Originally a German Falcon
Although Slingsby Sailplanes built many magnificent gliders, the Venture was not an indigenous product. It was a licencebuilt version of the Scheibe Falke SF 25 (Falcon) which was in turn derived from the Bergfalke sailplane, but with the forward fuselage redesigned with side-by-side seats and a Hirth engine in the nose. Called the SF 25A Motor Falke, it first flew in May 1963, and was subsequently built in Germany, Italy, France and the UK, powered by a variety of different engines including Franklin, Hirth, Limbach and Stark-stamo. It is still in production today, powered by either an 80, 100 or 115hp Rotax.
Slingsby began building SF 25Bs under licence in 1970. Called the T61A, it was powered by a 45hp Starck Stamo MS1500 engine fitted with a recoil starter, and the first one flew in early 1971. That May it was evaluated by the Royal Air Force to determine whether it would be suitable for basic air cadet training with the Volunteer Gliding Schools. Initially, fifteen were ordered as Venture T1s, and Slingsby eventually built some 77, with the most numerous variant being the T61F Venture T2. The first T2 (XZ550) made its maiden flight from Slingsby’s Wombleton, Yorkshire airfield on 3 July 1977. Along with the 25 Fs, all the fifteen Es were also modified to F standard and gave sterling service until they were disposed of by the MOD in 1990 and replaced by Grob Vigilant T1s. Ironically, many — if not most — of the Ventures are still airworthy, while almost all the Vigilants are not!