AN 80-YEAR-OLD man who loves gliding has launched a fund to get kids in the air at Lake Keepit.
Harry Medlicott took up gliding at the age of 50, when he was inspired by a news article about three pilots who took out a world record after flying across Cook Strait.
Mr Medlicott has had his fair share of achievements in the sport, being awarded an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and holding numerous NSW gliding records. At the age of 69, while competing in the Australian National Championships, Mr Medlicott had to parachute to the ground after his glider was disabled, following a mid-air collision with another glider.
Still up in the air, at an age when most people are winding down in life, Mr Medlicott said: "I don't feel 80 and I don't act it, either."
Strangely enough, Mr Medlicott said he was scared of heights, but that the enclosed environment of the glider didn't allow his fear, which has plagued him since childhood, to take hold.
The Central Coast resident, who travels across to the Lake Keepit Soaring Club a few times a month to continue his beloved sport, has decided to pass on the torch to the younger generation.
Mr Medlicott said he would subsidise the membership fee and cost of gliding at the club, to allow young people to get into the sport.
"When I was a teenager, people helped me out in things I wanted to do, and now I want to do the same," he said.
After learning to glide on the coast, Mr Medlicott said the beautiful and interesting countryside around Lake Keepit had drawn him to the North West club.
"To fly over the Warrumbungles and the Pilliga is just amazing," he said.
Mr Medlicott has helped build a winch at the Lake Keepit Soaring Club which helps propel gliders into the air, saving pilots from the added cost of having to use a plane to tow them.
The winch, powered by a 454 Chevrolet motor, launches the gliders at high speed, with the plane reaching a height of 5600m in about 45 seconds.
Mr Medlicott, who celebrated his 80th birthday with a party at the club recently, said the challenge of the sport would keep him in the air for years to come.
He says he knows quite a few glider pilots who still take to the skies at the tender age of 90.
"He loves a challenge," chips in Harry's wife, Wendy, who regularly flies her own glider.
"It's like a game of chess, to find your way through the rising air," Mr Medlicott said.
"You set your own levels."