Our club now operates two gliders. Both are used for training and post-solo flying and local flights. The word 'sailplane' is often used to describe gliders. Perhaps intended to emphasize the ability of gliders (their wings akin to the sails of a yacht)to soar using the air's upward movement.
To launch the gliders, the club has owned a succession of tow-planes, the last being a Pawnee tow-plane but this has been sold and we now own and operate a brand new Eurofox which tow-pilots delight in flying. As a two-seat aircraft it provides both instruction of those wishing to convert to it and the taking of passengers to have a look around.
Grob Twin Astir
This glider was purchased in 2006 from the Wellington Gliding Club. Of fibre glass construction, it has a 38:1 glide ratio, enabling pilots to search a wider area for thermals or get back to the airfield from further away. Used for pilot training, trial flights and cross-country training.
PW5 single seater glider
This single seat glider is of the “World Class” design, intended to provide a low capital cost glider of good performance. It has a 13 metre wingspan and easy to fly and very suitable for early solo pilots to make the transition to flying single-seat gliders.
The Eurofox now in service is quite capable of towing gliders economically to 2000ft and with quite reasonable times registered. Pilots are happy with the way it handles.
The aircraft was made in Nitra, Slovakia, loaded into a container and shipped to Tauranga. Assembled at Stratford by club members on a Saturday and starting perfectly, it was run-up to about half throttle.
The club has an alternative means of launching available to it. This is winch launching, where the glider kites up on the end of a wire rope being rapidly wound in by a powerful winch. The glider goes up at a steep angle before levelling out at 1000 or 1200 feet before the rope is released. The winch is owned by Tim Hardwick-Smith.