Andrew Dickson prepares for an hour in the Museum’s K8b, assisted by Warwick Kenny.
Dave and Jenne Goldsmith
The Hunter Valley Gliding Club members based at Warkworth, near Singleton NSW, went all out to ensure that visiting Vintage Gliding Australia members – and their precious gliders – would be well looked after for the Easter weekend rally. They planned that gliding would continue after Easter through the following week to include the next weekend. However, all this was subject to weather!
Jenne and I arrived at dusk on Thursday to a spectacular full moon, pleased to also see Peter and Helen Raphael already there with the Australian Gliding Museum's restored Schleicher K8b VH-GMA. A number of local members made us very welcome.
Vintage gliders attending were the Museum's K8b, Neil Bennett's Scheibe SF-27M, Peter Rundle's Hutter 28, Rob Moffat's Foehn M-200, Andrew Dickson's T51 Dart, and our Ka6E.
Vintage lineup, Ka6e, Morelli M200, SF-27, K8b and Hutter 28 waiting their turn.
Among the visitors to the rally were Warwick and Judy Kenny. Warwick joined the New England Soaring Club at Armidale, NSW, in 1963, the same year that I joined that club. Later he joined the RAAF as an instrument fitter and was a part of the original team that assembled and painted the K8b kit at RAAF Williamtown. He was particularly excited to renew his contact with it at the rally, and approved the new colour scheme.
Discouraging Forecasts and Hot Contest
The forecast for Good Friday was not encouraging, with possible rain and thunderstorms predicted. Club President Paul Dickson led briefing at 9.30, and made a tongue in cheek reference to the prizes and awards on offer, and the high expectations for his Slingsby T51 Dart! The beautiful Heritage Trophy – known to some as the Dart-killer Trophy – was to be awarded for the best (handicapped) time around a heritage triangle.
It was expected to be hotly contested, and bribes may not be against the rules! Peter Rundle made the day's longest vintage flight, 1 hr 26m, in Neil Bennett's SF-27. Alan Bland flew the Slingsby T51 Dart and Peter Raphael flew the K8b.
Easter Saturday brought the wind and the only vintage flight was by Paul Dickson who managed 27 minutes in the Dart. The wind continued through Sunday, and the vintage gliders stayed in their hangars. Fortunately the social side of the rally was in full swing, with a roast dinner to look forward to, thanks to the catering volunteers! Votes for the magnificent Hunter Valley People's Choice Award were procured by all possible means, but the Museum's Ka8b came out a clear winner.
The People’s Choice and Dartkiller trophies were hotly contested.
Easter Monday was better, with flights in the K8 by David Pickles and Peter Raphael, Peter Rundle flying in his delightful Hutter 28, Neil and Kylie Bennett in the Morelli M200 and David Pickles in the Scheibe SF 27. Dave Goldsmith took the longest flight in the Ka6E, just over 3 hours.
Tuesday featured flights by Andrew Dickson and Peter Raph in the K8, Andrew Dickson in the Dart, and Peter Rundle with Arie van Spronssen in the M200. Jenne Goldsmith flew longest on the day in the Ka6E, 3 hours 29 minutes, reaching just over 6,000ft over the mountains to the south. These were effectively the last flights of the rally, as the forecast for the rest of the week was not encouraging.
Unfortunately, this year the weather did not cooperate. Although some pilots managed to visit a couple of points of the Heritage Triangle, nobody was able to visit all three. However, we did get some interesting flying, enjoyed a good time and were well looked after. Let’s hope the law of weather averages works next year to ensure multiple completions of the Heritage (or”Dart-killer”) Triangle and make next year's rally a bigger flying as well as a social success.
Memories of the K8b from Warwick Kenny
It was exciting to make the acquaintance of Dave and Jenne Goldsmith, all the way from Bacchus Marsh, and to see and to sit in such an old, but familiar little glider bird, so well reconditioned by Peter Raphael and crew.
In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, I had the pleasure of helping build and fly the K8 while posted to Williamtown. It began in a large garage/workshop at Fern Bay and operated by Sqn Ldr Jessop, that was my first introduction to the K8. My involvement was only a small part of what had already been carried out by other club members and trades, who were also underway with the Dart 15 project.
On 29 July 1967, I first flew this very new, light first solo sailplane. I was impressed with its good ground handling qualities matched in the air by its inputs – sensitive, but forgiving to control. This was perhaps due to its low speed range. This also made careful attention important in windy conditions due to the high wings and dihedral. The ability to turn tight and slow made it very competitive against other gliders in thermals, and some pilots even believed that waggling the large rudder boosted its advantage while climbing.
Aero-towing the K8 could surprise pilots as it leapt into the air so quickly, and lots of forward stick was needed to prevent too rapid a climb through a powerful tug slipstream. However, auto-tows required only small cars to launch it, giving a flexibility few gliders could match.
Overall, for me, the K8 was always a delight to fly and operate. Whether during competitions, out-landings or just staying high while flying locally, it was a hit.