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Sid reports in from Friedrichshafen

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Dear all,

The following was sent to me by a Smiling Sid in Europe.  He has ordered an SZD 59 Acro and his very glider has been used as part of the display.  I can't wait to see this aircraft when it gets to Oz.

Embedded in this post are a couple of pics.  One of a beaming Sid with his new 'toy'. In the second photo (taken yesterday) - see if you can identify all of the culprits:-)

BTW - you should have been here as it was not such a bad day.  Greg (PII), Denis (OKN), David (WA) and I all managed creditable cross country flights in a very flyable if somewhat challenging day (up to 20kt winds from the west at height).  For a brief few minutes I even experienced 8kts climb to around 7,000' although this was not the norm.  In the end a neat 200km for a very satisfying afternoon.

Val towed while Bill stood in as duty instructor.  Noel and our Antarctic colleague enjoyed an hour or so in the PeeWee.





Last week, I saw my new glider for the first time. It was in a rather public setting, with lots of other people seeing my glider too. In between a bunch of talks I was giving across Europe, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Aero 2015 Messe in Friedrichshafen. Friedrichshafen is in Southern Germany, on Lake Constance. It is a beautiful area. Spring had just arrived; the northern bank of the lake was in full bloom, vineyards welcoming the sun, birds singing, the air crisp and blue, the slight breeze not quite relieved of the sharp bite of the season past. 


The Aero Messe is a huge event. I had never been there before. The first hall I stumbled into was the one dedicated to gliders, and it was pretty much the one I stayed in for the day. What beautiful, and sometimes limitlessly expensive, toys get built in that part of the world, and with what love and dedication! One of the most fascinating things was the number of gliders that had grown a mustache: a Slovenian-built FES electric engine with a little fold-out propeller on the front of the nose that, rather implausibly, promises to self-launch anything from a LAK17, Discus, Ventus to an HPH304. 


My glider was not thus equipped. I will have to rely on WPS, or any other method in the future. I was indeed quickly drawn to the Allstar stand. The manufacturer had asked me a few weeks before if they could take ‘my’ glider, a just-in-time finished SZD 59 Acro, to the show to put in on display. I had agreed, if anything because it gave me the opportunity to see the ship for myself and talk to the owner and builder of SZD Allstar. 


It was a proud and somewhat otherworldly moment to see one’s acquisition on a stand, the nose elevated, as if impatient, keen and clawing for the sky already. There is none in Australia, so I never had the opportunity to see one up close before. I was pleasantly surprised at the nimble lines, the slim, tender tininess of the glider, and was reminded of George Lee’s remark that in aerodynamics, “if something looks good, it flies good (sic).” I walked straight to it. Andrew Papiorek, the CEO of Allstar, quickly found me, took me all around the glider, and then to lunch. 


After lunch, I joined the builder and Michal Ombach (Papiorek’s right hand) for another even more detailed walk-around of the glider. It was wonderful to get to know my ship that way. Michal Ombach joked that he had sacrificed a neighbor’s Polish sheep to cover the seat: in my experience with flying Australia, there is no better material to sit on. The Poles, whose country is pretty much frozen for half the year, are not as experienced with that kind of heat, but they indulged my request. I asked Michal whether he and his family had eaten the contents of my seat cover. He laughed, not committing to an answer.


The glider had only just got ready for the show. The instrument panel was finished, but little had been hooked up yet. It was a cosmetic job, for the audience. In fact, I was struck at how artisan the whole business of building gliders actually is. All of it handwork, honest manual labour. 42 Acro’s are flying today, so we are not talking the sorts of numbers that you get at an automotive plant. Each one is lovingly built from start to finish by pretty much the same team, under the guidance of one builder. And thus each has its own flying personality. Allstar was very proud of how mine had turned out, a ‘jewel.’ This is good to know. 


The hardest thing to do was to walk away from the glider to catch my flight out to the next talk to give in yet another country. Looking back once more at my ship, I saw other visitors circle it, touch it, stroke it, and something inside me wanted to flare, wanted to run back and shush them away from my glider. Oh well. Who knows what happens to it in the factory, for that matter, I tried to assuage myself.


The glider, as it was, was headed for its trailer in the next few hours, for a return journey to Poland. There its building and instrument hook-up would all be finished. It should be test-flown for the first time any day now. After that, de-registration from the Polish registry, and preparation for shipping to Australia. I hope to get it somewhere in July. 


It takes a bit of steadfastness (or idiocy) to buy a new glider and get it all the way to Australia. If you try to get an overview stable in the head of everything that is involved, particularly the many intermingled bureaucratic machinations, it seems overwhelming, off-putting. I have told myself to take it one step at a time, and simply try to get each step to work. 


Living in a country that boasts year-round flying weather, with awesome horizons, and hangar space waiting to be filled once again, I decided that getting the glider was worth it. What an indulgence. And what a pleasure it should be to fly. I can hardly wait. You should see an Acro with a Dutch flag swooshed along the fuselage in the skies over Warwick soon!





A likely bunch of lads - the good-looking dude, recently back from the 'deep south', is apparently retired and raring to do lots of flying!!