Monday, June 14, 2010

The first glider flight in Australia (excluding box kites) - 1909, Narrabeen. Mentions also of Cronulla, Granville, Bunnerong

I've already quoted from the excellent site but here I go again, just for the record.

The first glider flight: Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
The first "glider" flight in Australia was made in December 1909 by George Taylor at Narrabeen, NSW. A special memorial has been erected opposite the Narrabeen Post Office to commemorate this feat. Taylor's partner was a young fellow by the name of Edward Halstrom who was to become a household name in Australia for his gas powered Silent Knight home refrigerators of the 1950s and his private zoo of rare animals.

Did you realise that there once was a Granville glider club? Or that they test flew at Duck Creek, Auburn? Well it was a while ago... but on the other hand I can remember the odd paddock strung along Parramatta Road in that area from Homebush to Parramatta, persisting until the 1970s at least.
Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
I spoke to Stan Rose who was later to become Secretary of the Southern Cross Club about the early days. In 1930, he saw the Granville Club's glider and was very impressed with it. Being a lad of 15, he went home and found a design of a hang glider in "Chums Annual" and decided to build it. It had about a 5 metre wingspan and was made of bamboo tied together with cord fishing line.

When the wings were ready for covering the only logical material was some bed sheets and these proved ideal although his mother put on no end of a performance when she found out. Ah, one of the first of many little differences of opinion caused by gliding.

So with the wing covering held on with flour and water glue, it was ready for test flying. The site was Duck Creek at Auburn and it was blowing a good westerly. Stan got up a bit of a run and with a good angle of attack, the thing jumped about five feet into the air. Next it dropped one wing, zoomed into the creek and clobbered the only tree stump in sight.
Gliding - or perhaps hang gliding - is not a surprise at the Cronulla/Kurnell sandhills.

Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
Harry Ryan, who was later the CFI of the Southern Cross Gliding Club, was one of the early pioneers of gliding. He had his first flights with Martin Warner and Alf Pelton who operated a German Primary glider from the sandhills at Cronulla in 1931.
But Bunnerong Park is a bit of a surprise. Especially in the dark.

Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
Another group was started by Jack Munn who designed and built the Falcon. They formed the Sydney Metropolitan Gliding Club and flew at Bunerong Park, about a kilometre from Mascot Airport. They flew by day and night and records show that the group often flew until midnight if the moonlight was bright enough. To help with night landings, a motor bike headlamp was fitted to the front of the machine and a motor bike battery tied inside the nacelle. When coming in to land, at a few feet off the ground, the pilot used his left hand to clip a lead onto the battery terminal.

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