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About Our Flying Club

Club Organisation

Challock today from the air

Kent Gliding Club is affiliated to the British Gliding Association (BGA) and is wholly owned by its members. Facilities on our 200+ acre airfield in beautiful countryside on top of the North Downs (above looking south-east towards the M20 and Ashford) include a modern clubhouse with Office and Briefing Room, Cafe, Bar and relaxed seating area, and comfortable, great value accommodation. Two hangars house the modern club fleet and the tug aircraft. Current membership stands at around 150 active pilots, of whom 30 are qualified BGA Instructors and a further 20 are tug pilots. All are aviation enthusiasts who will give you a great and warm welcome whether you choose to sample the sport and take a Trial Flying Lesson or wish to join and become a soaring pilot with them.

 

 

Another flight comes to an end in Kent

 

A Brief History

Kent Gliding Club was founded on 4th January 1930 and documents show it to be the first BGA club to be formed. Founder member Jimmy Lowe-Wilde not only gained Britain's first gliding certificate, he also built the first glider to be registered by the BGA - a Primary affectionately called Columbus. The club flourished during the 1930's with gliding at a number of sites, but mostly at Lenham and Eastchurch. Due to the 1939-45 war this activity was unable to continue.

The Club as we know it today was re-formed on April 26th 1956 with the amalgamation of the Royal Engineers (R.E.) Gliding Club and the new Kent Gliding Club, then based on the old Battle of Britain airfield at Detling. Since then we have flown at a number of other Kent airfields, including West Malling. In May 1961 the land at Challock was purchased but it was another two years of preparation before the field could be used for gliding.

We were at that time one of the few Clubs to own its airfield. At 14:00hrs on 15th June 1963, the first flying activity took place with the landing of Chief Flying Instructor Roy Hubble who was followed by the rest of the fleet - all towed from West Malling by Tiger Moths. The club house was built and officially opened on the 21st August 1965. Kent Gliding Club became fully operational at Challock with regular weekend flying and a few holiday courses.Over the years we have constantly reviewed our operations and re-equipped with gliders and tug aircraft to remain efficient. The club now operates 7 days a week from 1 April to 31 October and on Wednesdays and at weekends during the rest of the year.

Flying into a promising sky

Some memories from Roger Gunkel - Club Member 1973 to 1983

"Although I flew many different gliders, one of my fondest memories of flying at the Kent GC was in the days when farmers were allowed to burn off the stubble in the fields and all the pilots would watch for the next stubble fire. Within a few minutes there would be a group of gliders circling in the column of rising smoke, to gain altitude, like a collection of moths around a candle. Flying the open T21 into one of these stubble fires, was like riding a bucking bronco into the violently turbulent air, with smoke in your eyes and smelling like a bonfire. Very exciting flying and great fun".

 
Flying the T21Chris and Mike in T21 'Florence', Challock May 2012
 
"I joined the Kent GC in 1973 for a one week gliding holiday as I had loved everything to do with flying as far back as I could remember. I was in my mid twenties and it was a beautiful hot early September week as I took my first tentative flights in an open Slingsby T21 side by side two seater. 
 
Most of my flying that week consisted of short 3-4 minute flights off the winch launch. Because of the shortness of the flights I was getting a lot of take off and landing practice and decided to take the following week course aswell. It was another beautiful week and I succeeded in going solo after just 38 launches and less than 3 hours total flying. 
 
I was then working on the continent, for 3 years but returned to the club in 1976 to continue gliding. I eventually became an assistant intructor and then a full rated instructor. I moved to Cambridgeshire in 1983, but have great memories of the times that I flew at Challock and the people that I met."

 

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