Pilots take back Beechmont sky

Pilots take back Beechmont sky
Pilots take back Beechmont sky

TWELVE months after pilots were banned from flying from Beechmont, the Canungra Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club has negotiated with a landholder to allow flying from the site again.

Club member Alison Cawte said the Club signed a lease with a family who owns land half way between the Beechmont Road take off site and the bottom of the hill.

This means pilots with less flying hours will be able to fly from the Beechmont site, a relief to Club members.

Ray White Canungra

“It is not ideal, as it isn’t at the bottom,” she said.

“More advanced pilots aim to get thermals and fly further anyway, but it does mean pilots with less flying hours can still take off from Beechmont and land safely.”

A year of negotiations

The Club has spent the past year negotiating with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Minister for the Environment to allow them to land at the bottom of the take off site.

QPWS would not compromise on their position, stating they intended to replant the land in question and did not want access to be granted.

Club President Gavin Hanlon described Beechmont as a world class site. 

“The Club has been flying there for over 30 years,” he said.

“Surely government process allows for good outcomes for a sport that is nature-based flying? It’s a low impact sport, it perfectly aligns with what the Queensland Environment Department is all about.”

Competitions still in doubt

The Club’s two competitions, the Canungra Paragliding Cup and the Canungra Hanggliding Classic were cancelled last year and are still in doubt.

These competitions attracted over 100 pilots from around the world, but access to the Beechmont site is essential for the running of the competitions and without a designated ‘bomb out’ place it can not be used.

“The landing field that we have negotiated does not help the competitions,” Alison said.

“We are hoping to negotiate a very short term agreement with one of the land owners in the valley for the competitions but that is still very uncertain.”

About Keer Moriarty 277 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.