Vintage Sailplanes

Miles Bowen

Originally published July 1997

Our guest speaker was Jeff Byard of San Louis Obispo, who's vocation is flying for USAir. His avocation is collecting and restoring vintage sailplanes. Jeff commented that one of the things that most appreciates about his hobby is the old-world craftsmanship evident in the wood, fabric, steel, and sheet metal not evident in today's molded fiberglass designs. Jeff began his slide presentation with some examples of his favorite vintage sailplanes, such as the Slingsby Falcon I . The Falcon is a British design which was originally a flying wing.. The design is very stable, and is thus used for training. Another of Jeff's favorites is the Bowlus Baby Albatross. The aircraft was offered as a kit: around 90 were sold, 50 or so completed and flown. Jeff owns one of only three known to exist today in flying condition. Other examples include the Slingsby T-21B side-by-side used by the RAF for training pilots during WWII, the Slingsby Kite 1, and the Slingsby Type T-38 Grasshopper, a single place, bungee-launched trainer designed to only fly straight ahead, allowing the student to concentrate on his landings. The centerpiece of Jeff's presentation was the discovery, acquisition, and 8-1/2 year restoration of his award-winning 1937 Schweizer TG-2. Jeff has written an article detailing the history of the TG-2 in general and the history of his particular aircraft. Look it up on the Web at http://www.iac.net/~feguy/VSA/.


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Revised -- 21 December 1997