Memories of the Coventry Gliding Club
aka the Gliding Centre, Hus Bos
the first ten years - 1953-1962
A letter from Bertille Hunt, our founder's widow...
Private Bag XO04
Dear Keith & Diana
I had hoped that you would attend the Drakensberg Camp (as run by Orient gliding club every August/Sept.) the more so that it was run by a friend of Michael, (actually the buyer of his glider). To my surprise, I heard that there still were a couple of non-motor gliders participating, They had good weather but no wave................
.......................The boys had asked Michael to draft a Memoir of his work - from rockets day as Chief Designer at Armstrong Siddeley, to his own consultancy in Innovative Engineering Design. This to be strictly for family consumption and record. I had given myself a year to read it, and found two relevant chapters concerning the founding of the Coventry Gliding Club, the later purchase of Hus Bos, and design of the hangar doors which it occurs to me you may find entertaining.
The portrait of the co founder, George Thompson, and his role in the early days of the club is very well described. (He practically lived in that awful rat-infested Nissen Hut on Baginton airfield). He brought the strictest of discipline to what would have been a bunch of keen amateurs. (I should know - he taught me flying!). All efforts at trying to find him re; 40/50 years anniversaries proved in vain.
Doc. Greg was the father figure needed for "avoir du poids", socially and in flying circles in days when "young people were seen but not heard!" and took many influential initiatives; I was most gratified to see that Lou Glover is given credit for all the work he did during this period which is before "your" days.
Also relevant is the role played by the Leicester Gliding Club - this should please Vic Carr - in contributing to the equipment and fleet.
I have not included the pages covering the Baas's personal outstanding flights (I do like the one for 300km out and return which ended up at Barford (outside Warwick) and an onlooker saying to my distraught self, well, it must have been all of 20km without an engine! Isn't that great! It had been 280km and I guess, on the bright side, a modest retrieve to speak of.
You will not have many peers to share these reminiscences with!
Except Vic !......
THE BIRTH OF THE
COVENTRY GLIDING CLUB
Memoirs of Michael Stather Hunt 1927 - 2009
One day in early 1952, when I was busy at my desk with my slide rule in my hands, I looked up and saw a new employee coming in through the far door of the vast design office. With his tall gangling frame and lantern jaw, he looked out of place as he strode down the length of the office still wearing the clumsy ex-military flying suit he had evidently been wearing on his motorbike. In front of him strutted the prim little office manager, who was conducting the newcomer to a drawing board in the Hydraulics Section. It was early 1952 and the new arrival at Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft was George Thompson, a senior instructor at the Derby and Lancs gliding club. I had fairly recently gained my 'C' badge at Camphill and knew George quite well, so when the tea break came I slipped across to welcome him to his new job. He was stationed at a drawing board in the hydraulics section on the far side of the office from me. After an initial greeting we chatted for a while, but these occasional chats became more and more frequent as time went on and an idea began to formulate in my mind.
In those days before the coming of motorways, going up to the Derby and Lancs. club at the week-ends on my motorbike took three hours each way. It was a long gruelling ride and I was sure that George would be finding it a similar strain on his motorbike too. So one day I popped the question to him about the possibility of our starting a club at Coventry.
George's first reaction was that it would be nice but he didn't see how it would be possible. With good reason. At that time there were not many gliding clubs in the country. One needed land and a lot of money to get such things going. We had neither.
However AWA was on the edge of a fine grass aerodrome at Baginton. At one time Whitley bombers and, later, Lancasters, Lincolns and then even Meteor jet fighters had made their first flights from the airfield before the company moved all its final assembly and test flying to Bitteswell ex military airfield beyond Rugby where there were hard runways. AWA had tried to get the government to pay for hard runways at Baginton but this had been refused. By 1952 Baginton aerodrome seemed to be very little used, other than by the Coventry Aero Club. As a shot in the dark the two of us decided to circulate a sheet around the design office to find out how many of our colleagues would be interested in the formation of a gliding club, possibly as a section of the Coventry Aero Club. We got some twenty-five or more signatures out of the 140 or so people in the office.
