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Glider Pilot: ‘Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy’

By Barbara A. Schmitz

  • Luca Bertossio flies above the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh grounds. At 25, he is the youngest aerobatic glider pilot ever to fly here.

July 21, 2015“Take a deep breath and enjoy.” That’s what Advanced World Aerobatic Champion Luca Bertossio hopes you’ll do during his air show performances this week at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

2015 marks the first time the Udine, Italy, native has been to AirVenture. And it’s not lost on the 25-year-old that he is the youngest aerobatic glider pilot ever to fly here.

So far, he’s been impressed. “I like this place,” he says. “The view of Oshkosh and the lake is great. People are so kind, and the organizers are really skilled. They are the best of the best.”

Sponsored by Citizen Watch Co. and Red Bull, Bertossio is scheduled to fly at Oshkosh on Wednesday night, Saturday day and night, and Sunday. Sterlingbird.com is sponsoring his trip to AirVenture, while Williams Soaring Center provided the glider for use at Oshkosh.

Bertossio started flying at 11 and earned his pilot certificate at 16. He didn’t start flying gliders, however, until five years ago.

“It’s taken blood, sweat, and tears” to get to this level, he says. “It is like playing an instrument. You start with it, and you are not so good. But you practice and slowly you get better. And as soon as you get better, you like it more.”

Bertossio is towed to 5,500 feet before he releases the cable from the plane and starts his routine, which includes a variety of figures such as snap rolls, loops, lomcevaks, and more.

While he says he enjoys all maneuvers, his favorites are the helicopter, a controlled crazy snap that he invented in 2012, and the tailslide, a maneuver where his glider flies backward.

He acknowledges that the Oshkosh audience is a unique one since it is mainly made up of other pilots. And that is a little frightening.

“This is my first air show in the United States, and starting with Oshkosh is something that is unbelievable and scary,” Bertossio says. “But I don’t want to think about it. When I’m in an air show, I don’t think of all the people who are watching me until I’m back on the ground.”

Bertossio hopes people will feel his three- or four-minute performance, and experience the joy and harmony. “I hope that remains in their hearts and minds. It’s unique to see a glider flying one figure after another like a natural consequence. But behind it is such big work and effort. I don’t want them to think of the work, but rather just to enjoy the final results.”

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