Hang in!

WASEDA Aviation Club

Ryosuke Hirata, 4th year, School of Political Science and Economics

I was asked to introduce the activities of the Aviation Club, but I cannot say that aviation is such a popular sport, so I have to start with the basics. To put it simple, we at the Aviation Club operate gliders. Hang gliders, paragliders, or even birdmen may appear in your mind. Well, no. The glider is a real plane specified by Aviation Laws. It is a German-made airplane and is more like an airplane without power. To take off, we use a large wire winder placed about 1.5km away to pull the body and fly it as if it were a kite. Compared with airplanes, the glider has a better ratio to turn force to fall into force to move forward (lift-to-drag ratio), and can stay flying in the sky without thrust for a long time. Furthermore, by taking advantage of its lift-to-drag ratio, it can ride on updrafts to go up to altitudes of thousands of meters. It is like Moewe in “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.” We fly high up in the sky as one with nature and are like “wind” surfers. For your reference, landing is similar to that of airplanes, too.

The Aviation Club competes in the Big Six, National and WASEDA-Keio matches, and in fact, WASEDA University Aviation Club is one of the main contenders for the championship. The competition is for flying over a predetermined several dozens of kilometers as fast as possible, but as we have no engine, we cannot win by just barreling along at high speed. First, to reach a high altitude, we find an updraft. Warm air goes up cold air goes down. It can be described in an equation, but we must find an updraft by anticipating the movement of air based on meteorological conditions, geography and wind direction and sensing subtle convection of air you feel at the tips of the wings. It is a delicate sport using the brain.

As for what is unique about us, we value voluntary action much as a sport club. We decide activity policies and training contents on our own, including accounting and liaison. We have no clear definition of players, and all members participate and give support in competitions. If I were to define the Aviation Club, we are ones who know clear blue skies and compete there. That may be one of the romantic aspects of the activities of the Aviation Club.


Full picture of our glider ▲Full picture of our glider

Group picture ▲Group picture

From 2011 December 8th issue (No.1265)