Glid­ers please!

Pilot - - AIRMAIL -

I very much en­joyed Dave Un­win`s ar­ti­cle on the T31 and am hun­gry for more on the magic of glid­ing es­pe­cially on vin­tage types.

My fly­ing started in 1963 at the re­cently re-homed Kent Glid­ing Club, Chal­lock. Whilst not my first flight ex­pe­ri­ence (that was on the ven­er­a­ble T21) much of my early train­ing was on the T31, an ad­mirable mount on which to learn cir­cuit dis­ci­pline, given its brick-like qual­ity. How­ever, the club’s pol­icy at that time was to put mem­bers into the Slingsby Pre­fect for their first solo. I can re­call to this day the mix­ture of ex­cite­ment and ap­pre­hen­sion as I sam­pled solo avi­a­tion for the first time on a ma­chine with which I was pre­vi­ously un­ac­quainted. I needn’t have wor­ried: the Pre­fect was a pussy­cat and proved the sound­ness of the club’s pol­icy. I won­der, are there any Pre­fects still fly­ing and avail­able for re­view? Fail­ing this, an ac­count of the T21 would be ap­pre­ci­ated. David Scrut­ton by email I very much en­joyed read­ing the ar­ti­cle on the Kirby Cadet TX Mk 3, which brought back many fond mem­o­ries for me. No doubt you will be in­un­dated with re­sponses on this ar­ti­cle as there will be a great many ex-cadets out there whose first ex­pe­ri­ence of (solo) flight was in the Mk 3, or ‘fly­ing brick’ as we af­fec­tion­ately called it! I got my glid­ing pro­fi­ciency wings (and BGA A and B en­dorse­ments) way back in 1975 at 643 VGS, then based at RAF Lind­holme, and stayed on for a time as a staff cadet, tak­ing other cadets on air ex­pe­ri­ence flights as a Grade 1 pi­lot. My favourite ma­noeu­vre in the Mk 3 was the medium height launch fail­ure, which re­quired a rel­a­tively steep S-turn to land within the air­field bound­ary and pro­vided an adren­a­line rush for a six­teen-year-old pre-solo stu­dent! I once man­aged to soar a Mk 3 for 32 min­utes, earn­ing a Bronze C leg, by scratch­ing around some very weak ther­mals, beat­ing an in­struc­tor in a more ca­pa­ble T21 Sed­bergh!

After a few years out of the or­gan­i­sa­tion (in­clud­ing spend­ing a few years with the RAFGSA at RAF Dish­forth), I re­joined the Air Cadet glid­ing move­ment in 2002, in­struct­ing on the Vig­i­lant (Grob109b) mo­tor glider at 618 VGS, RAF Odi­ham, then sub­se­quently at Kin­loss (663 VGS) and Sy­er­ston (644 VGS) as I was posted around the coun­try with the RAF. Sadly, I hung up my glid­ing over­alls a cou­ple of years ago but man­aged one last flight in a Vig­i­lant at RAF Sy­er­ston to com­mem­o­rate my time with the air cadets. Al­though I didn’t go on to be an RAF ‘Top Gun’ or air­line pi­lot due to an eye­sight is­sue, I nonethe­less take pride at hav­ing been able to make a con­tri­bu­tion to the ca­reers of some of those who have gone on to greater things in the world of avi­a­tion, plus I still en­joy fly­ing on my PPL.

One tiny point if I may: the VGS at Kin­loss (which is no more) was 663 VGS, so as­sume that a typo found its way into your ar­ti­cle. Bob Jack­son, Lin­coln

Just read Dave Un­win’s great re­port in Pi­lot mag­a­zine on the T-31. As he says, thou­sands of us first tasted solo flight in these ma­chines – mine was at 661GS at Kirknew­ton, just out­side Ed­in­burgh, on 15 Fe­bru­ary 1975 in XE801. Solo aged six­teen after, yes, 1hr 21min dual time to­tal! That cer­tainly would not hap­pen to­day!

Still fly­ing after forty years of pro­fes­sional time in over 230 dif­fer­ent types from bal­loons to C-5 and glid­ers to F-15. The T-31 cer­tainly put me on that first step. Keep up the good work at the mag. Gor­don Mc­clymont by email

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