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THE GLIDING HERITAGE CENTRE - ABOUT

About Us

Chris Wills, the founder of the Vintage Glider Club in 1973, sadly died on the 4th May 2011.

Chris Wills

Starting in the early 2000s Chris had become quite a regular weekend visitor to Lasham to talk to and enjoy the company of the VGC group, and also to see his beloved Steinadler glider that he had lent us flying.

On his death, we were amazed to find he’d left us a bequest of £100,000 to build a hangar to house Lasham vintage gliders plus the Steinadler.

Son of the 1952 World Champion, Philip Wills, Chris was absolutely passionate about vintage gliders and their preservation. He strongly felt that if at all possible they should be housed rigged in a hangar and fly so everyone could see them in their natural element, rather than just being static exhibits.

On the news of Chris's kind bequest; after a good deal of discussion, a grander vision emerged, namely a Gliding Heritage Centre which could be visited by members of the public.

Wally Kahn later suggested that besides the hangar we should also look ahead to have a Museum building constructed, this with a view to the centre eventually becoming the British National Gliding Museum.

Thr Chris Wills Memorial Hangar

The eventual cost of building the hangar was approximately £127,000 so more funds were needed, and this is where Wally stepped in as a fund raiser as he’d done so many times previously in Lasham’s interest. Quite a bit more than £27k was raised and the balance is held in reserve to assist our future projects.

Phase 1 of the overall GHC project was building the hangar and of course that is completed. It was officially opened on the 4th August 2013 during the 41st International Vintage Gliding Club rally that was held at Lasham that year.

Phase 2: The museum extension to the hangar

Phase 2 was originally the construction of a Museum Building and Phase 3 the doubling in size of the current hangar, else a new and separate hangar. The costing for the Museum Building was a little short of 2 million pounds and following an enormous amount of work over many months a bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery fund in March 2015.

Sad to say in July we were informed our bid had not succeeded, though this didn’t come as any great surprise given a number of subsequent communications between the GHC and the HLF. It became apparent that the HLF strongly favoured mature organisations which had been in existence for many years, preferably with paid staff.

We certainly haven’t given up on the Museum Building, it remains a long term goal. However, any further bid remains a good way into the future, and consequently construction of the second hangar has now been promoted to Phase 2.

The Gliding Heritage Centre - Preserving the history of gliding in Great Britain.