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GHC NEWSLETTER SPRING 2024

Winter is over at Lasham and the immediate thought is it’s been a pretty wet one. Indeed, February was the wettest Feb on record for southern England and March is chasing it hard. Not surprisingly there’s been a reduced amount of flying going on compared with the average year, and that includes the GHC. The first flight of a GHC glider since the 5 Nov (Bergfalke) took place on Sunday 3rd March when the TG3 took to the skies with a full CofA and soared.

 

FLYABLE GLIDERS IN 2024


GHC gliders we’re expecting to be airworthy and available are: Bocian, Bergfalke, TG3, Zugvogel 3, Mu13, Foka4. Of these 5 can be flown on any one day, the next day different ones can be flown to a max of 5 overall. Note that only 1 two-seater can be airborne at a time. Complicated I know re the two seaters, this is down to the insurance we have. We hope to be adding some or all of the Spalinger, Phoebus, and Eon Eton during the year – see below on these.

 

THE FLYING WEEK


This will run from Saturday 18th May to Friday 24th May inclusive. Note two classes of Nationals start at Lasham on Sat 25th. In recent years the weather has been reasonably kind to our Spring flying week, so fingers crossed for this one! GHC members can fly their own gliders of course, and that includes those that aren’t based at Lasham, though with the latter a check flight may be necessary to get clearance. Full details will be posted to the membership in early April. Depending on the response we may increase the limit of 5 different gliders max on a given day just for the duration of the flying week. That said it will only be to 6 gliders as it’s very unlikely the test flying programme of the Spalinger will have been completed, maybe not even started (depends on the BGA), and we don’t expect either the Phoebus or the Eon Eton to become available until late summer.

 

KEY GLIDERS UNDER RESTORATION


The 1942 US Schweizer TG3a


The restoration was finished a year ago and we moved on to the flight testing stage to get the glider hopefully a full CofA. This took far longer than we anticipated to get across the finishing line. The first test flight after restoration took place on the 7th April 2023 with Gary Pullen, subsequent test flights with Richard Moyse as P1. and we received the CofA certificate from the BGA on 29 Feb 2024. Given the provenance of this glider the expectation is there’ll be a lot of GHC members wanting it in their logbook. That’s certainly how it’s looking, she flew four times on Sunday 3rd March and soared on each occasion. Tony Newbery and Ray Whittaker took the first flight. 

(Tony Newbery and Ray Whittaker taking the TG3s first flight after getting its CofA)

(A nice period piece. The TG3 with Ken Summers’ WW2 jeep on 3rd Mar)


The 1943/1944 Swiss Spalinger S21h 


The restoration was complete a year ago and she’s been in the GHC hangars awaiting permission from the BGA to start the test flying programme. In terms of our priority, she was behind the TG3 and we’ve had to wait for the TG3 to complete its test programme and be granted a CofA before we can kick-off with the testing for the Spalinger. That’s because the BGA technical committee didn’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 current status is we’re liaising with the BGA technical committee to agree a detailed test flying programme, and when that’s completed, we’ll be granted a Permit-to-Fly to enable it to commence. Look out on the GHC Facebook page for when the Spalinger takes to the skies again – assuming this year, it will be first since 1961 when we believe she last flew.

 

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 started off life at 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 took the decision to give her a full restoration with the ultimate aim of her flying again. Accordingly, she was moved into the workshop in May 2023, and a team led by Steve Pullen (Ray Whittaker, David Siddall, Patrick Clear) has been beavering away on what was clearly a long and demanding project.

 

All the fabric had to be stripped from the wings and tail and then a thorough check looking for any structural deficiencies.  A great deal of wood repairs were found to be necessary and as we approach the end of March 2024 these are pretty well complete. Next the recovering, which is underway, though wings still to be started. The final task will be respraying, I would think to the same scheme when she came to us from the RAF Museum. We’re confident she will fly again and that’s fantastic! Unlikely though until late summer earliest.

 

(The Eon Eton in the GHC workshop as of May 2023)

 

(Eon Eton wings, late Feb 2024)

 

(Fuselage progressing Mar 2024)

  

Bolkow Phoebus 17c, formerly Surrey and Hants “265”


Last flew in 2001, last CofA 2011. Geoff Clark is heading the restoration effort which is progressing steadily. The fuselage and tail are almost finished, a lot of components removed for inspection and after being passed as OK they’re now being put back. No significant problems found so far. Next will be the wings. Current expectation is she’ll be ready to fly in the late Summer of 2024. This is the first “glass” glider owned by the GHC, very suitable given its Lasham provenance dating back to Dec 1970.

