Southern Cross Gliding Club (SCGC) and Sydney Gliding are two of Sydney’s most historic aviation clubs.
Based at Camden Airport in the city’s south-west, the clubs have been in operation for over 50 years.
However, soaring rent prices could soon see them shuttered. Sydney Metro Airports have proposed increases of 225 per cent and 550 per cent, respectively, for the two clubs, which, according to SCGC club president Justin Couch, is “untenable”.
“Countless teenagers have started their commercial and military pilot careers with SCGC,” he said.
“It’s upsetting to see such a short-term, naked money grab by the airport owners, who have no interest in fostering long-term growth of aviation in our country.”
Couch also claimed that little prior notice was given to clubs of the hike and said Sydney Gliding was notified only one day prior.
Operating on a long-term lease, the club facilities developed on SMA’s land were built at the gliding club’s cost.
This included significant support from federal and state government (including a recently-landed Sports Australia grant).
Together with the rent increases, SMA also allegedly proposed new lease conditions that would give the company ownership and access control rights to these assets.
The loss of the two gliding clubs could spell trouble for Australia’s next generation of aviators. Gliding is often cited as the best form of introductory training to all forms of pilots – with aviation legends such as Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Neil Armstrong crediting their successes to early experiences gliding.
SCGC and its predecessors have been a crucial part of Australian aviation training since the early 1940s.
The club’s alumni include military and commercial pilots, national champions, international competitors and MBE recipients (including the late Roger Woods).
Sydney Metro Airports have been approached for comment.
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