This encouraged us to take a bolder step and we compiled a carefully worded memorandum to the Managing Director, Mr Woodhams, proposing the formation of an AWA gliding club and asking the firm for a modest sum to enable us to buy a Cadet or a Tutor. We proposed to try and hire an EoN Grunau Baby from the Derby and Lancs. gliding club, where there were two of them, neither of which got used much. H.M.Woodhams was a rather taciturn and withdrawn character who had once worked as a flight mechanic for Sir Alan Cobham during the latter's record breaking flights around the Empire. He had worked his way up to the top job at AWA, from having been its Chief Inspector in the early days. In due course George and I were called to his office. He was polite but firm with us and made it clear that there was no question of our getting any money out of the company for such a venture.
Worse was to follow. He said that he could see no possibility of our being allowed to use Baginton aerodrome.
He suggested that our best option would be to persuade some farmer to let us use one of his fields. As a sort of parting shot he passed us on to Mr. Martin, the company Commercial Manager, who had recently taken over responsibilities for all AWA recreational activities. He was also Hon. Secretary of the Coventry Aero Club of which Mr Woodhams was the Chairman. We did not expect much, since he was bound to toe the line of his boss. We felt quite dejected about the whole thing.
Much to our surprise Frank Martin welcomed us into his office with a broad smile. He could have known nothing about the outcome of our recent interview with Woodhams since he said straight away that he thought it was a splendid idea to have a gliding club at Baginton and went on to say that he was sure the Aero Club would be pleased to welcome us on the airfield.
He went even further. He rang up, there and then, the Aerodrome Manager Mr Midgely (an ex AWA chief test pilot) to arrange an appointment for us to go and talk about starting the club on the airfield.
Our dejection was fully wiped away but we didn't push our luck and raise with him the subject of getting financial support from the company. We knew that it would have to be the Coventry Gliding Club.
It was an even more awe-inspiring experience, that interview with Midgely, than the one we had with Woodhams. He had an aquiline nose and dark piercing eyes that he fixed on us, headmaster like, as though we were a pair of Oliver Twists, asking for more. We said that we would like to have permission to use the airfield and if possible find some hangar space. We received a stem lecture about airport discipline and air traffic control but in the end he said that if we put our request in writing he would submit it to the municipal sub-committee responsible for Baginton aerodrome. This was to be a major step forward since that committee, we later discovered, was very keen on expanding the use of the airfield.
In due course, in July 1952, the committee gave their approval and we were in business. The only problem was we didn't yet have any gliders to fly!
Then, much to my surprise, I received a telephone call from a Mr Jack Rice, a wealthy businessman who was the mainstay of the Leicester Gliding Club. George and I knew very little about this club since it was no longer operating, owing to their problems in finding a suitable site. The club had finally tried to operate out of Bruntingthorpe, a disused military airfield, but found it unsuitable for winching skidded gliders because of the hard runways with ploughed fields between them. The club was therefore dormant.
Jack Rice proposed a deal. We had a grass airfield, he had some gliders, a Cadet and a pre-war Grunau Baby complete with trailer. He also had a barrage balloon type winch, and two Beaverettes, little ex-WD armoured cars made by Standard Motors, and which were sold off very cheaply when the war was over. The armoured upper structure was cut off leaving just a rugged little open vehicle, something like a Jeep, but much cruder. The deal was the free loan of all the equipment in exchange for our maintaining it in good condition, insuring it, and giving full membership rights to any remaining members of the Leicester Gliding Club. We naturally jumped at this idea and one of the first events of note was when Jack loaned his private Olympia sailplane so that George could put on some gliding aerobatics at the 1952 Coventry Air Day.
