Pioneering in the Glider Movement

in the Glider Movement Pioneering

WHEN the initial steps were taken some two years ago to introduce the sport of gliding into this country, one of the very first clubs to be formed was the Kent Gliding Club, and among the band of enthusiasts who formed it, none was more energetic or go-ahead than Mr. C. H. Lowe-V,rylde, who has since become prominent in England as an exponent of raotorless flight.

It may be remembered that LoweWylde designed, built and flew the first Zogling or training type glider to appear in this country, and this effort of his was rather remarkable for the fact that the whole job took but five weeks of sparetime working to complete—from the time he drew it out on the drawing boa.rd, till when he tried it out on its first flight from the top of a hill near Maidstone. Lowe-Wylde has done a great deal since then, and from July of last year he has been associated with the British Aircraft Co., Ltd., a firm which under his direction is successfully manufacturing and, marketing gliders and sailplanes of various types. As far as this country is concerned, the building of motorless aircraft is a branch of the aviation industry which, as yet, has scarcely developed at all, so that it is something of an achievement for his firm that, in addition to having sold machines to a considerable number of individual owners, they have also supplied twenty-two clubs with craft

of different types. B.A.C. machines are particularly interesting in that throughout the range of eight models, standardisation and interchangeability of parts and units are arranged for ; the wings of the primary trainer, for example, will fit the secondary type, while the fuselage, and tailplane of the latter are identical with those of the soarer. Another feature which has been carefully studied and adhered to by LoweWylde is simplicity. Experience has shown that ease in erection, truing up and dismantling are qualities which are especially desirable in gliders since the majority of clubs have to operate under conditions where the housing of machines fully-rigged is seldom possible, and maintainence and repairs are carried out by amateurs. By eliminating all wire bracing and utilising struts in the wing and tail-unit assemblies of his machines, Lowe-Wylde has rendered these matters very simple indeed ; and by incorporating all the best points found in the successful German craft with features of his own, the designer has succeeded in turning out machines of first rate performance. It is as an exponent of auto-towing that Mr. Lowe-Wylde is, perhaps, best known. In the face of opposing views, he has maintained that this method of launching a glider offers several advantages over the usual catapulting—and by giving demonstrations all over the country and. under different conditions, he has shown

that it is safe. In the past, foolhardy and haphazard experiments in towing have unfortunately resulted in a number of fatal accidents, and in consequence an impression spread that it was a dangerous procedure. Lowe-Wylde holds to the view that provided one follows certain rules, there is no risk whatsoever. In the first place, it is essential to use the right type of machine ; secondly, the cable should be fitted with an efficient release at both ends, and some other " Don'ts " are :— Don't fail to have an experienced pilot instructor accompanying the driver of the towing car—don't travel at too high a speed—and get the required towing speed by ascertaining the speed of the wind and subtracting it from the flying speed of the machine used—don't use a machine with a skid, but one with a wheel:undercarriage. In carrying out an auto-tow take-off it should be borne in mind, that immediately the machine starts its climb, its air speed rises, because the length of the inclined path is greater than the distance travelled by the car in the same period of time ; any sudden deceleration of the latter should, therefore, be avoided. As to the advantages, the most apparent is that the disconcerting feeling brought about by the sudden acceleration which one receives in a catapult launch is obviated. One can, also, gain sufficient height for quite long glides without having to take off from high (and sometimes

dangerous) sites, and without having to wait for a particular wind. And very little hard. work is involved. Pupils can also be taught with more accuracy and with less risk of minor mishaps since they can carry out " rolling " practice and get used to the controls before getting into the air. Lowe-Wylde has developed auto-towing to a very high degree, and in addition to demonstrating it himself, he and his

assistants have been extremely busy in the past few months with training pupils in the art of soaring with auto-towed craft. And the results have been very satisfactory. It should here be mentioned that Lowe-M/371de has the distinction of holding the first licence to be issued to allow him to carry passengers for " hire or reward" in motorless aircraft, and this he has been doing at various aviation meetings, using a B.A.C. two-seater for the purpose.

Having thus proved the case for the auto-towed glider, the British Aircraft Company are now concentrating on this type of which they are pioneers in this country, and their latest development is the production of a two-seater flying-boat glider which is towed by motor boat. Like all the B.A.C. machines this has been designed by Mr. Lowe-Wylde, and incidentally, it is the first craft of its type to be produced in Europe.