Val Wilkinson took out a top flying award for the Australian Women Pilots’ Association for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of gliding.
Val Wilkinson took out a top flying award for the Australian Women Pilots’ Association for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of gliding. Georja Ryan

Wilkinson soars into history

VAL Wilkinson doesn't need Red Bull to give her wings.

She has a pair of her own to take her to high altitudes.

For 42 years, Mrs Wilkinson, from Danderoo, has sat firmly in the pilot's seat of glider aircraft, and was last month crowned with the Australian Women Pilots' Association award for her outstanding contributions to gliding.

The award is only given out every so often and Mrs Wilkinson is no stranger to the receiving end of the engraved plaque.

In 1980, she set the altitude record for gliding at 26,825ft and in 1997 was awarded the Diamond Distance and Goal award and for her outstanding contribution to gliding.

Award recipients have to be nominated to go in the running for an award and Mrs Wilkinson said she was still unsure who nominated her.

"I have my suspicions. I think it may have been my friend in New South Wales," she said.

Mrs Wilkinson, a life member of the Queensland Recreational Aircraft Association, said her first time behind the control stick was one of her most memorable moments as she knew it was the start of something bigger.

"It was in 1970 and it was just lovely," she said.

Her husband, Bill, is also a glider pilot and the pair love the sport for many reasons.

"It's like people who go sailing instead of using a powerboat," Mr Wilkinson said.

"You fly like an eagle flies and it's about using natural forces. We love it."



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