We had another stroke of luck with hangar space at Baginton. Midgely had leased out a portion of a half of the main hangar to Alvis for the Test flying of their Alvis Leonides powered Provost. The Aero Club had the other half, on the other side of a wire netting partition. Midgely would have liked Alvis to pay for all of the half hangar where the Provost was kept, but this they had so far avoided doing. By allowing us to rent the other 'half' of the same half hangar as Alvis he could put pressure on them and
serve his purpose, although we weren't aware of this aspect at the time.
The main problem for us was that the equipment, sitting in a hangar at Bruntingthorpe, was not in very good condition. Neither glider was airworthy and, owing to frost damage, the winch had a cracked engine block while one of the Beavers had a cracked cylinder head. They hadn't been drained when put away for the last time.
In order to tie up the formal deal with Jack Rice we had to go a stage further than being just Mike and George. It was time for us to have an inaugural meeting and officially form the Coventry Gliding Club.
I was still living in the YMCA in Coventry and I obtained permission to use their assembly hall for an inaugural meeting. One of my fellow inmates, Jim Corfield, was the air correspondent for the Coventry Evening Telegraph and he agreed to put in an item about the inaugural meeting to be held at the YMCA on the 19th of October 1952.
The turn-out was quite good and George and I presented the broad plans and state of progress to all those present. A unanimous vote was given to the motion that a Coventry Gliding Club should be formed. I had opened the proceedings and was therefore elected Chairman. George was elected Secretary. Quite a few members of the Coventry Aero Club were present and several accepted to be elected to the committee where they would be valuable for their experience of flying club committee work. These included Dr. Gregg, a local GP who was also a magistrate, and Percy Blamire who was a well known one-legged pilot who owned a twin-engined Miles Gemini. He was also a wealthy local garage proprietor. Most of the people present signed up straight away, including one called Jimmy Joss, who was later to be the best man for my wedding.
The new committee got to work right away in order to try and get some flying started as soon as possible. We managed to locate a cheap second hand Ford V8 engine and Percy Blamire got his garage to fit it into the winch and get it into working order, at no cost to the club. We discovered a registered glider repairer in a little village a few miles outside Coventry and we took the Cadet across to him for a 'Certificate of Airworthiness' inspection, so that we could start using it.
It was now clear that we needed to appoint a CFI and George Thompson was the only one for this. He quite naturally asked to be relieved from the job of Hon. Secretary. Nobody was keen to take on this task so, feeling that the club could be strengthened by having a distinguished local character in the top post, I offered to take on the job of Secretary if Doc Gregg would take over from me as Chairman. His status as a local magistrate as well as his being a member of the Aero Club with his own private plane (an Auster) would be sure to give the club more prominence. He was also a glider pilot and a member of the Midland Club at the Long Mynd.
This set the pattern of the committee for several years to come and Doc did a fine job as club Chairman throughout his ten year tenure. We had a total of 23 paid-up members at this initial stage.
By the time the Cadet had received its C of A the winch was also ready for action. George took the Cadet up for its first circuit of Baginton on the 18th of January 1953. It was a cold grey day but we got a good write-up with photographs in the Coventry Evening Telegraph. The Cadet was the same model of plain rectangular winged primary glider that I had done my first solo in, inferior to its longer spanned taper winged cousin the Tutor, and, with its high rate of sink, was quite unsuitable for soaring.
Nevertheless training then started in earnest using the time-honoured ground slide technique in which the pupil is strapped into the cockpit and has to practice keeping the wings level while being dragged along the ground. Initially we used the winch for this but George found that using a Beaverette on auto-tow gave him better control right up to the high hop and circuit stage. Some of the older Aero Club members undertook this but did not go much further. Percy Blamire never got into a glider at all, perhaps because of his wooden leg, however he remained a member of the club committee for many years.
