Memories of the Coventry Gliding Club
aka the Gliding Centre, Hus Bos

        the third decade

           1973 - 1982
Please send your memories and/or photographs to me and we'll build a memory bank out of which we can write a history of this great family.
I was away for a decade, having left in January 1970 to work for our founder Michael Hunt at Atlas Aircraft in Johannesburg. Back in the UK for three weeks in May/June 1973 I found that Hus Bos was simply buzzing:  There was a National Championships launching from the east end, a traction engine rally and steam fairground organised by Sid Gilmore at the west end, and the inaugural meeting of the Vintage Glider Club somewhere in the middle.  To put cream on the cake, I met the delightful woman - also a solo glider pilot - who was to become my wife.

Returning to the UK in 1978, I rejoined the club in 1980 and one of the first items in my records of that time is this copy of the club magazine - Glideangle.  On reading the first two pages I conclude that nothing has changed.
Glideangle magazine - 1980
Francis Humblet's memories:

On 5 Jun 2013, at 11:18, "humblet" < <>> wrote:

Chipmunk but not sure which one, so question to be asked and also pics of the other three chippies with before and after conversions to 180hp.

~ Terrier Mk1 G_ARSL

This was really known as the Auster as it was a conversion of an Auster Mk6 made by the company then called Beagle (at Rearsby).
This was the Cosworth aircraft for many years which was sold to a syndicate, led by Chris Thomas, and based in club hangar as a spare tug. A super machine, especially for me as an ex Rearsby boy! We had a good time with it and Ron even flew to it to La Ferté Allais, near Paris, to tow an Austria glider back to the UK.
Eventually, it needed a lot of attention and was sold to a dealer in Cranfield. The current owner has now restored it in its wartime livery and it can be seen at  rallies in the south of England.

(Pictures to be added later)
<Beagle Terrier I G-ARSL.jpg>
<Chipmunk G-.jpg>
<Chipmunk towing yellow Bocian.jpg>
<Terrier G-ARSL new paint scheme.jpg>
<EoN Brochure.jpg>
<Olympia 252 in Derbyshire after FH 5 hours.jpg>
<Olympia Mk2 in a muddy field.jpg>
<Olympia specifications.jpg>
<T 6 Kirby Kite at HB (2).jpg>
<T 6 kite was used for radar trials in 1940.jpg>
<Olympia Mk 3 Jacobs Ladder.jpg>

From: Keith Nurcombe <>
To: humblet <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 05, 2013 6:55 PM
Subject: Re: CGC fleet

Hi Francis
I flew G-SL a good deal (and had many tows behind it when I shared Skylark 4 No 89 with Mike & Ben (and Derek Hucker, whose name has just flashed into my mind) in 1968/9.

A few comments:
Derek Ashman:  As CFI in 1969 it fell to me to check pilots annually. Derek is the only pilot I flew with who got lost off a winch-launch at dusk. I had to take the glider off him to avoid landing out in the dark. He took umbrage and I never saw him again. I did wonder what happened to him.

The 50th collection came about 'cos I suggested to the Chairman of the day (Mike Hughes) that it might be nice to collect all the aircraft the club had operated. "Good idea" says he. "Please organise it". Me and my big mouth.  Sid Gilmore was the photographer, but the photography was held up by Alan Kangurs flying the Viking, who had forgotten we were waiting for him while he soared one of the classic gliders the club had owned, until late afternoon.

I'll find a good copy to post, or maybe Sid has an original. (He will have!)

More from Francis Humblet:

Olympia Mk3 called Jacobs Ladder - a Mk 3 version with skid and droppable dolly wheel.
Why the name ? Designer was Hans Jacobs and to go up, use a ladder as Jacob did in the bible!
After CGC, a syndicate flew it from Rearsby for many years. Eventually, it became the property of Derek Ashman. He and I in Olympia 252, set off for our 5 hours on a Wednesday so machine was available! After a couple of hours, Derek and I met over Castle Donnington, not yet East Midland airport at that time. Derek had forgotten to drop his dolly wheel but without radio I could not help him! I landed in Derbyshire with 1500 ft on the clock in the field, big surprise!

