Orig­i­nally a Ger­man Fal­con

Pilot - - FLIGHT TEST -

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!

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