In parallel with this we all worked like slaves to get the Grunau Baby ready for the soaring season. I recognized it as indeed what I had seen in my school days, lying in that hangar when I went for my navigational flight in the Oxford. Once it had been put into use we found it to be like a real thoroughbred compared to the Cadet. The Grunau would get a much higher launch, and it was light and dainty to fly. We continued to favour auto tows behind the Beaverette. We even experimented once with Doc Gregg's Riley 2.5 litre which, in those days, was one of the fastest British cars in production. I can remember getting a 900 foot launch in the Grunau this way - an unheard of height up to then. The launches in the Cadet were considered good if one reached over 500 feet, because of the very forward position of its cable hook, and raw pilots had to complete a circuit with that, making steep turns at a low height on the final approach.
Very soon after we had started flying a major new development occurred. At one of our committee meetings, always held in Doc Gregg's dining room in those days, Doc tabled an advertisement for a T2l side-by-side two seater being sold off by a defunct club at Old Sarum outside Salisbury. The price was £500 which seemed like a fortune then but we decided that this could be our big breakthrough and we must act. However we had to form ourselves into a limited liability company to comply with the requirements for a loan from the Kemsley Flying Trust, a fund set up by Lord Kemsley, the newspaper baron shortly after the war. To enable us to bag the glider before anyone else did, Doc loaned the club the necessary money.
The coming of the T2l completely changed the whole scale of our operations. We put the winch back into use with some fresh cable on it and launch heights of 1000 feet or more became standard. Ground slides were abandoned now that two-seater training was available and of great importance was the fact that the club could make quite a lot of money out of giving joy rides. Our membership increased by leaps and bounds. George soon added me to the instructor list along with Doc Gregg and another even more experienced glider pilot, Vic Carr, who was one of the only two members of the Leicester Club to take advantage of the new deal between Jack Rice and us. Jimmy Joss, one of the first trainees quickly showed his flying skill and was added to the list of instructors soon after.
By then we had also bought, for the princely sum of £75, a Tutor from our glider inspector. It was a pre-war model without a wheel, originally known as a 'Taper Wing Cadet', and was lighter and probably more soarable than the later Tutors produced by Slingsby. We used this glider now instead of the original Cadet for all early solo flying. It had a belly hook and could get as good a launch height as the T21. It then formed the step between the two seater training and the Grunau and many C badges were to be earned in it.
However the expansion of the club gained even greater momentum when George, a part owner in the Viking sailplane up at the Derby and Lancs. Gliding Club, bought out his partners and brought the Viking down to Baginton for use by club members, while the club bought him out in instalments. Even better than this was the contribution from Vic Carr, who knew something that Jack Rice had never told us: Namely that the Leicester Club also owned a modern Olympia sailplane and had struck an earlier deal like ours, but with the London Gliding Club at Dunstable where it was in use. Being a fairly astute businessman Vic managed to revoke this deal on the
basis that the Leicester Club was now operating out of Baginton and he brought this magnificent sailplane - for those days - up to Baginton to join our growing fleet.
The club was now well on its way and went from strength to strength from that point.
In those days the aim of every budding glider pilot was to earn the coveted 'Silver C'. The original 'A' 'B' and 'C' badges with one, two and three gulls on their round blue format were international badges originating in the very early days of gliding. For the 'C' badge, the top of the pile, it was only necessary to soar a glider for five minutes and before long this was soon considered far too easy. So the next one up, was a smaller badge, still with the three gulls on it but surrounded by a silver laurel wreath. Originating in the 1930's it was already realised that something much more difficult was required, so three tasks had to be completed, a cross country flight of at least 50km, a gain in altitude of 1000m and an endurance flight of five hours. The first two tasks were not too difficult to achieve, but the five hour flight was another matter altogether unless one belonged to a club which had a good ridge facing the predominant winds - mainly Westerly - which could provide slope soaring all day long. From a flat site like Baginton, we could stay up for several hours when the thermals were good, but five hours was stretching it a bit.
About thirty miles south of us was the ridge known as Edge Hill, scene of one of the great battles in the civil war. It was not very high and faced mainly north-west. However we decided to explore its possibilities, and using the Viking we undertook some exploratory outings to the disused military airfield there, launching by auto-tow off one of the tarred runways. It was during these early missions that we met the farmer whose land adjoined and overlapped part of the airfield. John Greenway and his son Howard became as interested in gliding as we were and took to it with enthusiasm. We found the ridge to be quite effective in winds from the NW and the site played a major role in many of our future activities.