Jacobs Ladder Competition number was 208.
Now at that time , a clever person of the Leicestershire Gliding Club had reserved all the 08 numbers for Rearsby club and members and maybe Vic can help on this:
108 Skylark IV, later Dart 17R and eventually Chris Simpson's number
208 Olympia MK 3 Jacobs Ladder, recently put back in flying trim.
308 Ka 6Cr with Wally Mason who sold number to Polish Gliding club in Lasham as 308 was a wartime Polish squadron.
408 T49B Capstan purchased new for the club.
508 ?
608 ?
708 T 51 Dart 15 later syndicated by Francis Humblet at Bosworth.
808 ?
908 ?
But Fitchett family had a Swallow which may have had one of the above numbers ???

For info, Derek Ashman sold the Ladder to buy a Slingsby T6 Kirby Kite. This is shown on the two pics enclosed taken at HB after a visit to Doctor Glover's workshop. This was one of the special Kites modified in 1940 for the radar trials with Philip Wills on the South coast. Control rods were changed from metal to wood.

Now, a picture of most glider types used by the club was made to celebrate the club a few years ago. Can you please get a copy so we could produce an excel list of the fleet. I can always complete with pics of the  types if actual machines cannot be found.

More to follow on transfer from Rearsby to HB.

Any comments ?


From: Bernard Fitchett < <>>
Date: 9 June 2013 13:33:19 BST
To: Keith Nurcombe < <>>
Subject: RE: CGC fleet

Hi Keith
Francis muddled the comp numbers a little.  My father and I joined the CGC in 1962, brought the Swallow to Coventry in 1963 and then joined the Leicester club at Rearsby in 1964.  The Swallow never had a number.  208 was on our Ka6CR, which was bought in 1965.  308 was on Jacob's ladder (can be seen in the photo).  When I joined the club Mike Smith (of Glenfield) was in the Jacob's ladder syndicate.  Ka6CR 208 was sold to someone at the Kent club I think.  We bought the Ka6E 390 in 1967 and sold it in 1968 to the Steve White syndicate at Booker.  Incidentally this Ka6E is now owned by a syndicate at Wittering.  In summer 1968 we bought the open Cirrus (No.40) which I flew in the 1968 Nationals at HB.  We owned this until 1972 by which time the Leicester Club had folded and we had joined the CGC again.
I do have one or two photos that I can send later.  Is it just CGC you are interested in?

(an aside from KJN: I was Timekeeper in the 1968 Nationals, and on the final day the task was a race to Dunstable via Caxton Gibbet, a turning point to the east. Someone - a steward -  had a Meta Sokol and the plan was to take the time-piece to Dunstable to log the finishers - if any. As the conditions were overcast and lacked promise, my pilot thought he had plenty of time to do a number of chores before we left. As we approached Dunstable in good visibility but under a solid grey overcast sky Bernard appeared low and fast to cross the finish line while we were still a good five miles out. There was a lot of scrabbling to get the clock off the back seat and a fair bit of praying that no one else would finish before we arrived. Fortunately, Bernard had done it again, and no one else completed the task.)

"humblet" < <>>
Date: 8 June 2013 10:54:59 BTo: "Keith Nurcombe" < <>>
Subject: Re: CGC fleet

For the club records, vehicles could also be included !
Enclosed yellow Massey -Ferguson unless it was a Ferguson ??
J-Beam from company  of that name based , I think on a ford Thames lorry ??
and some general views
more to follow

Heavy snow on April 26th 1981 cancelled the Open Day at Hus Bos. It started snowing heavily at 7am. By 8am Leicester Radio was warning people not to come. At 10am I was one of the last to leave, struggling through 3" (75mm) or more, with the power-lines weighed down to the hedge tops with wet snow. 26th April!

Philip Wills signing his book "where No Birds Fly" in front of one of the Minimoas at the inaugural Vintage Glider Club meeting, 1973
Smoke trails from the helicopter aerobatic team at the 1973 Open Day organised by Sid Gilmore
The Founding of the Vintage Glider Club
June 1973... Click here
Learn about flying, either for fun or maybe making a career out of it.  Aviation can change your life...

Read about it here...

Why Don't You Put a Little Engine in it..?

The last ten years have seen many changes...

The old fleet of largely open-cockpit gliders and tugs has almost entirely been replaced with sleek wood, glass-fibre, or aluminium sailplanes with closed bubble-canopies.  The Tiger Moth tugs have been replaced with ex -RAF Chipmunks, re-engined with BIG Lycomings to become Supermunks, capable of towing much heavier gliders.

Down-wind dashes have been replaced by closed-circuit races, aiming to get home without calling for a retrieve by trailer.  The tasks set for the pilots may be as much as 300 kilometres in length, with the gliders airborne for many hours.

Great fun, and often riven with high adventure.