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A Well Kept Secret Unveiled

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One of the first fantasies of an aspiring glider pilot is, one day, owning your own glider. And, like those before me, after falling in love with the trials and tributes of what the skies have to offer, I started fantasizing about my first purchase. Those fantasies eventually dwindled to one stand out choice.

After studying all the literature I could find and investigating the Australian owners, I ascertained that it was unlikely that I could buy locally. With that in mind, and a glider in USA advertised, I asked a fellow Australian owner, who had imported one in 2012, what the market value was, to find whether importing was a viable option. I was pleasantly surprised he was considering selling his.

Lifting the veil on this little secret of mine reveals one of the finest examples of a Start & Flug H101 Salto. I uncovered these photo's through the use of social media and, needless to say, this was going to be in the high end of their market value.

She has been completely restored and finished in polyurethane. A labour of love spread over the previous 2 owners. And after an arduous journey transporting her from Mildura Victoria to her new home in Warwick, she was ready for rigging early Saturday morning. Thanks especially to Mark Agnew and Sid Dekker with this. Designed with full auto connect controls, it goes together easily without the possibility of incorrect control hook-ups.

Recalling a couple emails from mid-March, I jokingly suggested she would draw a crowd up to the club house. Well, she really did! So much so, that a scene developed when one member pulled up in front of the new hangar. Distracted by the crowd and a polished glider, he almost ran over a member riding a motorbike. I'm glad to report the motorbike rider was on the ball and avoided an accident.

After a briefing from Sid and Dieter, and a patient wait for the crosswind to die off on Saturday afternoon, it was time for my first flight. Much like a H201 Libelle, which they were modified from, you wear a Salto. Sitting in the grid, feeling snug, heart pumping away as the adrenaline started kicking in, the tug took up slack. The full power was called and the love affair began.

The short wingspan of 13.6m allows the Salto to roll at more than 45° per second. With such a quick roll rate, keeping wings level is available very early with full aileron and I'd convince you that they were fixed, parallel to the ground. Weighing in less than 300kg gross, the ground run was also incredibly short and she popped up and sat above the prop wash with little effort.

Taking a high tow allowed me to gain familiarity with how she handled before I joined down wind. With the Air Force Cadets operating, I knew I had plenty of people scrutinizing, but I'm pleased to report, it's very much like the club peewee to land. Once stationary on the ground I opened up the canopy, which is hinged and opens to one side, and ended up feeling very sheepish when I unlocked the hinge which doubles as the emergency release. I was left sitting with the loose canopy in hand, in a cockpit that really needs two hands to get out of. After a few minutes I was able to get out, and put the canopy back on and Nigel Andrews was kind enough to bring my car down to tow back to the grid ready to have another go.

While I was setting up for my next flight, one of the cadets complemented me on my landing. Mark Agnew, Tony Scarlett and Val Wilkinson also commented that the landings they saw were lovely. Over the weekend, I managed to wrack up 5 flights totalling around an hour and a half and I know I am hooked. I'm pleased that I was ready for the transition and I cant wait until next weekend.

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