 

 

PAYING FOR GHC GLIDER FLIGHTS

 

A really high-tech initiative implemented by our treasurer, Julian Ben-David, which should materially help getting flying fees paid that are due from flying GHC gliders. This up-to-now has usually been an irksome task for our treasurer and others. Now each flying GHC glider is fitted with electronics that send signals with the exact time of take-off and the exact time of landing. If on Lasham airfield these are picked up by a box in the top of Chris Wills hangar, near the desk, and displayed on a screen. 

 

 

 

You see the unique flight number, date, glider reg details, take off time, landing time, flight time, and cost. The SumUp terminal is in the box on the desk and you can use a credit card to pay. You don’t need to use the SumUp terminal to pay for your flight time, but it’s a new option. There’s a little book in the box with the terminal where we ask that the reason for using the SumUp is briefly added, eg “flight number and name” for a flight, “name” for membership, “name” for donation, etc.

 

There will also be envelopes to put cash or cheques into, these can be deposited into the red donation box. If payment for a flight, please write your name and flight number on the envelope.

 

If you want to know more about the system, please talk to Julian.

 


THE WORKSHOP

 

It’s been a great haven over the winter. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are the days when we almost always see a good attendance involved in the on-going restorations and CofAs/ARCS. With the heating and kitchen, it’s a very pleasant environment. Over the winter months we’ve been holding lectures in the viewing room of the workshop on one Sunday afternoon a month which have been very well attended. I’ve no doubt Tues, Thurs, Suns will continue as our main days during the Spring and Summer, but likely (and hopefully!) with less workshop work going on as the focus switches to going flying provided “Lady Weather” has a happy look – maybe even manages a smile! 

 


NEW GLIDERS

 

The BG (Birmingham Guild) 135

This has been donated to us by Stuart North who first contacted us in the summer of 2023.

 

 

It’s a 13.5m span British metal glider, a small number of which were built in the 1970s. This one is BGA 1921, CYV, first CofA 1973. Last flew in 2016 and for 5 of the subsequent years it had been kept outside in its trailer. The intention of the owner was to get it flying again, but an inspection revealed some corrosion in the rear fuselage. So the GHC was asked if we would like the glider. We said “Yes” provided we could get it airworthy and that would require a detailed inspection. The glider arrived at Lasham in mid-January. The inspection revealed significant corrosion in the rear, the full investigation of which would involve the removal of a great deal of metal. The decision was taken we weren’t prepared to do this, and therefore didn’t want the glider. Then the suggestion was made we could take it as a display item and use it as a “Gate Guardian” for the GHC site during the Spring and Summer – and that’s what’s been agreed.

 

 

VISITS

 

The mid-week organised group visits have not surprisingly slowed down as Autumn progressed into Winter. Somewhat unexpectedly the “Just turn up at 14:00 on a Sunday” tours have continued to see good attendances. The norm is we just allocate one tour guide to look after the Winter Sunday tours with sometimes a deputy, but for the 2024/25 Winter we’re going to have to seriously think about having definitely two.

  


WEBSITE


I’ll no longer call it the “New Website” as it’s a year since it was released in the Spring of 2023 to replace the one which we used from the website start in 2013. Getting it to where we really want it to be is progressing steadily under webmaster Paul Jackman’s leadership. We now have a Members Area passworded section which holds our procedural documents + the most recent AGM minutes and monthly CoM minutes. One big enhancement remains and that’s re-introducing articles and videos, and those will be viewable by all and not passworded. Down to yours truly and PJ.


  

LOOKING AHEAD

 

The 2nd hangar extension

 

Our next major project remains the 24m X 24m extension to the 2nd hangar. This was on hold firstly because of Covid, and then the very high prices of steel and concrete. We reviewed the situation at the 24 Sept 2023 CoM meeting and decided no change. We’ve had the project repriced very recently and now the estimated total cost of the project has risen to £200k. and we need further donations to achieve this figure by way of available cash. When the project finally kicks off it will be with extensive groundwork carried out by GHC members. Maybe this summer, maybe – having the £200k needed cash available will be a big spur.  

 

That’s it folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading all of our latest news. As you can see there’s been a lot going on, most of it in the workshop. Spring is officially here, vernal equinox on Wednesday 20th March! Fingers crossed we have a good and safe soaring season.

 

 23 March 2024, Glyn Bradney, GHC Secretary.

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