Bruce Brockhoff….and more!

Alphen aan den Rijn             23-11-2008

My grandson’s 3d birthday , so I am off to Amsterdam, to see my family straight after writing. Though…I go just for an hour as we have bad weather here with wind , bad hail and snow and in the afternoon they expect up to 5 cm. of snow here in Holland , which is pretty unusual. Of course we do have snow, but this is a weird snow-disturbence, with in 2 days 9 people killed by slippery roads, even more unusual.

Africa, both N. and S. were the places to be last week with great and long flights, several over 1000 km. Uwe added one more on his long, very long list of 1000’s.Several of our former guests/friends are in Africa at the moment as; Uwe, Hans, Hans Theo, Hans Georg, Hermann, Alfred and I know more will be there over the next weeks.
One of my friends  said 10 years ago that  the future for the Europeans will be Africa to go to in winter and  mainly China and Japan will “use” Australia as there off -season base.
The flight to Africa is shorter, no time zone and great weather! Another soaring center opened;Kiripotib [ ( ).  in Namibia and he expects that every year another center will open as in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi. Will see if this is correct. He is pretty accurate in his predictions.
But my heart still is in Australia so I hope lots of pilots will go there to fly.Lots are already there and the great Aussie weather will be there in time to make them happy, it is still early in the season, but…we do have had in the past long flights during our Outback Shootout, early November. Last week the Narromine Cup was flown, and kilometer-eater Terry is flying there and enjoyed  a good 582 km. flight!

Today you can enjoy the interview my friend Jo had with Bruce Brockhoff.I met Bruce in 1984, a great guy and a fantastic pilot. The Aussie team and the Dutch team, read George and I , hosted a Bols [ Dutch jenever] party at our tent in Rieti, during the pre-worlds.
All Aussies were there and for sure cannot remember what happened that night, as most were over- refreshed. We became friends for ever. But…Bruce was late. He landed that day on a ….soccerfield, yes you read this well, a soccerfield. Luckily nothing went wrong as Bruce was as said an excellent pilot .So here is more about him ;enjoy his story written up by Jo.

           Opening of the Australian Gliding Museum

Bruce Brockhoff Annexe – storage and restoration facility

                     Saturday 15 November 2008 

The opening acknowledged the very generous donation of $A100,000 from Bruce Brockhoff. 

Around 200 people attended; guests included:

Bruce Brockhoff,
Ian Grant – GFA Treasurer
Maurice Little – VSA President
Rob Pollock – Chairman Point Cook Action Group
Keith Meggs – President Aviation Historical Society of Australia
John Tenby – President B24 Memorial FoundationPresidents of Gliding Clubs –
Max Callingham, Victorian Motorless Flight
John Styles, Geelong Gliding Club and also Chairman of the Bacchus
Marsh Gliding Group,
Peter Raphael,Bendigo Gliding Club.

Supporters of the Australian Gliding museum, particularly those who have donated aircraft, memorabilia, cash and their time and effort to the Museum. Pioneers of the Australian Gliding Movement – Leo Dowling (holder of the first glider licence issued in Australia) and Jack Hearn. Tribute was also paid to the late Geoff Richardson, Dick Duckworth and Dave Darbyshire for the tremendous support each had given to the establishment of the Australian Gliding Museum.

 Apologies, due to other commitments, were received from:
Daryl Connell – President GFA
Bill Riley – well known aviator and supporter of the Museum
Dr Patrick Greene -CEO Museums Victoria
Roger Meyer – President Civil Aviation Historical Society IncMoorabool Shire President and Councillors. 

Bruce said that the reason for his gift was “because the sport of gliding has provided me the most enjoyable hours of my mid-life sporting days.  I experienced the comradeship and friendship of the gliding community and I embraced the whole scene, which became a very important and rewarding part of my life.

“When I first started gliding, I was a bit taken aback with the amount of cooperation and effort required by people to launch a glider into the air!  Since then, I enjoyed this generosity of time and effort from many others and appreciated the comradeship of pilots in Australia and around the world, and have developed many long-lasting friendships.

“I was going to leave an amount to the GFA in my will, but decided to do something now as there was a very worthy need.  There are about 50 old gliders all over Australia in people’s back yards etc desperately in need of a home and facility for all to enjoy.  

“I have always enjoyed old flying machines especially gliders – in fact I started off in a very old primitive wooden open air (no canopy) 2 seater in India in 1962 (I was an exchange student in Bangalore) – that was my first glider flight.  I was impressed by being able to hear voices on the ground, and I can well remember the quietness and the serenity of the flight.

