This glider business

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Revival of interest in fascinating pastime – a club to be formed.

Over three thousand qualified sail-plane pilots— dozens of glider meetings and competitions— over two hundred glider clubs in active operation —that is the record for the past twelve months of a movement which was started but a few years ago by a group of German sportsmen.

Periodically news has reached this country of the progress which was being made in this revived art of motorless flight and mild wonder has been expressed that a man could remain in the air, apparently without motive power, for hours at a stretch, or cruise across country for dozens of miles, or reach an altitude of several thousand feet. ” Extraordinary ! ” people said. ” But what is the use of it ? “

Now, after a period of apathy people in this country are becoming really interested in what the Germans have achieved and instead of asking “What is the use of it ? ” are saying “Why don’t we start this glider business in England ? ” Letters on the subject have been received from all over the country by Motor Sport during the past few weeks and there are definite indications that the wave of enthusiasm which has raised sail-planing to the position of a national sport in Germany, is gaining ground over here.

Hitherto one has found that the light aeroplane has eclipsed the humble glider in its greater appeal to the average air-minded sportsman, but flying, even in its cheapest form, i.e., as an aero-club member, is still a fairly expensive pastime and private-ownership is a distinction enjoyed by few.

And what has the glider to offer ? In the first place the initial cost of a machine of the simpler type works out at about £45-£50 and of the advanced type with which prolonged flights are possible at about £80.

Secondly, under the existing regulations, gliding is free from many of the restrictions laid down by the Air Ministry in the Air Navigation Act. For example, there is no necessity for a glider to be registered, neither is one called upon to secure a Certificate of Airworthiness nor to hold a pilot’s licence before one may use a machine regularly. All this means that one may indulge in a thoroughly practical form of flying at extremely modest outlay and untrammelled by bureaucratic legislation.

As to the sport itself, those who have not experienced gliding have only to use their imagination to a slight extent to form an idea of the fascination of handling a sensitive 200 lbs. monoplane—of jockeying it over undulating country in smooth, silent flight. Great scope is available too, in the organisation of competition in connection with records of altitude, duration and distance flights as exemplified by recent events in Germany, and apart from the sporting side of the movement, gliding has a definite value in being admirable preliminary training for those who aspire to piloting powered aircraft.

[Among the letters recently received on the subject of gliding is one in which the writer urges that plans be put in hand for the formation of a club and states that he is sufficiently enthusiastic to offer his services as honorary secretary, while we have received intimation from another quarter that a glider and sail-plane club is in process of formation (in the London area). At the request of its sponsors we invite readers who may be interested in the scheme to get into communication with them. Letters may be addressed to Motor Sport offices, 34, Duke Street, St. James’s, London, W.1.— Aviation Editor.]

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