Lake Keepit Soaring Club is famous for holding epic gliding safaris. Every year, a gaggle of gliders leaves Lake Keepit and heads north or west or south, looking for adventure. These safaris are usually 3,000 or 4,000 kilometres in distance and can take up to two weeks to complete. The route can be an out and return or a loop, planned to visit some interesting destinations, taking in country properties and remote townships on the way.
The flying on safaris is often good and sometimes great. As well as the flying, it is the camaraderie that makes the safaris fun and adds to the adventure. Once you have landed and tied down the gliders, the search is on for a good restaurant with a good wine list!
There is a ground crew of one or more vehicles which follow the safari, carrying clothes, fuel and a few spanners just in case. This can be a difficult and lonely job and it’s sometimes hard to persuade the driver that it’s going to be a really great safari this year!!
So where do safaris go? Almost anywhere in Australia, other than east; anywhere were there’s a pub or welcoming homestead with an airstrip and accommodation. The safari to Lake Eyre was a memorable one; great weather, great places to visit and some outstanding flying. Then there was the safari to … oh, they are all a fun adventure!
The weather is not always perfect but the experience is! Navigating over unknown country and landing at new strips builds a lot of confidence, as does tying down the glider in 50 knot winds! When the weather is not cooperating, there’s always some exploring and photography to be done, vising places which few city-bound Australians ever see. Sheep stations and homesteads are popular places to stay. They are always interesting, different from the previous one and it is great fun meeting the people who live in these remote places.
Self-launchers are ideal for safaris, though when a tug is available, unpowered and sustainer gliders can come along.
For some, the safari is a welcome change from triangles or out and returns. Some days it’s a bit of a challenge, bashing into headwinds in blue conditions over inhospitable country – whilst on other days there are huge thermals marked by fluffy clouds, a tailwind and friendly country far below.
The safari usually has a goal and sometimes a theme. It may be the wineries of Clare Valley, flying the Morning Glory at Burketown, seeing water in Lake Eyre or visiting the iconic Dig Tree. On easy or short days, sight-seeing can be fun; there are often hidden treasures in country art galleries and museums,
If you are interested in adventure flying, something out of the ordinary, then a Keepit Safari is well worth trying. These longer safaris are held between October and Christmas every year. There is also a three or four day ‘mini safari’ over the long weekend in January each year. This is a great way to see what safaris are all about.
Just contact the Manager at LKSC and you’ll get put in touch with the organisers of the safaris.