Gliders, also known as sailplanes or sailcraft, are a type of aircraft that stays aloft without any power derived from an engine. Instead of using an engine to generate lift, like a traditional plane, the glider attains velocity with the help of a separate support system, such as a tow plane or a winch or automobile launch mechanism. Once a glider is airborne, it rides the air currents to maintain its velocity and navigate a smooth landing.
The Pilatus Glider was made by the same company as the trainers now used in the SAAF and in fact the design work that you see in the PC7 is a direct result of the PC11-B4 glider.
The Pilatus B4 flown by Gary is very rare and is the only one in South Africa, manufactured in 1974, it was way ahead of its time and won multiple world aerobatic championships in its heyday.
Although todays modern aerobatic machines are spectacular to watch and need great skill to fly well, Glider Aerobatics are infinitely more difficult than power aerobatics as the pilot not only has to concentrate on the precision of the maneuver but also on retention of energy, if he runs out of energy he has no engine to pull him out of trouble.
The aircraft is flown by Gary Whitecross, currently the only Aerobatic rated glider pilot and instructor. It will be towed by Ian Buchanan flying a motorized glider called a Lambada.