Probus Visits Glider Heritage Centre

A party of twenty, consisting of members and some wives/partners had a real treat when they visited the Lasham Gliding Society at Lasham airfield, south of Basingstoke. In the party were two retired RAF officers maintaining their interest in heavier than air machines.

After coffee in the restaurant we were taken to a briefing room where an extensive presentation on all matters connected to gliding brought some interesting facets about early attempts at flying. Many commercial pilots also own a glider and it is reckoned that the plane that came down on the Hudson River in New York was not the disaster it could have been but for the fact that the pilot also flew gliders. Surprisingly it is possible to own a second hand glider and trailer for around £9,000 although the very latest hi-tech version could cost up to £250,000.

Then driving in a slow convoy around the perimeter of the airfield, passing around the hangers where commercial passenger jet aircraft are serviced and on to the south side to where the Gliding Heritage Centre has its own purpose built hanger. A second one is in construction.

The  hanger is chock full of gliders of various vintages clearly showing the evolution of the species from 1932 onwards including two with swastikas and many are still in a flying condition. Every bit of space was filled with these exotic, colourful, little planes hanging from the roof and carefully placed around the floor. This was a visual experience made better by the guide fully explaining the changes to the aircraft on display. Keeping up to date there was even a glider flight simulator.

Just to remind us that Lasham is still an operational airfield, during lunch a Norwegian Air Boeing 737 commercial jet came into land on the mile long runway to then taxi round to the service company that rents its space from the gliding society who owns the airfield.

Thanks are due to member Stephen Thair for arranging this visit, who has maintained his interest in avionics since qualifying for his private pilot’s licence some years ago and to Bryan Nagle for supplying some of the photographs.