View Full Version : Slingsby T21/Sedbergh Stories

astir 8
9th Jul 2002, 12:33
Re the "Gliderpilots wanted thread" I know they were looking for WWII pilots, not Sedbergh pilots.

But does anyone have some good Sedbergh/T21 stories?

Oh and I'm still looking for the past history of ATC Sedbergh WJ 306.

The last time we asked. Ticketyboo reported having flown it in 1977 at Halesland.

But in 35-odd years in the ATC, thousands of kids must have flown in that glider - and more than a few first solos too!

So if you ever flew an ATC barge, with the wind in your hair (cos you would still have had hair then) please unearth the old logbook and check.

PS. WJ 306 is now FGB and I was flying her last Sunday.

I was with a 757 pilot celebrating his 40th anniversary of going solo - in a T21

9th Jul 2002, 13:01
I once flew a T21 solo to 7,500 feet over Kingsfield in Cyprus. If I recall correctly there were a couple of tyres strapped into the empty seat for added ballast, coz I'm only wee (or I was then :D )

9th Jul 2002, 13:40
Well that beats my 6,500' over Salisbury bus station with cadet puking over the side. But I think it was Derek Piggot who puts us both to shame with a T21 flight to 16,000'.

My most frightening moment in a T21 was when I totally cocked up a chandelle and turned it into a hammer stall. 600' seems awfully low when you are unexpectedly going vertically downwards.

9th Jul 2002, 13:45
So that's where that puke came from :D :D :D

9th Jul 2002, 13:50
Just remembered another one.. Weston-Super-Mare 1970something, this T21 had a canopy (luxury) which comprised two separate elements with a solid strut in the centre. Halfway up the launch one side became detached and wedged itself twixt wing and top of strut. Huge cloud of cr%p blows up from floor and blinds and chokes both pilots. Interesting circuit ensues!

9th Jul 2002, 18:17
Flew WB941 for a 3hr flight in'76!!

9th Jul 2002, 20:33
wub - I think that was the 'barge' in which I solo'd about 35 years ago at Merryfield. Mendip GC had a det at Merryfield in the summer of 1967 and I was allowed to be a civilian member. First 'solo' launch back-released as I started moving, second took 2 good pulls to release. Later we discovered that the Ottfur had pulled out of its mounting.

But the 'barge' I'd flown a couple of years earlier at Dunkeswell was a far better aeroplane - no horrid canopy, just the 2 little windscreens!

10th Jul 2002, 01:21
Jimgriff, not sure, but I think i flew 941 as a staff cadet at 615 VGS Kenley.

Or was it on a course at CGS Syerston with Peter Bullivant as the Trapper?

Lord, memories of the Sedbarge, when you're 17, it looks like a days hard ride across to the other side of the cockpit.

Wonderful old kite, made a hell of a noise on a beat up too :D

10th Jul 2002, 04:09
wub, I also have many hours in the 21 at Crusaders. Never got that high though. I was there 80-82. When were you? Paid a visit last week on holiday, and had a couple of launches in their K 13.:D

10th Jul 2002, 07:24
Beagle, The barge with the detachable canopy belonged to Woodspring GC at the time, known to the Bannerdown RAFGSA club members at 'Woodprangers!' My dad did his full BGA instructors rating and PPL at Dunkeswell, so he's probably flown that one too. I always laughed at the second 'C' in CBSITCB check on the barge, when you tugged at the wee windscreen things to see if they came off in your hand.

MightyG, I was at Crusaders in 1975. I also did a freefall parachute course at Kingsfield - worst scare was hearing an AAC Souix but not being able to see it!

astir 8
10th Jul 2002, 07:25
I love the story of the T21 ridge soaring silently over a "courting couple" in the bracken below,
with the bellowed "stop that you dirty B******s" being taken as the voice of God and causing a nasty interruption to their proceedings.

But I've heard that one from several sources, so it may be an urban myth.

Ditto the one about pilots changing clothes in-flight, or more especially an in-flight Tee shirt swap with a female passenger - with "hers" being jettisoned before she can put it on.

I've also been told that puking overboard results in it all being blown back into the cockpit. Is this true?