Rather sadly, Jack Rice, who had been a regular visitor to us, flying over from Leicester in his Miles Messenger single engined monoplane, was killed when taking part in a rally in Switzerland. He was behind schedule in some way and, in spite of the cloudy conditions, had decided take a short cut over the mountains through cloud. He crashed his plane at full speed into the side of a mountain and both he and his wife were killed instantly. He left behind him a well organised trailer factory in Leicester. Doc Gregg took the opportunity of contacting the executors of Jack's estate, purchased his Olympia sailplane and brought it to Baginton for his own private use. It was the first private one in the club.
After having been Chairman of the club for ten years Doc Gregg decided it was time to hand the post on to someone else and I was asked to take it over again, Vic Carr accepted the Vice Chairmanship at the same time. The job of CFI then fell to Lou Glover whom I had appointed as deputy CFI for Baginton. A newer member and an old friend of mine from the Young Conservatives, a quantity surveyor called John Large agreed to take on the job of club Secretary, a job he did very well.
We had a major issue looming since it had become clear that the writing was on the wall for the continuation of gliding activities at Baginton. Because of its desire for Baginton to be considered an alternative to the much busier Birmingham Airport, the Coventry municipality had somehow raised the money for a tarmac runway to be installed. We were allowed to continue operating on the grassy parts of the field but we knew that the situation could only become more and more difficult for us.
For many years the Edge Hill site seemed like the obvious answer. We were familiar with it and we knew that it had the advantage of offering quite reasonable ridge soaring in the right wind conditions, something we couldn't get from a flat site.
John Greenway did not actually own all the land on which the old military airfield lay. However he had bulldozed most of his hedgerows out and made the rest of his land more like an open ranch. This was largely due to his change-over in farming technique to one in which the cows were confined and the hay was cut and brought to them. He indicated that he was prepared to sell a specific area of land to the gliding club as a permanent gliding site. The area in question was not as flat and convenient as we would have liked but we were keen nevertheless to come to some agreement. The old airfield area was still government property at that time and John Greenway only rented a part of it from them.
In order to be able to purchase land we needed to raise a loan from the Shaw Slingsby Trust, a fund which had been established for this very purpose. Its Secretary and Treasurer was a distinguished elder of the gliding movement called Basil Meads, one time chairman of my old Club at Camphill. He would not advance a penny unless he had inspected and approved the proposed new site. He had a lot of experience in looking at potential gliding sites. I asked him to come and look at the piece we wanted to buy at Edge Hill.
After a thorough walk around the site Basil was not over enthusiastic. He considered that there would be problems in certain wind directions but he agreed nevertheless to back us to a certain level. With his knowledge of what land cost for gliding clubs he had a maximum figure in mind of around six thousand pounds. However this was over a hundred acres of prime Warwickshire grazing land and when we all sat down around the table it transpired that John Greenway's price was £120 an acre. Basil raised his bushy eyebrows but he was not prepared to up his support to such a level. We also knew that Greenway was a hard businessman and would not budge either. I remembered well the way he had treated his dogs. He had bred a very nice young one from his well-trained collie bitch and for a while had two, the second one also being trained to round up the cattle. Then one day when I missed the young one around I asked what had happened to her and got the simple reply 'I didn't have enough work for her, so I had her put down'. We then knew that we would not be making Edge Hill our new home and we would have to start to explore other sites in earnest.
In all, we were to consider no less than fourteen alternative possibilities. John Large and I even went to look at another farm site at the northern end of Edge Hill and asked the owners if they were prepared to sell off some of their fields. Nothing came of this attempt however.
We took Basil Meads to look at an old airfield south of Leamington Spa. Again he was not impressed, and we did not press that particular case. It was a pretty small airfield anyway.
