BENALLA is on a short-list of three for the 2016 World Gliding Championships — but faces stiff opposition from a last-minute entry from Austria.
The only other gliding base in contention is in England and said to be limited by weather and air space.
The titles were last held in Australia in 2001 and are expected to attract more than 100 international pilots.
The Gliding Federation of Australia had announced Benalla would be put forward as the location in its bid to bring the 34th World Gliding Championships to Australia.
The announcement comes just weeks after the Victorian government announced $210,000 to improve airfield facilities.
Benalla-based Gliding Club of Victoria member Joy Shirley said its bid had plenty of merit.
“If it was just us and the English location we would be fairly confident,” she said.
“Benalla airstrip is right on the edge of town, their is plenty of accommodation available here and in Wangaratta and the Benalla Performing Arts Centre is just across the road and has already been used as an airconditioned briefing station in the national titles.
“But the Austrian bid will offer mountain flying and is just a drive across Europe for many competitors rather than a long-haul to Australia.”
Mrs Shirley said they would expect 120 pilots and up to 500 people at the world championships.
“There are family and friends that tend to travel but the German team, for instance, bring their own physio and met (weather) expert,” she said.
Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said securing the championships would bring great benefits to the region.
“Benalla is also a fantastic base to explore the North East’s great food and wine regions and the many outdoor adventure activities on offer,” he said.
“If we are successful, the event will be a boon for our accommodation, hospitality and retail businesses, attracting scores of visitors.”