10th Jul 2002, 08:14
My dad took me up in one in Kenya in the Seventies - well, when I say he took me up, it was to about 200ft at which point the cable broke... so my claim is for the shortest total-time in one, probably less than 30 seconds! So if anybody would like to offer me a ride...


10th Jul 2002, 12:01
hmmm, T21b stories.......

1. Last time I flew at Hinton in the Hedges, I lost the port canopy on finals.....helluva bang and very noisy. It wasnt half as nice as the ATC ones I flew at Bovingdon, Halton & Burtonwood..... and the wood had gone rotten around the silly little bolt that held it on, so it wasnt me that missed it on the check, honest Guv...

2. Got my Silver C in a Sedburgh at Halesland when they were burning strawberry fields at the base of the ridge. The turbulence back released me at 700 feet but I stayed with it, choking on the sweet tasting smoke up to 5000.... then went back down and did it all over again for my second qualifying.

3. Mate of mine at Halton (staff cadet) was going downwind with an AEF cadet when a radio controlled model aircraft smashed into his rear fuselage, luckily not breaking anything critical, but lodging bits of itself inside, with some bits passing clean through the fabric.

4. I remember a trip with an instructor where we got caught out and were a little low on our approach back to Halton. Standard technique was to use ground effect and try to hop over the hedge. Only problem was a herd of cattle in the way. We shouted and screamed at the cattle, they parted like Moses crossing the Red Sea, and we made it back to the airfield....just.

10th Jul 2002, 13:19
I flew XN185 solo @ Burtonwood and was too light for a solo trip but in the absence of any ballast and as it was marginal anyway, was allowed to go. Went up like a silent Lightning, 250` on top of the usual winch launch and was not in a rush to return to terra firma either.

Eventually returned for a short landing by the M62 motorway bridge, spoilers out all the way and side slipping like a good un cause it still did not want to land, when along came an unfriendly downdaught, major dose of adrenalin, straighten her up and bin the spoilers followed by touchdown and force the nose on the skid to stop before the concrete (runway) started.

5 mins later..... Do it all again, this time ready for mother nature, and enjoyed every minute of it. The summer of 76:) :)

Did Halesland in 77 but cannot find logbook to confirm if previous mentioned barge is in there. Believe XN185 is still owned by HQ ATC Gliding Schools, anyone able to confirm?


Would be nice to see some good pics of the old girl if anyone has one. I have one of the Halesland single seater which I think is a Swallow. X*695 I think

Hairy Crosswinds
10th Jul 2002, 15:30
Never flown in a T21, but had my first ever flight in the tandem seat version, (T31), as a fourteen year old air cadet. Up until that point of my life Iīd thought that skateboarding was the most
exciting thing there was.

Some of you have mentioned gliding at Dunkeswell. I did some parachuting and started my PPL there in the eighties, but never saw or even heard of any gliding going taking place there.
Do you mean the gliding site to the west of Dunkeswell, (North Hill?). If not then when did gliding cease at Dunkeswell?

10th Jul 2002, 22:20
The Devon and Somerset GC most ceratinly did use Dunkeswell in the 1960s, then later moved to North Hill. They had 'Rudolf' (a T21b), 'Nellie' (a T31), a couple of Swallows, a T49 Capstan (briefly - what a lovely aeroplane), a T42 Eagle owned by a syndicate, an Olympia and a couple of Skylark 2s and 3s also privately owned. Launch at first by auto-tow (ancient old Jag?), then 'auto pulley' or behind G-ANSM (Tiger Moth). Eventually by great big diesel winch!

I once saw a T21 come off the launch at Dunkeswell and then the student froze on the control column. The aircraft went past the vertical in the descent until the instructor could fight him off. It was horribly overstressed and the instructor (Howard Brunt) was very shaken.........

11th Jul 2002, 00:20
WRTO astir 8's comments re ridge soaring, it was commonly referred to at Halton in the early '50's as having happened above "The Pimple" where trainee "brats" were wont to court!

Also not unknown during the summertime for a bellowed question to be directed from a silent glider crew above a cricket match, enquiring as to the state of play!:D :D

11th Jul 2002, 03:30
astir8, we had a pilot in Cyprus who regularly traded T shirts with his more attractive passengers in the barge.:D

11th Jul 2002, 09:26

Yep, Staff cadetting at Kenley 1979-1981. Was with 1034(Surbiton) Squadron ATC, but invited to join 615 , having been identified as an "Intrepid Aviator" lol.

