Kyiv Gliding Champions Soar Above Competition

Stories, Ukraine

The Ukrainian Gliding Championships were held in the Kyiv region. The best pilots gathered at the aerodrome outside Kyiv to show off their flying skills. Our correspondent found out how pilots can soar above the clouds without an engine.

The Ukrainian Gliding Championships showcased some of the best glider pilots in Ukraine. The gliders themselves are also impressive.

It doesn’t have an engine, but it can fly tens, hundreds and even thousands of kilometers. It becomes possible due to the pilots’ skills, who find rising air flows. First of all, one needs to lift the glider with the help of a towing aircraft.

During the glide, the pilot has to monitor the force and direction of the wind. And most importantly — be able to navigate in the clouds.By knowing the shape, size, and color of clouds, a pilot can determine to what height the air flow can lift the glider and how much time it can fly. The weather conditions change constantly, so each flight is unique.

“In addition to gliding skills, one has to be literate in technology and know meteorology. Moreover, one should have the same knowledge a regular pilot has as well as to think about the platforms, techniques, and tactics for common travel,” says Roman Talashchuk, the member of Ukrainian National Gliding Team.

During the Championships, pilots compete at high-speed soaring on a pre-determined route. For 2 weeks the pilots have flown to the very edge of the clouds to pass checkpoints faster than others. Ukrainian gliders are known all over the world, especially female pilots.

“Our women are among the top ten pilots in the world. Men have slightly surrendered their positions. They enter somewhere in the top fifty. And women confirm their professional preparation every year. It is a big secret why women are able to soar so well in Ukraine,” says  Kozachenko.

Valentyna Toporova is an icon and the so-called mother of the Ukrainian national team. She’s won multiple Women’s World and European Champions and has been engaged in sport for more than 40 years. At this championship, Valentyna competed with men on equal terms. She ranked 4th:

“We flew the longest route on the first day of competition. It was a 352 km triangle. The weather was quite turbulent. We had a speed of 85 km per hour. It is quite a slow speed for the open class. So, the weather was worse than we expected.”

Indeed, the winner of the championship was a man — Oleh Yakovenko. He has been engaged in gliding for several decades. Fighter planes also flew to congratulate the champions as they were training nearby.

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