It was almost by chance that we learnt about the government's decision to auction off the land occupied by a large wartime military airfield at Husbands Bosworth. Time was short and we had to act quickly. We couldn't go into an auction and buy land without knowing what sort of financial support we could get. I got Basil down again post haste and took him out to see the site. The original country road, which had been closed off when the airfield was built during the war, had been re-established along the line of what had been the principal runway. This left a small slice of the airfield complete with its bit of perimeter track and concreted dispersal points in an area to the north of the road. It more or less gave us the maximum length of field into the prevailing westerly winds. We felt that we could make a good gliding site out of that piece. Buying the much larger area to the south of the road would have been well out of our reach.
This time Basil Mead's attitude was completely different. Instead of bringing out a list of criticisms he raised his head as if sniffing the air and said that here was a promising prospect. He agreed to back us with a loan if we could buy the land we wanted up to a maximum of six thousand pounds.
The crucial problem was the fact that even this smaller piece of land was to be auctioned in two portions, only one of which was just large enough to make a gliding field on its own and we wanted to add the smaller adjoining piece to it at the Western end, beyond a remnant of cross runway. The order in which the lots would be sold was a critical issue. We couldn't afford to buy the small piece first without being sure of getting the bigger piece.
We were fortunate to have Denis Dobson, my son Philip's Godfather, as a club member. He was a distinguished Stratford auctioneer and estate agent. He agreed to attend the auction and try and buy the land we wanted based on a carefully prepared brief on how far he could go. Nobody at the auction realised what Dobbie's interests were when he took his place and the local farmers were not prepared for his opening request to the auctioneer that the larger piece we wanted most should be put up first, although it was not the first on the printed schedule. When the auctioneer asked those assembled if there were any objections there were none, and the auction began.
Dobbie secured this piece well within our price bracket. He then asked for the other piece to be put up next but this time there were objections and the pieces were, from then on, offered in the order on the schedule sheet, and the bidding grew tougher. The result was that the piece at the West end of the present site was a more tightly fought auction but nevertheless Dobbie managed to secure it as well and still be inside the budget we had given him. For a total of £5400 we had secured a fairly good gliding site, bounded by the re-instated road along its south edge and the northern section of peri-track, its hard surface being part of our acquisition.
We got our loan and we had the site, but there was nothing on it yet. We needed a clubhouse and some hangarage, at least for the club gliders, tugs, winches, etc. We bought a prefabricated clubhouse. There were a lot of these small units left over from the scrapping of the prefabricated homes put up during the war. One could buy an old scrap one quite cheaply. A hangar was another kettle of fish however. The best option was a low cost agricultural building with an open front, which could be bought and erected for about £2000. This we managed but it more or less emptied the kitty for us and there was then no more money to be raised anywhere.
We had one small advantage in that the dispersal area on the peri-track at the northern edge of our piece of land was a large concreted expanse, where the Wellington bombers had once been parked, and we could use this area as our flooring, saving a lot of expense on that side. On the other hand the concrete stand was not absolutely horizontal, since it hadn't needed to be. This meant that when we started to investigate some sliding doors for the front of our 'hangar' we realised that a horizontal ramp would have to be used, since sliding doors always run on horizontal tracks. A bigger blow still was when we found that the doors alone would cost us another £2000.
It was at this point that I came up with my idea about a sixty-foot up-over wooden door. I was very happy with the one I had designed for
my garage and had even taken out a provisional patent and
tried unsuccessfully to sell it to some of the local firms making prefabricated garages. Now I saw that my design approach could also be used for the much larger door required for the hangar. This time it would have to be sixty feet wide and after I had done some calculations I reckoned it would need to be a box sixteen inches deep. I proposed to the committee that we should make the door ourselves.