Personalities at that time included

The Brothers Freehold
Mike Riley
Mike Edwards (Love to hear that Afghanistan audio again Mike:) )
Clive Watson
Dave (Extremely mad) Owen
Dave Bilcliffe
Rob McNab, who I think went on to fly F-4's
Dave Crispin and Andy Gent, who I think did the same
"Mad" Clive Watson, the best Glider Pilot I have ever met, his father Alex was CO

and the EO was Brian Kemp, who I remeber being extremely upset and emotional, when they pulled the Ops block down (1980?)

Always interesting flying from Kenley, due to the length of the Airfield.......

astir 8
11th Jul 2002, 11:07

If you really want another ride in a T21, then
contact Oxford Gliding Club and they can fix you up with a T21 ride - if they ask me nicely.
I seem to be their only current T21 instructor
(or the only silly f****** who prefers flying a T21 to German plastic .

Alternatively if you just happen to be passing Achmer (near Osnabruck) during the week commencing 20th July, it's the International Vintage Glider Club rally
There are at least six T21's entered - mostly German owned!
Also a couple of T31's if you fancy falling out of the sky even faster than in a T21.

Oh and about 110 other vintage gliders.
:D :D :(

11th Jul 2002, 11:57
The first time I went higher than the local trees was in a T31 at Swansea on a winch launch with the ATC in 1971. I had a broken arm as I recall and thus wasn't allowed to play with anything.

It was still a fantastic experience and I loved every second of it. We didn't half laugh at the poor lad who threw up during the winch launch :D :D :D

When I showed my kids a dismantled T31 in Duxford and told them it was the first aeroplane I'd ever flown in, they looked at me like I'd started in WW1 :rolleyes:

Dave T-S
11th Jul 2002, 12:39
This brings back happy memories....:D

I, too, was in the ATC (308 squadron, Clacton on Sea).

Did a bit of gliding in about 1968, either Debden or Duxford if I remember correctly.

Can't remember the gliders, I think it was Sedbergh, but recall one was open cockpit side by side wooden seat - bit like a park bench with wings:D (and probably less aerodynamic!).

Also remember never having been so scared in all my life - but still went up:D

Also reminds me of a scary pilot in a Chipmunk (Cambridge airport maybe, or possibly Duxford again - university air squadron) who took me up and took great delight in flying a long distance upside down following the river Cam (which is VERY winding....:rolleyes: ).

And the times out on the firing ranges in both the ATC and Army cadets - firing a Lee Enfield .303 that was probably taller than me - the recoil pushed me back about a foot every time I fired it.

And the summer camp at RAF Ouston in Northumberland - my first taste of Newcastle Brown:D

11th Jul 2002, 18:58
Kingsfield ... Nineteencanteen.. Secretary to the UN general in Cyprus strapped into a T-21 for a jolly, gets six feet off ground and decides she doesn't really want to do this so she pulls the release and the barge sinks vertically back onto the runway. CFI of Crusaders turns to her and says .."what did you do that for?" Crinkles all round, including up the side of the T-21!

Portmoak 19canteen plus... The venerable Arthur Robinson of ATC School at Halesland strapping into a T-21...
SGU Instructor.."Done much gliding?"
Arthur: "Oh 10,000"
SGU instructor.."What!!! 10,000 launches?"
Arthur: "No 10,000 hours"
SGU Insrtuctor (in the inimitable style of Arthur) "Good Gawd!!"

Hairy Crosswinds
12th Jul 2002, 14:29
I am sure that sometime in the eighties, I read that some ex-ATC
T31 Gliders had been bought by private owners and that some of
these were being converted to motorgliders by fitting an engine
in the nose, which also made the aircraft a single seater.

Can anyone provide more details and are any of these conversions flying today?

12th Jul 2002, 15:04
The Motor Glider conversion was initially done when the airframes were almost new, ie before Falke had even been invented.

I have an ancient Aeroplane Monthly somewhere which I will dig out and try and get the details.

The T31 or Cadet Mk III flew like a brick on a good day, but was very forgiving of mishandling as a friend of mine once found out.

A single seat Cadet is as near as matters a Slingsby Prefect.


