This brief reminiscence brings to an end the series of anecdotes from Doc Mark Holliday reflecting on his many outlandings experienced during thirty years of competitive gliding.

MY VERY FIRST SA NATIONALS competition was back in the good old days in Vryburg. I had leaking waterbags, so I launched an hour after the field had started and had an enjoyable flight going from storm to storm watching the lightning viciously strike through the lightly raining areas.

Doc Mark Holliday

When you are that close to lightning, it looks different and the sound of thunder seems more muted. Since that day I have always felt quite safe going near to lightning as long as I stay out of the rain. The late start worked in my favour as I won, and I wasn’t to win another day at the Nationals for 11 years.

‘a massive storm cut us off’

That competition saw me land out many times and I am sure that the long retrieves cemented my crew Thomas Burki’s relationship with Jackie, who he eventually married. What could be more conducive to intimate conversation than driving hundreds of kilometres across the South African landscape with the biggest sky in the world as your theatre?

One afternoon a massive storm cut us off and I remember Dave Mortimer and I sat in our ASW20s on the Delareyville airfield after dark, balancing our wings as the lightning danced all around us. It was only later that I thought that we were high points on the ground and could have easily been struck.

That night however still remains a beautiful and enduring memory.


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