Northrop Primary Glider
By Peter Raphael
Every year, the Australian Antique Aircraft Association holds a Fly-In at different locations around the country, at the same time holding their Annual General Meeting and Awards Night. Established in 1974, this group promotes and advocates the retention, restoration and flying of older aeroplanes.
The Association has four primary categories of interest – Antique, Classic, Contemporary and Warbird. their gathering attracts an eclectic range of aircraft, from the diminutive single place homebuilts like the Onex, numerous Tiger Moths, lots of ‘rag and tube' Pipers and Austers on up to the rumbling radial engined Nanchangs.
Special Static Display
This year the Australian Gliding Museum was given the opportunity to add to the spectacle by providing a static display of the Northrop Primary Glider and the recently restored Schleicher K8b Sailplane. Three AGM Members, Ian Grant, Rex Booth and Peter Raphael, took on the task of transporting the gliders to Temora Airfield and over two days loitered nearby to answer questions about the aircraft and the Museum and listen to the reminisces of those who made their way into aviation via the gliding community.
We were very fortunate to be looked after of an evening by Cliff and Annette, fellow aviators from Victoria who have a property in the Temora Airpark. Another of the museum members Terry McCarthy, who also lives on site, was invaluable in assisting with setting up our display. In the past, Terry has shared his time between Temora and the AGM spraybooth where he has refinished many of the collection’s gliders. We also met and were assisted by a number of members of the Temora Gliding Club, although time didn't allow us to check out their newly constructed clubhouse.
Temora Aviation Museum
The airfield is the home of the Temora Aviation Museum, an active museum that regularly performs flying displays of its warbird collection. In 2019, these aircraft were donated to the Royal Australian Air Force by founder David Lowey AM, and are now operated by RAAF 100 Squadron, the historic display squadron based both there and at Point Cook, Victoria. While no TAM warbirds were flown during the event, we did have the opportunity to wander through the display area and admire this collection of magnificently restored and maintained aircraft. Surely, this would be one of the most pleasurable postings the armed forces could offer.
With around 70 vintage aircraft attending the Fly-In, what was very evident is the care and attention put into the preparation, restoration and display of these classics. In contrast, and possibly due to the performance oriented aspects of our sport, little effort is generally reserved for the appearance of our older gliders.
Grand Champion Australian Antique Aircraft Association
Sadly, the cost and diminishing pool of skills required to restore these older gliders are also serious impediments to the growth of this branch of the sport of gliding. But on a more positive note, the Australian Gliding Museum has been running courses for wood and fabric repair which, in some fashion, has led to increased interest in restoration activities evidenced by a number of projects currently underway across the country.
We derigged the gliders on the Saturday evening as most of the aircraft were expected to depart the next morning. We were fortunate that the weather cooperated over the three days we were in attendance. Much interest was shown in the aircraft, making the long trip from Melbourne worthwhile. It was a rewarding event and great to display the gliders in the company of their powered peers.