Brian Dixon
13th Jul 2002, 20:30
Flew the following at Burtonwood in 1980:
XE791 - Cadet Mk3
XA282 - Cadet Mk3 (Did first solo in this one)
XN185 - Sedburgh
WB981 - Sedburgh

Flew the following at Halesland in 1980:
WJ306 - Sedburgh
WB972 - Sedburgh

Also used to drive the winch, and that was a real pig to get off the ground!

Oh happy daze!

Pom Pax
15th Jul 2002, 05:03
April '54 , b. cold! One week course.
2nd or 3rd flight on the Sunday 45 mins or so in Sedburgh got to 3400'. My instructor covered most of the sylibus on the way down. Went solo on the Tues evening in the Cadet. Despite the cold a great week. Eventually became a sort of honary staff cadet and then dropped out after struggling for 9 minutes with the Cadet and being told any fool who couldn't get his "C" in those conditions never would! I turned the same way as the crow in front of me .... he must have had a tigher turning circle because he gained 200' on me very quickly. Now if it had been the single seater I might just have got those vital 6 more minutes.

Staff C.O. Alfie Warminger
Gilbert Burton, Chris Warner
Barry Tempest, staff cadet who became rather good at aerobatics later in life.
An S.A.C. Dixon used to hang around and often drove the winch. He borrowed a Prentice one night and took it to Belgium to visit his girl friend. I think the R.A.F. then sent him to the funny farm.

astir 8
15th Jul 2002, 07:28
Re Brian's Dixon's post

thanks for the report that WJ 306 was at Halesland in 1980. She was also there in 1977 (Ticketyboo flew her then) so she seems to have been fairly regularly there anyway.

Does anyone know if there is still ATC activity in that area?

PS You can almost get a winch to fly, but you need one of these big modern glass two seaters with a pole-bending pilot on the other end of the wire!
:D :)

15th Jul 2002, 16:51
I believe the Ulster Gliding Club still have their Capstan.

Spent an hour or two in it a couple of years ago. Tremendously civilised machine, with enough room to share tea and biscuits comfortably. :)

Note to self: must get current again!!


16th Jul 2002, 12:21
Hairy crosswinds there is one for sale in the PFA mag Popular Flying I think. Have a root around on pfa.org.uk (http://pfa.org.uk)

16th Jul 2002, 12:48
I have several fond memories of the T61? Capstan.

1. I got checked out for aerotows in one at Dunstable

2. The BGA used to have a National Coach who used to tour the gliding clubs with a Capstan. I flew with him once at Cranfield and our CFI told me off because this guy was still trying to soar at about 400' and ended up doing a down wind landing.

3. The last time I flew a Capstan was at the Long Mynd when I had to do a touch and go trying to land in a 60 kt wind. Touched down too fast so the instructor closed the spoilers and we did a go around back into the hill lift and my first introduction to wave soaring - absolutely amazing!

18th Jul 2002, 07:36
Wasn't the Capstan a T49?

18th Jul 2002, 08:37
Absolutely correct, wub. Memory's failing.

Hairy Crosswinds
18th Jul 2002, 11:47
Low n`Slow - Thanks for that, although I wasnīt looking to buy one.

What I remember about the T49/Capstan is that it didnīt have spoilers but these huge plank like airbrakes that extended from both sides of the wing.
An instructor once took over control from me saying that he was going to carry out a dive attack on the tug that was underneath us. I didnīt understand what he was on about, but gave him control and he then put the aircraft into a vertical dive and just hung it on the airbrakes. As I sat there looking at the ground that was now in front of us, and probably with my chin in my lap, the tug bootled by about 600 feet below us and the instructor yelled, "DAKKA-DAKKA-DAKKA!".

21st Jul 2002, 20:53
My first ever solo in any type of aircraft was in a Sedbergh at Old Sarum in 1967 (gulp...!!). The cockpit was bigger than most cars at that time. Apparently my approach was applauded as I sideslipped in neatly - not that I had a clue what I was actually doing. In the middle of moving country again at the moment, but I'll check the reg's when I get a chance.

26th Jul 2002, 20:40
please note its spelt sedbergh! i flew in one on a cadet leadership course in 78 at sealand. i was all set to do my gliding course at burtonwood(that school is now at samlesbury) but i decided to join the raf instead. if an sac did fly a prentice to belgium, the raf should have sent him for pilot training instead of the funny farm!

astir 8
30th Jul 2002, 13:41
I just got back from the Vintage Glider Club rally in Germany.

