Pretty typical for recent years, a not too bad Spring followed by a poor Summer, which when we got into September switched to an “Indian Summer”. The GHC is in a healthy state I’m happy to say with a membership at the 320 level.
We’re expecting that our highly functional and warm workshop will become a popular venue again this coming winter. The norm is during the autumn/winter we get a reasonable to good attendance on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and it’s usually open on the other days as well, Mondays are “iffy” it has to be said. So why not pop in have a look and say hello with a cup of tea/coffee awaiting you?
RESTORATIONS that have been proceeding
The 1943/1944 Swiss Spalinger S21h
No change from our Spring Newsletter update where I reported “The restoration has been completed, she’s now in the GHC hangars, and we’re awaiting permission from the BGA to start test flying her. In terms of our priority she’s behind the TG3”. We’re waiting for the TG3 to complete its test programme before we can kick-off with that for the Spalinger. That’s because the BGA technical committee don’t want to be monitoring the flight testing on two vintage glider types, neither of which have ever flown in the UK before, at the same time.
The 1942 US Schweizer TG3a
I have to confess getting the TG3 through its BGA directed flight testing programme has taken far longer than we anticipated. The first flight took place on 7th April with Gary Pullen. Here is a great video of it taken by Paul Haliday:
Subsequently Richard Moyse has been doing the test flying, though the weather has been far from co-operative! More test flights have recently taken place and we’re now in the final stage which needs flights with “2 up”. The key difficulty has been getting suitable weather for flights that align with RM’s availability. There’s now the extra issue of the availability of an acceptable P2. Latest news.The TG3 flew “2 up” on the 10th Oct, RM as P1 and Mick Wells as P2. Fingers crossed just one, or at most two, more flights needed to complete the programme
Bolkow Phoebus 17c, formerly Surrey and Hants “265”
Geoff Clark is heading the restoration effort which is progressing steadily. A lot of components removed for inspection and being passed as OK they’re now being put back. No significant problems found so far. Current expectation is she’ll be ready to fly in the Spring/Summer of 2024.
EoN (Elliotts of Newbury) Eton
This Primary glider was donated to us by the Royal Air Force museum. It was picked up from their reserve Stafford depot on the 25 Jan 2017 and brought back to the GHC. It went to the Maidstone grammar school CCF and first flew in 1951, last flown 1962. One of our members, Norman Jones, flew this very glider at Maidstone grammar school!
We’ve taken the decision that she needs restoration and the ultimate aim is to get her flying again, though that’s quite a task even if we find no major problems.
It was moved into the workshop in May, and work has started. The key tasks are a complete recover and a thorough check for any structural deficiencies. I suspect she’ll be a key focus over the Winter and if all goes well we hope to have her flying in the Spring 2024. Steve Pullen is leading the project.
Bill Bullimore has recently donated the prototype Skylark 4 BKA. The GHC is doing pretty well for prototype Slingsby types, we have the T30 Prefect, T51 Dart, and now the T50 Skylark 4. We understand BKA, whilst not having a CofA, is in pretty good condition. Currently in its trailer and the likelihood is we’ll get her into the workshop Autumn/Winter 2024 with a view to get her flying Spring 2025.
Our Flying Week
We held this from Saturday 20th May to Friday 26th. A definite success I think we can say. The wind direction, and for some of the days its strength, was not that friendly but we flew and soared on six of the seven days, not the Monday. All six of the airworthy GHC gliders flew over the week, the most popular being “Gertie” the Slingsby Sky. Overall we had 30 of our members flying in GHC gliders during the week.
We had a couple of visiting gliders, the lovely Dart 17r from the Dorset GC and the very historic Harbinger 2-seater owned by Jed and Suzy Edyvean.
The “highlight” (or “lowlight” depending on your point of view!) was the 50th Vintage Glider Club rally at Aston Down from Saturday Jul 29 to Sunday 6 Aug. This was the big event for the year for vintage gliding internationally and was preceded by the Rendezvous meeting at nearby Nympsfield, 22 – 28 July. The GHC took 3 gliders to Aston Down, the Sir John Allison Prefect, the Steinadler, and “Gertie” the Sky. They all flew but it has to be said “Lady Weather” spent most of the week in a bad mood! However, Aston Down is a really lovely site, and even if flying was comparatively limited, it was good to be there with so many vintage enthusiasts from the UK and across Europe.
Slowing down now as we move well into Autumn. The engineering student visits were a considerable success, 490 of them over 3 visits on consecutive 2 days, the last being 21st and 22nd August.
THE 11th AGM
This went ahead on Sunday the 3rd of September in the GHC workshop. It went smoothly, no controversy, 36 members attended plus 1 non-member. During his address chairman, Tony Newbery, raised a key point. Namely the GHC needs more help from its members – see this topic under LOOKING AHEAD.
This was released in the Spring of 2023 to replace the website we’d used from the start in 2013. It’s seeing a lot of access and good reviews, being much better than the old site in handling access from mobile phones, which has grown appreciably in recent years. However, it’s a good way to go to get it to where we want it to be. The glider COLLECTION summary is now much better than it used to be and is being regularly updated. The next step is getting the historical documents and videos available for viewing again. After that we have to think about reinstating the secure (passworded) membership section. Our current webmaster is Paul Jackman and he deserves much credit in getting us to where we are.
Flyable GHC gliders in 2024
Not fully decided at the moment but it’s looking like the Bocian, Bergfalke, Zugvogel 3b, Olympia 2, and the prototype Prefect. To this we’re hoping to add the TG3, Phoebus, and fingers crossed the Spalinger, though the Spalinger is likely to be on a restricted Permit to fly rather than a full CofA.
Flying Week 2024
We can’t confirm at the moment but it very much looks like Sat 18 May to Fri 24 May or Sat 25 May to Fri 31 May. The determining factor is when the Nationals comps start at Lasham.
The 2nd hangar extension
Our next major project is the 24m X 24m extension to the 2nd hangar which is currently on hold and has been for some time. That’s primarily because despite having an extremely healthy bank balance we don’t feel we have enough money yet due to the current very high prices of steel and concrete. We reviewed the situation at the 24 Sept CoM meeting and there’s no change. Unlikely now the project will kick off before the Spring of 2024. We’ve managed to persuade the LGS to let us have a container on the GHC site for storage. Thanks to the late Colin Street we have a truly substantial stock of Slingsby spares.
Getting more help
An e-mail to the membership sent on the 12th October stressed that the Gliding Heritage Centre, which has evolved to be a very substantial organisation, needs more help to continue to run effectively – especially looking into the future! Primarily focussed on those who attend Lasham on a regular basis, if you’re one of those we’d ask you to please read the e-mail if you haven’t already!
That’s it folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading all of our latest news. Time to batten down the hatches for the winter! Hopefully see you in the workshop.
12 October 2023, Glyn Bradney, GHC Secretary.