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Centenarian Bert takes to the skies

Adventurous pilot glides past his 100th birthday

John Garvey

Reporter:

John Garvey

Centenarian Bert takes to the skies

HERE’S 100-year-old Bert Gallagher, celebrating his century milestone... by piloting a glider.

Mr Gallagher, who lives in Hungerford, joined Shalbourne Gliding club as a youngster aged 80 – and took his first solo flight two years later.

An instructor at Shalbourne Gliding, Stephen Ottner, said: “We believe that 82 years is the oldest that anyone in the UK has taken their first solo in a glider.”

Mr Gallagher, a former chairman of Hungerford Camera Club, had not flown for a couple of years before his 100th birthday flight but said afterwards: “It’s a bit like riding a bike – you don’t forget.

“It’s a pity we didn’t catch a thermal to give us more height as I would have liked to have done a loop.”

The father of one, who has one grandchild and two great grandchildren, is now accompanied on his flights by an instructor who helps him in and out of the cockpit, but he stills does the flying himself.

Mr Gallagher drives himself to the club, which is located on the top of the ridge by the village where Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire meet.

On this latest occasion he was met by a film crew who have been following his exploits for a documentary entitled 100-year-old drivers ride again, to be screened later this year on ITV.

They first became interested in Mr Gallagher when they discovered he took the Institute of Advanced Motoring test while in his 90s, passing with flying colours.

Shalbourne Gliding is a community sports club run by its members, for its members, with an age range of 15 to 100 years.

It will be holding an open day on Bank Holiday Monday, May 25, welcoming non-members to find out more about, and to try, gliding.

For more details, visit the club website at www.shalbournegliding.co.uk

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