STILL SOARING HIGH AFTER 50 YEARS
Past and present members of Seahawk Gliding Club (SGC) gathered to celebrate 50 years of Navy Gliding at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
Much has changed over the years since the club’s first flights on the evening of 26 Jun 1966. The club has seen many types of glider and tug aircraft come and go leading to today’s fleet comprising of a Puchacz glider which is the work-horse of the club, the Inter Services winning DG505 as well as the Junior Basic & Pegase competition solo machines. In 2000 the club was also lucky with major support from the Sports Lottery and the Sailor’s Fund, to acquire a Super Dimona motor glider tug which has been vital to the club’s survival ever since.
Individual achievements have also included John Smith’s Inter Services win, George Kosak’s out and return 300km ‘Diamond Goal’ and Ian Reid’s 300km ‘Gold distance’ out from Culdrose; still the only two 300km flights from the Air Station, despite the increase performance of gliders. In 2015 Jordan Richard’s 4th place in the British Gliding Association (BGA) junior nationals and his selection for the 2017 junior squad.
“A lot has happened in the past 50 years,” said Lieutenant Commander Chris Bryning, SGC’s current Chief Flying Instructor. “But what has not changed is the vital contribution of a small, dedicated group of service, ex-service and civilian members who have, by their efforts, kept the gliding flame alight and burning brightly at Culdrose through thick and thin. It would be unfair to single out individuals but it is a shame that such stalwart members as Robbie Robinson and Ron Keeping were unable to stretch the glide far enough to be with us today.”
Not only has gliding been taking place at Culdrose for half a century but George Kosak, a founder member of the club, also celebrated 50 years with SGC. His first flight was on 02 July 1966 and lasted just ten minutes in a T31 glider and was recorded as – OK! Later that day George was allowed solo for seven minutes. The first 1 hour plus flight was not achieved until a year later on 2 Jul 67 by David Bath in a Skylark 4, a hot ship of the time, he stayed aloft for an impressive 1 hour 13 minutes.
In recognition of his impressive service George was presented with a montage of pictures of the club’s activities from the Commanding Officer RNAS Culdrose, Captain Ade Orchard OBE, a citation from Capt Paul Jessop, chairman of the Royal Navy Gliding and Soaring Association and a formal diploma from Nick Bowers of the BGA.
“Over the 50 years George has also contributed enormously to the fabric of the club as a maintainer, par excellence, and in just about every formal post on the committee,” added Chris Bryning.