Six Parkes Christian School students have arrived home exhausted but ecstatic after taking out the trophy for flying the longest distance in the “flying class” at the Moomba Birdman Rally in Melbourne last weekend.
Their teacher, Jason Wynstra said the students left Parkes with high hopes early on Saturday morning but the trip took its toll on their flying machine.
“Our glider, “The Parkes Flyer” was basically destroyed when we got there,” he said.
“But the kids really stepped up and rebuilt the wing, the whole thing had to be re-covered.
“The basic structure was still sound and we took plenty of the window film which we used to cover the frame with us.
“Ross Gosby from Bathurst donated the window film, it was fantastic he was able to help us out that way.”
The Birdman competition is a mixture of Penguin Class where people dress up and jump off the Birdman platform over the Yarra River and Flying Class where entrants go for distance, flying as far as they can.
“We flew 11 metres, beating our last attempt two years ago when we managed a distance of eight metres,” Jason said.
“The kids were over the moon!
“Michael Paul from Melbourne usually wins it every year, but this year we beat him by one whole metre.
“He is a lovely fellow who went out of his way to assist us, all the teams were very helpful.”
Fifteen teams competed in the Flying Class competition, with each team supporting a charity of their choice.
Parkes Christian School raised $2,100 for their charity, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF).
A record $80,000 was raised in total by all competitors in the rally, with actor Samuel Johnson the overall winner raising more than $25,000 for his chosen charity Love Your Sister.
After all the excitement of their big win, the students took the opportunity to enjoy what else Melbourne and the Moomba Festival had on offer.
Jason said the students were invited by the Hang Gliders Association to their airfield.
“We called in on the way down on Saturday,” he said.
“They had the opportunity to look over the gliders and get strapped in and run them over the field to get a feel for how a hang glider operates,” he said.
“On Saturday night they had a fabulous time ice skating to top off a great first day.”
Jason said he and the students are very grateful to Neil Unger for transporting their wings to Melbourne.
“Neil took them to Melbourne for us on the back of his little farm truck,” he said.
“He has had a real interest in the project from the beginning being a member of the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia and an aviator himself.
“He is enjoys seeing the kids interested in aviation.”
Jason also dabbles in the aviation field, flying model planes.