flying.

For 10 years, she did a “huge amount” of serious competition, with her favourite event being forced landings.

She was twice the Royal new Zealand Aero Club’s national champion in forced landings and she did “everything” except aerobatics.

She was the only woman competing in a lot of events and she recalled that men hated being beaten by a woman.

When a gliding club “head-hunted” her husband to do some towing, she found she was “incredibly bored” watching him, so she decided to get her towing rating.

She was a crew member at the world gliding championships in Rieti, Italy, in 1985 and was the only female tow pilot at the world championships at Omarama in 1995.

She set a women’s world record for gain of height in a glider in 1988 over Aoraki/Mt Cook.

These days, she enjoyed passing on her knowledge and experience to young people.

At a youth gliding camp at Omarama last month, she was kept busy as she was one of the very few people who had the flexibility to be both an instructor and tow pilot.

She enjoyed taking people for an “awesome” flight in a twin-seater glider and sharing the experience.

She did not put herself on the tow roster over Christmas at Omarama “because I’d rather be gliding”, she said.

a keen snow-skier, mrs Loader said the sky and the mountains were her favourite things and she loved the views from the glider.

She also enjoyed the camaraderie within the close-knit gliding community.

“You can talk flying until the cows come home and nobody thinks you’re boring.”

Non-flying women did not usually relate to her aviation interest but those who had flown solo had phoned her to discuss their feats, because they knew she would understand what they were talking about.

She has been involved with the new Zealand Association of Women in Aviation, a “wonderful network” of women with a common interest.

Soaring through life on fun flight plan

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