“The next flight in a glider was some 10 years later at Bacchus Marsh and I was so impressed on that Sunday, I spent the rest of the afternoon and night on the phone  rearranging my week and found myself on a week’s course at Benalla, within 24hrs, on Monday morning – I went solo on Wednesday.  I must admit I had 10 hours up in a 172, so that helped.  On Friday I heard about the infamous Bill Riley at Tocumwal, so I went there from Benalla for the Saturday and Sunday, and learnt more in 2 hours with Bill than in all my flying experiences.

“This meeting was the beginning of a very close relationship with Bill who was not only a very close friend but a mentor to my gliding career, especially in the preparation of gliders and myself for racing.

“Bill invited me to accompany him on a fabulous tour of the major gliding factories of Europe including England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Romania. We had a fabulous time together and I got to know Bill’s wonderful qualities, aeronautical expertise and knowledge on this most enjoyable grand tour of glider centers. He related many of his wartime experiences as a very young (underage) captain on a Sunderland Flying Boat during the Battle of Britain.

“I nearly gave gliding up – I got a bit bored flying around in circles, doing my 300 km and 500 km then Bill talked me into going to my first competition in a ‘highly competitive IS29’ (his words) – it was the most non-competitive glider you could imagine. Bill managed to sell me one for the occasion and helped me seal the flaps. He did not know about the non-disposal ballast bag of lead shot that I stowed in the spare area locker.

“My first competition was at Horsham – I outlanded every second day, but I caught the competition bug big time.  I then squeezed my way, before I was ready (and qualified), into the West Australian Racing Class Nationals as they were short of numbers, and again landed out every second day BUT undaunted, and even more determined, I commenced my climb towards my international career.

“In 1983 I won my first Nationals at Narromine, way before I was mentally ready to win a Nationals, then a few months later was off to the World Comps at Hobbs NM USA where I came 12th in 15m Racing Class, winning the last day in ‘great style’ I am told.

“Regarding crew, I have had many wonderful thoughtful and supportive crew over my racing years; however none could be compared to Beryl Hartley who was the best crew I have ever had for any competition at Hobbs in 1983.

“Bill Riley was not only an inspiration to me over the years but he helped me to make up my mind to make this donation by giving all of his gliders to the Australian Gliding Museum, so I thought it logical that I should support such a museum.”

Bruce is married to Kristine and they have two very beautiful daughters, Brooke (aged 13) and Belle (15 years old).  Belle is the current USA Nationals Boardercross Female Champion and has won many trophies around the world for snowboarding. Brooke is a very keen skier and has done well in the Australian Nationals in moguls.

Bruce was three times Australian National Champion in 15m racing class. He represented and competed for Australia in 10 international gliding events including an event in the Gobi Desert of China, where he won All Class Champion – China vs Australia.  Bruce was Team Captain for the Australian gliding team at the Pre-Worlds and World Gliding Championships in Borlange, Sweden. 

Bruce was Convener of the Rules Making Committee of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) for over ten years.  He was GFA Delegate to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) General Conference in 1987 and 1988.  In 1994, Bruce was presented with the Gliding Federation of Australia’s FAI Airsport Medal in recognition of his outstanding services to gliding over an extended period of time.

Bruce is an enthusiastic sailor of solar powered sailing catamarans and built and launched his own ‘Dream Catcher’, a 48ft sailing catamaran, in 1998.  He won a Victorian Landcare Award for raising from seed and planting over 30,000 Australian native trees on his family farm at Dromana (three rows of native trees in plantations 10m wide double fenced totaling over 15 km long).  He is a breeder of Angus bulls and superfine wool Merino sheep and an enthusiastic and keen grower of exotic, full flavored, aromatic, heritage and purpose bred tomatoes. 

He has been experimenting with solar heat collection systems over the last 5 yeast and has taken out patents around the world for his invention SolarFlume which is a very basic inexpensive solar heat collection system which he uses to heat his tomato greenhouse.  His motto for the project is “More BTU’s for your Buck$”.  SolarFlume can be used to desalinate water with some minor modifications. A new web site will be up and running soon.

“The few  ideas that have come to me regarding the world’s desperate need for more use of solar energy have come about by an accumulation of knowledge and skills that I have been fortunate to acquire during my ‘journey through life’. These ideas have been drawn together with a lot of input and guidance over the years from many mates, notably my mentor Bill Riley of Tocumwal, New South Wales and Ellis Rowe of Benowa Waters, Queensland” to mention a few.

compiled by Jo Pocklington for

17 November 2008



Sorry that the lay-out is not perfect. When I copy and paste, the story ” starts its own life”.Have to figure out how to make corrections which STAY, as after 100 times it still goes back to what I do NOT want .

Off to Amsterdam now, it starts to get dark alreadyand it is only 10.30 AM.

cheers Ritz

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