A Pensioners Tale – John Spence

John Spence relates how he came back to gliding and his flight in the PW5 GTE.

                                                           A PENSIONER’S TALE

It was in November 2015 when there was a nagging desire to have a particular item ticked off the bucket list. This was to return to Gliding after a lay-off of nearly 20 years with 570 hours logged, during this time I constructed and learnt to fly many Radio Controlled aircraft. As a new-comer it was not an easy task learning not to crash, but the instructors were always nearby initially to take over the controls if required.

The Twin Astir (WZ) or (Whale Zulu) was found to have a mind of its own at times initially, but during the re-training phase not one instructor took over the controls other than to demonstrate a manoeuvre. Some instructors would talk during the flight but one particular instructor would only say ‘Use more %#@$*&^% rudder’ and on flying the downwind leg ‘Keep the airspeed on the yellow triangle’.  The sound of snoring coming from the back seat was common…………………………….

It was interesting to have a range of instructors as they all had slightly different slants on various actions, but the main point emphasised by them all was that WZ requires boot loads of rudder in turns. It was a while before this was appreciated and implemented as it was nothing like flying a Blanik or any other glider for that matter. Thanks to Peter W, Peter C, Les, John T and CFI Tim for their patience and after 13 dual flights a solo was deemed to be a safe option after a check flight circuit. On take-off WZ leapt into the air without the weight of an instructor in the back, the handling was like a heavy single seater and ‘sort of’ a joy to fly and was delighted in clocking 33 min on the first flight.

The ultimate joy in gliding is to fly a single seater and on Saturday 5th March Tim offered up the PW5 (Discus was preferred though) which was grabbed with both hands as 22 years had passed since the last flight in a single in Std Astir NG out of German Hill. Jim towed with TGC, the acceleration on the ground roll was surprisingly rapid and the ailerons very responsive. Managed to stay aloft for an hour in strong lift with equally strong sink in places which was why the flight was cut short. A later flight under the convergence was not as prolonged as the system appeared to be decaying.

Looking forward to many more jaunts in TE.

John Spence

The PW5 in flight near the Stratford Airfield

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