There have been many distinguished names associated with the Yorkshire Gliding Club over the years. Phillip Wills, former world champion, and Fred Slingsby, founder of Slingsby Aviation, were two key members who initially negotiated the lease of the land at Sutton Bank. Norman Sharpe also had a profound influence on the development of the club.
On the 20th April 1934, the British Gliding Association recognised the venture and the Yorkshire Gliding Club was formed. In 1937 another distinguished aviator joined the YGC. Amy Johnson, who was later to become famous for her power flying exploits around the world, joined the club after having gained her Silver 'C' at Dunstable. Aircraft flown at this time included the Scud 2, Hols de Taufel and Dickson Primary. The club winch of the time was a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, bought for £50 and converted for another £50!
In 1938 a horse was acquired to retrieve gliders and the winch wire! This proved successful until a Kite 1 hit 'Major' on its landing run. Thereafter when he heard the whistle of wind in the wires of a landing glider the horse would gallop away - sensible horse!
Flying from Sutton Bank, Lieutenant Dean Drummond experimented with two-way radio in a Kite 1. He later became famous in the Arnhem landings during World War II.
By 1939, Slingsby Sailplanes Ltd were offering new gliders from the princely sum of £99. A Kirby Kite 1 cost £159! Sadly the outbreak of war ended gliding in the UK for its duration. Many members went on to serve with distinction.
The early post-war years were very difficult for the club. Much of the early infrastructure had disappeared and few of the pre-war membership returned. Some of the key benefactors in the early years continued to offer financial support. By 1947 the club had acquired its first open cockpit side by side T21 trainer from Slingsby's. This model proved to be a superb training machine and T21's saw service well into the Sixties.
In 1956 Henryk Doctor was appointed Chief Flying Instructor. Henryk had a distinguished war service flying Mosquito's. His dry sense of humour and unique training methods drew great respect from club members throughout his years of service as CFI.
In the early Sixties the club made significant progress, encouraged by the vision and financial help of Eric Reed, chairman of the club at that time. The unique circular clubhouse that still serves us well replaced the ageing wooden structure. Projects to ensure the continued development and growth of the club were implemented over the remainder of the 20th century resulting in the club becoming one of the leading clubs in the country.
As you will see on our other webpages the club is proud to operate a state of the art fibreglass fleet which allows glider pilots from the UK and further afield to exploit the suberb soaring conditions that occur in North Yorkshire. Together with its great location and excellent facilities the Yorkshire Gliding Club has successfully built on foundations laid in the past to justify the efforts and vision of those who went before. Present day members and visitors alike are indeed fortunate to inherit the club as it is today.
This is not the end of the story. The firm intention is to ensure that successes over the past 70 years will continue into the forseeable future. If you would like to know more about the early days of Yorkshire Gliding Club there are publications available for sale from our office and, by arrangement, the club's archive can be made available for inspection.