North Wales Gliding Club

News and Events

Youth in Action Project & weathermen

Youth in Action & Weatherman
Youth in Action & Weatherman

August 09 had a busy start to the month as we helped introduce several dozen scouts to gliding. As if that lot was not enough, we had a weatherman from BBC Wales as well.

The BBC did not miss an opportunity and managed to make a rather marvellous little film combining weather-dependant sports with the scouts. You can view it on the BBC website. The scouts were part of a European funded group called "Youth in Action" who were participating in several events in North Wales over the course of a week. Flying was only part of what they were doing. The group consisted of a mix of teenagers, mostly from England and Norway and flying in a small aircraft was an exciting experience. At the end of the week they voted "gliding" as one of the best activities they had done. We, of course, agreed with them!

We would like to thank Derek Brockway and the BBC Wales crew for visiting us and being such a nice, pleasant bunch of people. Also thanks to Simon Fathers of Youth in Action for helping to organise a really great day with practically military precision. Finally a special thanks to the scouts who were patient, nice, helpful and well behaved. 

100 years young!

On Saturday 24th Sept. 2006, Charles Eyles added another adventure to a life full of them by having three flights in one of our gliders. In his 100 years Charles has escaped from Dunkirk 3 weeks after the armada of small boats, he has been an explosives expert and even run his own business after the war. He has flown in many aircraft but was really looking forward to going in a glider. The club was participating in an event with the Denbigh Age Concern group to show that age is not the barrier it used to be. Whilst Charles is the oldest person we've ever flown the point is a good one and many older people enjoy an active life these days. Weather conditions were far from ideal, but Charles was not to be put off. In fact he enjoyed his first flight so much that he had another two flights as well.

In days of olde when pilots were bold...

... they used to fly in a T31. For those who are uninformed, a T31 was a brick cunningly disguised as an aircraft. Yes, it had wings, a tail and somewhere for pilots to sit but it still had the flying characteristics of a brick. In other words, after launching and releasing the cable, flying was often a short, steeply descending affair. In spite of all this NWGC member Nigel Jardine has just spent a huge amount of time lovingly restoring a 1952 T31 that was used to train RAF cadets. The fact that the airframe had been neglected and was in an appalling condition merely added to the challenge. After more than 1400 hours of hard slog, slapping on paint and being gassed by fumes from canvas dope, Nigel had the T31 ready to fly once more.

The big day arrives

Saturday August 6th was the big day. The T31 passed its final inspection tests and was deemed fit to fly. This came as a surprise to many club members as we thought that Nigel would finish it by Easter 2006, or possibly 2007. But we underestimated his sheer determination and just after lunch, the T31 leapt into the air to whoops of delight from the assembled club members.

Form an orderly queue please!

Matthew Hogan tries the T31 out for size
Matthew Hogan tries the T31 out for size
Of course, the first question was "who would test fly a reconstructed vintage glider to see if it works?" Step forward Ken Payne, club President, ex-CFI and T31 test pilot. Ken belted himself in and, wearing a suspicious looking "Biggles" white scarf, was catapulted up several hundred feet. He promptly arrived back down a few minutes later (remember the flying brick?) and the squabble started. All the instructors had a go, Nigel had a go and various club members had a go as well. Matthew Hogan, being the nearest in size to a cadet, was immediately pressed in to service to provide a realistic simulation of the original flying characteristics. Many an older club pilot started their flying career in a T31 and there was the odd damp eye on display as grizzled old timers remembered their first experiences in this classic aircraft. It was not too long until entirely predictable phrases such as "In them days you had to learn quick" were trotted out.

And now, a few words from our sponsor...

So why spend all those hours restoring this aircraft? It has not always been the best weather this summer, but when prodded and prompted, our spokesman from the Ministry of T31 Restorations (Nigel) gave a different reason. "Yes it's been a long hard project, but I wanted to get the T31 restored back to flying condition as, after all, it is part of our british aviation heritage. There are only three examples left flying in the UK to my knowledge, and it would have been crazy if it had been left to rot beyond resurrection". "I would like to take the opportunity to express my thanks to all the members of NWGC for their help and support during the project". "Two people in paticular are worthy of special thanks and they are Ken Fixter, my BGA inspector for his unending support and advice, and Tony Cummins for the endless hours he spent inhaling the fumes with me." "Thanks guys! I couldn't have done it without you". The planned outing for the T31 is to Trent Valley Gliding Club in Linconshire as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations. The first glider they had was a Slingsby T31 way back in 1965 when they used to launch it using a car and a very long rope!! But not to worry, she'll be flying again in North Wales in a couple of weeks.

(A late update from Nigel)

Trent Valley Sat 20/08 - I had several soaring flights of the 10 to 20 mins bracket. The best of the day was 23 min flight time. I was winch launched to 900 ft (on this new German plastic "knicker elastic" cable) found a thermal and soared up to 2300ft and still wanted to go on climbing. On a technical note only the rear cockpit variometer is working ( Ken F get your thinking cap on !!). We only came down because hypothermia was setting into the crew. So now you'll all have to stop calling her a "flying brick" and settle for "Antique Wardrobe" instead! Perhaps we should have a naming contest and a aprize for the winner. What about "Chippendale"? Although maybe I shouldn't be paying as I'm likely to be the Competition's Judge.