GLIDER DISPLAY: Michael Spurrier, Ted McAndrew, Drew Spurrier and Andy Plunkett.
GLIDER DISPLAY: Michael Spurrier, Ted McAndrew, Drew Spurrier and Andy Plunkett. Jessica Dorey

Historic glider on display at Capella

THE JOHN Spurrier Glider Display has been unveiled at the Capella Pioneer Village.

The first display of its kind at the village, the Blanik L-13 Glider was bought to Capella by members of the original Amberley RAAF Gliding club. One of which was Andy Plunkett, Capella local and Treasurer of the Capella Pioneer Village.

"After three years of correspondence with RAAF Williamstown, the glider has finally arrived in Capella,” Mr Plunkett said.

John Spurrier was a founding member of the RAAF Amberley Gliding Club, and under his instruction many people learnt to fly in the glider.

"It has a great social history throughout both Queensland and New South Wales,” Mr Plunkett said.

Weighing a low 310kg the aircraft was designed as a practical glider suitable for basic flight instruction, cross country flight training and aerobatic instruction.

More than 2650 of the model were built and about 100 of those were imported to Australia. Made in Czech Republic, the Blanik glider is one of the world's most widely used glider.

This particular glider was bought by the RAAF Amberley gliding Club in 1971. It was aero-towed from the Let Kunovice Australian agents at Tocumwal (NSW) to the RAAF Base in Amberley Queensland.

"The journey took two days,” Mr Plunkett said. "It landed eight times and at one stage it even became lost. They (the pilots) had to stop and ask a homestead for directions.”

Once at Amberley the Blanik was used as the main training aircraft at the Club until 1996. At this time the base became too busy with aircraft movement and the glider was transferred to the RAAF Williamtown Gliding Club near Newcastle (NSW).

In 2010, a manufacturing fault forced the grounding of gliders which had flown more than 4000 hours. The modification cost upward of $30, 000. Nine of the 100 received the modification with the rest grounded forever. In 2015 after funding to upgrade the glider didn't eventuate, RAAF Williamtown Gliding Club offered it to former RAAF Amberley club members.

"The glider being able to be displayed like this saves its social history. It was the catalyst, or the initial spark in many aviation careers throughout Australia,” said Mr Plunkett.

John Spurrier's two sons Michael and Drew travelled from Ipswich to Capella to take part in the unveiling of glider at the Pioneer Village Heritage Day.

Michael said there was also a lot of family history surrounding the glider.

"Drew and I have flown in it. Dad had us up in the glider when we were only little boys,” Michael said.

Drew said it was fantastic to see the glider on display.

"It's great to see it displayed and not wasted in a scrap heap, this way everyone can enjoy it,” Drew said.

Mr Plunkett said the display would encourage interest in aviation.


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