There were five T21's including one whose owners (Dutch I think) had embraced the "barge" nickname.

The cockpit was equipped with detachable rowlocks, oars and a foghorn which was sounded while going up the wire launch.

Incidentally the pilot of a Tandem Falke motor glider got it horribly wrong on Saturday and taxied over a live winch cable.

His tail got "launched" and half sawn off, prop stuffed, engine bearers bent. No injuries. The T31 which was on the other end of the cable was also ok.

Question. Can this be the first Messerschmidt product to be allowed as a "confirmed kill" by a T31??

30th Jul 2002, 14:28
Astir 8

A Silly Falke then? (assuming German pronunciation...)

Hope the airframe attendance was better than the one I went to at Lasham in the 80s. Actually the attendance was probably good, just the weather was dire that year and a lot of the visitors stayed in their boxes.

If I can get up Oxford way some time, will definitely see about coming for a jolly with your club. It's about time I had a proper stab at the sport!



Pom Pax
31st Jul 2002, 00:44
The S.A.C. was a fairly reasonable glider pilot, I don't know if he had any power experience. As I think he worked on the Prentices he would have known the start up procedures. He borrowed it about 3.0 a.m. from inside a hangar. He appears to have landed it on a narrowish concrete farm? road undamaged. The next day there were pictures in the Eastern Daily Press. It was summer time so landing was after dawn.

Hap Hazard
31st Jul 2002, 06:22
Astir8, what was the Vintage Glider Rally like this year, I couldnt get to it unfortunately, and as usual the vintage glider clubs web site is as dormant as ever.
Had my first flight in a T21 about 2 months ago at Hus Bus, good but albiet short, fun.

astir 8
31st Jul 2002, 08:49

The 30th International Vintage Glider rally was held at Achmer airfield (NE of Osnabruck) last week (2oth - 27th July)

About 110 gliders attended. Roughly 40 from Germany, 35 from UK, several from Sweden, Denmark,Holland, Poland, Belgium,France, Switzerland.

Slingsby products present included the Petrel, Sky, Swallow, several T31's and T21's, and 3 various models of Skylark.

Also many gorgeous and wonderfullyu restored German products especially Grunau Babies.

The weather wasn't that great but we flew 7 days out of 8.

Social occasions, especially the "International" and "German" evenings were excellent and heavily ethanol fuelled.

I got to fly 6 new types including that incredible two seat "primary" which the Danes have - now that's open air flying!

1500 feet of fresh air straight down between your legs is impressive!

See www.ovfl.de "events" for the details

Hap Hazard
31st Jul 2002, 17:41
Astir8, Thanks for the info, wanted to get there this year, but with family crisis and a current crisis at work with a certain airline who think nothing of rebasing crews around the country side at short notice, it didnt happen.
Worse still I am having to put plans on the back burner for getting a vintage machine until life returns back to some sense of normality.
Roll on an upturn in the job market!
By the way what do you fly normally, did Chris Wills find his way there without getting lost?

31st Jul 2002, 19:12
Flew both the T21 and the Kirby cadet at Tangmere when it was still going - anyone remember "riding the winch" - after the last knot on checking the cable at the end of the day you would sit on the winch chute and be winched the rest of the way in - great fun!

astir 8
1st Aug 2002, 07:49

Chris Wills got there - don't know by what diverse route.

I usually fly a Skylark 4. On the way back we went through Arnhem & visited the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeck.

I'm not sure when a British built wooden glider last visited Arnhem!

2nd Aug 2002, 11:46
Aahh, tweaking my nostalgia strings. First gliding
course at Swanton Morley as an ATC cadet (276
Chelmsford) flying both T21 & T31 & then joined
the RAF. After a while, off to Bicester to be
'taught to fly the thing, not just point it!'.
Ended up in Germany flying from Bruggen & got my 'C' licence on my second conversion flight onto
the Swallow. Crisp April Sunday morning just
before midday with all the cookers in the married
patch, which was on the downwind leg, going
full blast for Sunday lunch. Damn thing wouldn't
come down so ended up stooging around for 24'.
What fun!