The best 10 days of year begun for many youth glide pilots in December with a total of 31 students travelling to Omarama from not only New Zealand but some as far Australia, Japan and England. Not only did we have students attend from across the globe, this year we welcomed our largest ever group of female pilots to the Youth Soaring Development Camp (YSDC) with a total 10 female youth attending.

It didn’t take long for the locals to make way for the young bunch as the largest YSDC kicked off. The sound of fun and excitement echoed throughout the Omarama airfield and the amazing smell of Kim Read’s cooking lingered; tents were quickly pitched, caravans were unlocked, gliders were rigged, and the crowd of grey hairs and youth gathered around the campfire.

Roger Read, head organiser and Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) for the camp alongside his lovely wife Kim, her kitchen crew, 18 instructors, 4 tow pilots, 10+ support crew and fleet of 18 gliders were ready to roll. Briefings were held, personal goals were set, students were assigned instructors and the flying begun!

Gliders spend very little time on ground with a total of 380 flights and 298 flying hours completed over duration of the camp. There was no time for sleep-ins with students eager to start the flying day. Gliders were towed to the grid, instructors and students were strapped in and gliders were soon rolling.

For many, the Youth Soaring Development Camp provided first time experiences including solo flights, cross country flights, task flights, use of oxygen, experiencing wave, high altitude, out landings and of course, flying over Aoroaki Mt Cook.

Five students including Ben Carlisle (Canterbury), Callum Fitzsimons (UK), Carmen Haybittle (Auckland), Hunter Masfen (Auckland) and Peter Brunton (AU) completed their first solo flights during the camp.

Other notable achievements include the longest flight of the camp flown by Isabelle Burr (Auckland) who completed her 5 hours in a LS4 (MT) on Mt Horrible and Sam Patterson (Omarama) who successfully completed his first unintential out landing at Dunstan Peaks.

With the introduction to task pilot presented by Brian Savage, students were quick to take advantage of the new Nano’s funded by the Pub Charity along with downloading TopHat and attempting there first task flights. Tasks were set to cater for all experience levels with the first task providing a tour of the surrounding land out strips.

In between flying or on days where mother nature didn’t want to cooperate, there was definitely no shortage of fun and activity on the airfield. The tiring tabata sessions in the terminal attracted the fit and healthy along with a few unfit outliers, thank you Toni Thompson! Students craftsmanship was put to the test with the first international dart competition hosted in the Omarama terminal. Discussions and lectures were presented on all things aviation including topics such as CAA, understanding tephigrams diagrams, reading airspace maps and other various gliding subjects.

It wasn’t long before the Camp drew to an end. The sound of yawns and groans could be heard as the traditional early wake call from the bagpipes vibrated through the walls of tents and caravans at 0700 on the final morning. At this time the sad reality of having to wait another 12 months before the next YSDC becomes apparent.

On behalf of Youth Glide New Zealand, we would like to thank everyone involved in making the 2017 Youth Soaring Development another huge success. We would like to specifically thank Roger and Kim Read for everything they do year after year organising this wonderful event many of us look forward too.

Special thanks must also go to all the instructors, tow pilots, clubs, organisations, syndicates, kitchen and support crew for giving up your time and fleet. The growing interest in Youth Glide is a testament to the hard work that many have put-in to provide great training and support to New Zealand’s youth pilots.

Youth Glide New Zealand do their best to keep costs to a minimum and provide young aviators with many opportunity’s, experiences and scholarships. We would like to thank and recognise the following sponsors, supporters and prize givers for you continued support of future aviators.

  • Air New Zealand
  • NZ Civil Aviation Authority
  • Z Energy
  • Gliding New Zealand Umbrella Trust
  • Glide Omarama, Omarama Gliding Club
  • South Canterbury Gliding Club
  • Nelson Lakes Gliding Club
  • Gliding Hawkes Bay and Waipukerau
  • TF Syndicate
  • MT Syndicate
  • Omarama Airfield Limited
  • Omarama Soaring Centre
  • Air Safaris
  • The Helicopter Line
  • Milford Sound Scenic Flights
  • Ballooning Canterbury
  • NZ Association of Women in Aviation (NZAWA)
  • Oakleys Premium Fresh Vegetables
  • Meadow Mushrooms
  • The Health Discovery Company
  • Baker Boys
  • Watties Heinz
  • TipTop Icecream
  • Avon Technical Solutions
  • Airways New Zealand
  • G Dale
  • Norbert Scarlat
  • Justin Wills

Quick stats

  • 31 Students
  • 18 Instructors
  • 4 Tow pilots
  • 10+ Kitchen/Support crew
  • 18 Gliders
  • 10 Days
  • 380 Flights
  • 298 Flying Hours
  • 5 First Solo’s
  • 10 Female youth pilots

Tim Tarbotton | Fraser McDougall


Isabelle Burr


Gliding Club: Auckland aviation sports club

Hours: 60

I was lucky enough to spend the first two weeks of my school holidays in Omarama for the 10-day YSDC, with over 30 other pilots and instructors. The camp included many firsts for me, first time flying in the South Island, first cross-country flight, first flight on oxygen, first flight in wave and the list could go on. It will be hard to forget seeing Mt Cook, while at 18,000ft from the rear cockpit of an ASH-25 (thanks Doug!).

