RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies, a gliding enthusiast, was helping crew and taking media photos at the 14th World Gliding Championships 1974 when she captured these photos of Mr Gough Whitlam getting into the action on the day.
Gliding enthusiasts world-wide rave about the Waikerie thermals and the rural South Australian town was the venue for the event.
This week, Sydney’s Town Hall overflowed with people wanting to be a part of the memorial service for Mr Gough Whitlam, Australia’s 21st prime minister, who died at the age of 98 on October 21.
Ms Davies said that the former prime minister’s support for the arts assisted many visual artists, writers, musicians and performers who received grants through the Australia Council.
Ms Davies said that Mr Whitlam appeared intrigued by the aircraft and of course knowledgable about flying as he had joined the RAAF in World War II, becoming a flight lieutenant and bomber navigator. When the war ended he joined the Labor Party and completed a law degree at Sydney University.
“Those arms in some of the shots are the security contingent – he was after all prime minister at the time, and there were good reasons for not letting him up in the air. In fact, security was very tight – I was the only photographer allowed near Gough Whitlam and the glider.”
According to blogger and flyer Marta Najfeld, most of the competitors from back then are still doing well and flying comps!