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Bruce Brockhoff - An Australian Champion PDF Print E-mail
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With thanks to Soaring Cafe (soaringcafe.com)

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Bruce Winston Brockhoff was brought up on a grazing farm near Dromana in Victoria, Australia. He attended Osborne State School followed by Red Hill Consolidated State School (learning sheet metal and wood work … and, wait for it … apple packing!) At his secondary school, Huntingtower, he was elected School Captain or Head Prefect in his last year and was awarded Blues in Football and Athletics. He matriculated with two first and two Second Class honors and was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend Monash University in 1961-64, graduating with a Bachelor of Economics & Politics Degree, taking four years to do a three-year course. This delay was caused by a few overpowering distractions normal for a boy 18 years of age. He was fortunate to make many lifelong friends by living in Deakin Hall (Australia’s first coed on-campus hall of residence) and was well known at the famous Notting Hill pub some ½ mile from Monash University.


Bruce studied computers and the then ‘dreaded’ machine language whilst attending Monash, together with experiencing a very different life style as an exchange student in India for four months. He played on the Monash Intervarsity football team (Australian Rules) and Ski Team.


Bruce was employed as a biscuit salesman, Systems Analyst and COBOL programmer for seven years in the once famous family business of Brockhoff Biscuits, a household name in Australia 20 years ago. His uncle, Alan Brockhoff, developed the recipes for Salada, Savoy, Chocolate Royals, Barbecue & Cheese Shapes, Cheds and Chocolate Ripples some of which are still manufactured and sold under the Arnott name. He co-founded The Cargo Hold chain of shops, which he ran for over 20 years.

 

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Brockhoff Biscuit Truck

Bruce spent a week in a military hospital in Siberia (30 km from the Chinese border) during the Sino-Soviet dispute on the way to the Munich Olympics via the Trans Siberian railway. He also demonstrated, flew in air shows and sold Maule aircraft to outback stations for use in cattle mustering (round up), selling nine aircraft single-handed in one year.

Bruce was three times Australian National Champion in 15 m racing class sailplanes. He won the last day in the World Gliding Championships in Hobbs, New Mexico in the 15 m racing class in 1983 and the Pre-World Gliding Championships in the Standard Class at Benalla. He also won a day in the Pre-Worlds in Rieti, Italy.

Bruce represented and competed for Australia in nine international gliding events, including one in the Gobi Desert of China, which he won. He served as Team Captain for the Australian Gliding Team at the World Gliding Championships in Borlange, Sweden and managed to obtain free shipping of gliders two years in a row to Sweden and back. He obtained brand new Volvos for pilots and crew—the biggest team ever of eight pilots. Nearly 650 faxes went through his fax machine over three years to organise the team for the Pre-Worlds and actual World Championships in Sweden. On a sour note, only one pilot wrote a note of thanks for either year. He was asked to be Team Captain for the next
World championships but declined.

Bruce was Convener of the Rules Making Committee of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) for over ten years. He was Australian (GFA) delegate to the International Gliding Commission (IGC) held each year in Paris in 1987 and 1988.
He was awarded the Federation Aéronautique’ International Airsport Medal number 84 (Paris France) in 1993 for ‘service to the sport of gliding’. He organised and ran many cross country training competitions known as the Tocumwal Teams Challenge with the aim of encouraging young pilots to participate in racing gliders with the emphasis on flying in pairs in a relaxed and casual fun way.

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Bruce’s darkest year, and on the downside of a wonderful gliding life. Despite winning the practice year in standard class in the Pre-Worlds Gliding Competition at Benalla and favourite to win in the next year’s World Gliding Championships (by the Germans, French and English), he was prevented from representing Australia by twin camera failures in the Australian Nationals and a reluctance of the team selectors to exercise their use of the “exceptional circumstances rule” in choosing the last team member. Most of the top competitors from Europe and the USA could not believe their luck that he was not going to be competing.

The only consolation to this very depressing dilemma for Bruce was that the organizers of the Benalla World Gilding Championships separately and independently invited him to be Competition Director of the World Championships on the basis that he was “the most experienced and current competitor skilled and experienced in international events;” however, such was his disillusionment with the gliding movement and some of its officers all he wanted to do was to be the ‘daily snifter’ pilot at the world comps and be with his Aussie and International friends in a more casual and friendly task that allowed him to fraternize to the maximum. His other task was to be Special Advisor to the Organisers.
The World comps at Benalla were preceded by the now famous ATSOP (Australian Tool Shed Opening Party) held beside Bruce’s caravan at Tocumwal airport, to which most of the notable International racing glider pilots attended, complete with a home grown lamb on a spit from his farm and the odd VB (Aussie Beer) or three.

Bruce last competed in an LS6, in the World Gliding Championships in Uvalde Texas, with a competition identity of MS. He was given this identity by Greta Musters, the wife of Kees Musters, one of Bruce’s closest gliding friends after Kees was killed in a freak hang glider accident in the European Alps. Bruce met Kees in 1983 at the World Gliding Championships in Hobbs, which Kees won in the 15m class. Bruce also met and formed a very close relationship with George Schuit and Ritz de Luy, also of Holland, which continues today.

 

Inside the Australian Gliding Museum
Inside the Australian Gliding Museum
Bruce recently donated a brand new large hangar at the Bacchus Marsh Airfield (known as the Bruce Brockhoff Annex to the Australian Gliding Museum), built to house many a donated vintage glider including Bill Riley’s collection. Bill was Bruce’s most influential and strongest mentor during Bruce’s glider racing career. They did many an informative and fruitful overseas trip to nearly all the glider factories of Europe, Eastern Europe and the UK as well as the major gliding airfields of Germany, France and Italy and England. The Romanians were particularly friendly and generous with home made wines and grappa.

Bruce is married to Kristine with whom he has two very young and beautiful daughters: Brooke (16) and Belle (19). An enthusiastic sailor of solar powered sailing catamarans, he built and launched Dream Catcher, a 48ft sailing catamaran in 1998. At 69, Bruce continues to graze 440 Angus Cows & Calves and around 2000 Crossbred ewes & lambs on his farm at Dromana/Tuerong one hour South of Melbourne on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.