On the other side of the scale, I will never forget the feeling of sitting above Mt. Horrible for 5 hours straight in an LS4. I don’t think I had ever been so pleased to see the ground before as I was after that flight! Thank you to Clive Geddes, Budd Pratt and Phil Penny for letting me fly MT during the camp, it made the 5 hours more bearable having a nice glider to fly.

My happiest moment of the course would have to be finishing my QGP on the last day, just over 2 years after my first flight with the air training corps at Whenuapai. Thank you so much to Trevor Mollard and Ray Burns for helping me finish that during the course, as well as all the help back home.

The last highlight for the camp I’ll mention has got to be the food. If it wasn’t for the campground setting I would’ve believed I was in a fancy city restaurant, with spit roast lamb and salmon making up part of our dinners. Kim and her team of volunteers served many delicious meals through the camp and I’d come back next year just for that. Another thanks to the tow pilots, instructors, support crew, sponsors and gliding clubs for their time, aircraft lent and support, and of course most of all, thank you Roger and Kim Read for putting together such an amazing camp!


Nolan Cockburn

Age: 16

Club: Melbourne Gliding Club

Hours: 61

YSDC 2017, what an experience to be had by all. With a combination of great people, awesome food, insane flights, brilliant weather and amazing experiences both on and over the ground, I don’t think that you can get any better than this camp anywhere in the world.

I’ve recently moved to Australia with my family, and only just got back into the rhythm of things when I received an e-mail from Roger Read which read “Good evening all. This is a quick note to say I have your registration for the camp,” as soon as I read these words, I jumped up and screamed, super excited to be going back to one of the best soaring locations in the world.

A couple of months passed and then came the day that I got on the plane to head back to Omarama, Heaven on Earth. Once I got there, most of the other YSDC attendees were there already, new faces and old mates. The next day the flying started, and boy did I get reminded what actual flying was! My first flight was one to be remembered, I had the air speed indicator and altimeter covered up and I attempted to fly along and climb up on the nursery ridge, but failed and had to land almost straight away, a common occurrence amongst the gliding community.

A few days passed and then came my time for more type ratings, I got rated for the Standard Libelle (GHN) one day and rated for an LS4 (GMT) the next, two ratings in two days isn’t bad. My best flight of the camp would be in the Libelle, I got towed to 3500′ ASL onto the nursery and climbed up through to 7000′. I attempted to reach the wave which was pumping that day but didn’t quite get there. I blasted up and down Mt Horrible with Allie Thompson, Tim Tarbotton, Sam Tullet, and Callum Fitzsimmons, all of whom were attempting to stay up and to fit in a good soaring flight, we all stayed up for at least an hour and loved flying alongside each other.

The amount of comradery and support given by both students and instructors is absolutely amazing and I would like to thank everyone for their support in both getting me to and from Omarama and being supportive of everyone else who is attending the camp. This camp isn’t just about flying (although that’s what brings us together), it’s about making great friendships that’ll last a lifetime, gaining life experience which we otherwise wouldn’t get, having loads of fun, and most importantly, making this camp the experience of a lifetime for all of us who’ve attended.

Opportunities like these don’t come often, and for those who’ve taken a risk and go to a completely different part of the country (or different country in some cases) not knowing anyone, or anything about the place, will be forever grateful they took the opportunity of a lifetime. I highly recommend this camp to everyone who has even just the slightest interest in aviation, trust me, you’ll be hooked by the second day.



Maria Cramp

Age: 16

Gliding Club: Wellington Gliding Club

Hours: 60

The Omarama Youth Glide New Zealand 2018 camp! For me, this was a different order of flying altogether. Just imagine, seeing the Alps each time you go up, and the fantastic feeling of flying in the wave up to Mount Cook for the first time. The scenery from the air is simply fabulous, and as for the flying, the word ‘exhilarating’ simply doesn’t do it justice.

At Omarama my flying skills and confidence in the air improved hugely under the guidance of skilled instructors. I was able to finish my B certificate and move onto single seat gliding in a Libelle, (now my favourite glider), generously loaned by the Hawkes Bay Gliding Club.  And all this with people around my own age who love gliding as much as I do. I had great flying, great fun and met new and valued friends.

And the evenings!! I recall camp fires with karaoke, friendship and laughter among air-minded people, and each night a joyful reunion with our fellow flyers, the local mosquitos. I’m sure we could learn something from them by the way.

Of course, none of it is possible without the hard work and logistical skills of Roger and Kim, the clubs who loaned gliders, and the many others great people who all did a great job of organising everything on the ground; the people who really made this camp so successful. An army marches on its stomach said Napoleon, and so it was at Omarama. So to all the instructors and helpers and admin staff and cooks and bottle washers and tow pilots, and the many friends that I met at that camp; thank you.

If you haven’t been on a Youth Glide camp, try one out. If you’ve never been to Omarama with Youth Glide New Zealand, I can assure you that it will be something you’ll never forget.  Get there!