John Large, the club Secretary did even better. He contacted one of the major local suppliers of timber and plywood and suggested that they might like to join in our revolutionary new use of their material and gain a lot of advertising publicity from the exercise. I take my hat off to him for whatever arguments he used because he came and told me - I was in hospital at the time with an acute chest infection - that the company he had seen agreed to supply all the material free of charge. The other partner in our Skylark 4 syndicate, Doug Cunningham, who was the chief draughtsman for a local motorcycle company, (ed - BSA Motorcycles) agreed to draw up the designs of a large linkage system based on my Hilaldam commercial garage one, taking into account the fact that the door would be weighing about a ton. We were still based at Baginton where we had our small Nissen hut workshop for glider repairs, and gangs of us spent our evenings there gluing together the longitudinal spars and making up the sections of the door. It was built in sections so that we could transport these out to our new site and do the final assembly there. The completed door would have been far too big for us to transport anywhere as a finished assembly. Lou Glover took over the responsibility of taking charge of the door building operation to my designs.
There were of course quite a few members who considered the exercise a futile one and said that we were making something which wouldn't work. Several people were even worried it might fall on their heads. In a way I couldn't blame them, they didn't know what I knew about the stress levels in the wood.
I knew I would have to do something to raise their confidence, so once the door was fully assembled and lying flat in the hangar I had it supported at each end and then asked twenty-four club members to stand on top of it, distributed along the length, as a proof test. I had even calculated how much it should deflect under this load and I checked that this was the case in practice. There were no more unfavourable comments about the strength of the door. In the meantime, Doug had done a good job of designing the left and right hand linkage systems and once again old man Smith stepped in and offered to have them made in his factory, at no charge.
One of the club members actually took an 8mm cine film of the huge crowd of members organised to lift the door into place. It worked! We had put in a lot of voluntary work but it had cost us nothing in the way of hard cash. There was an immediate bit of spin off from having the up-over door. Its bottom edge could be given a fairing that just matched the sloping ground level. There was no need for any horizontal ramp under the door, which would always have been a hindrance when pulling gliders in and out through the doorway. We just cut a shallow groove in the hard standing so that rain water would not run into the hangar from outside.
We reckoned that if the door would last for ten years we would have done well. When many years later, in 2002, Bertille and I attended the banquet celebrating the 50th anniversary of the club's founding there were three hangars at the club, all with my design of up-over door, which had been copied as the club grew. The comment was made to me that the original door was still the best one of the three.
In view of the evident success of the double skinned wide door, as I had designed it I went into a partnership with Lou Glover to make and supply them to builders and anyone else wanting a wide up-over door. We called it the 'Huntlit' door and formed a partnership under the name of 'Hunt & Glover'. I left all the manufacturing work to Lou and this seemed to be a fair success for a while. We agreed to supply a door of any width, based on the same design as my own garage door. Lou had quite a few orders and was still in business when we left England for South Africa in 1965. However, in due course I had a letter from Lou to say that he had decided to close the business down, and was sending me fifty pounds as my share of the money accumulated in the kitty.
(Editor's note, 2016 - one of these doors remains to this day as the entrance to the glider workshop)
Lou 'the Glue' Glover
and club Viking at Baginton
More early memories:
I recall being told that GreenO (a privately-owned green Olympia) had two feet removed from the port wing when one of our early instructors (just who was flying it is disputed) was performing at an air show at RAF Gaydon. I understand he did a high-speed pass at head-height and removed two feet from the port wing with a speaker post. No circuit, he landed straight ahead in the far distance.
Not the first or last pilot to over-cook it at an air show.
Les Crawford and CGC Prefect at Baginton ca 1958
Joint Founder and first CFI, George Thompson
Michael Stather Hunt
Founder & first Chairman
of the Coventry Gliding Club 1953
Doc Gregg, Lawrie Watts and Bill Fay ham it up for the newspaper camera in front of the new shiny red Ka2 ca 1958
Young King Feisal of Iraq at Baginton a year before his asassination.
A final note for the end of this decade....
On Boxing Day 1962 - December 26th if you don't know what that is - it started to snow. This was the start of what was to become one of the hardest winters of the 20th Century. Even in June 1963 there was still dirty frozen snow under the hedges of the airfield at Baginton.
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